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Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working? VLCD trap?



 
 
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Old January 15th 04, 04:59 PM
vlcd_hell
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Default Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working? VLCD trap?

Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working?
VLCD trap?

I am about to go insane. After two years of deep dedication and going
it alone with VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) calorie restriction, I need
some input about what is it I am obviously doing wrong. I am doing
everything "right" to the most extreme possible and yet am making no
progress on any front for almost a year - no fat loss, no lean mass
muscle gain, no increased athletic prowess, no pants feeling looser,
no increase in bicep size. Nothing! The anguish and frustration level
has hit an extreme pitch. I cannot be the only "hard loser" person in
the country with such a bizarre extreme metabolism that seemingly
breaks the laws of body mechanics as blindly spouted by every
nutritionist or obesity expert I've ever read (and come to doubt).
"Eat least, exercise most" should do something in a calorie=calorie
world! I want to understand what is happening within my body from a
scientific standpoint. I have 20 questions at the end that I need help
with. This is a long rant and diet travelogue, but I hope I am not
alone in my weird diet trial experiences, where others can offer
advice or help. I've reached the limit of my own knowledge and powers
and self-drive. In short, I am momentarily frustrated to hell.

In a nutshell - according to everyone I've had the nerve to share my
dilemma with - they say I am too fat because I eat too little and
workout too much!! That my healthy calorie restrictive eating over the
years has done nothing more than to train my body to run slower and
slower on fewer and fewer calories. It really messes with the head!
When "Eat less, exercise more" is what the Surgeon General and
nutritionists all say over and over again. How can it not work?

I know that clinically most people think that they are unique and
different and a special case cursed with bad metabolism. My take was
no whining, everyone's body runs differently, find your own personal
magic sweet spot. However I've had enough people become concerned and
worse seemingly alarmist about my eating over the past year that I
feel I need to seek advice and feedback as a sanity check. Or at least
see if I am not alone in some bizarro world that works backwards from
normal - that I am not alone in how my body seemingly "just runs on
air" as my doctor loves reducing it to in a ridiculing manner. Any
pointers to good science-based nutritionists local to Boston would
also be appreciated. My small town doctor has been a complete dead
end.

I know I'll get wildly differing advice from bodybuilders versus
cyclists versus nutritionists versus dieters, but am curious to get
the feedback from each. I'd like to post this in each forum to get the
differing advice and have better hopes of reaching someone who may
have experience in this madness of when VLCD doesn't work (hope it
won't be seen as spam). Most advice conflicts, yet experimenting with
each has not revealed the answer for my current body chemistry and/or
genetics.

I know my situation flies in the face of everything cited within
one-size-fits-all current weight loss beliefs (calorie=calorie, no
such thing as starvation mode, eat less + exercise more, fat people
eat more than skinny, fat people eat McD & junk food, etc). I know
emotional eating and binge/purge eating is an enormous real problem
and accounts for large part or even perhaps 99% of obesity in the
general population. But this is not my case. My situation may be rare
because I cannot find any good information about it. My own doctor
doesn't believe my data, however I don't blame him since clinically
most fat people under-report what they eat. The local obesity clinic I
visited on my own told me "You're doing way more exercise than we
could ever hope for in our patients here, we just try to get them to
just walk for ten minutes per day. Sorry, you're on your own."
Despite the raging nation-wide obesity epidemic, I was left feeling I
had to figure it out for myself.

Losing weight, while always a life-long battle, eventually became my
number one life priority. I did on a ton of research online wading
through contradictory theories. Thinking everyone is an experiment of
one, I decided to figure out a complex black box DUT (my body) where I
can only monitor the inputs (food) and output (body results). I ended
up creating my own spreadsheet of calories in versus exercise calories
out versus body results (so upset that my own doctor indirectly
accused me of lying). I have recently lost faith in nutritionists,
even though I followed their dictates for decades. Often they seemed
to only spout mantra versus real science, seeing what they did to
Atkins for decades with never once challenging their assumptions and
performing any scientific studies to back their perhaps honestly felt
but merely taken-on-faith notions. The more of their advice I'd
follow, the seemingly worse off I became (more later). But I'm hoping
that perhaps some diet war veteran or sports nutritionist or physical
trainer here might have some real-life experience with subjects
overcoming my VLCD predicament and can offer me and others like me
advice.

I'm 5' 8" and now in my late thirties. I was a former competitive
cyclist where my post-college race weight throughout the ages of 16-24
was 120lbs for a BMI of 18.5 (healthy weight, especially for a
cyclist). I had a 28" waist that was size small in small-running
for-Americans Euro cycling clothing. Twelve years later (two years
ago) you would have never guessed that might ever have been the case.
After spending four years exclusively focused on my career and eating
just one meal a day at dinner (Weight Watcher "a calorie = a calorie
to be saved or spent" concept) with only moderate workouts, I reached
the horrendous state of becoming double my college weight - 240lbs for
BMI 36.5 (obese) with a 40+" waist. At 120lbs over my ideal weight, I
was morbidly obese. I have extreme will power and through my own VLCD
efforts I lost 70lbs over the period of a year. However I am presently
and seemingly permanently stuck at the half-way mark around 175 lbs
for a BMI of 27 (overweight) for the past whole year. My Tanita scale
in standard mode each morning reports that I have 26% body fat. "Over
fat." Very fat. I cannot seem to get off this plateau, despite what
other people consider extreme exercise and extreme diet (which I
somewhat disagree with). I have 55 lbs of excess unhealthy fat
remaining mostly in a visible spare tire ring around my entire abdomen
where I can pinch over three inches rather than just one. Very
unhealthy. A coming heart attack you can see in the mirror.

My modest goal is not to become a Men's Health cover super model with
perfect washboard abs better than anyone else in my cycling peer
group, but to simply have a non-tire-roll flat stomach and to be a
healthy BMI (knowing how each BMI point over 25 puts you at 7%
increased risk for cancers, etc). I'd also like to be a good race
weight for cycling, since my present weight REALLY slows me down. On
group ride hill climbs I embarrassingly get dropped, despite hill
climbing being my former specialty and where I excelled and took
extreme joy in. Loved those days and sprightly riding style. You
cannot be a fat hill climber since you pay the gravity penalty for
being heavy. You cannot be fat and socialize in many of my personal
social circles. For example, just look at the way the cycling
community ridicules Jan "eats too many of his mama's cakes" Ullrich as
he gains weight every winter off-season. Being the fattest dude in the
ski house hot tub of accomplished athletic friends is no joy either.
For years I put off enjoying so many things in life "until I lost the
weight" like joining friends on group dinners, at the ski house, or
even going to the beach. Life as a fat recluse (result of "until I
lose weight, do gym now, friends later" approach) is worse than any
food tastes. Furthermore being a gym instructor (presumed I should
know better?) with an ever-enduring pot belly is not a good career
move or any motivational help to my students. Thin is good and
attractive and healthy. "Everyone can get there, it's just a very
simple matter of using a little discipline and self control." Being
over-fat implies I have neither.

I was always a slightly overweight child but ate the typical meat and
potato meals most families did (which are deemed unhealthy nowadays).
Meals which included vegetables but always in their least healthy
forms. Creamed spinach, broccoli with cheese, baked cauliflower
covered in buttered bread crumbs, etc. In high school I picked up
cycling, believed I knew nutrition better than my 'stupid' old-world
European parents, and started changing my eating habits to always fall
in line with the very best American nutritional advice of the day.
Those experts knew best.

Others could perhaps better detail the nutritional advice changes that
happened since the 80's, but for me it started with messages about red
meat being horribly bad for you. So I cut out all red meat, which
started the pattern of cutting out the "evil bad" foods from my WOE in
order to leave only the good healthy ones. Then fats were deemed bad.
I cut out all dairy. Milk and cheese and ice cream were not good
healthy foods to eat, so I didn't. If I craved ice cream on a hot
summer's day, I 'smartly' chose sugary fat-free sherbet instead. Even
frozen yoghurt had too much fat. Then over the years vegetarian
friends and more nutritional advice started painting all meat as bad -
ham has fat, pork has fat, veal has fat, "be careful - even chicken
has fat." I was doing a lot of stir-fries then. I cut out all meat
(fat), and ate mostly vegetables since vegetarians "live longer." The
constant nutritionist message was Americans get way too much protein
and eat way too much meat. The only safe non-veggie food to make a
stir fry with was expensive fat-free shrimp - so in college mine were
mostly veggies only. Then eggs had fat, cut them. Then fish like
salmon had fat. Cut out all fish except tuna. Tried to make tuna salad
using rice wine vinegar instead of mayo, just wasn't the same and gave
me acid stomach. Skipped that.

Then nutritionists said "It's not the pound of pasta that makes you
fat but the dollop of tomato sauce on top of it" (and I just read that
old backwards advice on the web yesterday - still!). Makes you fat
presumably from the olive oil. More fat. I cut out olive oil, which
always did leave an evil fat film of oil on those perfect holy pure
vegetables anyway, so no more stir-frys. I tried sautéing my
vegetables in chicken stock, which as a gourmet cook tasted too much
like simply steaming them that it was pointless. Same results as
simply microwaving them, which has even fewer calories. I tried baking
fat-free cakes replacing butter with fat-free apple sauce. No good
results, no joy. If I didn't enjoy it, why waste the calories, so I
just 'smartly' cut out each bad food from my WOE.

In the end I was down to almost entirely eating fat-free naked white
"good" foods as endorsed by nutritionists and the carboholic
"Pop-Tarts get our health food seal" AHA : a little fat-free
microwaved vegetables with tons of fat-free white potatoes and
fat-free white rice and fat-free white bread and fat-free white pasta
and fat-free white bananas; white, white, white. "Watch that tomato
sauce - it has fat!" After all, like nutritionists said, "you never
see any fat Asians - they eat fat-free white rice, not meat."
Snackwell's modern fat-free processed food creations were clearly
better than anything I ever could create myself at home since I could
never make my home dishes 100% fat-free like them. American
nutritionists know best.

And yet at first, by changing my WOE away from my normal childhood
foods, I did manage to lose a lot of that excess childhood weight to
reach 120 lbs throughout my high school and college years. I started
winning or placing well in almost all my cycling events and moved up
the ranks. At my peak in my early 20's I had 3.4% body fat. And
incredibly, I was irritated at the time because my triathlete
roommate, who had a classic Men's Health body and came to get measured
with me, rang in at 2.8%, beating me. I was consuming all
carbohydrates and no proteins- pasta & rice & no meat (classic cyclist
food). I looked like Tyler "we train like dogs and eat like squirrels"
Hamilton in the Tour de France (classic cyclist body type), a look
that seems too anorexic in the upper body to me today. I thought I had
turned the corner, that I had given myself a new trim athletic body
type. Forever. For life. Sure I still had to watch calories, had cut a
lot of normal regular foods out of my life, but I had made it. "You
cannot eat normal, if you want a body that looks better than normal,"
which in later years I'd find is the bodybuilder's motto.

The reality of the situation was this - I was riding 600-700 miles a
week, which is about 30-35 hours per week in the saddle. A full-time
job spent working out. Even bodies most resilient to fat loss would
lose doing that much elite race-level activity each week all season
long. No matter how much they ate. No matter what they ate. And yet
every winter cycling off-season since high school I'd gain a bunch of
weight as the miles dropped off, only to have to take it all back off
in spring during on-season. College 10 lb winter swings became 20,
then 30, then 40, then 50. It all became part of my standard yearly
fare.

Obviously I couldn't keep those on-season training hours up as my jobs
became more responsible. The free hours I could ride kept being
reduced and weight kept increasingly being an issue. The end of the
trend saw me doing minimal training most of the year but cramming "a
year's worth of training" during my two-week summer vacation. Every
day for two weeks I'd get up at 5AM and ride a double metric century,
get back, run 5 miles around a track, and then mountain bike several
miles out to my favorite beach, walking a good mile each way in sand
to get there, bringing only water never food. Wake up next day and
repeat. For two weeks. However I would lose the 20-40lbs I had gained
over winter by the end of summer.

But here's the critical point. I used to do those 130-mile ride days
eating nothing more than a pint of cherries at the farm stand
conveniently at the half-way mark. That's it. For all day. Every day
for two weeks. To fuel all that activity. According to all that should
not be possible. I assumed the energy had to be coming from fat loss.
As long as I lost some fat, I never felt the need to check the
calories in versus out equations.

However I'd lose less and less fat every year.

Even at my thinnest I have always had a very efficient metabolism. At
3.4% body fat I would annoy my fellow riders because I never had to
eat during even long races (feared upsetting my stomach anyway) and
most distressing to them never had to carry much water with me. At
100-mile races on 100+ degree days, it was pointed out that I would
only have a single drop of sweat on my forehead when everyone else had
already consumed their entire water bottles, whereas mine remained
untouched. They called me "The Camel." In the military I notoriously
survived two-weeks of no-sleep stressful 24/7 combat leadership
training eating nothing more than a single box of fat-free crackers. I
won't bore you with the other examples. I just came to accept that my
body needed a lot less to run on than everyone else's did. But none of
this should be possible according to nutritionists - a calorie is a
calorie and the human body is a linear device. Nutritionists say
"There are no obese anorexics." Doctors say strap someone to a
hospital bed and they can make them lose weight. What, even without
HOURS of working out each day? Hah! Good luck - I'd win that bet. If I
was ever stranded on a deserted island I'd be one lucky man, but in
today's modern social environment that revolves around social eating,
it makes me an unhealthy and unhappy reclusive fat man unable to go to
dinner with coworkers or friends. "No thanks, I'm eating my peach for
lunch again instead."

An alert and healthy person is supposed to monitor his activity
levels, fat levels, and curb his diet accordingly. So over the years
of increasing career and decreasing workouts, I cut out more and more
food. Getting more and more healthy in my choices but eating less and
less calories yet getting fatter and fatter. I got to the point of
feeling that I could only really ever eat something, say like a dinner
with pasta, if I had worked out that day (American "food = fuel" vs.
European "Food = Joy of Life").

