Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Fat Fitness Nerd, Part II: Starting off Atkins With a Win

 I have known for a couple of weeks that I want to get back into low carb and fasting, but I hadn't really been able to get any traction.  I had been trying some shorter fasts, none of which I could really maintain.  On the advice of Megan Ramos, I decided to try starting with cutting carbs and a fat fast.

The body loses a lot of water when fasting and going low-carb.  There can be an early scale victory from this, I dropped 8 pounds the first day of being on the diet.  Psychologically I know this early weight loss is water weight, but it still feels like a victory, which gives me some momentum.  

This water loss is also what makes starting with a fast hard.  I already have a headache from the beginnings of "keto-flu", and I know I wouldn't be able to make it through a fast at this point.  I'm trying to keep my electrolytes in balance while staying hydrated.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The Antidote to Sandra Aamodt's "The Brain Won't Let You Lose Weight"


I have been struggling to reconcile Sandra Aamodts exhortation to end all dieting, with Jason Fung's that metabolic syndrome is curable through intensive dietary management.

Sandra Aamodt's hypothesis centers around the concept of executive function. It holds that if you "intermittently starve" as she calls it, you chew up willpower to the point that you can't do other important (e.g. exercise, or work related) tasks, and that eventually you run out alltogether and fall off of the wagon.

Mark Mattson above relies more on evidence around brain neurochemistry than psychology.  He asserts that just as we are better able to focuse in the morning before eating, with extended fasting we get the same or even greater cognitive benefit.

-Edit from Sam in the Future:   I've lost over 10% of my body weight in the past half year or so.  If Sandra Aamodt was to be right, I should be experiencing food obsession, and intolerable cravings.  The reality is that this is just not the case.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Fasting / Workout Balance...

 I want to make a comment about what ended two months of fasting earlier in the year:

All throughout March, I was writing extensively in my journal, attending fasting support groups, and was generally immersed in the science of fasting.  However, I wasn't working out all that regularly, or even at all.

In April, I got interested in "Zone 2" training after a vlog by Peter Attia, and started cycling pretty regularly.  I wasn't conscious of it at the time, but I think ramping up exercise that fast and that strenuosuly was too much alongside the fasting.

It is widely accepted that the diet makes the body composition in terms of weight loss.  Were I to attempt regular fasting again, I think I would focus on very lightweight, mindful movement, but I wouldn't go for heart rate zone training across 45 minute or 60 minute bike workouts.  I would try to cut some of the weight, and then mindfully make a transition to maintenance later -- maintenance being the phase where exercise seems really critical.

Standing here at my makeshift standing desk, with my back screaming and my distended belly in front of me, losing some weight through fasting seems like it should be a high priority.  My thought on that front is go buy some pickles (for the juice), and just go for it.



The other thing that changed dramatically in May when I stopped fasting was that I got some roomates who had a propensity for not all that healthy, but ubiquitous food, food out on counters, a freezer full of ice cream.  I am back in my own space, so...

Friday, July 22, 2022

Shadow Boxing is Fun

 I have been having a lot of fun getting my heart rate up using an Oculus Quest fitness app by Les Mills.  

--Edit:  I was having a lot of pain extending my elbow after doing a bunch of shadow boxing.  Stopping made the pain all but go away.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Measuring a Walk

 It's well and good for people like Peter Attia to say that one should work out in lactate Zone 2 4 times a week, but if that goal becomes a barrier to getting any exercise at all it becomes problematic.

Below is a graph of heart rates from a brisk 40 minute walk outside my house, which is the easiest, most convenient, lowest energy of activation workout I can do.  The average heart rate was 118bpm, which for me is about 67% of estimated max heart rate.  Any faster and I'd be risking shin splints or knee problems.

This is almost certainly doing me a lot of benefit, and is the easy option when I am low on energy of activation for working out. It's also the best option for boosting mood and vitamin D being out in the sun.

 It would be nice to mix in some work between 70-80% max heart rate, but that means working out in the garage on the bike.

The only gear I typically take on this walk is my phone (which I have on me anyway) and a pair of headphones.  I put the heart rate monitor on just because I was curious, and also because I am contemplatin.

With tools like heart rate monitors, what I have found is that once I have some representative data, I don't constantly need to faff about with getting them session.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

May has been tough

 I'm having a hard time managing cortisol and limited executive function for workouts, fasting, and work.

Some things that aren't helping:

+ Too much caffeine.   Swap diet coke and third/fourth coffee for water.

+ Over reliance on 'formal workouts' not doing enough 'just get out and walk' workouts.

+ Imbalance at work - if I'm spending 14 hours a day coding, it's no wonder that I don't have any executive function left for anything else.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Think critically about this stuff

In a previous post, I described the negative impulse to stay silent about fitness while my own journey was not complete.  I described a fairly harsh internal criticism on the subject.

Approaching that from another angle: I don't have a degree in dietetics or exercise physiology either -- does that mean that I'm not really qualified to make the observations that I make on this blog?  This is a fairly, overly self conscious line of questioning.

What I'd say is that someone with a masters in a STEM subject is probably well enough equipped to read the relevant research, and to think critically about claims being made by the community. (I'm only saying "with an MS in STEM" because that is what I have -- you might make the same claim about yourself, wherever you are.). If you are curious enough, and disciplined enough to pursue real sources (Google Scholar, not YouTube!), you can make good inroads into having a solid understanding.  It doesn't get you all the way to an MD, but you can understand a lot.

