Morning – Day 17

Okay, now to look at my rebooted numbers.

  • Weight: 234.2
  • Omron Body Fat %: 23.5
  • Fat Mass: 55.04 lbs
  • Lean Mass: 179.16

I say rebooted because I’m trying very hard to think of these numbers as a fresh start, not as a massive and depressing plummet from my previous progress. My Lean mass is down by about 15 lbs from what I was estimating before. I’m thinking a lot of that is water weight and a lot of it was just from an error in my pinching technique. So anyway, now I’m sitting at 50+ pounds of goo on my body. Or rather, I always was and am only now realizing it.

Enough wallowing. The weight is still very much going the right direction, which is good. I would still love to reach my goal of 225 over the next two weeks, so we’ll have to see how that goes. I’ve learned so much more about the over-simplistic “calories in vs calories out” equation, that I think losing weight at a dramatically increased pace is very possible. It has to do with your hormones, and what each of them does. It also has to do with a misunderstanding about how food is used in the body by most people (including me, until recently). When you eat a meal composed of 50% carb, 25% fat and 25% protein that totals 500 calories, the majority of the fat and protein you’re eating aren’t being “burned” by your cells for energy. You’re giving yourself the raw materials to rebuild cells that have been damaged, or to produce new cells. The carbs (anything but fiber) turn into sugars that then go to feed your cells. You’re also probably going to have an increase in blood sugar, which leads to an increase in insulin, which tries to get the “excess” nutrients in your blood stream into proper long-term storage. Namely, fat. If you eat a high-fat, low-carb diet with reasonable levels of protein, a lot of the fat and all of the protein go to repairing and rebuilding your cells instead of being burned as energy. So you can be using more calories than you burn, if that makes sense. So your body recycles a lot of the raw materials you give it, especially proteins. When cells get too damaged or worn out, your body recycles what it can and the rest is packed out as waste. So the whole idea of  “calories in vs calories out” completely misses this whole other function. Your nutrients are what your body is made of. You get rid of damaged cells or nutrients in your waste, and a goodly portion of the food you eat goes to repair or replace. Those are calories you’re eating but not “burning”. Unless you think of that restructuring as part of the burn, in which case why on earth are you eating so many carbohydrates? Those are calories that can only serve one function, and that’s to be burned by cells to produce energy. Proteins and fats can do so many more things in the body, and you really actually need them. And lots of them. So let’s say you eat 100 calories of protein, and it goes to repair your muscle tissue or bones or whatever. Then let’s say you burn 100 calories by walking or something. According to the calories in vs calories out equation, you’re still at net zero. In fact, you’re at -100 calories, since your cells had to burn energy to do the work you required of them. If you’re eating a paleo diet, those calories could have come from ketones in your bloodstream or even from stored fat. Let’s say you eat 2000 calories in a day, mostly fat with some protein and some veggies. A large amount of that fat and almost all of the protein is going to be raw material used to repair and rebuild cells, not to be burned for energy by cells doing their thing. Your cells will have to burn energy from another source to perform their various functions, namely stored body fat. So you can be eating 2000 calories and burning 2000 calories and still lose body fat. Crazy, but awesome. And true.

The only cells in your body that have to run on glucose are your red blood cells. Neurons, muscle tissue, everything else can all run just fine (and even better) on ketones. Those come from burning fat for energy instead of sugar. Here’s an interesting tidbit. Burning sugar for fuel is anaerobic, which is why red blood cells have to use glucose. If they were operating aerobically (using oxygen) they would burn up the oxygen they’re carrying. That kinda defeats their purpose. So they need glucose, but it’s a very small amount, easily gathered from fibrous veggies or even produced in your body by breaking down proteins. Before you get all up in arms about breaking down proteins, remember that when you eat a meal containing protein, you’re going to end up with amino acids in the bloodstream. Those are much easier to get to the liver and convert than your established muscle tissue. In fact, that’s a danger in eating a diet that’s too high in protein. If you flood your body with way more protein than it needs, another hormone kicks in and starts sending the excess to the liver to be turned into glucose. Most diets in the paleo realm recommend eating large amounts of protein, even up to one gram per pound of body weight per day. The book I’m reading now says that can stave off ketosis by turning protein into sugar in your body and keeping your cells running on glucose. The author recommends more like 60-80 grams of protein per day, with 80 grams being only for high-level athletes or people who need so much protein to rebuild their cells due to illness or disuse or whatever.

Anyway, where was I? No idea. I just started rocking back and forth in my chair and spouting off dietary info like Rain Man. I do that sometimes now.

A couple more things I learned that I wanted to share: The only “artificial” sweetener that Nora recommends is stevia. She doesn’t like honey or agave nectar or any of the others because they’re all actually made of sugar, and usually a fair amount of fructose. Fructose, as I had learned a long time ago, is the devil. It’s part of why the glycemic index is screwed up. Fructose doesn’t increase blood glucose, but it can really wreak havoc on your body. Anyway. avoid agave nectar. It’s like 75+% fructose. Bad juju. Stevia is super crazy sweet so you only need a very small amount, and it actually has some positive effects in the body instead of all negative ones. You want to get as pure a stevia as you can, though. Commercialized versions like Truvia tend to have a bunch of other nasty chemicals added to them. The simpler, the better. Also, all those studies showing caloric restriction extending life? Yeah, they figured out why. It all has to do with insulin. I’ll do up a whole post on that later, but suffice it to say, you don’t have to dramatically decrease your total calorie input to get the benefits of a reduced calorie diet, you just have to significantly or completely reduce the starch and sugar in your diet and keep the protein reasonable.

Okay, for reals. I’m done now. Going to go do a short, intense workout (I’m thinking Tabata squats and pushups) and then come back inside and eat some eggs. Woot!

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