Yet it was never enough. My cutting back couldn't keep up with my
ever-expanding waistline. It was life in bizarro world. It seemed like
the more I cut back, the fatter I got. This is not possible in a
"calorie = calorie" world. Right?

So there I end up at 240lbs - obese. Did I get there by eating Oreos
and ice cream and Big Macs the way one would imagine someone getting
so big? No. I got there via eating just one 'healthy' meal a day. I
was still operating under the "fat = evil" mindset, one which is still
deeply entrenched within me today. Fat-free bread or fruit (esp.
cyclist favorite high-carb bananas) or high-carb veggies (especially
corn and peas) or Snackwells or pasta or rice, where rare splurge
take-out dinners were no cheese veggie pizza or shrimp stir-fry with
veggies and rice in a fat-free brown soy sauce. All carb-loaded, all
AHA and nutritionist endorsed fat-free foods. "Being good." I also
eliminated all the fun and unnecessary calories from my diet. Drank
(and still drink) nothing but water since I never quite bought the
safety of nutra-sweet. Others around me lose bunches of pounds by just
using one or two of my daily regimen principles, like switching their
shocking liters of Coke per day to water. Happens all the time to my
cohorts. But no, never me.

At 240 lbs, clearly my years of moderate efforts were not enough. I
needed an all out offensive to counter my apparent 'weak' eating
discipline. It was time to get really serious. I was tired of putting
off everything in my life "until after I lost weight". I was too
ashamed to ever take my shirt off in public or join friends in a hot
tub or even shower at the gym (still barely OK with that now). I was
too ashamed to ever go to the beach where other people might be
(always kayaked miles out to be alone where no else would ever go).
Having a good runner friend from cycling days semi-joke that I was too
big to be seen on his private beach, having "grotesquely just let
yourself GO like that", further entrenched my view. And I agreed, "who
wants to see all that unsightly shameful fat anyway?" Athletes can be
rough but at the same time it was also true. I had lost enough friends
and enough quality of life to make losing body fat my number one goal
ahead of career goals or anything else. My wife is naturally skinny,
sees working out as silly, sweating as gross, never exercises even in
a whole week, eats way more than I do, yet is in perfect trim shape.
Yet she never minded me being out of shape. A wonderfully romantic
gesture but not good in terms of being an enabler. Does the fact that
a fat man has to eat less than a skinny woman say anything?

In my research I found lots of studies which detail the success of
VLCD diets on the obese (like me). At around 600 cal/day they would
lose 3-5 lbs/wk. I also read where exercise is a natural appetite
suppressant, which is true for me where it stems cravings late at
night if I come off the indoor bike trainer having been totally winded
in sprints. I don't feel like eating for hours afterwards. VLCD
reports suggested medical supervision, but my doc consistently issued
the stern commanding verdict of "eat less, exercise more" and that
seemed to match. It is also the Surgeon General's oft-repeated advice.
I knew lean muscle mass increases your metabolism, but feared VLCD
eating muscle. I then saw studies where VCLD was not catabolic if the
subject used resistance weight training. Other studies say basal
metabolism at worst only drops by 30%-40% even in total-fasting
starvation trials, where typically it's only on the order of 5%-10%.
This matched nutritionists and doctors saying "there is no such thing
as starvation mode slowing down metabolism, it's just an excuse fat
people use to eat too much."

Nutritionist websites one after the other had daily intake calculators
which said even on my most modest exercise day, I should be eating
well over 3K calories per day! Absolutely Insane!! No one would ever
be fat if they could ever eat that much food! Each day! Every day of
the year! 3000 calories is 72 of my medium peaches or 43 of my
one-pound boxes of frozen spinach or 20 of my cans of tuna fish!! Or
even eating the most evil calorie-dense foods that's about TWELVE
servings of incredibly rich Ben & Jerry's ice cream or SIX McDonald's
Big Macs. What's 3K calories in the worst meal you could ever eat - A
Big Mac meal with super-size fries and large chocolate thick shake has
1495 calories, you could eat TWO, every day, for the rest of your life
and never get fat, in the supposed nutritionist "a calorie is a
calorie" world. Bull****!! No one eats that much! Even a person with
the worst diet possible doesn't eat the equivalent of a McD super meal
TWICE a day, EVERY day of the year? Are Fitday and nutritionists
joking!?!

Yet I still believed in nutritionist's "body is linear" model and
oft-repeated "it's simply calories in versus calories out." And so I
strove to maximize both sides of the linear equation - exercise most,
eat least. I'd eat a maximum 200 calories per day, no eating after 3PM
where unused calories could turn to fat, and exercise at least 5 hours
per night to keep hunger away and muscles from being consumed rather
than ample body fat. Eating next to nothing meant I'd lose those
promised 2K-3K basal metabolism calories each day. Almost a pound of
fat per day. Perfect. I have an iron will, I was determined, I have so
far been free of ailments or medications, and I was free to be left
alone to my own devices with all my non-work free time all to myself.
No problem, away we go...

Long story short, I lasted in this regimen every day for over four
long dreary months! However I only lost 1 lb/wk - which in literature
other people can do by simply dropping 500 calories from their normal
2K+ calorie daily intake. I never got the promised VLCD 3-5 lb/wk loss
nor the 3K calorie basal metabolism pound of fat per day. "Oh well,
suppose my body is just that efficient again I guess. At least it's
better than nothing."

In practice I would eat a bag of microwaved frozen vegetables each day
at lunch - often a 70 cal 1 lb box of spinach, other days
corn-pea-carrot medley mix for triple that (200 cal, since I didn't
fear carbs yet), or a box of broccoli somewhere in between. That's all
I would eat all day. ("Make your biggest meal lunch"). I felt good
reading on the back of the box that this was 3-4 servings of
vegetables, which sounded like a lot. If I was truly really hungry,
I'd crave another serving of watery spinach - "No? Don't want it?
Well, you're not really hungry then are you." After work I'd hit the
gym for 5 hours. 2 hours weight training and three hours of aerobics.
Then I'd come home unshowered to perform bike trainer riding for 30-60
mins. That was the absolutely hardest part of all. Sitting in the car
inside my garage, completely drained and spent and old-sweat cold
after the five hours at the gym, trying on very low energy to sum up
enough strength and motivation to get onto the bike after 5 hours at
the gym. I was never very hungry, and also never did get chills in bed
at night like anorexics do. The weight loss was very slow, life became
very dull and very dreary and very devoid of joy and somewhat lonely
without ever one spare moment to be social (from bed to work to gym to
bed; repeat), but at least I was getting somewhere in terms of fat
loss, even if only a slow 1 lb/wk despite the extreme efforts. As long
as I was losing I was fine.

The strange phenomenon was what appears to be the set point theory. I
was eating the same number of calories and exercising the same every
day. Yet I would go weeks without seeing ANY change on the scale or
Tanita BIA body fat reading (normal fluctuations but flat trend). Then
suddenly over two days I would immediately lose 10 pounds and drop
body fat. I would go nuts, trying to figure out what I happened to do
any differently over those previous two days. But there never was any
difference. Over the 70 lbs I lost, this phenomenon happened to me
seven times. Weeks of no movement on the scale, then over two days I'd
drop a sudden TEN more pounds. As if the body was defending its set
point for weeks, finally gave it up, and set a new one 10 lbs less,
defending that one for weeks, until it gave that one up. I expected a
constant linear line fat loss, but got this bizarre 10lb X 7 times
step function instead. Always repeatable, and thus some buried truth
of some kind I cannot fathom (if not set point theory).

Then after more than four months of success (slow losses but
something), I hit the panic button. In my continuing research I read
about how so many people died in the 1970's from the early VLCD liquid
diets. One issue was poor protein - oops, I was getting some in the
box of spinach, but not that much. However the real scare was lack of
potassium where patients died from heart arrhythmias. I thought my
multi-vitamin covered me. Checked them - only 2% RDA!! Go to CVS, the
separate potassium supplement was also only 2% RDA. What gives? I was
worried enough to see my doctor. He response was same as before -
you're on your own, you're fat and don't look anorexic, along with
many mocking side glances over his glasses when I told him of my
regimen -"You should be dead right now on my floor - running on air
like that!" But no help. The blood work I insisted on showed
lower-than-average levels of everything, from thyroid hormone to
testosterone and other components I can't remember, but none of them
ever low enough for any HMO specialist to be concerned over and
suggest correcting. My doc said "Whatever you're doing, keep on doing
it, because nothing looks bad from what I can see." My heart rate is
and was very low, 35-42 bpm, "like an athlete" even though I hadn't
raced for years (when it used to be low to but had reason to be from
racing). Yet I was working out. Maybe? But I also read now that low
heart rate is commonly a side effect of CRAN (Calorie Restriction with
Adequate Nutrition). I'm not sure I qualified for the AN in CRAN.

I wonder if any one else ever experiences this... During this regimen
I could often go three fasting days without eating anything at all. It
was simply no problem. I continued my workouts yet I NEVER felt
hungry. I never remembered to eat. If I wasn't truly hungry (ie,
veggies vs fun), I simply didn't eat. A miracle. Then again and again,
after an always repeatable and distinct three day threshold mark,
after days on a no-hunger high I would suddenly become "bump into
walls" dizzy and have the strong craving to eat something to stem the
dizziness. Below three days, limited or even no eating was fine. This
should not happen in a linear "calorie=calorie" world.

Still today I am rarely ever hungry - EXCEPT the very minute I ever
have anything high-carb and 'tasty' to eat (like at 'normal food' wknd
splurge dinner out with friends). It's as if the hunger flood gates
open. I become extremely hungry! And I remember my mother always
saying this as well - "I wasn't hungry at all - until the very moment
I ate something. And now I'm starved!" The simple trick to avoid
hunger pangs seemed to be to just not eat anything at all. Anyone else
ever experience this? Others seem to get hungry on their own, eat
something, then get full and stop. It seems to work in reverse for me.

The only other time I experience strong hunger even today is when I
have alcohol. Give me two glasses of red wine - and then look out! I
turn into a ravenous beast. It is the only time I can eat entire
'normal' meals like everyone else. Cheeses, meats, fats, carbs -
especially breads and desserts - carbohydrates to the extreme (well,
for me, not an average person). And it never ends. After dinner with
friends I am ready to go out right away to have another whole second
dinner. Not that I ever do of course, but I could and feel really
driven to. So much for listening to your body. My shocked alarmist
friends say it's as if I have a broken hunger mechanism. I never get
hungry, until AFTER I eat something, but then never feel that
sensation of being full even after having eaten. I do experience being
full after Thanksgiving Day gorging, but rarely otherwise. Either
alcohol loosens up my tight mental control of "food= fuel only"
calorie restriction where the body rushes in on the moment of weakness
to capitalize on the chance to gorge food, or it stimulates the hunger
mechanism to such an extreme where both the alcohol and carbs combine
to hit an irrepressible harmonic, or both apply together. Wine is my
number one downfall and enemy and unfortunately one of the things
along with the often co-existing dinner with friends that gives me
some "live life a little" European joy in life. Tricky business!

Midway through the regimen, several trim athletic co-workers began
heaping abuse on me for eating only vegetables at lunch while they ate
their 'normal' mayonnaise-dripping-down fatty meat and carboholic
Wonder bread sandwiches (often Philly cheese steak subs). They began
to incessantly pressure me to moderate my intake ("eat some greasy
cheeseburgers like us normal guys, dude"). Between that and the
potassium scare, I decided to moderate my diet again.

Around the same time, my wife had given me the Atkins book. I have to
plead guilty to not having been open to scientific method myself,
thinking like nutritionists that I knew everything already better. I
too dismissed even investigating his plan because after all the years
of buying into the "fat is evil" nutritional mantra, I was already
smarter than those idiots who followed what the media told me was the
"eat all the cheese and bacon you want diet." Lunacy. But my wife said
"there was an example in there where Atkins writes about one of his
patients that sounds just like you - she only gets hungry AFTER she
eats carbohydrates, never before" Intrigued, I read the book -
expecting only to have fun by laughing at it.

Many of Atkin's anecdotes rang true of my own experience. I tried
Atkins. But in a very low-fat healthy-fat version (my own precursor to
South Beach). It did change me. I now do look upon all rice and
oatmeal and potatoes and breads and pastas and grains and beans and
all processed foods comprising my old cycling staples as nutritionally
empty candy calories. I shop the meat and produce aisles exclusively,
skipping any grain or sugar product. I credit Atkins for getting me to
no longer completely fear fats so much as the fat-free nutritionists
had me believe for years. I added almonds and salmon and chicken
breast and turkey breast back into my WOE, even if sparingly since
deep down I still do fear their fats and more importantly their
calorie density. I'd measure a 1 oz serving of almonds into a cup to
avoid the all-too-easy eating of handfuls from the bag. It was amazing
how something like seven almonds would satisfy me for hours. And what
a taste joy. I also credit Atkins for getting me to make far better
vegetable choices - spinach and broccoli have so much more nutritional
value than my previous empty corn and peas. Berries are far better
choices than my previous empty bananas and apples. Etc.

Yet, hopes dashed, Atkins made no difference in my overall fat loss.
Caving to advice and pressure from friends, I then spent all last year
experimenting with various methods of "moderation" (aka eating more)
from their screaming at me to eat more than VLCD. I tried eating more
protein within the half-hour window after my post-workout weight
lifting, despite it being night. No difference in fat loss, only minor
muscle gain. Experimented with eating carbs before workouts to fuel
them better - no change. No better sprints either. Crap. Hopes dashed
repeatedly.

I frequently can spend hours working out with never eating. After
coming back from a fast lunch group ride, someone will mention how
hungry they are after such a hard ride. Not the slightest bit hungry
myself, I'd have to think, shocked to realize that I hadn't eaten...
since breakfast the day before - before even yesterday's group ride.
Last summer this happened frequently. I'd just forget to eat. And yet
am fat. What's going on here?

