Thinking About Eating Before A Workout? Think Again

An interesting article in the New York Times about the potential benefits of fasting before exercising. I know a lot of bodybuilders and athletes play with timing their meals and workouts. And scientists like Jeff Volek have studied ketogenic diets and athletic performance. Well a new study looks at us regular folks and how when we eat may play a role in lowering insulin levels.

Gee, I wonder where I heard that before?

Anyway, it’s nice that science is starting to put to the test the “benefits” of fasting.

Weekly Weigh-In: Inching Closer to 170s

weekly weigh in june 5

I’m down a few ounces. A loss is a loss. But I’m tweaking my food this week to fight the cold. My body temperature is off and changing my macros should do the trick. Perhaps this will eventually kick my insulin resistance to the curb and jump start my weight loss.

I’m down a couple of ounces this week. I’ll take it. That puts my total weight loss at 140.8 pounds. As frustrated as I am that I’m still hovering in the mid 180s after a year, a little perspective makes that frustration go away.

I’ve shed nearly 50% of my weight in 4 years and kept it off. That’s awesome.

But I am doing some tweaking to my diet and it has noting to do with the scale.

I’m always cold. Too cold. And it has nothing to do with my air conditioning.

It’s been going on for nearly a year. Regardless of temperature, I’m always wearing a sweater because I feel chilly. How cold I feel goes off the charts during fasts. So no more intermittent fasting this week. My metabolism is off and the course corrections I’m making this week are already bearing fruit.

Funny, I’m wearing the sweater right now and I’m sweating up a storm. Clearly I reached for it this morning out of habit. That tells me my resting metabolism was out of wack for far too long.

If all goes well this week I plan to try a 36 hour fast this weekend. I’ll eat regular on Friday and not eat again until Sunday morning. Keep in mind the fast isn’t about the scale. It’s about lowering an artificially high body weight set point caused by decades of insulin resistance. And the best way to do that is by fasting.

Optimal health really is one big science experiment. And I’m enjoying being the scientist and the lab rat.

Fruits & The 5 A Day Myth

I always wondered how the US Food Guidelines came up with the recommendation of eating 5 servings of fruit and vegetables everyday. In the video below Dr. Zoe Harcombe (PhD in public health nutrition) explains how this idea of eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily has no science to back it up.

I should have known it was just a marketing gimmick by the companies that what you to eat more fruits and veggies.

Is this really a big deal? I mean fruits and vegetables are really healthy and we should eat more, right?

If you are healthy, go for it. If you have insulin resistance, fruit isn’t your friend.

In the video, Harcombe explains that fruit isn’t as nutritious as we’ve been told. What fruits lack in vitamins and minerals they make up with an abundance of sugar and fructose. People, especially women, tend to over eat fruit (because of that sweetness) and limit or skip the more nutritious vegetables.

For me, I made the decision to severely restrict fruit when I started eating low carb, high fat (LCHF). Thanks to insulin resistance, my metabolism was broken. The only way to start reclaiming my health was to go strict LCHF (no more than 20g of net carbs a day). Given my level of insulin resistance, fruit wasn’t going to help me do that.

Not all fruit is horrible.  Berries provide enough of a benefit that outweigh the rising insulin.  However I follow 2 rules strictly when eating berries:

  1. I always eat fruit with a fat, like cream, to minimize the insulin response.
  2. I rarely eat berries, because fruit is nature’s candy.

Do I miss fruit? Sometimes. Bananas were my favorite, but not anymore. They are pure sugar. Cherries, peaches, kiwi and apples are missed. At some point I’d love to enjoy them again, but I also understand that I’m dealing with decades of damage to my metabolic system.

I may never “cure” my insulin resistance. The best I may hope for is increasing my sensitivity to carbs.  Which means I’ll never eat the 2-4 servings a day recommended by our government as part of a “healthy” diet.

I’ll enjoy those missed fruits again, but only on my terms — as rare, special treats … and always with fat.

Plateau From Hell: Battling My Body’s Set Weight Point

weekly weigh in april 30

Not the progress I was expecting this week. I’m up a pound. Time to rethink my tactics.

Bleh! I was expecting a loss this week and instead I’m up a pound. What’s really frustrating is I’ve been bouncing between 182-185 pounds for a year. One. Freaking. Year.

Rethinking Tactics
I recently finished reading The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. Regular readers know I love Dr. Fung’s blog and his online lectures. A review of his book is coming soon (hint, you should read it!), but right now I’m looking at shaking up my intermittent fasting tactics for one simple reason — changing my body’s set weight point.

It’s believed that our bodies have a set weight point. When a healthy person’s weight goes above or below that set weight, the body compensates — slowing or raising metabolism, increasing hunger or satiety hormones — and works to get back to that person’s set weight point. Read More

Is Fasting The New “Diet” Fad?

smokey joe burger 2

I keep meals pretty simple and normal in size when breaking a fast.

“There is nothing new, except what has been forgotten” – Marie Antoinette

Well the New York Times’ Well blog has a nice piece on the growing trend in fasting that you should take a look at. However, unlike other  fly by night “diets” on the market, fasting isn’t a fad. It’s been around for ages. Heck most religions include some form of fasting.

Some of the benefits of fasting include:

  • Lowers insulin levels, moving your body into fat burning mode
  • Increases growth hormone for muscle building
  • Repairs your cells and helps eliminates damaged cells that can turn cancerous
  • Lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin resistance
  • Weight loss

There’s also very promising research on fasting and cancer treatment and possibly prevention.

