Wednesday, January 31, 2024

What foods do I have trouble with?

It was 3am the other night, and I was sitting in the parking lot of Wawa, after having just ordered and downed 90% of a family size mac and cheese.  I then marched right back into the store and bought the super-jumbo-king pack of Reese's peanut butter cups, and a king size bag of peanut M&Ms and ate them sitting in the parking lot.

So the question is, what kind of foods put me on the road to this kind of downward spiral?

The answer is fairly straightforward: it's processed sugar, and flour.   It feels like if I stay away from these, I'm in a pretty safe and serene territory.

These foods include:

1) Chocolate bars

2) Bread and butter

3) Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

4) Pasta and noodles

5) Candy

6) Pancakes and French Toast

7) Bagels

8) Brownies and cakes

9) Ice cream

10) Cookies

11) Gatorade

12) Sweetened yogurt

13) Chocolate chips

14) Candied berries or fruit in syrup

15) Diet Soda

16) Meatballs from local Wawa cooked with an excruciating amount of sugar.

17) Fast food burger and fries.

The reading I've been doing recently indicate that it might just be better to abstain entirely from stuff like this.  There's still a lot of room left for richness.  Tonight I had chicken noodle soup (my stomach has been off, the noodles are marginal, but it was satisfying -- I needed the hydration, and a container of pre-cut watermelon.  I felt full, and I didn't feel like eating 100% more of the same in the same sitting.   This is telling, because with trigger foods there is literally no bottom.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Fat Fitness Nerd, Part III: Food Addiction

 I'm opening a new chapter in FatFitnessNerd, focusing on food addiction.  I will still write about fitness and other topics, but I want to return to something that was successful for me early on: treating food with an addiction model.  Knowing that all that it would take is one candy to knock me into a months-long binge of sugar and weight gain.  This is in fact what happened after a bout of Covid.

I'm currently reading this book, and will report back with progress.  I feel optimistic that treating sweets and refined carbs this way (maybe also nuts and very sweet fruits) has worked for me in the past and can work now.

A workable description of what addiction is is that it is the continuation of a behavior despite clear consequences.  I have been walking around with a prediabetic blood sugar.  Why did I spend a week eating cake at lunch?

Positive Phrases for E/O January into February

 "If I ease back into my nutrition plan and workouts, the weight I gained will slowly come off..."

"Everyone falls off the wagon a bit around the holidays.  The trick is to fix the flat, not slash the other three tires."

"There is an element of going slowly in nutrition.  Pick meals slowly, eat slowly, even workout slowly and gently.  Take time.  Nothing catastrophic happened."

"I am on the path to making December and January just a bump in a much longer road of weight loss and nutrition.  It's temporary."

"I already feel better and healthier, and it's just been a couple of days of walking, fasting, and eating well."

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Fasting yields flexibility when doing low-carb.

Fung doesn't make a really coherent argument about what goes wrong with Atkins over the long term. He argues that long-term failure of adherence to Atkins is a function of adaptation to the diet.  Over and over again he makes arguments for intermittent, or pulsatile solutions -- ultimately fasting.   In particular he cites this study as an argument that intermittent fasting is more effective than continuous calorie restriction.  By proxy he seems to argue that this is what is missing with the low carb approach - IE because low carb is meant to be a long-term, continuous behavior, it fails due to some kind of adaptation or development of resistance. 

He may be right about the fasting, but I don't find the argument that "Atkins fails because it is too restrictive... what you need to do is add fasting" to be particularly compelling.  Peter Attia in an interview said that the reason he fasts is to give himself a bit of flexibility in his diet over strict "keto".  This is a much more cogent argument.

"Well I mean if we are going to get really technical, the benefits are overstated, or only proved in animal models...  So I don't know if those benefits would extend...  So for me what it comes down to is that it's just an easier way, it gives me much more liberty with what I eat during my eating window, I don't have to be nearly as restrictive when I'm eating if I have that period off..."-- Peter Attia MD

Friday, January 26, 2024

Volumetric Satiety

I'm re-reading Jason Fung's book on obesity and am in the chapter where he talks about changes in basal metabolic rate due to underfeeding or overfeeding.    One experimental description caught my eye:  A British trainer overfed to the tune of 5500 calories per day, but did it on protein and fat.  He only gained 2 pounds, but reduced his waist size.  The weight gain was muscle mass.  He then did the same thing but overfed on the Standard American [high-carb] Diet.  The weight gain was as predicted by the level of over-feeding, on the order of 20lbs.