The following revealing anecdote is a case study which underscores my
situation versus a 'normal' person. Over summer I routinely spent all
day kayaking off-shore for hours without ever eating or drinking. One
day I kayaked with a chiseled trim friend for a simple easy 30-minute
paddle out to a nearby island for lunch (a blow-off non-workout day
for me, being social, requiring social eating yet again). We were only
15 minutes out - a joke - but in the harbor's dangerous high traffic
lane with an ocean oil tanker coming straight for us - when he starts
shaking and unpacks his lunch right then and there in the kayak saying
"I have to eat lunch RIGHT now." "You can't wait 15 minutes?" In a
panic he responds "No, I have to eat right now!!" After many tense
moments of the tanker closing in, I finally convinced him to paddle
out of the way of danger and to eat on the island (where still shaking
he ripped into his lunch like a starvation camp victim). But man, I
could have paddled all day without ever eating myself (as I frequently
did). His metabolism was so hot and high and in such high gear that he
had to eat right there and then, shaking, oil tanker looming over his
head or not. I have never experienced that, not even on my 130-mile
rides on cherries. How do I get his fast inefficient metabolism and
junk my efficient one? He had even eaten breakfast beforehand! He gets
hungry and needs to eat every three hours, whereas I only get hungry
every three days? It's as if we're completely different animals.

Every group has differing advice. Cyclists tell you one thing,
bodybuilders another, nutritionists another, dieters something else.
Yet everyone feels they have the god-given right to pick apart your
lunch and what you have to eat. Not just me but everyone, coworkers
get literally kissing distance away from other coworker's faces to
stick their noses into the coworker's private lunch bowl and make
comments about their food, whether too ethnic or too healthy or too
gross or too weird or too boring. Hello, it's not your food, you don't
have to eat it, so shut up about it. Amazing. My microwaved vegetables
also get big reactions from people. Over the years I've given up on
the 'normal' food combinations everyone else eats - Meat with empty
rice, turkey breast sandwich with empty bread, fatty carby milk with
empty cereal, red ragout sauce on empty pasta, salad with empty fatty
dressing. When usually it's only one of the combo that provides any
worthwhile value. Keep the turkey and salad, ditch the bread and
dressing. I tend to eat only the base ingredient, ie, tuna from the
can versus making it tastier and less healthy by making tuna salad
sandwiches with mayo and bread. I get tired of and full from the
boring can faster than tasty tuna sandwiches. Food is fuel, not joy of
life.

Every group has different standards. Everyone tells runners they're
too skinny, cyclists like big quads but worry about any upper body
mass at all, bodybuilders fear all cardio as muscle stripping, wine
and dinner club members think they aren't fat because everyone else in
their circle is - "they're all normal." Bodybuilders tell you to eat
all protein. Runners tell you to eat all carbs. Nutritionists say
avoid all fats. Atkins says avoid all carbs. What the hell works? So
far nothing but VLCD.

I probably should detail my various trails. On VLCD for four months
last winter my day was :

-- VLCD --

12PM: 200 calories microwaved frozen vegetables
5PM: 3 hrs cardio at gym
8PM: 2 hrs weight lifting (full routine every other day)
10PM: 30-60 min cycling indoor rollers (longer non-lift days)
~200 food cal/day, ~1700-2200 exercise cal/day, ~1lb/wk fat loss
Not counting for fun alpine skiing most weekends, XC skate races,
snowshowing.
My spreadsheet showed I only lost fat equivalent to calories exercised
off, ie, seemingly saying my basal metabolism is zero. Impossible.
What gives?

Then pressured to moderate some, I up'ed my intake by trying to force
myself to eat six times a day even when not hungry into spring and
summer. Sufficiently trim, I also slowly added back social dinners
with friends on weekends while being good all work-week:

-- High-Carb Summer Trial --

6AM: 5-mile run, sometimes 8-mile (slow 9-12 min/mi pace).
9AM: eat a high-carb Bartlett pear.
11AM: eat 5-8 almonds.
12PM: weight lift for 2 hours (one muscle group/day x4 (chest, back,
shoulder, bi/tri).
2PM: eat can of tuna or 4oz salmon/chicken for post-lift protein, plus
half a box of microwaved frozen veggies.
4PM: eat a high-carb peach
6PM: bike outdoors 2-3 hours (18-21 mph pace)
9PM: bowl of spinach greens salad with broccoli and assorted peppers
and other raw veggies, soy sauce and black pepper as dressing.
~800 food cal/day, ~2000-2500 exercise cal/day, 1lb/wk fat GAIN
Added social splurge dinner on wknd: worst case 2 dinners of worst 2
Guinness and grilled fish or chicken and at worst eating French fries
& ketchup side. Talking what, under 1500 cals each? Still under what
normal people should eat as my big splurge. Not counting all the "for
fun" kayaking or mtn biking to the beaches or 5K road races
(8:30min/mile pace)

Now into fall and winter, still trying to refine, dropped the
calorie-dense almonds & high-carb fruit :

-- Lower-Carb Winter Trial --

9AM: eat an orange
11AM: should eat frozen berries (but often skip this, it's time for
the lunch run before I know it)
12PM: 5-mile run (9-12 min/mi pace).
2PM: eat a box of microwaved frozen veggies
5PM: weight lift for 2 hours (one muscle group/day, x5 (chest, back,
shoulder, bi/tri, legs).
8PM: bike indoor rollers 30-60min (120-140 cadence, max heart rate
zone1)
9PM: eat can of tuna or 4oz salmon/chicken for post-lift protein, plus
bowl of spinach greens salad
~800 food cal/day, ~1500-2000 exercise cal/day, 1lb/wk fat GAIN

I forced myself to eat up to 800 cal/day. But there is no change in
fat loss. All eating more than VLCD ever did was to make me gain even
more fat, which then takes me even longer to lose. I have the patience
to give the change in eating some time, until I end up 12-15 lbs
overweight from where I started and it takes me 15 wks of strict VLCD
diligence to just return where I was before.

I'm concerned about recent studies showing that the body doesn't burn
fat if you don't eat enough calcium. I get next to none (no dairy). I
am way under RDA for protein, never mind the bodybuilder 1g per 1lb of
body weight goal. I also should sneak a workout in before my morning
shower if I can ever get myself out of bed. The heavy 3 showers/day
bothers my skin, so I should put exercise on my free morning one.
Unfortunately I have only been getting 4-5 hours of good sleep at
night (my usual since high school), lowering my natural HGH. Been
sleeping longer in the cold now, getting roughly 6-7 hours. Insomnia
has been a recent summer problem (hungry?) but is gone recently.

After a whole year I see very little difference on any front. Hardly
any fat loss, hardly any muscle gain. My bodybuilder buddies tell me
that I am trying to do two contradictory things together at once. To
lose fat I need to cut calories. But to build muscle I need to eat
more calories (protein) to build lean mass with, where fat gain comes
along for the ride. They say you can't do both at once. Is this true?

So where I'd like to be, ie, my current new regimen is (with no more
splurge weekend dinners that can act like a fattening binge re-feed, a
straight 800 cal for EVERY day of the week):

-- Closer to Ideal Newest Trial --

6AM: 30-60min on stair climber (yet to do this)
9AM: eat an orange
11AM: eat a cup of low-fat cottage cheese.
12PM: 5-mile run (9-12 min/mi pace).
2PM: eat a box of microwaved frozen veggies
4PM: eat 1cup frozen berries
5PM: weight lift for 2 hours (split routine of each muscle group
twice/wk (chest + shoulder + tricep; back + bicep) for 4 days, legs in
between as fifth day).
8PM: bike indoor rollers 30-60min (120-140 cadence, max heart rate
zone1)
9PM: eat can of tuna or 4oz salmon/chicken for post-lift protein, plus
bowl of spinach greens salad
~800 food cal/day, ~1500-2000 exercise cal/day, fear another 1lb/wk
fat GAIN
From today this equals: 689 cal (34% RDA) Protein 72g (131% RDA) Fat
20g (31% RDA) Carb 65g (22% RDA) Fiber 24g (80% RDA) Calcium 669mg
(56% RDA)

The goal of my lifting routine was to hit each muscle group one day
per week ("muscles need rest time to grow") but to hit it hard and
tire it out (4 pyramid sets of 8-12 reps, typically 12/10/8/12). My
lifting routine is Monday: Chest: Flat Bench, Incline Bench, Decline
Bench, DB Incline Bench, DB Flat Bench, DB Flat Fly, Cable Crossover,
Cable Under-Up, Naut Pec Fly, Chest Dips (out), AB crunches. Tuesday:
Back : Wide Pulldown, Narrow Pulldown, Narrow Pulley Row, Wide Pulley
Row, DB Row, DB Pullover, Back Extend, Nt Lower Back, Nt Side Turns,
Nt Pullover, Wide Pullups, Narrow Chinup, AB Nautilus. Wednesday:
Shoulder: DB Mil Press, Bar Mil Press, DB Back Fly, DB Lateral Raise,
Bar Upright Row, Shoulder Pulley, Nt Compnd Row, Nt Mil Press.
Thursday: Tri & Bi: Preacher Curl, Overhead Bar Tri, DB Curls, Tricep
Kickback, Smith Tricep, Smith Bicep, Tricep Dip (in). Friday: Legs :
Smith Squat, Smith Calf Raise, DB Lunge, Seat Calf Raise, Nt Leg
press, Nt Quad, Nt leg curl, Nt Adduct (in), Nt Abduct(out), AB leg
raises. The new split routine will simply do half of these exercises
per day but twice a week. I asm having tendon soreness from lifting
that lifters say is a sign of over-use injury. Worried about that
curbing my lifting.

I probably should start taking flax seed capsules to make up for the
missing almonds on the chicken or tuna days (salmon gives me enough
fat?)

The only difference I notice in myself now between my in-shape racing
days on high-carbs and today on low-carbs and being fat is that my
sprinting ability has completely disappeared. I can go on LSD (long
steady distance) rides all day, no problem despite being in a low
energy state on low calories, but I cannot sprint or do intervals to
save my life. A total joke. The jump ability has completely left my
legs. Nowadays sprints are impossible, but going forever long and slow
is easy. Same deal in running, my pace is as slow as a jogger. Fat
burning versus glucose burning?

Another experiment to try to help me not getting dropped on group
rides with non-USCF coworkers no less (unimaginable in my old racing
days) was to try to add sugar before rides and lifting. After "eat
carbs" pressure from fellow cyclists, I allowed myself coworker's
bite-size candy (pure sugar) before each session, expecting to feel a
"sugar high" jolt of speed and energy and aggressiveness in attacking,
or at least a record weight lifting or best time for my normal TT
course. No luck. There was no difference. If I'm so calorie and carb
deprived, why didn't tons-o-sugar carbs make any difference at all? As
usual, I did gain weight during this two-week trial (even though we're
only talking what, 300 calories for three bite-size snickers each
day?). Twilight zone. I recently read a study on the Atkins site where
cyclists do convert to fat utilization versus carb utilization in
their rides within two weeks of low-carb without any impact on their
performance numbers. Carbs are not necessary for sprint? If so, how
much?

After reading Bill Philip's bodybuilding books, I then tried his
recommended green tea ECA stack dosages, starting sanely with small
doses. I didn't notice any increased energy or speed effect. ECA sites
like Drumlib suggest that obese people have poor thermogenesis, and
that lack of speed effect shows ECA restores your lacking body up to
normal thermogenesis. No idea if true or not. I did start to develop
infrequent but sudden and sharp headache pangs that differed from any
other past headache experiences. That was enough to panic me and make
me stop, even though it could have been just as much from dehydration
issues instead. I haven't played with any supplements since, though
the stories about how HGH taking athletes I trust quickly dropping
10lbs of fat and gaining 5 lbs of muscle without ever having worked
out, shows me how much of this fat versus muscle problem is just
simple chemistry. If one's genes don't produce this chemistry, can one
get there merely by natural diet and exercise alone? Also suggests the
importance of proper nutrition (chemistry) like increased protein.
Sigh. Same issue with testosterone supplementation - people have been
getting muscle building from that too. More aggression, better
workouts. I want to get there in an all-natural manner. But fat good
that has done me so far.

Several cycling friends say that over the many years of my 'healthy'
controlled eating and calorie restriction, I have done nothing more
with all my hard efforts than to train my body to use less and less
and less calories, and to ride longer and longer but slower and
slower. That thought messes with the head. "Eat more, exercise less"
to lose weight??

The hard core runners and cyclists say my many long hours of slow LSD
fat burning zone workouts (especially long 60+ mile summer rides) are
low quality crap workouts, where I never give my body time to fully
recover. They insist if I worked out in shorter sessions but instead
sprinted more, I'd be better off. Perhaps true for athletic
performance. In fact when one cyclist cut his already short workouts
to be even shorter, resting most of the week, but doing pure sprints
on his short workouts, he lost a ton of weight unexpectedly when he
had so little left to lose. (By working out less, ie, shorter). But
it's also true that whether slow or not, all my riding and running and
weight lifting is more than the "just walk ten minutes" advice given
by obesity centers. And yet I'm still fat. Time to chuck the "I'll
focus on speed once I get below X lbs" mentality?

Despite all my experimentation - VLCD is the only regimen that has
ever worked for me (even if only slowly). It is now a year later after
my 165 lb best weight last spring when I finally fit back into my 32"
jeans after VLCD and looked passable enough to hang with friends at
the beach or hot tub. Then I caved in to the "just eat more dude"
pressure from friends and coworkers and fellow athletes. After a year
of 'moderation' (aka eating more than 200 cal/day up to 800 cal/day,
having one or two social splurge dinners with friends on beach
weekends (ie, typically one Guinness beer and grilled chicken sandwich
minus the bread)) - I crept back up to 175 lbs where my 34" jeans were
tight again. After these past holidays where I spent every day
hard-core sunrise-to-sunset off-piste alpine skiing in Europe but ate
their "down home" meats and more than VLCD, I am now back up to 180
lbs and about to retreat to 36" waist jeans!!

I have done this same exact maddening swing plotted out on my graphs
for FOUR pathetic times in the last year. I gain 10 lbs in under two
weeks trying a new "eating in moderation" plan, but then it takes two
MONTHS of VLCD to get back to where I was before. From 165lbs back to
175lbs. The slope on both the rapid 10lb rising trend and painfully
slow losing trend is IDENTICAL on the graph in each experience. Over
and over again. This 175lb set point is being defended even more
staunchly than the earlier ones? Why won't the 165lb set point stick?

