Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The new diet

So I've gone and started a crazy new diet. My wife will tell you, for a basically rational guy, I am very susceptible to crazy nutritional ideas (Atkins? -ed. Not that crazy!).

One of my friends from running lost 20lbs by the simple fact of not taking in calories one day per week. He drank non-caloric liquids like black coffee, tea and water, but that was it. On the other days he ate his normal diet. According to him, the weight just came off.

Since, I haven't had much success recently throught cutting back in general I figured I'd give it a try.

My approach is as follows
1. One day per week no calories.
2. Eat sensibly on the other days.
3. Try to work my exercise around the fasting day to avoid long or important workouts on the day of fasting or the day after.

I start this process with a height 0f 6'2", weight about 212, BMI 27, so I'm not obese to start. I don't really think I need to lose weight for health reasons, but I think my running would go much better if I weighed less. My friend who used the diet found his times dropped at all distances (he isn't an ultrarunner, though)

Yesterday was my second fasting day, so here are my thoughts
1. Fasting for a day is surprisingly easy. I was quite hungry in the morning, but if anything it got better throughout the day

2. Social cues to eat are strong. The hunger itself didn't bother me that much, but it was weird not to eat dinner or get a snack after I got home from work

3. You don't feel quite the same the next morning. I did medium distance runs (7-8 miles) both mornings after fasting and I definitely noticed not having the same energy, particularly at the end. I ate a big bowl of cereal before the runs, which I don't usually do. I think it helped, but not competely

4. You lose a lot of weight in the 32 hours or so you don't eat. I lost 5-6 lbs each time. I think most of this is water. Since you don't eat, you don't take in sodium, but you lose sodium in your urine since you drink a lot of fluids. The sodium loss leads to water loss, which is temporary

5. I can see how this would work, as I haven't noticed a dramatic jump in my appetite the days after fasting

I'll keep you updated on how it is going and if it is working

PS: I know this diet is crazy. Don't think just because I use Dr. before my name that this is some sensible thing you should try. It is a crazy thing and don't blame me if you try it and get low blood sugar or sick or whatever.

16 Comments:

At 12:25 PM, Blogger doulicia said...

It doesn't seem that crazy to me. If you're an ultrarunner already, you probably have pretty good self-discipline. I fasted a lot in high school, for all the predictable and wrong reasons, but found it pretty easy to do. My father did the same thing you're doing about 10 years ago: no calories on Fridays. He lost weight pretty easily, too and had few complaints.

The one thing I can't imagine coupling with it is the distance running. On the other hand, could it be good training for the points in your racing when you're breaking down protein instead of sugar or fat anyway?

Good luck. I'm curious to see how it goes.

 
At 4:43 PM, Blogger doulicia said...

p.s. My father, a biologist, also decided to experiment once with desensitizing his body to poison ivy by eating several leaves a day. This went on for several weeks. You're an immunologist: what do you suppose was the result?

My point is that he, who also did the fasting diet, ate poison ivy out of clinical curiosity. So perhaps your diet is a crazy idea and you are, indeed, crazy to try it.

 
At 7:10 PM, Blogger Dr. Andy said...

Haha. You think I'm not crazy because your dad did the same thing, but he also tried to desensitize himself to poison ivy by eating it every day! Not exactly the prototype of normality

I predict his desensitization didn't work because the oils that cause the dermatitis were digested in the GI tract. Otherwise it might work as I believe there is some data that oral ingestion tends to downregulate immune responses, particularly those that are mediated by T cells like poison ivy

 
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