Also, incidentally -  Everyone in this community is running around saying "this is not medical advice, but...".    What you have to understand though, is that a layperson can (check this with a legal expert) give any kind of advice that they want, because there is no claim that their advice is medical advice.  If you have an MD and are governed by standards of care, this changes. I have at times entertained a fantasy of becoming a registered dietician, but I recognize that I would then be bound by standards of care, and the office that that degree awards.

I've said this before, but think critically about what I'm saying as well as everyone else you read, listen to, or watch on the internet, or at the library. (I also have an entire category on this blog marked "bullshit".) Checking citations is a good place to start, although most people don't write blog articles as if writing an academic research paper, and I am probably as guilty as anyone for citing YouTube.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Fasting for more meal flexibility than keto

"Well, if we are going to get really technical, I think a lot of the benefits [of fasting and time restricted eating] are overstated.  And a lot of the benefits are things that we have only studied in animals...  For example, a 16 hour fast in a mouse produces unbelievable results.  ...once you give a long enough period of time where the animal can ramp up the enzymes in the liver that are responsible for fat oxidation, they just become unbelievably efficient at metabolizing fat. 

We have to be careful though when we extrapolate that [to humans], because you and I have a very different metabolism than a mouse.  So I don't know if those benefits would extend.  So for me, what it comes down to is, it's just an easier way [than a strict low carb ketogenic diet], it gives me much more liberty with what I eat during my feeding window.  I don't have to be nearly as restrictive when I'm feeding if I have that period off.  I kind of hate being tethered to eat."

-- Longevity specialist Dr. Peter Attia

Monday, April 25, 2022


 This is really hard to admit, and to write in a blog post, but...

I was putting away laundry tonight and noticing how exhausted I was getting.  I've got this 140 pound bowling ball in my stomach, and every movement kind of deteriorates because of it.

I have done pretty well fasting, and I'd like to stick to my plan, but I think I can be even more conscientious about gratuitous  sugar.  I don't want to over-optimize something that is working, but I can't wait to be closer to where I want to be.

At the same time, I'm coming to my first goal, which is weighing what I weighed at the beginning of 2021.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Don't go hard all the time

 "Any individual who is going to exhaustion on a frequent basis is absolutely not in a healthy place with his or her exercise regimen. In training, just because I can go really hard doesn’t mean I’m going to benefit. In fact, it can be counterproductive. After either training or exercising, you are worse than before you started. You are slower, you are weaker, you are less capable. It is only once there’s been recovery that there’s the possibility of being better for it. If I just go as hard as I possibly can at something there is no guarantee that I’ll actually get a positive adaptive response."

-- Sports scientist Neal Henderson [ quoted in Men's Journal ]

It's important to establish where the boundaries of basic training, steady state, and tempo training are.  On my Polar Heart Rate Monitor these boundaries are at:

  • 50-60% basic training
  • 60-70% steady state
  • 70-80% tempo  

That means at a fairly relaxed pace, one is still doing beneficial basic training.

I have this instinct, and I believe it is common, to really push myself to go faster and harder, especially at the end of workouts.  I also noticed that in the subsequent day, I don't feel as keen on working out at all, and if I do, I workout at a much lower level.

A hard 40 minute workout in the upper range of steady state training, with a 10 minute excursion into tempo training at the end.

The next day - trouble warming up out of the basic training range, with perceived effort only slightly under the previous day, even at the slower pace.

I think the argument here is that it's much more beneficial to get a bunch of hours at relatively low intensity, then to just burn yourself out physically, neurologically, and psychologically with much harder effort.

During my brief athletic career this bore out, not only in the racing results, but in the continuity, and character of the training.  It is an interesting place to be to be looking forward to hour pieces every day, when the alternative is high intensity work.  The routine becomes relaxing, and it feels like it is constructive rather than deconstructive.

Learning to do "Long Slow Distance" is a skill that one likely develops with experience.  I am happy doing hour pieces now because I learned to do them when I was a teenager.  I am happy to have my only stimuli be the display of a heart rate monitor and music because I trained myself to get something out of that kind of biofeedback.  

I don't know in naive exercisers whether working towards hour long aerobic pieces is a chore or whether people universally take the pleasure in them that I do.  I do know that the bulk of our training ought to be in the aerobic range.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

You have a right to think and talk about fitness at any size.

 Sometimes when I am writing in this blog, a hyper-critical voice goes off in my head that says something like "STFU fatass, you can't actualize this stuff, so stop f**ing running your mouth about it."

That's dumb.

Moderation in goal setting

 The last post was entirely about moderation in.. ehem... moderating carbs.  This post is going to be about how we think about the destination for this journey.

When I was 18, I was a national champion sculler.  Scullers don't really have groupies, but as any 44 year old looking back on being 18, I am nostalgic for some of the relationships I had at the time!

When I think about where I want to be physically, I think a big part of me is looking for a time machine.  That's kind of dumb though.  For one, there is good evidence that the body mass index curve shifts to the right as you age.  The same body mass that is overweight at 18 might be protective at 65.    For two, there are a lot of really serious health benefits to be had all along the way to the fountain of youth.  5% weight loss, weighing what I did before Corona, class 2 obesity down from class 3 obesity, weighing what I did 10 years ago..etc, etc.

All I'm saying is be conscious of a kind of dysmorphia creeping in that doesn't allow you to see progress.   Just because I'm not in race-ready-18-year-old form, doesn't mean I can't celebrate what progress I have made. Shoot for small milestones, and celebrate them when you pass them.

You have to enjoy it!!