I've had it! When do I just accept that I have to eat less than
everybody else?

Damn the outside pressure. In extreme frustration after a year of
wasted effort, I am about to go back to the only regimen that ever
worked for me - VLCD. What the hell else is there? There is no more
trust. How could there be?

I am extremely frustrated by this. I feel a little blue about this.
Sugar of course always picks up your mood, as do calorically-evil
comfort foods like homemade mac 'n cheese (been decades). Guarantee
you no one is ever unhappy while eating an ice cream cone! Until
after. But is this semi-depression frustration normal for lack of
meeting one's objectives or from eating too few calories as CRAN sites
mention? Possible VLCD warning signs: I am "a bit" more anxious than
before, "a bit" more blue than before, less sexually interested than
before, had bouts of insomnia which is new, am "a bit" more irritable
(who isn't happier eating fun sugary fatty foods), and have very low
drive and low male competitive aggression and general low subdued
energy... And yet can still workout for hours and hours per day (on
top of work). Are these low-energy blue spells from working out too
much or from a lack of calories or lack of fat or lack of carbs or
simply lack of feeling good about myself in meeting the simplest of
all goals (to not be fat)? Which comes first. Nor has it reached any
troubling or terrible level. Just something that hangs in the
background on one or two days a week, hard to even notice. Could be
standard diet response or even age? Something minor to live with for
fat loss, or VLCD warning sign?

I once heard about a very rare genetic disease in passing on a NPR
show where this doctor's patient can eat a single 10-calorie saltine
cracker and then gain pounds of body fat from it, out of complete
proportion to the net weight of what he actually ate. The very concept
blew my mind. I didn't catch the disease name, and don't believe I
have it, but am extremely curious to learn about the science behind
it. This too seems to break the mantra "a calorie is a calorie" linear
rule and assumed laws of body mechanics. How? Any info on this
phenomenon?

I feel it is proper and healthiest for a person to be alert and listen
to their own body and keep cutting back until results appear. But this
can also put you on the border edge of disordered eating. The
sickening thing of it is - you can always be 'better'. The sad crazy
truth is whether you normally eat 20 cheeseburgers every night but ate
21, or normally eat three almonds a day but ate four, there is always
a reason to explain your lack of fat loss. Always one more thing you
can still cut out in hopes of getting results. It feels like it
becomes an ever-escalating arms race war between you and your body -
each side lowering the calorie bar even lower, fearing what the other
side will do in retaliation if you don't. Every nutritionist I know
says this is impossible. "A calorie is a calorie." Eat less and
exercise more and you will lose fat. "If I tie someone to my hospital
bed and curb their calorie intake...." Ad nauseam.

In my two year all out fight, every moment of every hour seems to
revolve around workouts and around food - planning how to fit in the
next workout into your day, thoughts of being too fat, denying myself
countless items that everyone else around you enjoys (from the vending
machine to coffee machine to free doughnuts and bagels to coworker
lunches to grocery store stops), from planning for what to do for
dinner or what to eat before aerobics classes or lifting to planning
for this weekend's ski house visit and fearing the group dinner and
hot tub in equal measure - everything in life revolves around food.
Who honestly doesn't think about food often? And yet, I can go days
without eating, easily and very happily, in the much-reported standard
fasting person's natural high.

And yet around others, I am forced to recognize that it is I who have
become out of touch. I feel like a wide-eyed astonished Alice in
Wonderland at the ski house during breakfast. All these perfectly
trim and chiseled flat-mates are eating kids sugary cartoon cereal!?!
With fatty carby whole milk!?! Cups worth!?! Drinking carby orange
juice!?! FOUR glasses!?! Egg omelets!?! With cheese!?! And Bacon!?!
Toast!?! Butter?!?! Jam!?! FIVE bananas!?! FOUR waffles or pancakes
each!?! Plate drowned in a CUP of real maple syrup!?! SIX sausages!?!
MORE bacon!?! Where I force myself to Nordic ski all day, alone,
versus going alpine skiing with the group since that won't burn enough
calories for me (on my morning orange), on the flip side others go
back to bed after such tremendous eating to later spend the day simply
outlet shopping by car!?! Then a normal lunch with Philly cheese
steaks? Then a 'normal' dinner full of countless other nutritional
horrors like meatloaf, gravy and mashed potatoes? Followed by dessert?
Yet so trim. For eating more and working out less. It just doesn't
make any sense. The looking glass seems broken. I have a VERY hard
time accepting this advice. Been there, became 240 lbs. Sell me on it!

I used to think that those perfect washboard-abs guys you see hanging
out at beach resorts eating huge hot fudge ice cream sundaes, at
midnight no less, were just jerks trying to show off when in public,
while afterwards in private purging and fasting for days later. Now I
wonder if these guys really can eat that much without gaining fat.
They probably can eat those suggested 3K calories of food per day.
Fitday works for them, but not me or others?

I realize the immediate inclination is to dismiss my data as some
unintelligent internet dolt who is obviously under-reporting what they
eat. Just like someone who can eat amazing quantities of normal food
(3K cal/day) ridiculing people who are fat because he imagines how
much food it would take in massive over-eating quantities to make his
own genetically-gifted self fat. Almost wish I could see their faces
getting fat on an orange a day. After spending so much time
calculating the exact calories of food, I've achieved a sense of what
food contains without always checking. So now I vaguely guess that my
morning orange has 100 calories given its size. Just checking software
now I see it's only 65. But even say if I'm off in calories, by what
magnitude? If the nutritional label is off on by box of frozen
spinach, even if off by double it's now 140 cal instead of 70. (The
Dr. Wafford CRAN S/W and Fitday and food labels all seem to agree -
I've come to trust them, it's my body I don't trust).

I've removed the usual "more calories than people realize" normal food
culprits from my diet (sauces, cheeses, oils, breads, dressings,
skins, dairy, sugars, starches, grains). So yes, please point out
where I'm sneaking more calories into my diet without realizing it.
Years of cutting food item after food item out in order to find the
'healthiest" non-fat-producing regimen hasn't left much to fool around
with. You tell me. No evil "just a spoonful doesn't count" ice cream
hidden in the freezer from decades ago, for example. No processed
food in the cupboard or fridge for me even to sleepwalk to and eat
without ever knowing. No oil in the stir-fry (no more stir-frys).
Pretty much already a calorically-dense-food-free scientific bubble.
"If you're really hungry, there's only frozen vegetables in the
freezer, have as much as you want. Oh, you're suddenly not hungry
anymore now? Hah! There's never any bread or cookies so you can stop
looking." Even though I always do look anyway, like a hopeful dog
searching for a buried bone. I must walk past the vending machines at
work countless times each day, still, even when all I ever do is to
look through the glass shaking my head at all the evil bad processed
fat+sugar junk foods in there and then walk back to my cube. At least
it's break and exercise. Even if maddeningly trim people walk back
eating that junk.

It's probably too easy for you to dismiss this. I am at a complete
loss myself. I'm obviously doing something wrong. What? I really want
to understand this. If I see one more 20/20 piece on people cutting
back from 12 cheeseburgers to 5 nightly and losing tons of weight I'll
scream. I too would find dismissing my data easier than being forced
to confront any possible loopholes in feel-good "a calorie is a
calorie" mantra assumptions. I wouldn't be sharing my pain if I could
figure this out. I may be the only person that my small town my doctor
has ever seen with this problem (yet I feel most would never report
this, this is my sixth attempt writing this where maybe I won't delete
it as "too whiny" this time).

But I cannot be the only person in the entire country who has faced
this. Am I?

The base question is : Can you train your body via years and years of
increasingly tighter calorie restricted dieting to simply use less and
less and less calories daily? Or is this normal aging? My grandparents
eat next to nothing. When they see me having to work out so many hours
every day of the week while still being fat, their response to my
mother is frequently "Now why doesn't he just skip eating instead?"
Makes sense. Then why doesn't it work?

So all this diatribe rant reduces itself to twenty questions :

1) Am I alone in this "breaks the calorie=calorie laws of physics"
VLCD behavior (remaining fat on 800cal/day)?
2) Can you eat less than everyone around you yet remain obese, over
two years?
3) Is the body really a straight-line linear mathematic model as
nutritionists portray?
4) "Eat less/least, exercise more/most" is wrong? Over a whole year?
5) Diets simply train the body to use less and less and less calories?
6) Does starvation mode exist despite what nutritionists say?
7) Is this disordered eating (ED) or simply a healthy "listen to your
body" adjustment? Friends eating 3K/day panic when they learn what I
eat. Any calorie restriction at all = ED? What's the fine line to
cross between healthy monitoring and ED? ED sites suggest it's not ED
until the subject becomes under-weight (BMI 18). "There are no obese
anorexics."
8) Am I alone in never being hungry - until only AFTER I eat
something?
9) Alcohol fuels your hunger like a roaring forest fire?
10) Is it true alcohol completely shuts down your body's ability to
use fats, storing them instead? IE, that glass of red wine with salmon
at splurge wknd dinner makes the salmon fats much worse than if you
abstained? Wine = good = false when trying to burn body fat?
11) Can you save up WW "cal=cal" calories to spend like dollars later?
Starve all week then give yourself one wknd day of a normal
candlelight dinner out with god forbid even a glass of wine, without
getting obese? Or is this comparative-to-VLCD binging where the body
non-linearly stores every calorie during the normal meal. My data for
my body seems to say calories are not linear WW points or dollars.
12) Nutritionists and studies say it doesn't matter when you eat. IE,
even eating at night is OK ("cal=cal"). Yet other studies show 6x/day
eating better than one meal per day like nighttime dinner. That's how
I became fat. Yet bodybuilders say to eat protein after nighttime
workouts. Which?
13) Need to boost metabolism, so need to gain lean muscle mass, so
need to eat more protein calories, where more calories creates more
fat, round-robin "get nowhere" viscous circle? Lean mass gain
supplements needed?
14) Is set point theory real? What explains the 10lb x7 step function?
15) If metabolism only drops 40% max, why my 200 cal/day fat loss so
slow?
16) Where I gained fat on 800 cal/day, my true metabolism is ~400-600?
Some people just have slower metabolisms than others and should always
eat "less than normal" to not get fat? Is this flexible and trainable
or fixed and genetic?
17) How do you go from 200 cal/day to 'normal' 1200 cal/day w/o
gaining fat?
18) Is there a sports nutritionist with experience in this?
19) Can one go from 120lb to 240lb back to 120lb? Or did I screw
myself for life, setting up all the wrong fat hormones, etc?
20) Fasting for three days is too easy since never hungry. One must
force himself to get hunger pangs by eating (since indicates working
metabolism)?
21) I really should eat 3K calories/day as per Fitday? Who'd EVER get
fat if they could eat that much food? Every day! Or accept having to
eat less than standard formulas as my own unique difference?
22) I'm obviously still eating too much & working out too little if so
much body fat remains, right? It's the no-lie final equation result &
indicator. Keep cutting food & upping exercise over time until results
finally show? To infinity?
23) What the hell is fuelling my workouts if not previously stored
body fat? Humans cannot run on air. So I might not have the fastest
riding pace, but it's gotta be using some even minimal calories for
those hours per day?
24) -- For Sports Nutritionists to answer ---
25) Are you better off eating 200 calories of carb (putting you 200
cal deeper into the hole) beforehand to fuel a better anaerobic sprint
workout, hoping to make that 200 calories back in higher metabolism
later, or to skip the extra 200 calories outright and go out for a
doable 85% level effort on lower fat-burn energy instead? Low cal
hasn't worked - no fat loss.
26) Are you better off eating 200 calories of protein (putting you 200
cal deeper into the hole) after a post-lifting workout, hoping to
build extra lean body mass to make that 200 calories back in higher
metabolism later, or to skip adding the extra 200 unneeded calories to
your day right before you go to bed? Low cal hasn't worked - no
muscle.
27) Need calcium to burn fat? Need fat to burn fat?
28) Need potassium supplements? Multi-vitamin not enough? What else
should I take?
29) What am I missing by avoiding all grains? Empty calories since get
fiber from veggies, right? Same for bread, cereal, rice & pasta,
right?
30) One normal splurge social dinner per week acts like fat-store
binge re-feed for VLCD? Avoid at all costs?
31) VLCD perhaps worked when BMI 30, now need new approach?
32) What's the name of the "saltine creates pounds of fat" genetic
disease? Might learn something from this.
33) Besides testosterone & TSH, what other VLCD-negatives & blood test
clues should I look for? Both specialists insisted that hormone levels
are totally unaffected by diet, as did the dermatologist, dismissing
Vitamin E during skin and nail problems. I don't buy any of this,
fearing VLCD deficiencies, or is it true?
34) I need a less ridiculing GP doctor who can work with me rather
than feed me "eat less, exercise more" mantra & ignoring it not
working. Which type of specialist should I look for? Or continue to
experiment alone?
35) Where can I get my metabolism tested since my small-town doc
refuses to refer me?
36) OK to eat carbs? OK to eat fats? But only alone, never together in
same hour, else sugar insulin response from the peach will cause the
fat from the almond to be stored away as fat instead of used
metabolically?
37) HOW can I gain 1lb/wk body fat on 800cal/day? Doesn't this mean I
am over-eating by 3500 calories/wk? Where is this fat coming from?
38) If I'd eat only when truly hungry (ie, desiring watery spinach vs.
fun foods), I'd be eating even less. Still follow my natural hunger
signals or instead force myself to eat calorie-light foods more often
even when not hungry as do now (ie, 6 times a day)?
39) -- For Bodybuilders to answer ---
40) Midway through a really extra heavy lifting session, do you ever
get light-headed tingling sensations in your cheeks and face? Feels
like a diabetic lack of sugar sensation or is it a desirable fat
burning moment or is it something else? Only happens rarely maybe
twice per month lifting, never cycling or running, ruling out sugar
crash? Anyone else ever get this? Might be due to rapid and forced
inhale & exhale breathing during lifts?
41) To gain muscle you need to eat more calories and thus gain fat. To
lose the fat, you have to cut the calories and thus lose the muscle
you gained. What gets you to the point of mostly muscle and little
fat? Supplements?
42) Is it possible to lose body fat and build muscle at same time? Or
should I go 100% VLCD cutting phase again to get down to 120lbs FIRST,
then add in more protein calories for lean mass gain? ("Cut calories
first to lose fat, then when trim, eat more to gain muscle").
43) Or should I always switch every two weeks between VLCD cutting
phase for fat then extra calorie bulking phase for muscle, back and
forth? Bill Philip's "Trick the body before it can adapt" approach?
44) Is it time to give an ECA stack another chance since it provides
chemistry to preserve lean mass and burn fat instead? Three month
cycle? Some people need ECA to bring up their thermogensis to normal?
(ie, Drumlib)
45) Bought creatine but never used it, thought no point if its effects
disappear when stop using it. Try it anyway? For looks only, or better
workouts?
46) Does lack of protein really hinder post-lifting muscle growth?
It's THE only reason for my lack of lean mass gain? Really need 1g/lb
body weight to see any muscle growth to boost metabolism? Ignore
increase in body fat? Until what threshold? 10-15lb swings? 5% body
fat swings?
47) Are split routines better for lifting than my "each muscle group
once per week" routine? Look to be more sore, more often, since
indicates muscle growth? My stale 9-month routine is crap, exercise
variation is key? Or same exercise in same way to produce the biggest
looking tricep?
48) How do you get an always-hungry makes-you-shake inefficient
metabolism from an efficient "go days w/o food" one? Lifting alone
isn't doing it.
49) Should I continue to eat protein after evening lifting? Don't you
fear night calories being stored as fat?
50) Do personal trainers help those poor sap people (like me) who
spend hours in the gym every day for years but never look a shred
different from the day they walked in? Good to point out bad chemistry
or bad form mistakes, or waste of money?
51) -- For Runners to answer ---
52) Should I focus on improving my running pace via intervals before
working on my run distance (improve my 8:30 min/mi race pace vs. my
current 8mi distance)? Quit "work on speed when easier-on-ankles
slimmer" mindset?
53) Can a Clydesdale runner become a slim one? Endomorph into
ectomorph? Examples?
54) -- For Cyclists to answer ---
55) Replace LSD w/ sprints? Since intervals and sprints are so
incredibly hard from such a low-calorie energy state, suggests I must
force myself to do them? Easy slow fat-burning LSD miles are
worthless? Even for fat-burning?
56) How does YOUR winter off-season diet differ from on-season?
Calories of both?
57) I doubt the age argument ("You're not 20 anymore"). We all see
trim Masters cyclists decades older than me that dust the field in a
TT. As cyclists age, our riding style changes? Hill climber when
young, LSD when older & heavier? Doubt this - there are still older
climbers out there like Pantani.
58) Is one rest-day per week too much or not enough? I feel it's about
right.

