Friday, March 30, 2007

Results from First Month of 2-5 Carb-Cycling

My wife and I have completed our first 4 weeks of a 2-5 carb cycling (2 days high carb followed by 5 days low). I have lost 1.8 pounds and she has lost 2.4. I have also lost another inch around my waist. I'm not sure how many inches she lost this month.

The results of our experiment are still inconclusive. It is clear that we continue losing weight, although it has been a bit slower than before. Now that I have gone through 4 up cycles, my sensitivity to sugar has decreased. Eating desert after dinner does not cause a sugar-rush as it did on "diet vacations" during the straight Atkins style low-carb. This tells me that my metabolism is changing for the better. It took almost 3 months of straight low-carb before I became super sensitive to carbohydrates. So, I can only assume that it will take more than 4 weeks for my metabolism to swing back the other way. For this reason, I believe that we'll have to go a little longer before we have conclusive evidence of whether it works better than long-term Atkins style low-carb dieting.

I have been thinking that the down cycle is too short. It takes 3 days for the weight to drop back down to what it was before the up cycle. This is followed by only 2 days of true weight loss. My wife and I have discussed this and decided to change the cycle lengths. In a couple of weeks, we will switch from a 2-5 cycle to a 3-11 cycle. We will "carb up" every-other weekend (Friday through Sunday). The 11 days in between will be low-carb (me under 45, her under 30). The timing will be such that we will be allowed to eat unlimited carbs Easter weekend and our at our son's first birthday April 20th. I am hoping that the two week cycle is not too long. It's hard to know how to tweak carb-cycling diets as there are so few people trying it that are not super-athletic body builders.

The following are my diet results since August 13th (7 1/2 months). Note that the first 6 1/2 months were roughly based on diets such as Atkins and Protein Power Plan. Only the last month has been while carb-cycling.

Detailed stats (end of week 32):

Total Weight: From 336.0 to 262.8, 73.2 pounds lost
Pounds of Fat: From 123.8 to 65.8
Lean Body Wt. From 212.2 to 197.0
Est. Body Fat: From 36.9% to 25.0%
Waist: From 56.5 to 47.0 inches, 9.5 inches
Hips: From 54.5 to 48.5 inches, 6 inches

Personal reflection:

If even after tweaking the diet, we continue to lose only 1 to 3 pounds a month, we will likely stick with carb-cycling. So far, this has been much slower than the rate of weight loss that we experienced on straight low-carb, but it makes it easier to occasionally enjoy the foods we like. I think I'd rather go slow and feel satisfied than go fast and do completely without certain favorite foods like pizza, pasta, doughnuts, etc.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Weight Loss Causes Muscle Loss

Yesterday was the first time this spring that I mowed my yard. Even though it was over 80 degrees outside, mowing the yard didn't take much effort. I was not at all out of breath when finished. I can remember mowing the yard last fall, when I weighted 75 pounds more than I do today. Back then, I had to stop mowing half way to drink water and take a break. I was in such terrible shape. I feel so good and healthy right now. But, I'm still obese. I can only imagine how much better still I will feel after losing the remaining 25 to 30 pounds.

But, the 75 pounds was not all fat. I have likely lost around 10 to 15 pounds of lean mass since last August. I say "likely" because there is no perfect way to calculate lean body mass. The formula that I am using has room for error. The muscle loss is not likely a direct result of the diet. Rather, it is the result of weighing 75 pounds less than I did last year. Due to my drastic weight loss, I am not getting as much exercise from simple day-to-day activities. Sometimes, I contemplate what it would be like to lug around my old 75 pounds. It's hard to remember what it felt like. My 11 month old son only weighs about 25 pounds and he's very heavy. I can't imagine lugging around three of him!