With fasting and exercise, you kind of have to enjoy it to make it sustainable.  One indicator that you have gone too hard, too soon is a feeling of anxiety about doing it again tomorrow.  If you ease into things, you may find that you really start to look forward to the fasts or the workouts.

Try to find different ways to infuse joy into what you are doing.  A big one for me, is really enjoying the break-fast.  A long time ago a good friend from Kentucky introduced me to biscuits and gravy, and that is my go-to meal to break a fast.  Just the joy of eating that sustains the next fast.   (If you follow a fast with plain grilled chicken over a salad, ask yourself how long can you keep that up?)

With respect to working out, the "runner's high" is a real thing.  If you aren't pushing too hard, or grinding, you may find that the workout becomes a critical part of your wellbeing.  

The simplicity of the 36 hour fast in terms of accounting

 One of the things that derailed early attempts at fasting was a kind of wishy washyness to start and end times.  When someone put me onto the 36 hour fast, this entirely resolved.

The 36 hour fast is simple: you eat dinner, then you fast the entire next day, breaking the fast when you wake up with breakfast 36 hours later.   There's not a lot of ambiguity in this, you just skip an entire days worth of eating.

From there, you can extend out your fast, or pull it back as circumstances dictate.

That first fast

In March, after months and years of flirting with fasting, I finally completed my first 36 hour fast.  This was followed rapidly by many more in the months to come.  

I wonder if that is a common experience among fasters.  There was a tremendous amount of anxiety before being able to just get through that first fast.  The concept that helped was Meagan Ramos, one of the founders of The Fasting Method, referring to fasting as "treatment", not to be skipped.

There are other times in this process where anxiety has played a role. For example  I wasn't sure I was going to be able to return to fasting if I took a few days off, but I was.  There is a ratchet-like characteristic to all of these experiences -- meaning that once you have gotten through the milestone you are then able to rely on that experience.

People refer to the "fasting muscle" in various support groups.  It is true that the more that you practice, the easier it becomes.  It is also true that you can "strain" this muscle by overdoing it.  Meagan Ramos at one point said that approximately 3 36 hour fasts is enough, and that "more isn't more."

Sorting out exercise and fasting took a little patience as well.  A lot of us have a tendency to be internally authoritarian with our nutrition and fitness schedules.  That turned out to be counterproductive -- it was when I gave myself permission to try different combinations of workout days and fast days that I found a rhythm.   Research into "Zone 2" training also helped (read back a few posts in this blog.)

I wanted this post to be a voice of encouragement.  There is sort of an "energy of activation" to all of this.  As I said, once you get through various key milestones, things do get easier.  I recognize though the tremendous anxiety that that first fast causes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Noticing heart rate variability

 Two zone 2 workouts can have very different heart rate profiles.  During the first one below, it felt like it took me a long time to warm up, and was then a struggle to stay above 70% MHR.  In the second one, my heart rate jumped right up to zone 2, and the workout felt easy, despite being at the upper end of the 70-80% range.

I don't really have a good explanation for what is going on here, if anything.  The frequency of workouts for both sessions was only about 2-3 per week, and I didn't make any changes to my sleep or fasting schedule.  Neither workout was fasted.

Alternate day fasting? Alternate day weighing.

 One small difficulty of alternate day fasting is that you get these fairly large swings in weight on a day to day basis.  Try only weighing yourself on the fasted or fed days, or deleting the interleaved data once you have collected enough of it.  You might see a better weight loss pattern.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Zone 2 Training: Dose, Frequency, and Duration | Iñigo San-Millán, Ph.D. & Peter Attia, M.D.

 Dose here is something of a misnomer.  The dose is Zone-2 training.  70-80% of max heart rate, or tested via lactate analysis.

[Edit: On further reflection, I'm tempted to break Z2 up into 2 segments, call them Z2a and Z2b: 65-70%MHR and 70-75%MHR.]

Frequency Attia and San-Millan are in agreement that 4 days per week is probably the sweet spot, that less is ineffective, and that up to 6 days might be beneficial.

Duration: Attia recommends 45 minutes, while San-Millan recommends 1 to 1.5 hours.  The difference might be due to Attia doing workouts on a well controlled stationary bike, with San-Millan referring to road riding. San-Millan says at one point something like, 'in the course of a 1.5 hour ride, you might get 1 hour of zone 2.'

Order: Both are in agreement that it is effective to do a bit of high intensity training at the end of a Zone 2 workout, but not the other way around.

How to find your “Zone 2” without using a lactate [or heart rate] meter | The Peter Attia Drive Podcast

Even without a max-heart-rate test, I still really like using a monitor and predicted max heart rate as a gauge.   However the age-old test is whether you can carry on a somewhat halting conversation during the training.  My old coach, who was an English teacher, used to say "more in the manner of Hemingway, than Joyce". 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Where is Zone 2?

A quick (and probably flawed) summary of Zone 2 training: Zone 2 is also referred to as base training.  It is a pace that one might do for 45 minutes to an hour 3-4 times per week.  It is effective for training aerobic fitness.

I have heard from two authorities for where Zone 2 is with respect to predicted heart rate.  You can use the Miller equation, which is 200 - .48 * age to find a prediction of heart rate that has been shown to be affective in obese and overweight people.† The most recent is Peter Attia, who puts it at about %70 to %80 max heart rate.††  Going back a bit farther to a coach I really trust, he was proscribing workouts both in the 70-80% range and in the 80-90% range.   The latter zone might be something higher than Zone 2 training.

[Edit: On further reflection, I'm tempted to break Z2 up into Z2a and Z2b, 65-70%MHR and 70-75%MHR.]