Bodybuilders want to have me eating only after workouts, and beef
jerky all day long. Cyclists say the answer is eating before workouts
to fuel them, eating pasta all day. Atkins says no carbs.
Nutritionists say no fat. CRAN people say lower calories to live
longer. My moderation from each group hasn't produced enough results.
What gives?

I still love food, so I'm not worried about ED despite surprisingly
concerned alarmist comments from athletic friends and coworkers. If
one could eat foie gras and dessert Riesling every day and remain
skinny I'd be all over it. ED sites all list "being underweight" as
the prime indicator for ED (aka "there are no obese anorexics"). Lance
Armstrong weighs his food obsessively every day. Loosen the rules to
simply "ED = think about food a lot" and suddenly every single runner
or cyclist or dieter or wine connoisseur would qualify. I'm not keen
on whey protein shakes or bars (prefer real food for potassium and
micro nutrients since I always worry I'm probably not getting enough)
but will do them if suggested. I still adore my old traditional
European enjoyment of life - but am willing give it all up (as I have)
if it'd only work, dammit.

With all the hours spent in the gym I should look like Arnold. From
all the hours of aerobics I should look like Bill Rodgers. I'm willing
to continue spending multiple hours of my life in the gym daily if
it'd just produce ANY visible results. Otherwise why bother? I should
see something after two years (at least a whole year of serious free
weights versus Nautilus)?

I'm clearly doing it all wrong. I have the will power to do whatever
it takes. Just tell me what the hell it is I'm supposed to do from
here. What avenues are left? All the data points to yet another VLCD.
I have the gnawing feeling that if I hadn't caved in to pressure from
everyone to eat more and fearing the ED label last year that I would
have been closer to my BMI 20 goal by now. Recent trips to Europe
amaze me in how everyone there (men and women both) are so perfectly
trim and in shape across the board with impossibly tiny waists by
current American standards, all by eating "entirely the wrong
meat-based foods" according to the American nutritionist mindset. What
gives? My European relatives (all thinner than me) think I'm insane
spending so much time in the gym and refusing their full-fat wine and
beer dinners, "like a crazy American."

The National Weight Control Registry reports that all their long-term
losers still only eat an average 1200 calories per day (meaning some
must eat less) instead of 3000 and also workout an average of an hour
per day (meaning some must do more), day in and day out for every
single day of their entire lives. This seems to go against everything
nutritionists say in their one-size-fits-all basal calorie
calculations. By definition every NWCR member has an ED? Eating too
little, working out too much? And 1200 calories is their maintenance
eating, how much did they eat to lose those pounds to get there?
Therefore is 800 cal/day really so beyond the pail? Standard calorie
formulas apply 100% to everyone, and genetic variation doesn't exist
where some people naturally must eat less than average?

Is it my genetics that dictate my seeming 800 calorie/day metabolism
which my diet must follow to avoid weight gain, or is it my years of
increasing calorie restriction that has trained my body to simply run
on 800 calories/day where it gains fat on regimens consuming more than
that?

Where does one go to from here? What's left to optimize out of the
equation? Has anyone ever overcome this appalling situation of VLCD
not being enough? HOW!?! I do not accept the answer of "face it you're
older, it's clearly too hard for your body type, just give it all up,
it's too high a cost to your quality of life, accept yourself as a fat
person and simply surround yourself with even fatter friends." You'd
be amazed how often I hear that. I will not throw in the towel yet
(maybe when I'm too old to care beyond 50).

I obviously have to be doing something wrong somewhere.

On the plus side - they say that CRAN is life extending. However I'd
rather be trim and comfortable once again being social in a hot tub
with my athletic and European friends any day. My real life has been
hijacked by obesity. I want it back. It's been a two-year all out war
on fat. Perhaps I just need a deep breath before the final assault.
Can't be alone here. Need to retool my WOE once more and fine tune my
strategy, to land my war-turning D-day.

Unlike my alarmist friends, I feel as if I haven't done enough yet or
been perfect in my eating yet. There's still some room to improve. The
no-whine drill sergeant in my head says to cut out ANY splurge day and
any wine and any social eating, stay put at 800 cal/day every day of
the week consistently, regardless of Fitday, but to up my workout
intensity to include more grueling "hate them so" sprints both running
and cycling, add a few carbs if need to for sprints only, start a
split routine lifting so I hit each muscle group twice a week instead
of once, add more protein post-lifting even if powders and its
hard-to-accept additional calories, and don't listen to misguided
others of easier "Philly cheese steak lunch and meatloaf dinner yet
stay trim" body types telling me to eat more and exercise less since
my body obviously differs from theirs, otherwise keep tight with the
existing program which will break the wall eventually (ie, now on year
three). Do you agree? Or am I just kidding myself? Where instead I
should eat exactly what successful bodybuilders like
http://www.johnstonefitness.com/ eats? Screw the "eat less, do more"
mantra?

Is there a common proven-in-real-life regimen to correct this
situation when VLCD isn't enough? How doesn't one get off a VLCD
eating regimen? No study ever mentioned this side of the plan.

Eat more and exercise less to lose body fat? That's going to be a REAL
hard sell for me. And hasn't worked yet on four attempts.

Tips from anyone who has had real life experience on how others have
escaped this Twilight Zone hell would be appreciated. Thanks for
reading...

VLCD_hell
240/120/175
  #2  
Old January 15th 04, 05:09 PM
Steven C \(Doktersteve\)
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working? VLCD trap?


"vlcd_hell" wrote in message
om...
Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working?
VLCD trap?

I am about to go insane. After two years of deep dedication and going
it alone with VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) calorie restriction, I need
some input about what is it I am obviously doing wrong. I am doing
everything "right" to the most extreme possible and yet am making no
progress on any front for almost a year - no fat loss, no lean mass
muscle gain, no increased athletic prowess, no pants feeling looser,
no increase in bicep size. Nothing! The anguish and frustration level
has hit an extreme pitch.


MASSIVE AMMOUNTS SNIPPED

I am not famililar with the VLCD, however i do understand the following
apply to everyone:

1. You must eat enough to keep your body going during a day.
2. You should eat smaller meals throughout the day to fuel yourself.
3. If you cut your calories enough, your body will learn to live off that
little calories, and you will have to see a deficit from that new level to
lose weight. Cut down to 800 calories, and you need to burn less than that
to lose because your body has now adapted to 800 calories.

If you work out, you wont have the calories to support the workout, and you
will burn protien, and then lean muscle mass.

That is how i understand it. that diet you are on does not sound very
healthy to me, but this is my opinion. Please do not get offended.




  #3  
Old January 15th 04, 05:11 PM
Roger Zoul
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working? VLCD trap?


vlcd_hell wrote:
:: Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working?
:: VLCD trap?

[...snipped the bs]

when all else fails, try the 2pd.

nutcase...


  #4  
Old January 15th 04, 05:19 PM
Chrys
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working? VLCD trap?

"vlcd_hell" wrote in message
om...
Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working?
VLCD trap?


This is 28 pages long, you can't possibly expect anyone to be able to read
all that. I would think you likely have some major dysfunction in your
metabolism and I'd suggest you keep trying doctors until you find someone
who will listen to you. You mentioned having slightly low thyroid levels,
maybe you could find a doctor who will take that more seriously than the
one you've seen. Maybe check with any large university you can find in
your area, sometimes they might be more interested in helping and could be
more aware of research into problems like you describe.


  #5  
Old January 15th 04, 05:22 PM
alien
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working? VLCD trap?

"Steven C \(Doktersteve\)" wrote in
news:[email protected]:


"vlcd_hell" wrote in message
om...
Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working?
VLCD trap?

I am about to go insane. After two years of deep dedication and going
it alone with VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) calorie restriction, I
need some input about what is it I am obviously doing wrong. I am
doing everything "right" to the most extreme possible and yet am
making no progress on any front for almost a year - no fat loss, no
lean mass muscle gain, no increased athletic prowess, no pants
feeling looser, no increase in bicep size. Nothing! The anguish and
frustration level has hit an extreme pitch.


MASSIVE AMMOUNTS SNIPPED

I am not famililar with the VLCD, however i do understand the
following apply to everyone:

1. You must eat enough to keep your body going during a day.
2. You should eat smaller meals throughout the day to fuel yourself.
3. If you cut your calories enough, your body will learn to live off
that little calories, and you will have to see a deficit from that new
level to lose weight. Cut down to 800 calories, and you need to burn
less than that to lose because your body has now adapted to 800
calories.

If you work out, you wont have the calories to support the workout,
and you will burn protien, and then lean muscle mass.

That is how i understand it. that diet you are on does not sound very
healthy to me, but this is my opinion. Please do not get offended.



i agree and i speak from personal experience. i went on a vlcd for a few
months as low as 600cals per day at 6'3" tall and over 300 at that time
and my body started eating its self. no lie. i actually lost muscle mass
and kept fat!well i did lose fat with it but mostly muscle. your body is
very smart and learns to use those few calories very very efficiently.
for a female i would not go below 1200 a day and if you are exercising
more than 30mins a day i would up it still. a male should not go below
1500 for more than a few days. i take in 1500-2000+ a day and exercise
and concider myself on a low calorie diet. after your body gets used to
living on 800 cals a day and you decide to up your calorie intake to say
1500 for a more healthy woe you may actually gain a few pounds untill
your metabolism gets its self worked out again.just be healthy. and it
will. it actually shouldnt take to long and you may not gain any weight
at all. im sorry i didnt read all your post but i would assume that your
body will use 800 cals a day just laying in bed in a coma like state. i
lost 140lbs in little over a year and if i had it to do over again i
would have done it totally different in the beginning. peace and good
luck
  #6  
Old January 15th 04, 05:42 PM
Roger Zoul
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working? VLCD trap?

Ignoramus12172 wrote:
:: In article , Roger Zoul
:: wrote:
:::
::: vlcd_hell wrote:
::::: Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not
::::: working? VLCD trap?
:::
::: [...snipped the bs]
:::
::: when all else fails, try the 2pd.
:::
::: nutcase...
::
:: Roger, maybe the OP has some mental issues, but why dismiss him
:: outright instead of trying to help him. Try to imagine what your
:: mental condition would be if you, as the OP described, had such
:: enormous difficuties losing weight.

Help him....I couldn't even read his post through to the end...if this guy
is real, I doubt he's going to find help on usenet. Of course, he can try
the 2 pound diet! he cross-posted to that ng, if I'm not mistaken.

::
:: i
:: 223/176/180


  #7  
Old January 15th 04, 06:16 PM
Bizoune Bizoune
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working? VLCD trap?


This is 28 pages long, you can't possibly expect anyone to be able to read
all that. I would think you likely have some major dysfunction in your
metabolism and I'd suggest you keep trying doctors until you find someone
who will listen to you. You mentioned having slightly low thyroid levels,
maybe you could find a doctor who will take that more seriously than the
one you've seen. Maybe check with any large university you can find in
your area, sometimes they might be more interested in helping and could be
more aware of research into problems like you describe.


I think he should charge us for reading this, this is closer to a book than
a newsgroup post..


  #8  
Old January 15th 04, 07:11 PM
Lyle McDonald
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working?VLCD trap?

vlcd_hell wrote:

Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working?
VLCD trap?


Advice: get medication for your OCD disorder.

More seriously: are you on any meds?

