Saturday toward the end of my post I proposed another of my self experiments.
Alright. Time for a bit of self experimentation. Today is Saturday, 2/25 and as providence would have it, I’m recording another podacst with the great low-carb diet advocate Jimmy Moore next Friday, 3/2 (rather than the usual months, it will air a few days later, like the 5th or 6th, I believe). Jimmy believes in the health and benefits of low-carb, but so far as I can tell, unlike many others, never prescribes it for everyone and is always open to the possibility that an individual might do better otherwise.
So as soon as I publish this I’m heading off to the market to get myself a load of white sweet potatoes and regular white potatoes, and for the next week and perhaps beyond, will make them a staple of my diet. So, for example, breakfast might be a sweet with a little butter and a couple of fried eggs. Lunch, one or two potatoes with some meat, maybe some fruit. Dinner, likewise. And rather than track any numbers I’ll eat to satiation and hunger, just that it’ll always include a potato, with lesser portions of fat & meat.
So next Friday I’ll get to report to Jimmy how it’s going in terms of energy levels, sleep, feelings of well being, satiety, weight and body composition. Anyone else up for the challenge?
So here’s how I have modified my initial intentions in bold. First, since I’m going to be on with Jimmy, I thought it would be far more valuable to actually have numbers to demonstrate what my actual ratios are. Second, as of this morning, I have added white rice to the mix at least initially, to see if I have roughly the same response as potato. If not, then I’ll drop the rice going forward. If I can’t tell much difference, then I’ll keep the rice in the mix for variety. But I expect that over the week the majority of my carbs will come from potato.
I did get started Saturday afternoon, but it was leftovers, so I didn’t bother to log that. The log begins yesterday, Sunday. I’ll get to that in a moment. Initially, I really had no idea what my target level of carbohydrate would or should be, but fortunately, a good clue was provided by Skyler Tanner of Skyler Tanner in comments.
It’s funny how he kept talking himself in circles but really kept showing me what I already know: nobody has a firm grasp of what they mean when they say “low carb.” Everyone assumes Atkins but I generally like what Dr. Jeff Volek, a low carb researcher, comes up with:
“In describing diets in narrative, I’d use as a starting point the NHANES data showing that carbohydrate consumption before the obesity epidemic was 43% of total energy… My suggestion is that any diet nominally less than that, say 35-40%, be considered a “low-carbohydrate diet,” although the caloric level if substantially different from 2000 kcal would have to be indicated.”
The reality is that we’re trying to become what John Berardi describes as follows: “we’re trying to teach the body to become a carb storage machine (thus, giving most of them after the workout so they are preferentially stored in the liver and muscle vs. burned as fuel) and a fat burning machine (thus, keeping carbs lower the rest of the day, taking fish oils, etc).” This way you have enough carbs to allow for good workouts, minimizing the use of protein to make carbs to optimally burn fat, but not so much that insulin is compromising lipolysis or preferentially oxidizing glycogen over fatty acids. Of course we’re doing both to some degree all of the time but we’re trying to swing the pendulum in that direction.
Lower carbohydrates I can get behind but not “low” as a blanket statement under all circumstances. An endurance athlete is going to need a hell of a lot more in the way of carbohydrates than a person whose day goes like this: drive to work -> sit in cube -> drive home -> go to sleep.
Anyone who says they they have a 100% clear answer doesn’t know how much they don’t know…it all depends. Context matters.
So there I basically had my answer. I would try to keep carbohydrate in the range of 40-50% of caloric intake roughly, on a daily basis (with little concern at individual meals). Moderate, reasonable…not high or low.
So here’s how it worked out yesterday.
- 2 cups hash browns
- 2 fried eggs
- 3 slices canadian bacon
- 1 cup of fruit (melons & berries)
- 2 beers :)
- 1 large baking potato, mashed with 1 tbs butter and 1 tbsp sour cream
- 3 oz turkey breast
- 1 cup of chicken stock reduced to sauce, with a dash of white wine and pat of butter
Here’s how it breaks out (and I didn’t log this until today, so I’m amazed at how just eating to satiety and desire, I pretty much hit the target near where I wanted).
Calories and Ratios
I’ll be abstaining from alcohol the remainder of the week.
For breakfast just a bit ago, I had about 2 cups white rice, 2 fried eggs on top, 2 tbs of butter and a banana. Comes out to about 10/37/53 for protein/fat/carb.
So far I’m very surprised at how it’s going. In roughly 2 day’s time, not only have I not gained any weight, but looks like somewhere around a half pound has come off. This is surprising because being LC most of the time and fasting now and then, I fully expected to gain a few pounds in water weight as the glycogen tanks got topped off in the liver and muscles. And indeed, the muscles in my arms and shoulders “seem” a bit more “pumped.” The other surprises, so far:
- No heartburn (taking it easy on fat & protein?)
- Improved feelings of “fullness”
- No post-meal drowsiness (quite the opposite, in fact)
- Slept straight through for 6 1/2 hours last night without waking once, which is extremely rare
- Improved mental attitude
In terms of the attitude, outlook, well being, etc., I’m certainly open to the possibility that’s placebo, confirmation bias, wishful thinking, or whatever. Time will tell. Thing is, when I was losing the fat initially a few years back, I very much recall walking on cloud nine most of the time—but it’s really been a long time now I’ve just not felt that same way. Then yesterday, in small glimpses and snapshots, it felt familiar in that way again.
The other thing is just kind of a renewed appetite and excitement with the pleasure of food and eating, knowing that it may not just be a couple of potatoes or cups of rice per week, but on a daily basis, which both enhances the flavor, variety and texture of meals (I love the texture of mashed potato, for example) and lightens the cooking load, since these things are a cinch to prepare, making the meat dishes last longer.
Well, it’s only been two days…so at the risk of getting ahead of myself and being accused of unbridled bright-eyed exuberance, I’ll sign off now.