Tuesday, March 29, 2016

being busy -- the enemy of "dieting"

All my life, i've needed to get away from people to recharge my batteries from time to time.  It's finally apparent to me why that is the case, from a physiological point of view as opposed to the esoteric one (which i STILL believe is true, but on a different level).

Not only does the human brain chew up a disproportionate amount of our energy compared to other tissues (including muscle!), but that prefrontal cortex of ours which is responsible for much of our advanced thinking really sops it up.  The busier we are, the more balls we're juggling at once, the more energy it burns -- we're using a LOT of executive brainpower!  And as J Stanton explains here, we MEASURABLY use lots of prefrontal energy when we exercise willpower -- this "expensive" area of the brain.

Dealing with people, communicating, coping with the world, does the same damned thing.

Suppose we're "enjoying" a holiday with our extended families -- we're exposed to children's squabbles, drunk-uncle irrational political rants, sympathizing with drunk-aunt complaints, trying to figure out what to have for breakfast tomorrow and whether or not we can get away with using erythritol instead of sugar in tonight's dessert, etc:  we end up having too many mimosas, and kick ourselves for it even though we know better....

Congratulations, "having a life" just destroyed your best-laid plans!  Same thing happens with vacations, workplace deadlines, or a mere over-packed schedule.

We HAVE to prioritize our well-being BEFORE we can hope to have any success with food-centered health tweaks.  Oh, the correction in our intake will help make the rest flow easier too, but we won't be able to stick with the program if our mental energy is being overused by modern-world worries.

Our poor taxed prefrontal cortexes!  We have to learn to give them a break!  Sleep is undeniably good for them, but if we're still trying to do too many things at once while we're awake, all the little things they do for us will suffer the consequences.  This is why we're admonished to not sweat the small stuff.

Delegate.  Make someone else do some of the deciding AND figure out how to make their decisions work -- it won't help for them to decide on a menu, if they're not doing the cooking!  When things get noisy, go for a bathroom break (whether you need it or not) and spend twenty minutes locked in a quiet little room by yourself.  You can always blame the excess time on something that was cooked by someone else.  ;-)

Read something refreshing while you're in there, though -- if you continue planning and brainstorming it ain't gonna help.  And no texting, either!

Friday, March 25, 2016

on the next step

I probably don't need to confess to you that i haven't been on the strict regimen prescribed in "The Six Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle" all this time -- the kids came up from Texas for spring break, and we ate, drank, and made merry for six days.  I still made every effort to keep my protein-consumption up, however.  Then when they drove off southward again, i happily got back on the wagon.

Interesting thing, though:  as the days passed on the three-shakes-and-one-meal protocol, my FitBit reported that my resting heart-rate steadily declined.  I felt unfueled despite getting plenty of protein and being fat-and-ketone adapted.  My metabolism was clearly being depressed.

Obviously in my case, amino acids from whey plus the BCAA supplement are not as beneficial as some people find them.  Two days ago i went back to my "normal" pattern of coffee-with-collagen for breakfast and two ample meals per day, but still continuing the BCAAs, and my heart-rate is trending back upward.

I FEEL a bit thinner, though the scale hasn't been giving me any good news -- i presume the extra protein put muscle on me to offset any fat-losses i managed to achieve.  Until our vacation starts, i'll pursue the VLC plan that seems to suit my body best, and avoid the little indulgences that i'm sometimes prone to treat myself to:  staying away from the stray potato or rice i occasionally allow;  having a pot of tea at the cocktail hour instead of wine;  preferring LC recipes that don't include cheese or cream, because those ingredients (like nuts) seem to slow fat-loss for me.

Online diet-trackers having the shortcomings they do, i don't really know what kind of calorie-reduction i was looking at while experimenting with the 3shake1meal routine.  I could have calculated it, but was too busy with host-duties and socializing to be motivated to do it.  I ASSUME that i was just trying to be too active on too little food, although i didn't FEEL like i was going hungry at any point.  To me, it just underscores the point that calorie restriction has many more downsides than are acknowledged by the CRaP* people:  the body WILL slow down, no matter how much running around you do, if it thinks its fuel intake is suboptimal.
*. I love Dr. Fung's acronym for "calorie reduction as primary" -- it's almost as good as the expression "CICOpaths"!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

RDAs, revisited

I think we all know that the Recommended Daily Allowances of nutrients don't even TRY to be in the "optimal" range -- they're there to indicate the bare minimum necessary to keep us out of frank deficiency.  Even then, there are times in our lives when ingesting the suggested amounts isn't enough to keep us out of trouble;  anyone who has difficulty absorbing nutrients, for example, is totally screwed if they take their multivitamin and eat their 50 grams/day of protein and expect to keep their health.