Lyle
  #9  
Old January 15th 04, 07:30 PM
minerva nine
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working? VLCD trap?

OK, after ten minutes of reading, I have one piece of advice for you: LET GO.
You are *way* too torqued about this issue. It's become detrimental to your
psychological health. It's possible you have some kind of metabolic disorder,
but I think your main problem is psychological. Seriously. Seek help. M9


"vlcd_hell" wrote in message
om...
Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working?
VLCD trap?

I am about to go insane. After two years of deep dedication and going
it alone with VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) calorie restriction, I need
some input about what is it I am obviously doing wrong. I am doing
everything "right" to the most extreme possible and yet am making no
progress on any front for almost a year - no fat loss, no lean mass
muscle gain, no increased athletic prowess, no pants feeling looser,
no increase in bicep size. Nothing! The anguish and frustration level
has hit an extreme pitch. I cannot be the only "hard loser" person in
the country with such a bizarre extreme metabolism that seemingly
breaks the laws of body mechanics as blindly spouted by every
nutritionist or obesity expert I've ever read (and come to doubt).
"Eat least, exercise most" should do something in a calorie=calorie
world! I want to understand what is happening within my body from a
scientific standpoint. I have 20 questions at the end that I need help
with. This is a long rant and diet travelogue, but I hope I am not
alone in my weird diet trial experiences, where others can offer
advice or help. I've reached the limit of my own knowledge and powers
and self-drive. In short, I am momentarily frustrated to hell.

In a nutshell - according to everyone I've had the nerve to share my
dilemma with - they say I am too fat because I eat too little and
workout too much!! That my healthy calorie restrictive eating over the
years has done nothing more than to train my body to run slower and
slower on fewer and fewer calories. It really messes with the head!
When "Eat less, exercise more" is what the Surgeon General and
nutritionists all say over and over again. How can it not work?

I know that clinically most people think that they are unique and
different and a special case cursed with bad metabolism. My take was
no whining, everyone's body runs differently, find your own personal
magic sweet spot. However I've had enough people become concerned and
worse seemingly alarmist about my eating over the past year that I
feel I need to seek advice and feedback as a sanity check. Or at least
see if I am not alone in some bizarro world that works backwards from
normal - that I am not alone in how my body seemingly "just runs on
air" as my doctor loves reducing it to in a ridiculing manner. Any
pointers to good science-based nutritionists local to Boston would
also be appreciated. My small town doctor has been a complete dead
end.

I know I'll get wildly differing advice from bodybuilders versus
cyclists versus nutritionists versus dieters, but am curious to get
the feedback from each. I'd like to post this in each forum to get the
differing advice and have better hopes of reaching someone who may
have experience in this madness of when VLCD doesn't work (hope it
won't be seen as spam). Most advice conflicts, yet experimenting with
each has not revealed the answer for my current body chemistry and/or
genetics.

I know my situation flies in the face of everything cited within
one-size-fits-all current weight loss beliefs (calorie=calorie, no
such thing as starvation mode, eat less + exercise more, fat people
eat more than skinny, fat people eat McD & junk food, etc). I know
emotional eating and binge/purge eating is an enormous real problem
and accounts for large part or even perhaps 99% of obesity in the
general population. But this is not my case. My situation may be rare
because I cannot find any good information about it. My own doctor
doesn't believe my data, however I don't blame him since clinically
most fat people under-report what they eat. The local obesity clinic I
visited on my own told me "You're doing way more exercise than we
could ever hope for in our patients here, we just try to get them to
just walk for ten minutes per day. Sorry, you're on your own."
Despite the raging nation-wide obesity epidemic, I was left feeling I
had to figure it out for myself.

Losing weight, while always a life-long battle, eventually became my
number one life priority. I did on a ton of research online wading
through contradictory theories. Thinking everyone is an experiment of
one, I decided to figure out a complex black box DUT (my body) where I
can only monitor the inputs (food) and output (body results). I ended
up creating my own spreadsheet of calories in versus exercise calories
out versus body results (so upset that my own doctor indirectly
accused me of lying). I have recently lost faith in nutritionists,
even though I followed their dictates for decades. Often they seemed
to only spout mantra versus real science, seeing what they did to
Atkins for decades with never once challenging their assumptions and
performing any scientific studies to back their perhaps honestly felt
but merely taken-on-faith notions. The more of their advice I'd
follow, the seemingly worse off I became (more later). But I'm hoping
that perhaps some diet war veteran or sports nutritionist or physical
trainer here might have some real-life experience with subjects
overcoming my VLCD predicament and can offer me and others like me
advice.

I'm 5' 8" and now in my late thirties. I was a former competitive
cyclist where my post-college race weight throughout the ages of 16-24
was 120lbs for a BMI of 18.5 (healthy weight, especially for a
cyclist). I had a 28" waist that was size small in small-running
for-Americans Euro cycling clothing. Twelve years later (two years
ago) you would have never guessed that might ever have been the case.
After spending four years exclusively focused on my career and eating
just one meal a day at dinner (Weight Watcher "a calorie = a calorie
to be saved or spent" concept) with only moderate workouts, I reached
the horrendous state of becoming double my college weight - 240lbs for
BMI 36.5 (obese) with a 40+" waist. At 120lbs over my ideal weight, I
was morbidly obese. I have extreme will power and through my own VLCD
efforts I lost 70lbs over the period of a year. However I am presently
and seemingly permanently stuck at the half-way mark around 175 lbs
for a BMI of 27 (overweight) for the past whole year. My Tanita scale
in standard mode each morning reports that I have 26% body fat. "Over
fat." Very fat. I cannot seem to get off this plateau, despite what
other people consider extreme exercise and extreme diet (which I
somewhat disagree with). I have 55 lbs of excess unhealthy fat
remaining mostly in a visible spare tire ring around my entire abdomen
where I can pinch over three inches rather than just one. Very
unhealthy. A coming heart attack you can see in the mirror.

My modest goal is not to become a Men's Health cover super model with
perfect washboard abs better than anyone else in my cycling peer
group, but to simply have a non-tire-roll flat stomach and to be a
healthy BMI (knowing how each BMI point over 25 puts you at 7%
increased risk for cancers, etc). I'd also like to be a good race
weight for cycling, since my present weight REALLY slows me down. On
group ride hill climbs I embarrassingly get dropped, despite hill
climbing being my former specialty and where I excelled and took
extreme joy in. Loved those days and sprightly riding style. You
cannot be a fat hill climber since you pay the gravity penalty for
being heavy. You cannot be fat and socialize in many of my personal
social circles. For example, just look at the way the cycling
community ridicules Jan "eats too many of his mama's cakes" Ullrich as
he gains weight every winter off-season. Being the fattest dude in the
ski house hot tub of accomplished athletic friends is no joy either.
For years I put off enjoying so many things in life "until I lost the
weight" like joining friends on group dinners, at the ski house, or
even going to the beach. Life as a fat recluse (result of "until I
lose weight, do gym now, friends later" approach) is worse than any
food tastes. Furthermore being a gym instructor (presumed I should
know better?) with an ever-enduring pot belly is not a good career
move or any motivational help to my students. Thin is good and
attractive and healthy. "Everyone can get there, it's just a very
simple matter of using a little discipline and self control." Being
over-fat implies I have neither.

I was always a slightly overweight child but ate the typical meat and
potato meals most families did (which are deemed unhealthy nowadays).
Meals which included vegetables but always in their least healthy
forms. Creamed spinach, broccoli with cheese, baked cauliflower
covered in buttered bread crumbs, etc. In high school I picked up
cycling, believed I knew nutrition better than my 'stupid' old-world
European parents, and started changing my eating habits to always fall
in line with the very best American nutritional advice of the day.
Those experts knew best.

Others could perhaps better detail the nutritional advice changes that
happened since the 80's, but for me it started with messages about red
meat being horribly bad for you. So I cut out all red meat, which
started the pattern of cutting out the "evil bad" foods from my WOE in
order to leave only the good healthy ones. Then fats were deemed bad.
I cut out all dairy. Milk and cheese and ice cream were not good
healthy foods to eat, so I didn't. If I craved ice cream on a hot
summer's day, I 'smartly' chose sugary fat-free sherbet instead. Even
frozen yoghurt had too much fat. Then over the years vegetarian
friends and more nutritional advice started painting all meat as bad -
ham has fat, pork has fat, veal has fat, "be careful - even chicken
has fat." I was doing a lot of stir-fries then. I cut out all meat
(fat), and ate mostly vegetables since vegetarians "live longer." The
constant nutritionist message was Americans get way too much protein
and eat way too much meat. The only safe non-veggie food to make a
stir fry with was expensive fat-free shrimp - so in college mine were
mostly veggies only. Then eggs had fat, cut them. Then fish like
salmon had fat. Cut out all fish except tuna. Tried to make tuna salad
using rice wine vinegar instead of mayo, just wasn't the same and gave
me acid stomach. Skipped that.

Then nutritionists said "It's not the pound of pasta that makes you
fat but the dollop of tomato sauce on top of it" (and I just read that
old backwards advice on the web yesterday - still!). Makes you fat
presumably from the olive oil. More fat. I cut out olive oil, which
always did leave an evil fat film of oil on those perfect holy pure
vegetables anyway, so no more stir-frys. I tried sautéing my
vegetables in chicken stock, which as a gourmet cook tasted too much
like simply steaming them that it was pointless. Same results as
simply microwaving them, which has even fewer calories. I tried baking
fat-free cakes replacing butter with fat-free apple sauce. No good
results, no joy. If I didn't enjoy it, why waste the calories, so I
just 'smartly' cut out each bad food from my WOE.

In the end I was down to almost entirely eating fat-free naked white
"good" foods as endorsed by nutritionists and the carboholic
"Pop-Tarts get our health food seal" AHA : a little fat-free
microwaved vegetables with tons of fat-free white potatoes and
fat-free white rice and fat-free white bread and fat-free white pasta
and fat-free white bananas; white, white, white. "Watch that tomato
sauce - it has fat!" After all, like nutritionists said, "you never
see any fat Asians - they eat fat-free white rice, not meat."
Snackwell's modern fat-free processed food creations were clearly
better than anything I ever could create myself at home since I could
never make my home dishes 100% fat-free like them. American
nutritionists know best.

And yet at first, by changing my WOE away from my normal childhood
foods, I did manage to lose a lot of that excess childhood weight to
reach 120 lbs throughout my high school and college years. I started
winning or placing well in almost all my cycling events and moved up
the ranks. At my peak in my early 20's I had 3.4% body fat. And
incredibly, I was irritated at the time because my triathlete
roommate, who had a classic Men's Health body and came to get measured
with me, rang in at 2.8%, beating me. I was consuming all
carbohydrates and no proteins- pasta & rice & no meat (classic cyclist
food). I looked like Tyler "we train like dogs and eat like squirrels"
Hamilton in the Tour de France (classic cyclist body type), a look
that seems too anorexic in the upper body to me today. I thought I had
turned the corner, that I had given myself a new trim athletic body
type. Forever. For life. Sure I still had to watch calories, had cut a
lot of normal regular foods out of my life, but I had made it. "You
cannot eat normal, if you want a body that looks better than normal,"
which in later years I'd find is the bodybuilder's motto.

The reality of the situation was this - I was riding 600-700 miles a
week, which is about 30-35 hours per week in the saddle. A full-time
job spent working out. Even bodies most resilient to fat loss would
lose doing that much elite race-level activity each week all season
long. No matter how much they ate. No matter what they ate. And yet
every winter cycling off-season since high school I'd gain a bunch of
weight as the miles dropped off, only to have to take it all back off
in spring during on-season. College 10 lb winter swings became 20,
then 30, then 40, then 50. It all became part of my standard yearly
fare.

Obviously I couldn't keep those on-season training hours up as my jobs
became more responsible. The free hours I could ride kept being
reduced and weight kept increasingly being an issue. The end of the
trend saw me doing minimal training most of the year but cramming "a
year's worth of training" during my two-week summer vacation. Every
day for two weeks I'd get up at 5AM and ride a double metric century,
get back, run 5 miles around a track, and then mountain bike several
miles out to my favorite beach, walking a good mile each way in sand
to get there, bringing only water never food. Wake up next day and
repeat. For two weeks. However I would lose the 20-40lbs I had gained
over winter by the end of summer.

But here's the critical point. I used to do those 130-mile ride days
eating nothing more than a pint of cherries at the farm stand
conveniently at the half-way mark. That's it. For all day. Every day
for two weeks. To fuel all that activity. According to all that should
not be possible. I assumed the energy had to be coming from fat loss.
As long as I lost some fat, I never felt the need to check the
calories in versus out equations.

However I'd lose less and less fat every year.

Even at my thinnest I have always had a very efficient metabolism. At
3.4% body fat I would annoy my fellow riders because I never had to
eat during even long races (feared upsetting my stomach anyway) and
most distressing to them never had to carry much water with me. At
100-mile races on 100+ degree days, it was pointed out that I would
only have a single drop of sweat on my forehead when everyone else had
already consumed their entire water bottles, whereas mine remained
untouched. They called me "The Camel." In the military I notoriously
survived two-weeks of no-sleep stressful 24/7 combat leadership
training eating nothing more than a single box of fat-free crackers. I
won't bore you with the other examples. I just came to accept that my
body needed a lot less to run on than everyone else's did. But none of
this should be possible according to nutritionists - a calorie is a
calorie and the human body is a linear device. Nutritionists say
"There are no obese anorexics." Doctors say strap someone to a
hospital bed and they can make them lose weight. What, even without
HOURS of working out each day? Hah! Good luck - I'd win that bet. If I
was ever stranded on a deserted island I'd be one lucky man, but in
today's modern social environment that revolves around social eating,
it makes me an unhealthy and unhappy reclusive fat man unable to go to
dinner with coworkers or friends. "No thanks, I'm eating my peach for
lunch again instead."

An alert and healthy person is supposed to monitor his activity
levels, fat levels, and curb his diet accordingly. So over the years
of increasing career and decreasing workouts, I cut out more and more
food. Getting more and more healthy in my choices but eating less and
less calories yet getting fatter and fatter. I got to the point of
feeling that I could only really ever eat something, say like a dinner
with pasta, if I had worked out that day (American "food = fuel" vs.
European "Food = Joy of Life").