I've been talking about hedonic satiety in recent posts, but there is another kind of satiety related to the volume and frequency of food intake.  Anyone that has pushed back from an all-you-can-eat buffet knows what it feels like to be overfull on sheer quantity.   Honestly, for me, this is a pleasant feeling.  I like feeling full, and conversely, I don't like walking around hungry.

We all have a cultural problem here, in that we universally assign judgements of gluttony to overeating, and we don't differentiate if the macronutrient composition is weighted towards protein and fat.  If we are all going to naturally want a period of overfeeding after a long period of caloric deficit, why not try it this way?

Punch line - if you are hungry, eat.  Just don't eat Wawa mac and cheese.

Hedonic Satiety


During covid, I ate a bunch of ice cream, and peanut and butter jelly sandwiches.  I did it because I was feeling miserable, and because my throat hurt.  It's been really tough to bounce back to the diet that lost me 50lbs since last November.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been doing a little bit of an experiment with carnivore.  This has been a financial experiment as much as a nutritional one.  A pound of 80/20 ground meat at my local trader joes is $5. Chicken is $8.  By not eating the salads and the veggies, and the fresh tomatoes, I guess I have been saving a bit of money.  Certainly, I have been saving money over eating out.

However, what I have noticed is that I have been ping-ponging between eating 100% carnivore, and going to the local Wawa and buying 3 candy bars and a personal pizza.  Part of this is the addictive nature of that food -- during Covid I 'fell off the wagon' and it has been hard to get back on.  Part of it though is also something I'm calling "hedonic satiety".

"Hedonic satiety" means that our desire for pleasurable food has been met.  This can be accomplished with sweetness, with quantity, and with salt/spice/umami.   In eating a loaf of ground meat for dinner, I was setting myself up to want a candy bar later that evening.  More recently, eating a well-spiced, well-prepared low-carb meal at Outback steakhouse (shown above), sets me up to feel full and satiated.

The problem here is one of economics.  A candy bar is $2.50.  A steak dinner is around $35.  It's a lot cheaper to be hedonically satiated by garbage than it is to be hedonically satiated by high-quality restaurant food.  Cooking is ideal, but most people I know eat out, most of the time.  The reason for poor health is that in doing that we all can afford hoagies, not sirloin.

What's the answer?  Ideally, build some cooking skills to turn that 1lb loaf of 80/20 ground beef into something satisfying.  Short of that though, I am resolved to up my food budget to where it was when I lost the bulk of the weight early last year, and to save on other aspects of my budget.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

It's been really hard since Covid...


When I had covid, I went off of my low-carb diet.  It has been very difficult getting back onto it.  

I want to double-down on treating sugar as an addiction.  A little leads to a lot.  Even "keto" chocolate bars that are artificially sweetened lead me to crave other sugary foods.

The other thing that has been difficult is that I have been trying to cut my food budget.  I learned back in November that there is something akin to "hedonic satiety", where you have to replace sugary sweet meals with well-prepared savory meals.  These are not conducive to cutting food funds.

So what to do?  I had a good "keto" day today.  I think I'm resolved to find savings in other areas other than food -- to get back to having satisfying (hedonically satisfying) savory meals at restaurants.  It lead to my early success, so I feel I can rely on it.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Could alternate day fasting restore a will to live? Anterior Midcingulate Cortex growth via "the suck."


There is apparently a brain structure, or a pair of them, that grows in response to people essentially doing "things that they don't want to do."    This supports the idea that we can train willpower.

Dr. Huberman says something interesting in this video clip though, and that is that this brain center might also be responsible, as we age, for the very will to live.  

I of course connected some dots in a way that might not be supported by science:  Could regular fasting, because we never truly become accustomed to it in a way that we come to like it, serve an almost antidepressant function by working on our will to continue.  

Could growing these structures through regular practice help us down the road when things get really rocky due to health or relationships?