In an effort to prevent muscle loss and to perhaps get the pounds falling off more quickly, I have decided to walk. This morning, I woke up early (I hate waking up early) and pushed my son's stroller 1 mile to his day-care. And then, I walked back home. I plan to do the same this afternoon. If I do this each sunny day when I am not traveling, I can easily get 4 miles of walking per day. I work from home now and the walking time isn't much more than my old car commute time. On the down side, I may be out of town on business 4 days a week for most of the summer... so I'm not sure how consistent my "work-outs" will be. I just can't bring myself to walk the treadmill at the hotel. Treadmills are hopelessly boring.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Peeps-n-Poops

Saturday, I was thumbing through Parenting Magazine and came across a brief article on sugar free Peeps. The author said something to the effect of "since new Peeps are sugar free, you can fill your children's Easter baskets full, guilt free." The author apparently didn't know about the high levels of sugar alcohols nor that this can cause many people severe bowel problems. With sugar alcohols becoming so prevalent, I wonder how many well-meaning parents will be providing their kids with mass quantities of Easter candy laced with sugar alcohols. I suspect the result may be many small children soiling their nice little pastel colored Easter outfits. It's one thing to market sugar alcohols to adults via chocolate covered peanuts and turtles, but it is quite another to market them toward children. I think that I am starting to agree with Suzzieque's assessment of sugar-free Peeps.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sugar Free Marshmallow Peeps

A few weeks ago, on one of my favorite diet blogs (Waisted in the Wasteland), I read an article about the new sugar-free marshmallow peeps.

The blogger Suzzieque wrote the following:

"...as an adult, I agree with Minneapolis food writer Al Sicherman that Peeps are somewhat a "crime against nature" regardless of what color they are. But the sugar-free peeps are even more criminal.

Well, "crime against nature" or not, I like Peeps. While growing up, I'd awaken each Easter morning to find Peeps waiting for me. And, this article inspired me to seek out and buy the new sugar-free Peeps. I wanted to see for myself if they were as good as "normal" Peeps. I bought some of these last night. They taste EXACTLY like the real Peeps, sugary coating and all. The following are the nutrition info for both versions of Peeps.

Sugar-Free MARSHMALLOW PEEPS® Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 3 Chicks 28g, Calories 60, Calories from Fat 0, Total Fat 0g, Saturated Fat 0g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 0mg, Total Carbohydrates 23g, Dietary Fiber 0g, Sugars 0g, Sugar Alcohol 23g, Protein 1g.

"Normal" MARSHMALLOW PEEPS® Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 5 (42 g), Calories 140, Calories from Fat 0, Total fat 0g, sodium 15 mg, Total Carbohydrate 36g, Fiber 0g, Sugars 34g, Protein 1g.

For the sugar-free version, the entire carb count of 23 per serving comes from sugar alcohols. I have learned that the body metabolizes 1/3 to 1/2 the carbs from sugar alcohols. Therefore, instead of being "0 net carbs", they have an effective carbohydrate count (ECC) of 11.5 per serving. Or about 4 ECC's per chick. The "normal" version has an ECC of 7 per Peep. The sugar-free version is still too high in effective carbohydrates to go wild but it is low enough that you can work some sugar free Peeps into your diet. I very much like these.

I applaud the company "Just Born" for attempting to make sugar-free and less unhealthy Easter candy. But, I really wish they would have not used the sugar alcohols. As many of you know, sugar alcohols have a tendency to cause bowel problems in some people. My wife and I are lucky enough that they do not effect us in this way. And, perhaps the reason that we are not effected is that we count 1/2 the carbs and therefore can not eat an unlimited amount. I would like to warn you to be very cautious of feeding mass quantities of these to your children. With that said, I like the way they taste. And, because I do not have a personal problem with sugar-alcohols, I will likely buy more of these and continue eating them.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

MADtv - Diet (Episode 212)

This video clip reminds me a bit of those other diets. With low-carb on the other hand, we never go hungry.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Carb Cycling First Week Results

This morning we begin another 2 day up cycle. Our first 5 day down cycle is now complete. From the start of the last up cycle, my wife has lost one pound and I have gained less than one pound. But, I have lost a little around my waistline & my lean body weight calculation shows a 2 pound increase lean mass. In short, the results were inconclusive.

