I finished the Tour de Pike Century bike ride on Saturday. Sunday, I took some weight & body fat measurements, and was struck by the result. Hence this short update on my progress with the Slow Carb diet.
I began this slow-carb diet going into Thanksgiving, of all weird time frames. Given the one cheat day per week, I simply shifted my chosen Saturday to Thursday for that week, no biggie. The bigger hurdle was that I had to get on the road the evening of Thanksgiving. Maintaining a diet on the road is not easy. Tim Ferris has some helpful ideas.
The other immediate challenge was eliminating sugar from my coffee. I drink coffee black with sugar. Taking the sugar out was a HUGE leap for me, particularly in breakfasts meetings at restaurants with bad coffee. In the end, it wasn’t and isn’t that bad.
The three biggest changes I’ve been able to stay fairly consistent on are a high, mostly protein breakfast right after rising, eating high protein meals for most meals, and eliminating sugar. Eliminating other white carbs, though now greatly reduced, has been challenging.
The slow-carb model meshes well with my other diet protocols.
I also did a 30 day detox cleanse, which I calculate took five pounds of crud out of my intestines and cell tissues. However, my body fat readings for that period were extremely screwy. Two days later they stabilized, around 11-12 percent.
As mentioned (and perhaps revealed in the title), I took my body fat measurements this past Sunday, and registered . . . drum roll . . . 9.9 percent. All last year, I did not drop below 10, even coming out of Augusta 70.3 Half Ironman. Whereas, the sub-10 may be the result of several concurrent protocols–slow carb, ongoing nutrition, detox cleanse, training regimen–The slow carb component is the one aspect I have not done or been on previously.
At any rate, I’m down to my fighting weight (top secret), and below 10% body fat (at last measure). I’m lifting more, running better, and riding harder than I was going into Augusta last year. Take it for what it’s worth.
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As always, your comments are welcomed.
Now a few weeks into the “Slow Carb” diet, a check-in seems appropriate. Setting up my 2012 training (peak
goal being Ironman Florida), I incorporated some specific programs. One of these is the so-called Slow Carb diet–basically a low-glycemic index diet. Generally, I follow my own modified version of the “Abs-Diet” with certain other elements mixed in. My approach has been to make the Slow Carb diet an addendum to my existing plan.
The plan is promoted (designed?) by Tim Ferris in his book The Four Hour Body. The idea being to prevent blood sugar spikes, the subsequent insulin spikes with its accompanying issues, one of which is fat storage (other goodies include blocking fat burn, risk of diabetes, risk of cancer). Ferris has added some other specific ideas surrounding protein intake, not generally found in generic low-glycemic index approaches.
The Slow Carb diet is significant in that it not only emphasizes reducing fat storage, but also looks to increase relative muscle mass.
- Avoid anything that can be white (with a couple of exceptions, e.g. cauliflower).
- Make protein the focus of each meal, especially breakfast eating protein rich meal 30 minutes after waking.
- Eliminate refined sugars, corn-syrup.
- One cheat day where food type & quantity are unrestricted–cheat day is mandatory.
- A good list of the rules and review of the diet can be found at Fitnessblackbook.com
The first thing I did was stop sweetening my coffee. I drink a fair amount of coffee, generally strong, black and sweet. If I’m drinking bad restaurant coffee, or on the road (e.g. one particular weekly morning meeting), I would mask it with sugar and sweetener.
The shift to straight black at home wasn’t so shocking, as my coffee is quality and strong. Coffee on the road is another issue, but now instead of drinking sweetened, creamed, bad coffee, I just drink bad coffee. It has been tolerable, and certainly hasn’t killed me.
The immediate effect of this one simple change was to level out my emotional peaks and valleys throughout the day, especially the crash I would typically feel around 2pm. I still have a dip around 2pm, but it isn’t the crash it used to be. Additionally, I smooth it out with my siesta plan.
I’ve also had fewer headaches. But this could be the result of several changes I’ve instituted. However, many of my headaches are blood sugar related, and with more stable insulin releases, come more stable blood sugar levels, and I’m sure this is a part of the equation.
The fat loss portion has been there, but not super. Check out Fitnessblackbook.com for some good thoughts on this as well. I’ve lost about a percentage point, and I’ve stopped adding pounds from my Augusta Half-Ironman low. This has been pure fat loss, based on body weight percentages I’ve maintained muscle mass.
However, I’m still in the adjustment period, so we’ll see. The hardest aspect has been adjusting to not eating bread and cereal. I still occasionally eat these, but it is far less than what I used to. This has created a couple of challenges:
- What to eat for breakfast, if cereal is out of the equation.
- An endurance athlete in training has a real need for and benefit from dense carbohydrate sources.
- Bread and cereal were mainstays in my fiber sources (fiber being a key part of my existing plan)
- What to eat so that I actually feel full.
I’m working on some solutions and tweaks, which I will need to post in a future update.
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