Thursday, May 5, 2016

Water fast report-back: Week One

I reported last week that I was about to start a water fast in an effort to kick-start my metabolism after years of medical problems.  This involves eating nothing and drinking mostly water, with an occasional cup of black, unsweetened coffee or tea, and one mug of bouillon broth per day.  I began last week on Thursday.  As of this morning, it's been seven full days since I ate anything.  I've had some pretty severe cravings for food, but (as I wrote earlier) since the alternative to losing weight is an early death, that's been a pretty strong motivator to keep them under control!

The weight loss has been remarkable, but I know most of it is water weight, not fat.  I'm down more than fourteen pounds.  That rate won't last - in fact, it's already slowed considerably.  From now on, as my body consumes fat rather than getting rid of excess water, weight loss is likely to be less than a pound a day.  Still, if I can maintain a good rate, I'll be happy.

I began the fast with the most comprehensive set of blood diagnostic tests I've ever undergone.  The results have formed a baseline for me to continue testing myself every day, and recording the results.  Weight, waist size, blood pressure, pulse rate, oxygen uptake, ketosis level and blood sugar are all being logged daily.  If I drop below safe limits on any one of them, I'll immediately seek medical help and probably suspend the fast;  but I haven't had to do that yet.  I'll do another set of diagnostic tests a couple of weeks after the end of the fast, to see how things have changed (and, hopefully, improved).

One eye-opener has been the effect of my prescription medications on body functions that I wouldn't have suspected.  My blood glucose has dropped from 97 to 68 - both figures within the safe zone, but respectively on the high end and the low end of the scale.  Investigating this very large drop, I learned that three of my prescription medications are known to reduce blood glucose levels;  and in combination, they're clearly ganging up on me.  I'll probably have to stagger the times (and perhaps the days) on which I take them, to reduce their combined effect to a minimum.  That's worth learning.

I've got a long way to go still.  I'm planning to continue the water fast for at least 30 days, and possibly as long as 45, depending on medical indications and advice.  I'd like to lose up to 50 pounds on it, then try to lose more through a low-carb, high-fat diet.  After a few weeks of eating, I'll try another fast, then see out the year with more LCHF diet and a few shorter-duration fasts as I feel up to it.  My target is to lose at least 100 pounds this year.  Depending on progress, I may do another long-duration fast during the first quarter of next year - we'll have to see.

At any rate, so far, so good.  Thanks to everyone who's sent good wishes and prayers.  Here's hoping!



Anonymous said...

Good luck, Peter.

Anonymous said...

Daily mail had an article about the biggest losers metabolism, where there bodies now burn calories at a lesser rate.

I guess the question is how do you reset your bodies metabolism in the right direction.

Another anon

Jim said...

Sounds like you're headed in the right direction.

AJ said...

Good luck!
I've done a 14 day water fast in 2010 and it was pretty tough, so all the best and I hope the results are in line with your expectations.

Uncle Lar said...

Peter, I would be very concerned at considering a 68 glucose reading as being "safe."
That's right on the ragged edge of diabetic coma.
I know that any time I drop much below 90 I experience a number of symptoms of imminent distress.
Of course everyone reacts differently, but that is one indicator I would strongly suggest you keep very close watch of.

Anonymous said...

Judging from your past week's of posts, the lack of solid food does not seem to be affecting your thinking and writing skills. Hope the diet continues to provide the desired health benefits.

Evyl Robot Michael said...

Keep up the good work!

Bob Mueller said...

Peter, here's that NYT article that Anon was walking about. They looked at the players from The Biggest Loser Season 8 (2009) and how well they've kept the weight off. The answer is that many of them haven't, and some are even heavier than they were before the show. Very interesting read WRT metabolism.

Best wishes on this.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately fasting burns up as much, if not more, muscle tissue than fat.

Judy said...

I'm praying for you, Bub, because of what I know about fasting, muscle loss (The heart is a muscle.), metabolisms that don't recover, and other effects of fasting/dieting from experience.

Javahead said...

Good luck, Peter. Hope this works out well for you.

I've seen it claimed that, as much as possible, keeping at least mildly physically active may keep the body from switching over to low-metabolism hang-on-to-every-calorie mode. I'm aware your health issues have restricted that as an option, but you might want to talk to your doctor about whether (and when) that might be appropriate for you.

Anonymous said...