That quantity of protein especially:  I reflect on how ravenous i'd feel if i tried to get along on so little!  Eighty grams is my lower threshold, when if i don't have some solid MEEEEAT, i start pacing my cage restlessly and eye passing dogs for muscle-mass....

Eggs and cheese just don't cut it for me, either.  It HAS to be animal flesh (or at very least a goodly quantity of fish/seafood plus fat).  And as a lover of detective fiction, I am forced to conclude that it's about the right kinds of amino-acids, in the right quantity/proportion.

Which brings me to this month!  In about thirty days, we'll be heading to Texas again, to drop off the dog and bird with our daughter, and to head out on another seagoing adventure.  Last spring, immediately upon getting off our LC cruise, we were jonesing for a deeper-sea experience, and started looking at smaller ships and longer trips (the big ships don't offer the intimate charm that we fell so hard for almost twenty years ago when we "crossed" on the QE2).  Lo and behold, we saw a "sale" at Seabourn for a trip across the pond on a ship carrying an EIGHTH the passenger-load of the behemoths which usually haul tourists around.  We booked.

Next month.  Yes, i'm VERY excited.  I also put on enough weight this last half-year, so that my favorite evening dress is too tight for comfort.  I MUST dump some avoirdupois.  MUST.

It's not going well.  Every time i try to "be good" something comes up, like special events and visitors.  In desperation, i pulled out a book i bought several years ago -- the Eadeses' "6-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle."  I read it only once, and it seemed ... quirky.  I read it again the other day, and the peculiar characteristics of the regimen made a bit more sense, in that i'm a few years older now and harder to reduce than i was when i first read it.  These are the fail-safe tweaks which the weight-loss-resistant people of my cohort HAVE to employ to get results.  I put the plan on the back burner while i waited for my order to arrive, comprising the nutrients i needed to add to what i use already.

Yesterday, they did, and i took my first leucine dose before bedtime, and started googling other "authorities" on BCAAs.  Interestingly enough, the proteinpower.com blog mentions them minimally, and most of the sites which are more discursive are more into bodybuilding than ... ahem ... body-trimming.  But an interesting exchange in the comment-section of a PP blog-post made me start thinking....  The discussion was on serum albumin, and how low-protein diets don't translate into a sufficient quantity of this important blood-component taxi.  Albumin, specifically, is what is needed in the blood to bind THYROID hormone and move it around to the cells in which it's needed.  AHA.  A reader asked Mike how much protein he eats on a daily basis, and i was surprised to see that it was in excess of 200 grams.  The reader was obviously surprised, too -- was that 200 grams of MEAT or of protein?  Protein.

In addition, the discussion entered the realm of leaky blood-vessels, and how adequate albumin can keep one's fluids on the correct side of the wall.  To one like me, who has the tendency to wake up a little on the waterlogged side, this was another lightbulb moment.  One of the causes of that is the histamine issue, but where does albumin (and ultimately, dietary protein) enter the equation?

The regimen started to make a lot more sense to me.  One starts out the first weeks on three protein  shakes plus one real meal per day.  I naively thought that was to neutrally fill up a person who is always hungry, and i could not see myself drinking that much whey powder with its extra load of added BCAA.  But if these super-shakes were really designed to get the older fatty to ingest superior quantities of protein, the logic jumps out at you.

Other associations began springing to mind.  I opened Fitday and entered the pound-and-a-half of  (ground) beef that the Strong Medicine recommended per day -- over 170 grams.  I reflected on the quantity of meat that some of the ZCers eat, way more than MY appetite will allow me to consume.  More:  perhaps the magic of the SM regimen is getting one's protein intake up to the albumin-adequate range, not just into the calorie-adequate, low-carb, low-allergen sweet-spot i assumed?  Donaldson CERTAINLY stressed how important the protein itself is.

I've ALWAYS craved protein, from early childhood.  Looks like my body was wiser than i ever gave it credit for.  Perhaps the modern LCer's caution against "too much" is STILL excessively austere -- perhaps "adequate protein" is even more than the "moderate protein" which is the LCHF ideal?

I'll be tweaking my usual diet to include more protein, and not really worry about the fat-content.  The red meats i prefer come with a healthy amount of their own fat, and heaven knows i can contribute plenty from storage.