Yet it was never enough. My cutting back couldn't keep up with my
ever-expanding waistline. It was life in bizarro world. It seemed like
the more I cut back, the fatter I got. This is not possible in a
"calorie = calorie" world. Right?

So there I end up at 240lbs - obese. Did I get there by eating Oreos
and ice cream and Big Macs the way one would imagine someone getting
so big? No. I got there via eating just one 'healthy' meal a day. I
was still operating under the "fat = evil" mindset, one which is still
deeply entrenched within me today. Fat-free bread or fruit (esp.
cyclist favorite high-carb bananas) or high-carb veggies (especially
corn and peas) or Snackwells or pasta or rice, where rare splurge
take-out dinners were no cheese veggie pizza or shrimp stir-fry with
veggies and rice in a fat-free brown soy sauce. All carb-loaded, all
AHA and nutritionist endorsed fat-free foods. "Being good." I also
eliminated all the fun and unnecessary calories from my diet. Drank
(and still drink) nothing but water since I never quite bought the
safety of nutra-sweet. Others around me lose bunches of pounds by just
using one or two of my daily regimen principles, like switching their
shocking liters of Coke per day to water. Happens all the time to my
cohorts. But no, never me.

At 240 lbs, clearly my years of moderate efforts were not enough. I
needed an all out offensive to counter my apparent 'weak' eating
discipline. It was time to get really serious. I was tired of putting
off everything in my life "until after I lost weight". I was too
ashamed to ever take my shirt off in public or join friends in a hot
tub or even shower at the gym (still barely OK with that now). I was
too ashamed to ever go to the beach where other people might be
(always kayaked miles out to be alone where no else would ever go).
Having a good runner friend from cycling days semi-joke that I was too
big to be seen on his private beach, having "grotesquely just let
yourself GO like that", further entrenched my view. And I agreed, "who
wants to see all that unsightly shameful fat anyway?" Athletes can be
rough but at the same time it was also true. I had lost enough friends
and enough quality of life to make losing body fat my number one goal
ahead of career goals or anything else. My wife is naturally skinny,
sees working out as silly, sweating as gross, never exercises even in
a whole week, eats way more than I do, yet is in perfect trim shape.
Yet she never minded me being out of shape. A wonderfully romantic
gesture but not good in terms of being an enabler. Does the fact that
a fat man has to eat less than a skinny woman say anything?

In my research I found lots of studies which detail the success of
VLCD diets on the obese (like me). At around 600 cal/day they would
lose 3-5 lbs/wk. I also read where exercise is a natural appetite
suppressant, which is true for me where it stems cravings late at
night if I come off the indoor bike trainer having been totally winded
in sprints. I don't feel like eating for hours afterwards. VLCD
reports suggested medical supervision, but my doc consistently issued
the stern commanding verdict of "eat less, exercise more" and that
seemed to match. It is also the Surgeon General's oft-repeated advice.
I knew lean muscle mass increases your metabolism, but feared VLCD
eating muscle. I then saw studies where VCLD was not catabolic if the
subject used resistance weight training. Other studies say basal
metabolism at worst only drops by 30%-40% even in total-fasting
starvation trials, where typically it's only on the order of 5%-10%.
This matched nutritionists and doctors saying "there is no such thing
as starvation mode slowing down metabolism, it's just an excuse fat
people use to eat too much."

Nutritionist websites one after the other had daily intake calculators
which said even on my most modest exercise day, I should be eating
well over 3K calories per day! Absolutely Insane!! No one would ever
be fat if they could ever eat that much food! Each day! Every day of
the year! 3000 calories is 72 of my medium peaches or 43 of my
one-pound boxes of frozen spinach or 20 of my cans of tuna fish!! Or
even eating the most evil calorie-dense foods that's about TWELVE
servings of incredibly rich Ben & Jerry's ice cream or SIX McDonald's
Big Macs. What's 3K calories in the worst meal you could ever eat - A
Big Mac meal with super-size fries and large chocolate thick shake has
1495 calories, you could eat TWO, every day, for the rest of your life
and never get fat, in the supposed nutritionist "a calorie is a
calorie" world. Bull****!! No one eats that much! Even a person with
the worst diet possible doesn't eat the equivalent of a McD super meal
TWICE a day, EVERY day of the year? Are Fitday and nutritionists
joking!?!

Yet I still believed in nutritionist's "body is linear" model and
oft-repeated "it's simply calories in versus calories out." And so I
strove to maximize both sides of the linear equation - exercise most,
eat least. I'd eat a maximum 200 calories per day, no eating after 3PM
where unused calories could turn to fat, and exercise at least 5 hours
per night to keep hunger away and muscles from being consumed rather
than ample body fat. Eating next to nothing meant I'd lose those
promised 2K-3K basal metabolism calories each day. Almost a pound of
fat per day. Perfect. I have an iron will, I was determined, I have so
far been free of ailments or medications, and I was free to be left
alone to my own devices with all my non-work free time all to myself.
No problem, away we go...

Long story short, I lasted in this regimen every day for over four
long dreary months! However I only lost 1 lb/wk - which in literature
other people can do by simply dropping 500 calories from their normal
2K+ calorie daily intake. I never got the promised VLCD 3-5 lb/wk loss
nor the 3K calorie basal metabolism pound of fat per day. "Oh well,
suppose my body is just that efficient again I guess. At least it's
better than nothing."

In practice I would eat a bag of microwaved frozen vegetables each day
at lunch - often a 70 cal 1 lb box of spinach, other days
corn-pea-carrot medley mix for triple that (200 cal, since I didn't
fear carbs yet), or a box of broccoli somewhere in between. That's all
I would eat all day. ("Make your biggest meal lunch"). I felt good
reading on the back of the box that this was 3-4 servings of
vegetables, which sounded like a lot. If I was truly really hungry,
I'd crave another serving of watery spinach - "No? Don't want it?
Well, you're not really hungry then are you." After work I'd hit the
gym for 5 hours. 2 hours weight training and three hours of aerobics.
Then I'd come home unshowered to perform bike trainer riding for 30-60
mins. That was the absolutely hardest part of all. Sitting in the car
inside my garage, completely drained and spent and old-sweat cold
after the five hours at the gym, trying on very low energy to sum up
enough strength and motivation to get onto the bike after 5 hours at
the gym. I was never very hungry, and also never did get chills in bed
at night like anorexics do. The weight loss was very slow, life became
very dull and very dreary and very devoid of joy and somewhat lonely
without ever one spare moment to be social (from bed to work to gym to
bed; repeat), but at least I was getting somewhere in terms of fat
loss, even if only a slow 1 lb/wk despite the extreme efforts. As long
as I was losing I was fine.

The strange phenomenon was what appears to be the set point theory. I
was eating the same number of calories and exercising the same every
day. Yet I would go weeks without seeing ANY change on the scale or
Tanita BIA body fat reading (normal fluctuations but flat trend). Then
suddenly over two days I would immediately lose 10 pounds and drop
body fat. I would go nuts, trying to figure out what I happened to do
any differently over those previous two days. But there never was any
difference. Over the 70 lbs I lost, this phenomenon happened to me
seven times. Weeks of no movement on the scale, then over two days I'd
drop a sudden TEN more pounds. As if the body was defending its set
point for weeks, finally gave it up, and set a new one 10 lbs less,
defending that one for weeks, until it gave that one up. I expected a
constant linear line fat loss, but got this bizarre 10lb X 7 times
step function instead. Always repeatable, and thus some buried truth
of some kind I cannot fathom (if not set point theory).

Then after more than four months of success (slow losses but
something), I hit the panic button. In my continuing research I read
about how so many people died in the 1970's from the early VLCD liquid
diets. One issue was poor protein - oops, I was getting some in the
box of spinach, but not that much. However the real scare was lack of
potassium where patients died from heart arrhythmias. I thought my
multi-vitamin covered me. Checked them - only 2% RDA!! Go to CVS, the
separate potassium supplement was also only 2% RDA. What gives? I was
worried enough to see my doctor. He response was same as before -
you're on your own, you're fat and don't look anorexic, along with
many mocking side glances over his glasses when I told him of my
regimen -"You should be dead right now on my floor - running on air
like that!" But no help. The blood work I insisted on showed
lower-than-average levels of everything, from thyroid hormone to
testosterone and other components I can't remember, but none of them
ever low enough for any HMO specialist to be concerned over and
suggest correcting. My doc said "Whatever you're doing, keep on doing
it, because nothing looks bad from what I can see." My heart rate is
and was very low, 35-42 bpm, "like an athlete" even though I hadn't
raced for years (when it used to be low to but had reason to be from
racing). Yet I was working out. Maybe? But I also read now that low
heart rate is commonly a side effect of CRAN (Calorie Restriction with
Adequate Nutrition). I'm not sure I qualified for the AN in CRAN.

I wonder if any one else ever experiences this... During this regimen
I could often go three fasting days without eating anything at all. It
was simply no problem. I continued my workouts yet I NEVER felt
hungry. I never remembered to eat. If I wasn't truly hungry (ie,
veggies vs fun), I simply didn't eat. A miracle. Then again and again,
after an always repeatable and distinct three day threshold mark,
after days on a no-hunger high I would suddenly become "bump into
walls" dizzy and have the strong craving to eat something to stem the
dizziness. Below three days, limited or even no eating was fine. This
should not happen in a linear "calorie=calorie" world.

Still today I am rarely ever hungry - EXCEPT the very minute I ever
have anything high-carb and 'tasty' to eat (like at 'normal food' wknd
splurge dinner out with friends). It's as if the hunger flood gates
open. I become extremely hungry! And I remember my mother always
saying this as well - "I wasn't hungry at all - until the very moment
I ate something. And now I'm starved!" The simple trick to avoid
hunger pangs seemed to be to just not eat anything at all. Anyone else
ever experience this? Others seem to get hungry on their own, eat
something, then get full and stop. It seems to work in reverse for me.

The only other time I experience strong hunger even today is when I
have alcohol. Give me two glasses of red wine - and then look out! I
turn into a ravenous beast. It is the only time I can eat entire
'normal' meals like everyone else. Cheeses, meats, fats, carbs -
especially breads and desserts - carbohydrates to the extreme (well,
for me, not an average person). And it never ends. After dinner with
friends I am ready to go out right away to have another whole second
dinner. Not that I ever do of course, but I could and feel really
driven to. So much for listening to your body. My shocked alarmist
friends say it's as if I have a broken hunger mechanism. I never get
hungry, until AFTER I eat something, but then never feel that
sensation of being full even after having eaten. I do experience being
full after Thanksgiving Day gorging, but rarely otherwise. Either
alcohol loosens up my tight mental control of "food= fuel only"
calorie restriction where the body rushes in on the moment of weakness
to capitalize on the chance to gorge food, or it stimulates the hunger
mechanism to such an extreme where both the alcohol and carbs combine
to hit an irrepressible harmonic, or both apply together. Wine is my
number one downfall and enemy and unfortunately one of the things
along with the often co-existing dinner with friends that gives me
some "live life a little" European joy in life. Tricky business!

Midway through the regimen, several trim athletic co-workers began
heaping abuse on me for eating only vegetables at lunch while they ate
their 'normal' mayonnaise-dripping-down fatty meat and carboholic
Wonder bread sandwiches (often Philly cheese steak subs). They began
to incessantly pressure me to moderate my intake ("eat some greasy
cheeseburgers like us normal guys, dude"). Between that and the
potassium scare, I decided to moderate my diet again.

Around the same time, my wife had given me the Atkins book. I have to
plead guilty to not having been open to scientific method myself,
thinking like nutritionists that I knew everything already better. I
too dismissed even investigating his plan because after all the years
of buying into the "fat is evil" nutritional mantra, I was already
smarter than those idiots who followed what the media told me was the
"eat all the cheese and bacon you want diet." Lunacy. But my wife said
"there was an example in there where Atkins writes about one of his
patients that sounds just like you - she only gets hungry AFTER she
eats carbohydrates, never before" Intrigued, I read the book -
expecting only to have fun by laughing at it.

Many of Atkin's anecdotes rang true of my own experience. I tried
Atkins. But in a very low-fat healthy-fat version (my own precursor to
South Beach). It did change me. I now do look upon all rice and
oatmeal and potatoes and breads and pastas and grains and beans and
all processed foods comprising my old cycling staples as nutritionally
empty candy calories. I shop the meat and produce aisles exclusively,
skipping any grain or sugar product. I credit Atkins for getting me to
no longer completely fear fats so much as the fat-free nutritionists
had me believe for years. I added almonds and salmon and chicken
breast and turkey breast back into my WOE, even if sparingly since
deep down I still do fear their fats and more importantly their
calorie density. I'd measure a 1 oz serving of almonds into a cup to
avoid the all-too-easy eating of handfuls from the bag. It was amazing
how something like seven almonds would satisfy me for hours. And what
a taste joy. I also credit Atkins for getting me to make far better
vegetable choices - spinach and broccoli have so much more nutritional
value than my previous empty corn and peas. Berries are far better
choices than my previous empty bananas and apples. Etc.

Yet, hopes dashed, Atkins made no difference in my overall fat loss.
Caving to advice and pressure from friends, I then spent all last year
experimenting with various methods of "moderation" (aka eating more)
from their screaming at me to eat more than VLCD. I tried eating more
protein within the half-hour window after my post-workout weight
lifting, despite it being night. No difference in fat loss, only minor
muscle gain. Experimented with eating carbs before workouts to fuel
them better - no change. No better sprints either. Crap. Hopes dashed
repeatedly.

I frequently can spend hours working out with never eating. After
coming back from a fast lunch group ride, someone will mention how
hungry they are after such a hard ride. Not the slightest bit hungry
myself, I'd have to think, shocked to realize that I hadn't eaten...
since breakfast the day before - before even yesterday's group ride.
Last summer this happened frequently. I'd just forget to eat. And yet
am fat. What's going on here?