What I picked up on Losing Weight - a subject that seems to have a lot of unknowns:

1. Most diets it seems don't work long term.
2. High intensity exercise for short time periods is great.
3. Low carb diets seem to help with Exercise
4. You stomach communicates with your brain, both ways.
5. There is good bacteria in your gut. How this works is not well understood.
6. Gut bacteria varies depending on what you eat
7. Bacteria between a thin person and fat person is different.
8. Fecal transfers may help
9. Bariatric Surgery can help a huge amount, but it does not deal with brown fat.
10. No idea if the freezing of fat is good or bad. Same with Liposuction.
11. Supposedly you are born with X amount of fat cells
12. If you get fat, it's very hard to lose weight.
13. The diet recommended by the US Gov. keeps on changing and seems to have issues.
Portions have become bigger
14. There is a lot of psychology on how much food you eat.
15. Plates have gotten bigger in the US from 50 years ago.
16. Calories have become much cheaper in the US.
17. More people are obese

Daily Mail article, which seems to be based on the NY Times article, which is based on study that came out.

The Father of Video Sales Letters has made mucho bucks off his every other day diet. John Benson. Supposedly it resets your metabolism.

He is known to be a fitness geek.

And on Amazon there is a book about the same idea, but read the 1 star reviews.

Another Anon

Old NFO said...

Hang in there my friend.

Anonymous said...

Wishing you the best. :)

Anonymous said...

Karl Denninger at has some good commentary on HFLC.
I had a bypass in 2010 and was diagnosed with diabetes at that time. I am eating HFLC and have very good control of my diabetes. I lost about 40 pounds without really trying other than the diet. I just followed HFLC. I was about 210+ pounds and this morning I weighed 165 (I've been around 170 for some time now).

I don't eat bread or grains. No sodas. No fruit juice.

Timbo said...

100% admiration. Gives me an impulse to do something about my weight.

Anonymous said...

You should rename this the "I've been lost at sea in a lifeboat diet".

I used to have to cut weight for wrestling so I know the joy of dieting.

Good luck and be safe.


Peter B said...

The blood sugar level of 68 is not per se a problem – for people taking no medications which lower blood sugar, who are functioning at a high level - and who got there slowly. It's not all that unusual for people in long term metabolic ketosis to do very well in that range, but it takes a while because they need to have good insulin sensitivity, which you probably don't yet. These people typically can fast for a day with no real change in mood, energy or intellectual function.

BUT. It sounds as though your current doses of your meds are not compatible with the life style changes you have made and you should contact your prescribing physician(s) ASAP about adjusting your doses. This is not the time for your doctors to be out of the loop.

By the way, fasting blood sugar is not a terribly useful measurement (if it's high you definitely have a problem, but if it's within normal limits you may still be significantly insulin resistant.) Insulin resistance is a key underlying problem in type 2 diabetes (I hesitate to say the problem since T2DM is complex, though elevated blood sugar is indeed dangerous and needs to be addressed.) As far as blood sugar tests go, 1 or 2 hour postprandial readings combined with a food diary are more useful. Better yet is actually measuring insulin resistance. One way is a test you may need to have done by a hospital lab: fasting, 300 calorie glucose challenge, followed by hourly insulin measurements over the next 3-4 hours. That's actually how you measure insulin sensitivity (but it's obviously not compatible with your water fast.)

Insulin is a critical anabolic hormone, so when our cells have become insulin resistant, they are also less able to take up amino acids to build muscle in response to exercise. Cortisol is another important hormone that affects the anabolic/catabolic balance – and blood sugar. An often useful physical finding that prompts me to look more deeply at cortisol metabolism is thickening of the tissues over the base of the cervical spine, over the spines of the last cervical vertebra and the top couple of thoracic vertebrae. If this is present, among the useful laboratory tests are analysis of 24 hour urine collection for hormone metabolites and a four or five sample collection of saliva to test for cortisol and related hormones an in particular to get a picture of the circadian rhythm of cortisol obtained by collecting saliva samples over a day (ideally a typically stressful one) from rising to bedtime ( Diagnos–Techs has a proprietary technology for testing pituitary hormones from saliva, and I prefer to use them for that reason, since you get a bit of sometimes useful information for about the same price as other labs charge who don't do the pituitary hormones.)

I also urge you to get an assessment of your lean body mass, either by water tank or DXA (ideally both,) and then use the tank for subsequent measurements since you don't want to repeat the DXA too often for radiation safety reasons. Or, instead of the tank, a high quality bioelectric impedance analyzer can also be very useful for long term monitoring. While the determination of lean body mass by BIA (actually by any method) is a bit imprecise, the BIA instruments seem to be very good at tracking changes from your baseline.

If you're losing a lot of lean muscle, you might want to modify your weight loss approach. It still might be worth it, but sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) in older adults is no joke and should be taken into account.

0007 said...

Second what anonymous said IRT Denninger at Market-ticker. He's been pushing the HFLC thing for a while and seems to have some pretty compelling arguments for it as a lifestyle.