You have to keep in mind that it took 2 to 3 months of low-carb dieting for our weight loss to slow substantially. So, we shouldn't expect the first round of carb cycling to have much of an impact on our metabolism. We will continue the experiment.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

I Hate Catered Events!

I am going to a business professional development meeting tonight. Dinner is included. The menu is:

Tossed Salad
Peas w/ Pearl Onions
Breaded Chicken,
Whipped Potatoes,
Rolls & Butter,
Cherry Cobbler with Ice Cream

Look's like I'll be brown-bagging it.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Ketosis at Start of 2nd Carb-Down Day

FYI - This is the morning of the 2nd carb-down day following the 2 day carb-up. My Ketostix show a reading of 15 which means I have a small amount of Ketones in my urine already. This is great! I hadn't expected to find any until tomorrow. It looks like I will get in 4 days of weight loss this week....

Sunday, March 4, 2007

First Carb Up Cycle Complete

I had determined my ideal carb-up range to be between 90 and 350 net carbs. On my first "carb-up" day, I accidentally went over by 23 carbs. 350 seemed so high that I didn't think I'd have anything to worry about.... I looked the carbs up after I got home from lunch. Oops.

On day two, I had 274 net carbs. I had made my best guess at Krystals. When I came home, I went to calorieking.com to look up Krystals carb counts. I had guessed pretty close overall but was way over-estimating on some items and way under-estimating on others.

It seems with a target this high, there is a whole lot more room for error. While I am pretty good at estimating net carbs on low-carb items, I've found the high-carb items to be very difficult. My carb-up days are as hard or harder to count as my first low-carb days had been. I am clueless about many of the foods that I had intuitively known were out during low-carbing. Also, after looking back on it, I think I could make much wiser choices regarding the foods I eat on the "up" days.

Anyways, I gained 5 pounds during my 2 "carb-up" days. I suspect this is mostly water weight. And, it is about what I had expected going into the "carb-up" days. Today was the first "carb-down" day. I hope to reach Ketosis again tomorrow morning or Tuesday morning... If this carb-cycling diet works, then I think I've found something awesome that I can live with.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Carb Cycling Begins Today!

Today, my wife and I begin our carb-cycling experiment. This is an attempt to get past stalls and slower progress. We feel that the body adjusts to the low-carb lifestyle, making it more and more difficult to lose weight the longer you are on the diet. So, what we will be doing is cycling 5 days low-carb (20-45 net grams) with 2 days high (min. 90 net carbs, max. 350). The hypothesis is that by fluctuating carb intake, we'll keep our bodies from becoming resistant to losing fat. This is similar to what many body builders do except we'll have much lower low-days and no weight lifting. The experiment will last a minimum of one month. At the end of the month, we'll decide if to go back to the Protein Power / Atkins type of diet or if you continue with our own carb-cycling diet. Our diet logs will be kept online (link found in right-hand column). I'll try to update mine frequently. My wife will keep her log on paper and I'll copy the info over occassionally. My weight will be listed but her log will only show the daily pounds up or down.


Carb Cycling Diet Experiment Rules

  • Sunday through Thursday continue with low-carb ketogenic diet (like Atkins or Protein Power)
  • Friday and Saturday consume a minimum of 90 net carbs per day but not more than 350 net carbs.
  • Record daily weight.
  • Record daily food intake (what eaten and net carbs). Net carbs will be calculated as total carbs minus carbs from fiber minus 1/2 carbs from sugar alcohols.
  • Record daily Ketostix readings.
  • No cheat days for the first month. Thereafter consider allow 1 floating diet vacation or make cycles more erratic.
Expectations
  • Small weight gain of mostly water weight during carb up days.
  • Water loss on carb down days 1, 2, & 3 (Sunday through Tuesday).
  • Ketostix showing ketosis on Tuesday or Wednesday morning.
  • Real weight loss seen on morning weigh ins on days 4, 5, & 6 (Wednesday through Friday).
  • Weight loss due to carb-down days greater than weight gain on carb-up days.
  • Fluctuating carb levels will prevent the body from becoming sensitive to carbohydrates and prevent the body from adjusting to low carb levels. This should result in fewer stalls and a rapid weight loss similar to what was experienced during first few months of non-carb-cycling low-carb ketogenic diet.