This is a post where I really recommend consulting with a physician and/or cardiologist before trying to reach the heart rate targets below.

† Franckowiak, Shawn C., et al. "Maximal heart rate prediction in adults that are overweight or obese." Journal of strength and conditioning research/National Strength & Conditioning Association 25.5 (2011): 1407.

†† MD, Peter. "#201 – Deep dive back into Zone 2 | Iñigo San-Millán, Ph.D. (Pt. 2)". Peter Attia MD, Iñigo San-Millán, Ph.D. 3/28/2022. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Krista Varady (Someone who _has_ published!)

 Dr. Varady has done extensive research on alternate day fasting, intermittent fasting, and other strategies, both in mice and in humans.  

I complained about "mumbo jumbo" in lay analysis of scientific research before, so I won't engage in it here.  Varady did publish a diet book based on her research.

The main thesis is that in alternate day fasting, people don't eat back 175% or 200% of the calories to make up for fast days.

She is featured in Eat, Fast, and Live Longer, the fasting documentary by Michael Mosley.  I'm not sure this was part of the dynamic, but I felt a bit like Dr. Mosley stole the fasting thunder from Varady - popularizing his work in his own book, while the basis was entirely her research.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Why haven't Jason Fung and Meagan Ramos published, and do I care?

Except for one letter in the BMJ, a cursory search of Google Scholar doesn't return any academic results for these two.  I have to admit that that is a little bit scary to me.

On the other hand - alternate day fasting just from the first-person lived-experience feels great.  I am sharper and have more energy on fast days.  Psychologically I feel like I am doing something for my health which helps me, despite a BMI over 40, hold my head up high. 

Alternate day fasting is helping me to lose some weight, at least in the short term.  There are side effects though, constipation and at times diarrhea.   It would be nice to know, through research, that I'm not giving myself colon cancer, or doing something else injurious to my body.

There are other luminaries in this community who vocally support fasting as an option beneficial to health and longevity like Peter Attia MD.   However, again, no evidence produced.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Pre workout

 On the subject of bullshit...  look at the ingredients in some of these pre-workout mixes.

You would get the same effect with a cup of coffee and a mini snickers bar.

(I got the idea of the snickers bar from the 6-time winner of the CrossFit games)

"Body Habitus"

Body habitus: 

The physique or body build. For example: "The metabolic complications most commonly reported (with HIV infection) are hyperlipidemia, hyperglycemia and altered body habitus."

The term "body habitus" is somewhat redundant, since habitus by itself means "physique or body build."


The high order bit from "The Biggest Loser" study is not the RMR, it's the resource cut from the show ending.

 Fothergill, Erin, et al. "Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition." Obesity 24.8 (2016): 1612-1619.

Read it here

Look, I just don't know what the lived-experience of a morbidly obese person is with the resting metabolic rate (RMR) of a morbidly obese person, versus the same person with an RMR of someone who is reasonably trim and fit.  Does one feel energized, and one lethargic on a certain number of calories?  I don't know.

All of that aside.  (I mean it, let's forget entirely about metabolism right now as if it is the health equivalent of the financial practice of trying to time the market.)

What resources went into the 30-week weight loss of these contestants?  What resources went into their weight maintenance after the show ended?

During the 30 weeks:

  • Full time videography
  • Full time chef
  • Full time trainer
  • Well-supported support group
  • Formal and social accountability sessions
  • Top of the line fitness machines
  • Residential focus on the goal 

After the 30 weeks training:


It's obvious to me, having participated in reasonably resource-rich sports teams, that a big part of the problem is the lack of cash put into maintenance.  If you want to think of it another way, ask: "What am I relying on for this weight loss, and is that something I can maintain in terms of time, finances, will, boredom/fun, challenge, interest...etc when the time comes to maintain my weight?".

If the answer is a $100/hour personal trainer and you have a salary of $30,000 a year, I'm going to guess that you are going to have trouble maintaining. 

If I had to point to another major factor it would be the length of time over which the contestants lost the weight.  If I read the charts right the average weight loss was 130 pounds, and the length of the course was 30 weeks.  To me that's a really, really intense crash diet.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Medium-range goal - Class II Obesity

There are a few criteria for Class III Obesity
  • BMI above 40
  • Over 100 pounds above normal weight
  • BMI above 35 with health complications from obesity.
For my height, a BMI of 40 represents a weight of 263 pounds.  I've lost 12 since starting fasting at the end of January (assuredly some of that is water weight), and am currently at 317 pounds.  That is about 54 pounds away from being out of the Class III category.

One of the things I don't understand -- and this may be just a case of body eumorphia (the opposite of dysmorphia) -- is why some people have class III obesity and look it, and some people are built differently.  Certainly I have a background in athletics, which might just mean I'm used to liking what I see in the mirror.  


One thing I left out here is that many many people cite BMI as a "U-shaped" curve.  On Peter Attia's podcast with David Allison I also heard the idea that the curve shifts to the right as we age.  30 might be a perfectly reasonable BMI for a man in his 60s.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Breaking a fast early

 My intention yesterday was to fast for 36 hours, but I broke the fast at 24 hours.  I had a meeting a couple of hours away today, and didn't want to risk having the runs (a side effect that I hear is common in fasting) on the expressway.

Someone I respect said that if you are going to break a fast, and have made it to 24 hours, then that's a real accomplishment -- not to worry.

I don't think this is going to completely derail my program, but we will see over the next few days.  I'm fasting now and it feels approximately like it did before I "fell off the wagon".

