Sunday, January 27, 2013

Eat, Fast and Live Longer: Week 2

The second week of my new healthy eating regime and I'm feeling good. The two days of fasting (Mon 21st/Tues 22nd) were much easier and with no headaches this time around. I still felt the urge about 4pm to jump into the fridge and eat everything but I found it was just a matter of being disciplined and drinking lots more liquid.

Last week I spread my calorie intake between three meals (100/100/300 calories)  This week I chose breakfasts that were about 160-170 calories (bigger than the first week) and just had Miso soup at lunchtime (30 calories) and had a 300 calorie dinner. I found that this worked better for me as I was leaving a 12 hour gap between my meals eating at 6.30am + 6.30pm.

According to the research this is the best way to get your body to turn to its own fat stores. The body chooses to get its energy from the food consumed in the previous few hours but if the food intake is reduced then it turns its own fat stores into fuel (yippee!) A by product of this process is ketones which are excreted in the urine. These can be tested for using a urine dip-stick which are available through pharmacies. We got a box of these sticks when Byron had his kidney stones as a way of seeing if the blood in his urine was resolving. It was very satisfying to test during the fast and see the ketones appearing in the evening of the first fast day and continue to be present right through the second fast day.

One of the main aims of intermittent fasting is to reduce levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) which is the growth hormone currently being studied for its involvement in Cancer and Alzheimer's and Dementia type diseases. It is possible to have your IGF-1 levels tested through a simple blood test. In Australia it costs $130 (after you get your Medicare rebates) You would need  a minimum of two blood tests, one at the beginning of the program and at least one a few weeks or months down the track to see if you are reducing your levels. If I had a spare $260 I'd be happy to have these tests done but for now I have to content myself with the cheaper ketone testing, weighing scales and how I feel in myself.

So far I feel that I have challenged my attitude to my "need" for food. I have always believed that I needed to eat small regular snacks or I would get "wobbly" and get headaches etc. The first week reinforced this belief as I did get headaches and wobbles both days. It made me question if this form of lifestyle change suited me and if it could be a long term way of improving my Dementia, Stroke + Cancer risk factors. This second week was much, much easier. The hunger grumbles never got unbearable and were easily dampened down by drinking a glass of water. I had no headaches this week and the more I read about Dr Michael Mosley and the research he has been studying the more it strengthened my resolve to really give it a good go.

As a weight loss diet I can't say that I have had a huge change in the numbers on the weighing scale. Day to day my weight has fluctuated wildly but I have to remember that after the fast days I have significantly less waste product working its way through my intestine (giving very exciting readings on the scales) but over days 3-7 as the amount of waste product returns to normal levels then obviously the scale readings reflect this. Over the 2 weeks I have lost about 1kg but I really have been eating lots on my non-fasting days and I haven't done any exercise. As I settle into the rhythm of this new eating pattern I would like to re-introduce some simple exercise and maybe cut down on the muffins and chocolate and all the late evening nibbles that we find ourselves tucking into in front of the tv on days 3-7!

I want these changes to happen gently and get used to one step at a time. Although I have felt better this week during my fast days I do not think that I would have enough energy to exercise on these days. I think it would be more sensible to spread the exercise over days 3-7. If I want to follow through with my plans to be healthier as I turn 40 in August then I can't just go mad with new eating patterns and a big exercise plan because I know that a couple of months in I will fall over exhausted and return to bad habits.

I really hope that these changes will be sustainable into the long-term future as this is not really just about loosing the wobble on my waistline. This is about trying to learn from cutting edge research on how to massively reduce my chances of developing Dementia, Stroke, Cardiac diseases and Cancer. For anyone reading this who wants to know more I really recommend watching the BBC documentary Horizon: Eat, Fast and Live Longer or reading Dr Michael Mosley's book The Fast Diet.

I will continue to let you know how I get on over the coming weeks, especially as I make more of an effort to start some simple exercise too. The kids go back to school over the coming week which will leave me with no excuses! It's good telling all you lot about my resolutions as I feel I want to be able to have friends to be accountable to! Watch this space...

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