Of course, the longer you fast, the more your body benefits.

I started intermittent fasting after reading Dr. Jason Fung’s blog series. Rarely do I eat 3 meals a day anymore. Typically I fast for 18 hours before eating my first meal (7:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m). For Lent I attempted a daily 24-hour fast and I did a pretty good job. I’m still going through a learning curve as I work up towards a 48 and 72-hour fast. The longest I’ve gone is 28 hours. Not too shabby.

My goal is to progress towards a 7-day fast twice a year. Seven days? How is that possible. Well the longest fast was 382 days and it was successful (and under medical supervision).

I can’t urge you strongly enough to read Dr. Fung’s series on fasting. While you may think fasting may not be your cup of tea, you’ll learn that it is one of the most healthy and ancient healing tools humans use…and it’s free!


Diabetes Crisis In California

Scary piece from the LA Times. Researchers estimate that 55% of Californians are either diabetic or pre-diabetic. While pre-diabetes is preventable (70% of pre-diabetics develop diabetes) more than 90% of pre-diabetics don’t know they have it. This is a wake up call if there ever was one. Too bad the reporter failed to pick up on a significant fact.  The article states: “Rates of diabetes have increased more than 175% nationally since 1980 (emphasis mine), according to federal data.” Sure enough that’s the same time the obesity epidemic started.

Hmmmm…..maybe it had to do with the introduction of this:

Read More

Cutting Dairy, Fasting Lead to 5+ Lbs. Drop

after thanksgiving

After my post-Thanksgiving weight gain, I got back to the basics that helped me lose 140 lbs. Plus cutting back on dairy and some needed fasting improved not just the number on the scale, but my energy level and mental clarity.

By the time my 2 Thanksgivings (with lots of wine)  ended, I gained 4 pounds. Ugh! When I stepped on the scale November 28, I temporarily left the 180s, weighing in at 193.2 lbs.

Oh hell no!

Since then I’ve redoubled efforts on my healthy eating habits – menu planning, eating only when hungry, chopping and prepping the meals in advance, minimizing eating out, and tracking everything I eat. Oh and drinking water…lots of water.

Yep, I got back to basics. Read More

December Challenge – 24 Hour Fasting

fasting drinks

Water and bone broth are at the ready during today’s 24-hour fast.

After Thanksgiving I took a hard look at my intermittent fasting (IF) schedule. I’ve gotten into the habit of doing a 14-hour fast about 3 times a week. Maybe fasting 5 days a week might help break this plateau? So I started re-reading Dr. Jason Fung’s blog posts on fasting. Sure enough I stumbled upon an important data point that could help me break my stall.

Resetting My Body’s Set Weight
We all have a Body Set Weight (BSW) – a weight your body is comfortable with. During my last physical, my doctor cautioned me that if I wanted to lose more weight I could, but my BSW might be at 185 lbs.

If I was at my BSW and dipped below it, my body compensates by increasing it’s output of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Basically you dip below your BSW your body increases hunger and desire to eat. Your body wants to get back to its set weight.

I have to admit at the time of my physical I thought there was no way 185 was my BSW. I could still see the fat around my belly, thighs and arms. Look, I don’t expect to be super model thin. But I set my sights on 150 lbs. and that’s what I wanted to get to.

Well 8 months later and weighing 185 lbs., I’m starting to believe. Read More

What If Obesity Is The Effect Of A Bigger Health Problem?

What if obesity has nothing to do with eating too much? Is it possible that obesity is the effect of a bigger problem? A great and touching TedMed talk by Dr. Peter Attia challenges the medical status quo on weight gain and how obese patients are treated.

What if blaming the obese is blaming the victim?
I’ve written before that most nutrition science is crap. All of us fatties work hard to eat right, but something isn’t working. Diabetes, metabolic disease, obesity and insulin resistance continues to skyrocket.

So what does the nutrition/diet industry do? It blames us for not heeding the government’s dietary guidelines (which are not based on rigorous science). Basically it’s our fault. We have no will power. No self-control.

If that’s true, it makes it easy for people to judge us fatties, doesn’t it?

But what if the so-called experts have it wrong? Maybe they don’t have all the answers on obesity. Let’s face it, since the endorsement of the low-fat diet in the 70s  by the government, we’ve gotten fatter. When nutrition/dietary experts cling to their dogma instead of asking questions, then they are doing more harm than good.

Dr. Attia is right. It’s time for nutrition scientist to get back to their ideals: “Open minds, the courage to throw out yesterday’s ideas when they don’t appear to be working, and the understanding that scientific truth isn’t final but constantly evolving.”



Pack On The Pounds With A Stressful Job

stress causes obesity

Which button do you hit the most at work? I opted for the green button and focused on getting healthy. (Image courtesy of Stuart Miles and

Want to lose weight? Eliminating job stress can help. I came across an article in Scientific American that describes the biology of stress and how our body releases hormones, like insulin.

Insulin stores fat in our cells. And elevated blood insulin makes us hungry.

So not only do you store fat when you’re stressed, but you want to eat too. Great!

Why did I leave my job? The 16-hour days, weekend work, hourly crises and daily frustrations with management. How did I compensate? Vending machines and happy hours.  Not the healthiest way to relieve stress.  

Walking away was the best thing I did for my health.