--edit: I'm right back on it!

Saturday, March 12, 2022

I got through my first 6 fasts!


Welp, I got through my first 6 fasts on the 3-day-a-week 36-hour fasting program.

This is what my weight trend looks like (technically the two local minimums are at the same point and represent the weights at the weeks end of fasting before the weekend.  I'm not too worried though, because I feel you _can_ put stock in the moving average.):

When you start something like this, you have to fully expect weight loss to taper off after about the first or second week.  Once your body has adjusted its water balance, the weight just doesn't come off as quickly.

Another future goal is to work in some regular cycling.  I haven't felt like doing that, which might be problematic.  Remembering that the body has two approaches to dealing with a fast day: 1) Burn fat, 2) Slow the metabolism way down.  I can use how much I'm dreading cycling, and how I feel after doing it as a gauge of what my body is doing.  

Friday, March 11, 2022

Maintaining weight loss is possible: National Weight Control Registry, Wing, and Hill

There are a bunch of studies on Google Scholar by these two with generally the following conclusion:

"There is a general perception that almost no one succeeds in long-term maintenance of weight loss. However, research has shown that ≈20% of overweight individuals are successful at long-term weight loss when defined as losing at least 10% of initial body weight and maintaining the loss for at least 1 y. The National Weight Control Registry provides information about the strategies used by successful weight loss maintainers to achieve and maintain long-term weight loss. National Weight Control Registry members have lost an average of 33 kg and maintained the loss for more than 5 y. "

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Range of motion after 1 month away from gym

Getting better!  I can cross my legs without too much pain.  Still planning to take some more time off, especially as I am getting situated with a new fasting routine.

--edit: Got on the exercise bike for 20 minutes this afternoon.  Felt pretty good.

Monday, March 7, 2022

The inevitable lapse

I posted the following on The Fasting Methods discussion forum, we shall see what comes back: 

Inevitably, I'm going to break a fast day.  Even conceptualizing the fast as 'treatment', rather than 'diet', it is a sure bet that I will find myself having eaten on a fast day.
This type of lapse makes it very hard to get back with the program.  I'm sure however, that successful people chalk an 'oops' up to just a passing thing, and keep on going. 

Nobody is perfect.

Do you have any strategies or mindsets for dealing with this type of thing?

What came back
One way to think about a lapse:
I lapse regularly Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.  It's built into the program.  So adding an extra off day shouldn't really be a big deal.

"Don't slash the tire"
If you get out of the car and the tire is flat, look for a way to re-inflate it.  Don't say "well, it is flat, so I might as well slash the other tires."   (Mess up in a controlled way.  If you want to completely let yourself go, then choose to do that, but it's a choice.)

"Am I working toward my goal or away from my goal?"

"I'm not going to binge 'right now'."
Not never again.  Just one moment at a time.  The lower brain never gets to win.

"Dial it up, dial it back"
You have the option to dial the plan up, and dial the plan back.  An example of dialing it up would be increasing the fasting time, or cutting out carbs.  But there are also examples of dialing it back -- choose to switch to making the next 3 fasts 24 hour fasts (assuming you were doing 36 hour fasts), choose to allow fat fasting.

An additional idea
When I did my first 36 hour fast last week, it felt like I had unlocked a skill.  The first one demonstrated to me how (not) hard it was.  I felt like with one under my belt, I could do it.

In some ways the lapse does the same thing.  It's hard to get back on the wagon, because I'm not sure if I can do it after a lapse.  I feel like it's insurmountably hard to get back on the wagon.  Viewing it as a challenge though, something to prove to myself, once I do finish the first fast after, I'll know I can do it!

Another thing to consider is, like in rowing, if you have a few strokes where you just give up, keep going and finish the race - you might get it back.   This might translate to lapsing using a fat fast (which is really just a fasting aide), eating what you need to, and then finishing out the fast.

The danger is if you break the fast and say, "welp, it's broken now", give yourself permission to just let yourself go, it's hard to get back on the wagon.  It's the slippery slope mind.

This isn't introducing the ambiguity of "am I allowed to eat anything on the fast", I'm still going for complete abstinence for 36 hours, it's just that if things are going to fall apart, I can dial in the degree to which they do that.  Dial it back a bit, i.e. convert a full fast into a fat fast, an intermediate step to just jumping off the horse.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Wisdom from the 2020 Gary Taubes interview with Jason Fung

Gary Taubes is the famous author of Good Calories, Bad Calories, one of the first books since the Atkins diet to look at obesity, carbohydrate, and insulin.

Dr. Jason Fung is a Canadian nephrologist who has popularized intermittent fasting as a diabetes treatment and weight loss method.

There's a lot to this video, but I pulled out a couple of pieces that I found interesting and paraphrased them below:


"Why did the plane crash?"

"It was a lift imbalance issue."

The thermodynamic theory of weight loss is "Calories in, calories out", which Fung and Taubes characterize as "not even wrong," meaning "irrelevant."  The issues for them is not why the plane's down force exceeded it's lift, but what was going on with the pilot, the computer systems, and the maintenance of the plane that caused it to crash.  They will consistently talk about insulin in this talk and what Taubes calls the "hormonal hypothesis for obesity."


"When you eat protein and fat, there are well known satiety hormones that get activated [omitted consciously, I don't want this to get into "bro" science], which tell you to stop eating.  If you are eating foods that tell you that you are full and don't want to eat more, that's a good thing.  If you are eating a bagel with jam, pure carbohydrates, a slice of toast and jam, you aren't activating those satiety signals.  That's why at 10:30 you are looking for a low-fat muffin."

