As a personal experiment, I plan to eat bacon (and only bacon) this week.
- The only food I can have is bacon
- The only liquids I can drink are water, oil, coffee and my Athletic Greens shake (to avoid nutrient deficiencies)
- Weight (+/- 0.5lb) (taken upon waking)
- Waist Circumference (+/- 0.5cm) (taken upon waking)
- measured horizontally below navel
- Macro-nutrient Totals
- Macro-nutrient %
- Total Calories
- Best Case Scenario: I enter ketosis and lose fat rapidly, losing 5 lb by the end of the week
- Worst case scenario: I maintain my weight and waist size
“Surely the worst case scenario is a heart attack”
Without getting into the science of it, I’ve read enough books, articles and studies to know that this is not an issue and, in fact, one of the biggest misconceptions in nutrition science. The fact that this book exists should be evidence enough. Or how about reading the bible of low carb literature, Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, a book with 60 page bibliography. Want a doctor to explain it? Get The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Doctors Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney (highly recommended). Books not your thing? Watch a documentary called Fat Head (I believe its on netflix) where a guy eats McDonald’s for a month and actually loses weight and improves his blood lipid profile, lowering his risk for heart disease. We don’t have all the answers yet but you should at least be aware that it’s extremely difficult to find recent studies indicating that a high fat, low carb diet increases your risk of a heart attack.
Some Background Knowledge:
In case anyone wants to replicate my results you should know that I have been doing a low carb diet for 3 months now, albeit not very strictly. But still, my body has had time to adapt to using an alternative fuel source for energy (my body fat). Someone else attempting this diet, coming from a high carb diet should expect to feel tired throughout the week and not lose any weight.
Keys to Success:
- Don’t eat breakfast.
You know how anecdotally you hear people say they lost weight by eating dinner earlier? Well this guy took it to it’s logical extreme. The reason eating your dinner early works is because you are increasing your time in a fasted state. You burn fat in a fasted state. This technique is called Intermittent Fasting and is not for everyone but I quite enjoy it. A single cup of coffee is enough to quell my hunger pangs until lunch time. Nutritionists say that breakfast is the single most important meal of the day. For a month now I have been skipping breakfast while still maintaining high energy levels throughout the day with almost no cravings or hunger pangs. So nutritionists, why is it important again?
- Drain glycogen stores.
At one point in time I was so obsessed with measuring my own glucose (blood sugar) levels that I was pricking my self every 15 min or so with a glucose monitor. I was attempting to make my own personalized Glycemic Index but then realized the enormity of the task and eventually gave up. One night I measured my glucose level at night to be 4.1mmol/L ( normal values range from 4.5 to 6). The next morning I measured it again and had my mind blasted because the monitor readout 5.7mm/L. And this was after a 10 hour fast! This surprising result led me to an important conclusion: Glucose can be stored. Technically, it’s stored as glycogen in either the muscles (to fuel your exercises) or the liver (to maintain blood sugar levels). Carbs are the primary source of energy in the body, meaning that if your body had the choice of burning fat vs burning carbs, it would burn the carbs. Keeping the carbs out of your system (including the stored carbs) will force your body to use the fat for energy first. “But don’t you need glucose for… stuff?” Fortunately, your body can make a pretty good glucose substitute… out of your own body fat.
- Force a ketonic state.
On a very low carb diet, your body enters a state of ketosis. All this means is that your body switches it’s fuel source from carbs to a carb substitute made out of fat called a Ketone (fun fact: ketones = acetone = nail polish remover). Paleo people will tell you that a ketonic state is the “normal”, more efficient state of the body and only recently (last 10,000 years) were we forced to adapt to using carbs for energy. The problem is that it’s hard to enter this ketotic state but easy to come out of it, at least early on in the adaption phase. There are two ways I’ll try to force myself into this state quickly and stay in for the whole week. First I’ll take 1-2 tsbp of MCT oil every day. MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) makes up roughly half of coconut oil and has some interesting properties when consumed by itself. It is not possible to store MCT as body fat (regardless if carbs are consumed or not) but more importantly, It promotes ketone production. The other way I will try to force a ketonic state is to do a high intensity workout midweek, essentially putting my body in a survival mode, forcing it to adapt quickly. Note that this will be the only exercise I will do all week.
Tomorrow I’m going to pickup some bacon and maybe run on the treadmill before I eat just to make sure I’m starting out at very low glycogen levels.
Here’s hoping the phrase “you are what you eat” has little truth to it.