Friday, October 26, 2012

The F- Word & The Dramatics

These fat-loss posts are being published retroactively. I originally wrote the following in early-August. 

date     gut      lbs    gut loss   lb loss  tl gut loss  tl lb loss   ktn avg  
7-28   39.38   175.8   0.13      0.88    1.4             7.8             1.35
8-4     39.13   174.8   0.25       1.13    1                8.8             2

Some dramatic changes this week with dramatic results. First the changes, borrowed from

Change No. 1: I started an "Intermittent Fasting" (IF) meal routine. That is, given the 24 hours in a day, I allow myself to eat during a window of 8 hours (called a 16/8 split). In real-life, that just means I stop eating after dinner then skip breakfast the next day. My first meal comes after a noon-time workout, which is done in a fasted state*.

That suits me fine. In theory, it helps force me to get to bed earlier. Plus, I'm rarely hungry in the morning anyway. It also lets me work up a massive appetite after an intense workout. Which in turn, adds more enjoyment to an otherwise routine pack-lunch.

But the huge life-changing practical benefit of IF is that it frees up a ton of time (vs the six-meal-a-day grazing routine). I'm no longer a slave to eating every two to three hours. And I don't feel compelled to always be near a source of healthy food. (Being in ketosis helps a lot with this as I can go longer between meals.)

Here are a number of studies showing the benefits of IF.

Change No. 2: I started taking BCAA (branched-chain amino acid) powder an hour before my workout. (*It has zero calories, so I consider the following workout to be fasted.) Here's a study on how its shown to target visceral fat when used with exercise. Whether the spot-reducing finding is corroborated by other studies, I don't know, but I can definitely attest to BCAA's workout-recovery benefits.

It's like night-and-day. Before, it'd typically take me three days to recover from a tough leg routine. The days between were strictly limited to upper-body or the foam-roller. No way I could get on the bike or treadmill the next day. With BCAA, I can definitely get back to hammering the legs sooner. The quicker recovery also allows consistent M/HIIT after strength training (vs the boredome of LISS). Again, my post-strength M/HIIT is done at threshold to avoid injury and overtraining.

Public Service Announcement: The brand of BCAA I use (which will go unnamed) tastes like melted car tires. I've been adding a zero-calorie electrolyte mix to help out (Propel). The Propel helps a ton, but the mix likely wouldn't fly without cold water; ie, sitting in a bike bottle for an hour or two on a warm day. I'll need to find a different BCAA brand.


So I've been promising dramatic results: how's 1/4" off the gut? That's twice the fat-loss rate of the two previous weeks. But wait, there's more! I only lost a pound this week (a half-pound less than previous weeks). Those two measurements combined suggest I lost a significant amount fat while also gaining (or at least maintaining) lean mass.

Granted, total weight loss is always a shifty guideline. There are a lot of factors involved, so I'm tempering this week's excitement. I will say that this week's progress is at least as good as the best I've had with previous fat-loss cycles.

A Month of Data

The end of this week marks one month in ketosis. While I see good progress week-to-week, it's interesting to see a graph of that data:

A few things stand out:

-- Overall weight- and gut-loss has been on close vectors, which is good. What I don't want to see is my weight dropping at a faster rate than my gut measurement, which might mean I'm losing lean mass. Obviously, what I'd like to see most is my gut loss at a steeper decline than my weight loss, which would mean I'd be losing fat while retaining or increasing lean mass.

-- I'm trying not to stress the ebb and flow of what each data point might represent. The big picture is making sure my weight and gut loss are consistently trending downward.

-- The lower image shows my weight loss against average ketone reading. It's a little early to say, but from these charts, you can see a correlation between gut-loss and a higher ketone reading.

Everyday Victories

I can now fit into a size-small shirt I haven't been willing to wear since before Rowan was born two years ago. I've been noticing that my clothes are fitting looser in general. In fact, last week's jeans I mentioned (32" Old Navy taper) that fit tight are now a perfect fit. Likewise, jeans that fit perfect a week ago are getting loose (32" Old Navy boot-cut).

Next Week: Keto and Vacation

We're going on vacation -- a half-week in a Big Sur cabin. I've been going on about how being in ketosis frees me from being chained to a source of clean food. Let's take that further. What happens if I'm out in BFE for a few days and miss a few workouts?

We shall see!