One of my pet issues is that I wonder whether you have to be in ketosis to get the benefit of a low carb meal.  Meaning, if you eat pancakes at 8am, is there any benefit from eating low-carb for lunch?   If you think about the waves of hunger that come and go that Fung talks about in other places, maybe it makes sense that on some level each cycle of hunger / feeding / satiety is a little bit atomic.  If you eat low carb at a meal, you are more likely to eat less energy, have less of an insulin response, and shunt energy into fat, at that meal.  This is me, and not Dr. Fung though, so take with a grain.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Fasting - I got through my first 3 fasts!

Three things really helped: 

1) I read a Meagan Ramos podcast where she talked about going through chemo, and then subsequently treating fasting like a treatment rather than a diet. "I wouldn't miss a chemo session to have lunch with my girlfriends!"

2) In the same podcast Meagan suggested a bit of non-sugar pickle juice as a substitute for bone broth on the day. This if feeling like electrolytes are out of balance, or just generally miserable.  It is easy to stomach and kept me feeling pumped up throughout the day.

3) I saw a youtube video with a Registered Dietician going through fasting.  She suggested an electrolyte water, which kept me hydrated without worrying too much about it.

Friday, February 25, 2022

36 Hour Fasting Protocol ala "The Fasting Method"


From the book "The Complete Guide to Fasting" by Jason Fung.  The Fasting Method is here.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Early stages of a fast or low-carb diet. Easing into it.

This exchange illuminates what is going on when you see that dramatic weight loss at the onset of fasting, or a low carb diet, the need for electrolytes..etc.  Here I think Megan was largely talking about very sick, potentially elderly people, people on blood sugar meds. It may be possible for healthy people to more fluidly switch between fasted and not fasted - even if they aren't on a low-carb diet.  Caveat-emptor, that's my lay interpretation of the context around what she was saying.  I recommend listening to the whole podcast.

From Diet Doctor Podcast #7 with Meagan Ramos

Megan: But if anything, they were sick, I mean these people had their arms amputated, such bad arthritis-

So you tried to use low-carb as the transition point? Try and get them on low carb first and then into some form of fasting? 

Megan: This is what I do. I realize that it's just tough and I do need to get them into a bit of a state of ketosis. When they're going from high carb to fasting, that's dangerous, because their insulin levels are going to drop rapidly and their kidneys are going to release all kinds of sodium, they are going to lose a bunch of water and a bunch of electrolytes at once, and they're going to fill horrendous, they're going to get nauseous, fasting is not going to be a good experience for them, nor a safe experience for some of these patients. 

So the idea of getting them to follow what a lot of them consider the fancy low-carb diets was not possible. So I got them to do something we joke around and we call a fat fast for four days leading up to an actual fast. And for those four days they're only permitted to eat bacon, eggs, olives, and avocados. 

And if they don't eat bacon for whatever reason then they have eggs, olives and avocados, I don't care, but just those four foods. And to be honest most of them enjoy it. Most people love at least two or three of those four foods, if not all of them. They're all simple to make. Olives require zero preparation, avocado zero preparation, eggs can be unbelievably simple and bacon, you can throw it in the oven or in the microwave, you don't have to sit there at the stove. So it's all very simple, all very easy and things that you can get for reasonable prices within the Toronto area. So they liked it, they like the challenge, it became a game to them. 

So they would do it, they would always do it. And so they would lose water weight safely while replenishing their electrolytes and then they would be able to transition into fasting quite effortlessly. And once they got into a fasting state, they felt like eating less on their eating days, they wanted to eat that bacon and those eggs a little bit more often and then because they were fasting intermittently or fasting for a couple chunks of time throughout the week, like maybe two 48 hour fast a week, they were able to actually save money.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Pickle Juice and Fasting

From Diet Doctor Podcast #7 with Meagan Ramos

 "A lot of patients are very fascinated in autophagy, so the cellular recycling process... after it won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 2016, people are very interested. Cancer rates are now through the roof and people are looking to do whatever they can. So people want to jump in on day one and start water fasting and we say no, no. Try drinking the [bone] broth first. 

Alternatively some people really dislike the [bone] broth, so we encourage them to have a quarter to half a cup of pickle juice on the day and people actually like that in the summer. The humidity in Toronto in the summer is disgusting, so no one wants to be drinking warm chicken broth in the summertime. So pickle juice is an alternative at that time of year that will encourage patients to have. Of course with no sugar in it and we teach them different ways that they can make it at home themselves to supplement."

The right level of fasting, and fasting as therapy

From Diet Doctor Podcast #7 with Meagan Ramos

How do you break down what's the right level of fasting for the right individual? 

Megan: So we usually assess someone in consultation and then see how they respond emotionally towards the fast. But we really believe that sort of to be insulin resistant, 24 to 36 hours of fasting is very effective doing that intermittently. That's all you really need and it creates a nice balance. The idea is to throw the body off to now let the body adapt. We always tell our patients that human beings are a dumb species.

We are not a very bright species, but we're a highly adaptable species. So if we stay in any one physiological state long enough our body is going to adapt to it and so we just want to confuse the body. And I found that we've been doing this now for seven years, intermittent fasting 36 hours three times a week in people, treating that like a therapy, not as a diet.

We really encourage our patients to treat it like a therapy. I made such progress of my own health for six months, because I treated fasting like it was my attendance to chemotherapy. And I wouldn't skip a treatment of chemotherapy if my friends wanted to go for lunch. And there would be days where I wouldn't feel good, but I'll be okay because eventually it would lead to my inevitable great health. 

