While you are experimenting, do not remain content with the surface of things.
In the last post you’ll perhaps recall our Calorie Math™ conundrum. I had exercised about 400 calories worth and then eaten over 2,800 calories that day. Despite being told that I should eat 1,300ish calories to lose a pound in the course of a whole week and 1,660 calories to stay at the same weight, I somehow managed by the next day to reach the smallest number I’ve yet seen on the scale.
After eating all that, I wasn’t particularly hungry for a few days. I ate what I wanted; and I have now gone to the trouble of figuring out that it ran around 1,500 calories a day. Yet despite under-eating for several days, I didn’t lose any weight. Stayed the same. This is fairly typical.
The other day, however, I wondered: What if I ate 2,800 again, only this time with a large proportion of carbohydrates?
Because what is life if not doing fun stuff like this?
On Tuesday, therefore, I ran off and ate another 2,828 calories worth of food. I kept my protein and fat proportions the same as always. But instead of eating under 50g of carbohydrate (with 20 or less being from sugar) as I normally do, I ate 195g of carbohydrates. About half of those were from sugar. The rest were from from potatoes and fruit (no wheat; I’m not CRAZY). But still–more than half my carbs were from “good” and “healthy” sources. I mean, who could argue with potatoes in their skins, and fruit?
Now bear in mind that 195g is still considered low by the High Priests of Nutrition. According to their doctrine, a sedentary woman of my age should be eating at least 202.5g of carbs per day and preferably up to 292.5. I say preferably because, according to the Word of the Department of Agriculture (those would be the ones tasked with making sure that mono-crop agriculture in America continues to thrive) the more carbs I’m eating–which should be made up of primarily whole-grains (not fruit or vegetables; oh no. The majority of my carbs should be in the form of whole grains)–the less fat I’ll eat and the healthier I’ll be.
What’s that phrase? You know, that phrase we use when someone shouldn’t be speaking on a issue because he has a reason to favor one side? Oh, I remember.
Conflict of interest.
The US Department of Agriculture telling me that I should eat enormous quantities of grains every day is not much different from my dentist advising me to give my kid at least 12oz of juice right before bed: And make sure he doesn’t brush his teeth afterward! See you next month!
So according to the High Priests of Nutrition, I was way under-eating my carb intake that day. But by my standards, it was a complete carb-gorge.
So what happened?
Well, the first thing that happened is I didn’t feel good. I was panting a little, edgy, jumpy, and even light-headed. I always feel that way when I eat too much sugar now. This time I just couldn’t eat enough fat to protect me from all that sugar–my stomach won’t hold enough.
Here’s what I ate:
- Bulletproof coffee for breakfast
- Tons and tons of salad of all kinds, with dressing
- 2 ice teas with raspberry syrup and fresh raspberries
- Gelato. Twice.
- Ginger beer with lime juice
I was desperate to go run and burn the sugar out of my bloodstream. I knew doing so would help me feel better. It wasn’t the fat, folks. I was eating the same proportion of fat I always do, and not much more total than I normally eat. I’ve mentioned before and I’ll link to it again: fat is not going to kill me; but refined carbs just might. All that sugar causes enormous arterial stress.
But I didn’t want to run because I wanted to behave about the same as I did the day I ate 2,800 calories worth of fat. So I walked for about the same amount of time and stayed on my feet more of the day, just to mimic the calorie output of the previous 2,800 calorie day.
The next morning I stepped on the scale at the same time of day I had before.
It was seven pounds higher.
Now we’ll give the High Priests the benefit of the doubt and say that there was a natural two pound variation from one day to another that was meaningless. Ok. Then we’ll say that another two pounds was water weight, even though I hadn’t eaten for thirteen hours at that point (plenty of time to have re-entered ketosis and started shedding extra water again.) That would still leave us three pounds.
2,800 calories of fat and protein? -one pound
2,800 calories of carbs, fat, and protein (with still far fewer carbs than recommended?) +three pounds at least
So, what did I do to fix the problem?
The next day I ate normally, with one difference: I fasted a bit longer. After all that eating the day before, I wasn’t hungry till 11am even though I spent the whole morning doing some very stressful errand-running. Between 11am and 7pm I consumed 1,980 calories–a little bit more than usual, probably because I ran. I ran a bit on my way to do more errands, because it was a very rare clean-air day and I wanted to get out. I ate about 28g of carbohydrate, 17g of that in sugar. The rest was from pecans, apple, coconut milk, and maple. The rest of the day was fat and some protein. The result in tonnage was that the day after I was back down by six pounds.
So what happened? Well this experiment was N=1, meaning it really is just my experience, and you can’t do exactly the same and expect exactly the same results. But what it tells me is that my body reacts to carbohydrates…strongly. They are NOT good for me. That my body doesn’t treat all calories as equal, irregardless of my activity level. That fat makes me feel energized and active, while carbs make me feel slow and sick.
By the way.
When I say I “run” you shouldn’t imagine in your mind an emaciated, $500-running-shoe-clad person wearing a tank top and questionable shorts, huffing and puffing along the side of the road with a vaguely zombiesh-expression. I am all agin’ exercise beyond what will put minimal stress for maximum return (like slow weightlifting). What I am for, though, is fun.
Interestingly, in mouse models when the mice are forced to exercise, they see their health deteriorate. When they exercise voluntarily, doing what they want, their health improves. There isn’t much in the way of human studies on this, but if I had to lay money on who was getting more benefit from exercise, I’d definitely put my money on the mom who goes out and plays soccer with the kids because it’s fun–not the mom who spends all day dreading the gym and then drags herself there to stair-step off that doughnut.
(“What if you don’t FEEL like doing anything at all?” I hear you cry. “If you’re eating right,” I answer, “you’ll feel more like being active.”)
Anyway, when I say I “run” what I mean is I just can’t sit still anymore. I go outside and start walking fast. Then, when I see the pedestrian overpass, I take off running full-speed to the top of it. Then I go back to walking; till I see grass by the river. Then I take off running till I’m through all the grass and back to concrete. Then I stop. I don’t like running on concrete. It’s not normal. I walk for a while longer, and then I see the hill! It’s there, so obviously I need to climb it.
The best way to climb a hill is to run up it as fast as you possibly can. There’s no jogging. There’s just walking, sprinting, walking, sprinting. To me, this is fun. I’ve done this since I was a child and my parents would take us to the mountains to go on a walk. They’d walk on the path while I felt a slightly deranged impetus to rush up and over every incline, no matter what might be on the other side.
That’s the point. What might be on the other side?? Something fun! Seriously. Something interesting. Something that’s not on this side.
I searched “stupid run” on Youtube and got this, which is pretty much it:
Plato says he’s hungry
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