Guinea Pigs (no pun intended)

  • BigDaddyD, a 33 year old male who has been on low-carb diet for 6.5 months and lost 70+ pounds but only an average of about 5 pounds per month for the last few months. See diet log then click "Big Daddy D" tab.
  • SkysMom, a 26 year old female who has been on a low-carb diet for about 5 months . See diet log then click "SkysMom" tab.

Week 28 Results from Straight Low-Carb

We have been roughly following the Protein Power Plan, which is very similar to Atkins. The main difference is that we have been allowing ourselves two days a month off of the diet. These days off have made it easier to stick with the plan. My wife and I typically spend more time planning the days off than the days on. I have noticed that each day off results in a slight weight gain followed by faster weight loss. This is partly why we are going to try the carb-cycling experiment (more on this later). Over the last few months, I have an average monthly loss of only about 5 pounds. This is so disappointing as it is less than a third of what I was losing the first couple of months.

Detailed stats* (end of week 28**):

Total Weight: From 336 to 264.6, 71 pounds lost
Pounds of Fat: From 123.8 to 68.0
Lean Body Wt. From 212.2 to 196.6
Est. Body Fat: From 36.9% to 25.7%
Waist: From 56.5 to 47.5 inches, 9 inches
Hips: From 54.5 to 48.5 inches, 6 inches


I have potentially lost about 14 pounds in lean body weight. Carrying around 71 pounds less than before means that my muscles aren't getting the work-out that they used to. A little muscle loss should be expected since I am not doing any weight lifting. And, I feel absolutely great. I do not tire nearly as easily as before! I am not falling asleep at my desk. I feel much more awake in the mornings. I feel and look fabulous (see comic in last post).

Not bad, huh?

*If you have a keen eye for detail, you may notice that the pounds fat, lean weight, body fat %, etc. do not match perfectly to the earlier weekly updates. I have re-calculated all of my stats using a different formula. The numbers here do match the numbers in my spreadsheet (link in right column).

**I have changed my weekly weigh-ins and measuring from Sunday to Friday. This means that week #28 was cut short by a two days. The reason for the weigh-in day change is that we are beginning carb-cycling today. Friday and Saturday will be carb-up days. Sunday will be the first carb-down day in the cycle. I wanted the weekly reports to reflect the end of the carb down period and therefore not be affected by the carb-induced water gain.

Differences Between Men & Women

This comic was posted on the Low Carb Friends discussion forum. I wish I knew who the art-work belongs to. Since I am uncertain of the copyright info, I am linking to the poster's photobucket site. I think that there is a lot of truth to this.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

My wife is weighing daily and becoming increasingly frustrated with the diet. Her weight fluctuates much more than mine which is driving her mad. She started losing weight at the start of my diet (eating my dinner and her breakfast & lunch). She didn't officially join me for over a month into it. Her success should therefore be measured from my diet start, not her official start. Since I began the diet in August 2006, she has lost 46 pounds! Wow! Even though her weight loss is now very, very slow, her waistline continues to slim down. This morning she put on a pair of paints that she hadn't worn in SIX YEARS. And, they looked fabulous on her. Congratulations Brandi! Way to go!

Today, we begin our carb-cycling experiment. This is supposed to trick our bodies into not adjusting to the continual low-carb intake. I am positive that the water weight associated with carb-intake will exaggerate the weight fluctuation. But, I am confident that the loss trend line will be steeper. Despite everyone's critisism, I am very confident that this program will result in equal or greater overall weight loss than straight low-carb. We'll find out, won't we?