A dietician reports what a 3 day fast is like

Where exactly does that 95% failure rate number for non-surgical weight loss come from?

From the New York Times:

95% Regain Lost Weight. Or Do They?

By Jane Fritsch

May 25, 1999

It is a depressing article of faith among the overweight and those who treat them that 95 percent of people who lose weight regain it -- and sometimes more -- within a few months or years.

That statistic has been quoted widely over the last four decades, in Congressional hearings, diet books, research papers and seminars. And it is the reason so many people approach dieting with a sense of hopelessness.

But in fact, obesity researchers say, no one has any idea how many people can lose weight and keep it off. Now, as researchers try to determine how many people have succeeded, they are also studying the success stories for lessons that might inspire others to try.

''That 95 percent figure has become clinical lore,'' said Dr. Thomas Wadden, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. There is no basis for it, he said, ''but it's part of the mythology of obesity.''

Dr. Kelly D. Brownell, the director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, said the number was first suggested in a 1959 clinical study of only 100 people. The finding was repeated so often that it came to be regarded as fact, he said.

Since then, nearly all studies of weight-loss recidivism have followed patients in formal hospital or university programs, because they are the easiest to identify and keep track of. But people who turn to such programs may also be the most difficult cases, and may therefore have especially poor success rates.

To get a more accurate picture, two researchers are studying long-term dieters for a project called the National Weight Control Registry, and have found it surprisingly easy to collect success stories. About half the people who maintained a substantial weight loss for more than a year had done it on their own, they found. This suggests that many people have found ways to lose weight and keep it off, but have never been counted in formal studies.

''There is something very optimistic about this whole data set,'' said Dr. Rena Wing, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh and the Brown University School of Medicine. ''Without much effort, we have identified 2,500 people who have succeeded.''

Dr. Wing and Dr. James O. Hill of the University of Colorado are collaborating on the registry project, which they began five years ago with financing from drug companies and other sources. They are compiling detailed histories of successful long-term dieters -- people who had maintained a weight loss of at least 30 pounds for at least one year. Most of the volunteers were solicited through articles in newspapers and magazines. ''It was really to convince ourselves and convince the world that there are people who are successful, and then to learn from them,'' Dr. Wing said.

To their surprise, Dr. Wing and Dr. Hill found that on average the respondents had maintained a 67-pound weight loss for five years. Between 12 and 14 percent had maintained a loss of more than 100 pounds.

The success stories might not have been so surprising had it been clear that the 95 percent failure rate was so poorly founded. The figure comes not from any kind of random sampling, but from a study of 100 patients treated for obesity at a nutrition clinic at New York Hospital in the 1950's. In 1959, its authors, Dr. Albert Stunkard and Mavis McLaren-Hume, published a paper in which they concluded, ''Most obese persons will not stay in treatment, most will not lose weight, and of those who do lose weight, most will regain it.''

That conclusion, Dr. Brownell of Yale said, has since become the most frequently quoted statement in obesity literature.

Dr. Stunkard, who is now a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, said the study was ''perfectly respectable'' for that period. ''The paper made a big impact because everybody thought obesity was pretty easy to treat,'' he said. ''This showed that, for whatever reason, it wasn't.''

But the study has little relevance to the current understanding of how to control weight, said Dr. Stunkard, who specializes in the treatment of obesity and eating disorders. The 100 patients in the study were ''just given a diet and sent on their way,'' he said.

''That was state of the art in 1959,'' he added. ''I've been sort of surprised that people keep citing it; I know we do better these days.''

The intervening years have brought significant changes to the treatment of obesity, the most important of which, Dr. Stunkard said, has been the introduction of behavior modification techniques.

Since the 1959 study, though, the statistic has been reinforced by most other clinical studies, which also showed people with discouraging results.

''Unless we can prove they're typical, the data cannot be generalized,'' Dr. Brownell said. ''The people we see in clinics tend to be more overweight and have more psychological problems. They are more likely by a factor of two to have binge- eating problems.''

The true failure rate could be much better, or much worse, he said. ''The fact is that we just don't know.''

The new research on successful dieters will disappoint those hoping for a magic-bullet solution; most had simply eaten less, and healthier, food, and exercised regularly. But judging by their accounts, it is entirely possible for people without the resources to hire personal trainers and chefs to accomplish permanent weight loss.

For inspiration, it would be difficult to surpass the story one of the participants in the Weight Control Registry, Tammy Munson, a 32-year-old receptionist and ambulance dispatcher from Jamestown, N.Y., who lost 147 pounds and has kept it off for eight years.

At 5 feet 4 inches tall and 185 pounds, she was overweight throughout high school, but ballooned to 253 after she graduated and got married. She knew little about nutrition, she recalled, and ''didn't even realize that liquid had calories.''

''I'd get up in the morning and have ice cream and cookies,'' Ms. Munson said. Dinner might be three or four fast-food hamburgers and candy bars. Her husband, Jeffrey, who has lost 100 pounds, was also seriously overweight. ''Our wedding pictures are really funny,'' she said. ''We broke the bed when we were first married.''

Ms. Munson began to face her weight problem, she said, when her blood pressure began to rise. At first she did some crash dieting, eating only about 650 calories a day.

''I read every book in the library about how to keep the weight off,'' she said, and eventually settled on a more balanced approach that included salads, fish, vegetable burgers, fruit and always a little dessert. And exercise. She exercises to a tape every day, jumps rope, and has begun running.

