Friday, September 29, 2006

IF Update: Day #7

195 lbs, 18.5% body fat.

Obviously, there's something funny going on with the Tanita scale and its body fat measurement. Looks like tomorrow I'll have to get out the tape and keep track of chest, waist, biceps, and maybe thighs. That might give a better indication of progress on fat vs. muscle.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

IF Update: Day #6

195.8 lbs, 15.5% body fat

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

IF Update: Day #5

Weight: 196.8 lbs
Body Fat: 17.8%

The Tanita scale is a little flakey with the body fat percentage. I may start measuring weight and body fat at night to see if hydration brings more consistency. I clocked in at 18.5% before drinking anything and then took my morning medication with water to end up at 17.8. Yesterday's readings were after my morning pill so I thought it would be a better gauge.

Anyway, not a huge concern as I'm looking for a longer term trend due to the variability of the scale.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Intermittent Fasting

For some strange reason, I was motivated to begin a fast last week. Fasts or near fasts are not unusual to me as I often retreat into a fasting mode to avoid some of the digestive issues that plague me. Long car trips, air travel, and vacation are all times when I skip meals in favor of water to help avoid any nuisance problems. Typically, I still eat, but the amount of food isn't anywhere near the usual 3,000 calories of my typical day.

My most formal fast prior to last week came on the heels of eating at Subway more frequently. Whether it was the wrap, spinach, green peppers, or something else in my unusual, custom concoction, it did a number on my digestive system. To get things back in order, I just stopped eating for a while. Afterward, I felt dramatically better.

I wasn't feeling particularly bad last week like with the Subway incident, but I had been doing a lot of exercise and nutrition improvements without the desired results. Following the tried and true "stoke the fire", 6 meals a day plan, I felt daily pressure to meet some imaginary goal. And, at the end of each day I often met with spectacular failure as I felt the need to cram myself with carbohydrates to quell the pangs of hunger. Mmmm...I can still taste those pop-tarts now...

Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking about just taking a few days off from eating. If nothing else, it would give my system some time to rest and recuperate. After doing some reading online, I decided to go for it.

Originally, I planned to fast for 5-7 days...something I might repeat once or twice a year maximum if I derived any benefit. There was nothing magical about the number, but based on my reading, I felt it was a short enough time to avoid drastic muscle loss but long enough to still receive some of the benefits of fasting.

The first 12-15 hours brought hunger pains, shakiness, and headaches. Setting those aside, though, I noticed a distinct lack of pain in my abdomen. It's an odd experience to have something so familiar just vanish, and it wasn't the only annoyance to clear up. Being Fall, I've also been wrestling with my allergies. Whether it's the increased water intake of a fast or the elimination of a food irritant, my congestion went away after about 24 hours.

Because of the positives, I began researching fasting in earnest. While there are a wide variety of views on the subject, there seems to be some consensus that fasting has enough positive effects on health to be worth the loss of muscle associated with it. The argument then becomes one of time. How long should you fast?

I don't claim to know the answer, but I stumbled onto several articles on Intermittent Fasting of various lengths as leading to improved health. The one that convinced me to end my current fast at 33 hours was Fast Way to Better Health by Dr. Michael Eades of Protein Power. In it, he describes his own experiment with an every other day fast and presents some research that has been done in the field. With the positives I had seen and the additional positives noted in the article, integrating fasting into my daily diet sounded like a great idea.
Consequently, I broke my fast at around 33 hours and planned to attempt an Intermittent Fasting (IF) diet in earnest.

As of now, I'm following Dr. Eades' fasting schedule to the letter except that I'm basically eating a full dinner on my eating days whereas he was eating only breakfast, lunch, and some snacks. I'm also trying to limit carbohydrates, especially in the evening, to help burn off some of my excess fat. If that doesn't seem to work for me, I'll drop dinner on the eating days in favor of smaller snacks earlier in the afternoon. Another change I will eventually make is to vary the schedule by throwing in a couple of eating days here and there or an extended fasting day. As you learn in strength training, the body adapts pretty easily, and you have to keep it off-balance to continue making gains.

As of today, I'm on my second fast day. To be honest, it's ridiculously simple to get through the fast, and so far, it seems to be paying off in fat loss. My only concern right now is about my ability to build muscle, but we'll see what happens with that if I'm able to burn off the excess fat.

So, the purpose of this post is to start tracking my stats on this blog in a formal way so I can see how this plan is working. As of this morning, I have the following stats:

  • Height: 6'0"

  • Weight: 198.2 lbs

  • *** Body Fat: 16.8%

*** Note that I'm taking my body fat measurements with a Tanita scale using Biometrical Impedence Analysis. These measurements are taken first thing in the morning meaning I'm dehydrated and are subsequently highly inaccurate (as per Tanita's documentation). The tracking is to show trends, not to determine an actual body fat percentage. 16.8% is probably significantly lower than my true body fat percentage.

In the future, I'll also try to include some key measurements to better determine the potential muscle loss, and it should be noted that I'm doing both Yoga and strength training along with the occasional running, basketball, and/or tennis.

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