In part, Ms. Munson attributes her success at least in part to the fact that she did not know success was supposedly impossible.

''You've got to find it for yourself,'' she said. ''And don't spend money on it. You can get it for free. You can get if from reading. It's just the food pyramid, but people don't want to hear it. Slimfast, Optifast, you can't live like that forever.

''You eat a lot of good stuff and a little bad stuff, and you'll be fine, but you've got to have the little bad stuff, too.''

The experience of Russell M. Lomando, 47, of Brooklyn, was less dramatic, but probably more typical of the people in the study. ''I was 39 years old and I was walking up the train stairs in Brooklyn huffing and puffing,'' he said. ''I could see myself going into the grave when I was 40.'' He used to eat, he said, ''pounds of junk -- donuts and cookies and cakes, and I'm talking boxes at a time.''

One day, climbing the subway stairs, Mr. Lomando made up his mind to cut out the junk, but gradually.

At first, he was able to do it only four days a week; he worked up to seven over a period of months. He took up karate for exercise, and over two years lost 50 pounds, getting his weight down to 160.

''You just have to change your life style,'' he said. ''You just have to have the will power to do it.'' But that is not necessarily easy, he conceded. ''You just have to weigh the choices. Do you want to become healthier?''

Small little reminders of just how overweight I am

Standing helping my dad on his computer.  After a few minutes back and knees start aching.  Don't pregnant women talk about stuff like this?

Obesity, Treadmill Walking, Speed, Incline, and Injury

Energetics and biomechanics of inclined treadmill walking in obese adults (Click for abstract)


Brisk walking is a recommended form of exercise for obese individuals. However, lower-extremity joint loads and the associated risk of musculoskeletal injury or pathological disease increase with walking speed. Walking uphill at a slower speed is an alternative form of moderate intensity exercise that may reduce joint loading.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to quantify the energetics and biomechanics of level and uphill walking in obese adults. We hypothesized that compared to brisk level walking, walking slower up a moderate incline would reduce lower-extremity net muscle moments while providing appropriate cardiovascular stimulus.

Methods: Twelve obese adult volunteers, with mass of 100.5±15.7 kg and body mass index of 33.4±2.6 kg·m (mean±SD), participated in this study. We measured oxygen consumption, ground reaction forces, and three-dimensional lower-extremity kinematics while subjects walked on a dual-belt force-measuring treadmill at several speed (0.50-1.75 m·s) and grade (0°-9°) combinations. We calculated metabolic rate, loading rates, and net muscle moments at the hip, knee, and ankle for each condition.

Results: Metabolic rates were similar across trials and were of moderate intensity (48.5%-59.8% of VO2max). Walking slower uphill significantly reduced loading rates and lower-extremity net muscle moments compared with faster level walking. Peak knee extension and adduction moments were reduced by ∼19% and 26%, respectively, when subjects walked up a 6° incline at 0.75 m·s versus level walking at 1.50 m·s.

Conclusions: These results suggest that walking at a relatively slow speed up a moderate incline is a potential exercise strategy that may reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury/pathological disease while providing proper cardiovascular stimulus in obese adults.

Ehlen, Kellie A., Raoul F. Reiser, and Raymond C. Browning. "Energetics and biomechanics of inclined treadmill walking in obese adults." Med Sci Sports Exerc 43.7 (2011): 1251-1259.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Is natural sugar from fruit just as ‘bad’ as added sugar


My takeaway was don't eat sugar, but eat all the berries, grapefruits, and kiwis that you want.

Green Zone Training

My takeaway was that the bulk of training should be done in the green heart rate zone, which is 70-80% of max heart rate.

How to sneak up on a regular workout routine that doesn't brutalize my body...

 I hammered it in January on the treadmill, and lost a bunch of range of motion in my hips.

Going forward, focus on cycling rather than treadmill.  Train up towards an hour, but start at something much more manageable like 15 or 20 minutes.

Go for less workouts per week than my personal inclination. This might mean 3 or 4, not 7.

If I'm doing a 36 hour fasting protocol, it might just make sense to make fed days workout days.

Friday, February 11, 2022

It's funny how a lie takes over (Exogenous Testosterone and HGH)


If Joe Rogan were a full-time advocate for hormone therapy, I'd be OK with that.  However, I feel like he needs to issue a disclaimer every time he talks about "fat lazy people who can't stop eating".  His physique is not 100% (or 90%, or 80%) willpower, diet and training.  He's shooting steroids and growth hormone.

It's just not honest.


 Decided to try out eating meat again.  First meal with meat was last night.  I feel a little washed out today, supplementing salt, and taking it easy.  Predictably, have the runs.

I'm not going to go much into why I made this change.  I was vegan for a year, veg for many years, and also spent years pescatarian.  No lack of commitment.  Also -- I want to leave open the possibility of going back, or interleaving different eating patterns.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Current concerns

Treadmill Sports Specificity, Overweight, and Biomechanics

 The biggest concern is the degree to which I'm leaning on the treadmill for the bulk of workouts.  I need to find a way to get good enough on the exercise bike to start enjoying it.

I think here I also have to recognize that a given beats per minute of heart rate on the bike might not be 100% equivalent to the same on the treadmill.  This might be for a variety of reasons, but a big one is sports specificity.  I have been essentially training myself to be a good treadmill walker over the past months.

What's the concern with the treadmill?  It stems from a kind of lay understanding of biomechanics:  I'm carrying an extra 100 pounds, and the weight-bearing, repetitive motion of a treadmill isn't 100% benign.