The following revealing anecdote is a case study which underscores my
situation versus a 'normal' person. Over summer I routinely spent all
day kayaking off-shore for hours without ever eating or drinking. One
day I kayaked with a chiseled trim friend for a simple easy 30-minute
paddle out to a nearby island for lunch (a blow-off non-workout day
for me, being social, requiring social eating yet again). We were only
15 minutes out - a joke - but in the harbor's dangerous high traffic
lane with an ocean oil tanker coming straight for us - when he starts
shaking and unpacks his lunch right then and there in the kayak saying
"I have to eat lunch RIGHT now." "You can't wait 15 minutes?" In a
panic he responds "No, I have to eat right now!!" After many tense
moments of the tanker closing in, I finally convinced him to paddle
out of the way of danger and to eat on the island (where still shaking
he ripped into his lunch like a starvation camp victim). But man, I
could have paddled all day without ever eating myself (as I frequently
did). His metabolism was so hot and high and in such high gear that he
had to eat right there and then, shaking, oil tanker looming over his
head or not. I have never experienced that, not even on my 130-mile
rides on cherries. How do I get his fast inefficient metabolism and
junk my efficient one? He had even eaten breakfast beforehand! He gets
hungry and needs to eat every three hours, whereas I only get hungry
every three days? It's as if we're completely different animals.

Every group has differing advice. Cyclists tell you one thing,
bodybuilders another, nutritionists another, dieters something else.
Yet everyone feels they have the god-given right to pick apart your
lunch and what you have to eat. Not just me but everyone, coworkers
get literally kissing distance away from other coworker's faces to
stick their noses into the coworker's private lunch bowl and make
comments about their food, whether too ethnic or too healthy or too
gross or too weird or too boring. Hello, it's not your food, you don't
have to eat it, so shut up about it. Amazing. My microwaved vegetables
also get big reactions from people. Over the years I've given up on
the 'normal' food combinations everyone else eats - Meat with empty
rice, turkey breast sandwich with empty bread, fatty carby milk with
empty cereal, red ragout sauce on empty pasta, salad with empty fatty
dressing. When usually it's only one of the combo that provides any
worthwhile value. Keep the turkey and salad, ditch the bread and
dressing. I tend to eat only the base ingredient, ie, tuna from the
can versus making it tastier and less healthy by making tuna salad
sandwiches with mayo and bread. I get tired of and full from the
boring can faster than tasty tuna sandwiches. Food is fuel, not joy of
life.

Every group has different standards. Everyone tells runners they're
too skinny, cyclists like big quads but worry about any upper body
mass at all, bodybuilders fear all cardio as muscle stripping, wine
and dinner club members think they aren't fat because everyone else in
their circle is - "they're all normal." Bodybuilders tell you to eat
all protein. Runners tell you to eat all carbs. Nutritionists say
avoid all fats. Atkins says avoid all carbs. What the hell works? So
far nothing but VLCD.

I probably should detail my various trails. On VLCD for four months
last winter my day was :

-- VLCD --

12PM: 200 calories microwaved frozen vegetables
5PM: 3 hrs cardio at gym
8PM: 2 hrs weight lifting (full routine every other day)
10PM: 30-60 min cycling indoor rollers (longer non-lift days)
~200 food cal/day, ~1700-2200 exercise cal/day, ~1lb/wk fat loss
Not counting for fun alpine skiing most weekends, XC skate races,
snowshowing.
My spreadsheet showed I only lost fat equivalent to calories exercised
off, ie, seemingly saying my basal metabolism is zero. Impossible.
What gives?

Then pressured to moderate some, I up'ed my intake by trying to force
myself to eat six times a day even when not hungry into spring and
summer. Sufficiently trim, I also slowly added back social dinners
with friends on weekends while being good all work-week:

-- High-Carb Summer Trial --

6AM: 5-mile run, sometimes 8-mile (slow 9-12 min/mi pace).
9AM: eat a high-carb Bartlett pear.
11AM: eat 5-8 almonds.
12PM: weight lift for 2 hours (one muscle group/day x4 (chest, back,
shoulder, bi/tri).
2PM: eat can of tuna or 4oz salmon/chicken for post-lift protein, plus
half a box of microwaved frozen veggies.
4PM: eat a high-carb peach
6PM: bike outdoors 2-3 hours (18-21 mph pace)
9PM: bowl of spinach greens salad with broccoli and assorted peppers
and other raw veggies, soy sauce and black pepper as dressing.
~800 food cal/day, ~2000-2500 exercise cal/day, 1lb/wk fat GAIN
Added social splurge dinner on wknd: worst case 2 dinners of worst 2
Guinness and grilled fish or chicken and at worst eating French fries
& ketchup side. Talking what, under 1500 cals each? Still under what
normal people should eat as my big splurge. Not counting all the "for
fun" kayaking or mtn biking to the beaches or 5K road races
(8:30min/mile pace)

Now into fall and winter, still trying to refine, dropped the
calorie-dense almonds & high-carb fruit :

-- Lower-Carb Winter Trial --

9AM: eat an orange
11AM: should eat frozen berries (but often skip this, it's time for
the lunch run before I know it)
12PM: 5-mile run (9-12 min/mi pace).
2PM: eat a box of microwaved frozen veggies
5PM: weight lift for 2 hours (one muscle group/day, x5 (chest, back,
shoulder, bi/tri, legs).
8PM: bike indoor rollers 30-60min (120-140 cadence, max heart rate
zone1)
9PM: eat can of tuna or 4oz salmon/chicken for post-lift protein, plus
bowl of spinach greens salad
~800 food cal/day, ~1500-2000 exercise cal/day, 1lb/wk fat GAIN

I forced myself to eat up to 800 cal/day. But there is no change in
fat loss. All eating more than VLCD ever did was to make me gain even
more fat, which then takes me even longer to lose. I have the patience
to give the change in eating some time, until I end up 12-15 lbs
overweight from where I started and it takes me 15 wks of strict VLCD
diligence to just return where I was before.

I'm concerned about recent studies showing that the body doesn't burn
fat if you don't eat enough calcium. I get next to none (no dairy). I
am way under RDA for protein, never mind the bodybuilder 1g per 1lb of
body weight goal. I also should sneak a workout in before my morning
shower if I can ever get myself out of bed. The heavy 3 showers/day
bothers my skin, so I should put exercise on my free morning one.
Unfortunately I have only been getting 4-5 hours of good sleep at
night (my usual since high school), lowering my natural HGH. Been
sleeping longer in the cold now, getting roughly 6-7 hours. Insomnia
has been a recent summer problem (hungry?) but is gone recently.

After a whole year I see very little difference on any front. Hardly
any fat loss, hardly any muscle gain. My bodybuilder buddies tell me
that I am trying to do two contradictory things together at once. To
lose fat I need to cut calories. But to build muscle I need to eat
more calories (protein) to build lean mass with, where fat gain comes
along for the ride. They say you can't do both at once. Is this true?

So where I'd like to be, ie, my current new regimen is (with no more
splurge weekend dinners that can act like a fattening binge re-feed, a
straight 800 cal for EVERY day of the week):

-- Closer to Ideal Newest Trial --

6AM: 30-60min on stair climber (yet to do this)
9AM: eat an orange
11AM: eat a cup of low-fat cottage cheese.
12PM: 5-mile run (9-12 min/mi pace).
2PM: eat a box of microwaved frozen veggies
4PM: eat 1cup frozen berries
5PM: weight lift for 2 hours (split routine of each muscle group
twice/wk (chest + shoulder + tricep; back + bicep) for 4 days, legs in
between as fifth day).
8PM: bike indoor rollers 30-60min (120-140 cadence, max heart rate
zone1)
9PM: eat can of tuna or 4oz salmon/chicken for post-lift protein, plus
bowl of spinach greens salad
~800 food cal/day, ~1500-2000 exercise cal/day, fear another 1lb/wk
fat GAIN
From today this equals: 689 cal (34% RDA) Protein 72g (131% RDA) Fat
20g (31% RDA) Carb 65g (22% RDA) Fiber 24g (80% RDA) Calcium 669mg
(56% RDA)

The goal of my lifting routine was to hit each muscle group one day
per week ("muscles need rest time to grow") but to hit it hard and
tire it out (4 pyramid sets of 8-12 reps, typically 12/10/8/12). My
lifting routine is Monday: Chest: Flat Bench, Incline Bench, Decline
Bench, DB Incline Bench, DB Flat Bench, DB Flat Fly, Cable Crossover,
Cable Under-Up, Naut Pec Fly, Chest Dips (out), AB crunches. Tuesday:
Back : Wide Pulldown, Narrow Pulldown, Narrow Pulley Row, Wide Pulley
Row, DB Row, DB Pullover, Back Extend, Nt Lower Back, Nt Side Turns,
Nt Pullover, Wide Pullups, Narrow Chinup, AB Nautilus. Wednesday:
Shoulder: DB Mil Press, Bar Mil Press, DB Back Fly, DB Lateral Raise,
Bar Upright Row, Shoulder Pulley, Nt Compnd Row, Nt Mil Press.
Thursday: Tri & Bi: Preacher Curl, Overhead Bar Tri, DB Curls, Tricep
Kickback, Smith Tricep, Smith Bicep, Tricep Dip (in). Friday: Legs :
Smith Squat, Smith Calf Raise, DB Lunge, Seat Calf Raise, Nt Leg
press, Nt Quad, Nt leg curl, Nt Adduct (in), Nt Abduct(out), AB leg
raises. The new split routine will simply do half of these exercises
per day but twice a week. I asm having tendon soreness from lifting
that lifters say is a sign of over-use injury. Worried about that
curbing my lifting.

I probably should start taking flax seed capsules to make up for the
missing almonds on the chicken or tuna days (salmon gives me enough
fat?)

The only difference I notice in myself now between my in-shape racing
days on high-carbs and today on low-carbs and being fat is that my
sprinting ability has completely disappeared. I can go on LSD (long
steady distance) rides all day, no problem despite being in a low
energy state on low calories, but I cannot sprint or do intervals to
save my life. A total joke. The jump ability has completely left my
legs. Nowadays sprints are impossible, but going forever long and slow
is easy. Same deal in running, my pace is as slow as a jogger. Fat
burning versus glucose burning?

Another experiment to try to help me not getting dropped on group
rides with non-USCF coworkers no less (unimaginable in my old racing
days) was to try to add sugar before rides and lifting. After "eat
carbs" pressure from fellow cyclists, I allowed myself coworker's
bite-size candy (pure sugar) before each session, expecting to feel a
"sugar high" jolt of speed and energy and aggressiveness in attacking,
or at least a record weight lifting or best time for my normal TT
course. No luck. There was no difference. If I'm so calorie and carb
deprived, why didn't tons-o-sugar carbs make any difference at all? As
usual, I did gain weight during this two-week trial (even though we're
only talking what, 300 calories for three bite-size snickers each
day?). Twilight zone. I recently read a study on the Atkins site where
cyclists do convert to fat utilization versus carb utilization in
their rides within two weeks of low-carb without any impact on their
performance numbers. Carbs are not necessary for sprint? If so, how
much?

After reading Bill Philip's bodybuilding books, I then tried his
recommended green tea ECA stack dosages, starting sanely with small
doses. I didn't notice any increased energy or speed effect. ECA sites
like Drumlib suggest that obese people have poor thermogenesis, and
that lack of speed effect shows ECA restores your lacking body up to
normal thermogenesis. No idea if true or not. I did start to develop
infrequent but sudden and sharp headache pangs that differed from any
other past headache experiences. That was enough to panic me and make
me stop, even though it could have been just as much from dehydration
issues instead. I haven't played with any supplements since, though
the stories about how HGH taking athletes I trust quickly dropping
10lbs of fat and gaining 5 lbs of muscle without ever having worked
out, shows me how much of this fat versus muscle problem is just
simple chemistry. If one's genes don't produce this chemistry, can one
get there merely by natural diet and exercise alone? Also suggests the
importance of proper nutrition (chemistry) like increased protein.
Sigh. Same issue with testosterone supplementation - people have been
getting muscle building from that too. More aggression, better
workouts. I want to get there in an all-natural manner. But fat good
that has done me so far.

Several cycling friends say that over the many years of my 'healthy'
controlled eating and calorie restriction, I have done nothing more
with all my hard efforts than to train my body to use less and less
and less calories, and to ride longer and longer but slower and
slower. That thought messes with the head. "Eat more, exercise less"
to lose weight??

The hard core runners and cyclists say my many long hours of slow LSD
fat burning zone workouts (especially long 60+ mile summer rides) are
low quality crap workouts, where I never give my body time to fully
recover. They insist if I worked out in shorter sessions but instead
sprinted more, I'd be better off. Perhaps true for athletic
performance. In fact when one cyclist cut his already short workouts
to be even shorter, resting most of the week, but doing pure sprints
on his short workouts, he lost a ton of weight unexpectedly when he
had so little left to lose. (By working out less, ie, shorter). But
it's also true that whether slow or not, all my riding and running and
weight lifting is more than the "just walk ten minutes" advice given
by obesity centers. And yet I'm still fat. Time to chuck the "I'll
focus on speed once I get below X lbs" mentality?

Despite all my experimentation - VLCD is the only regimen that has
ever worked for me (even if only slowly). It is now a year later after
my 165 lb best weight last spring when I finally fit back into my 32"
jeans after VLCD and looked passable enough to hang with friends at
the beach or hot tub. Then I caved in to the "just eat more dude"
pressure from friends and coworkers and fellow athletes. After a year
of 'moderation' (aka eating more than 200 cal/day up to 800 cal/day,
having one or two social splurge dinners with friends on beach
weekends (ie, typically one Guinness beer and grilled chicken sandwich
minus the bread)) - I crept back up to 175 lbs where my 34" jeans were
tight again. After these past holidays where I spent every day
hard-core sunrise-to-sunset off-piste alpine skiing in Europe but ate
their "down home" meats and more than VLCD, I am now back up to 180
lbs and about to retreat to 36" waist jeans!!

I have done this same exact maddening swing plotted out on my graphs
for FOUR pathetic times in the last year. I gain 10 lbs in under two
weeks trying a new "eating in moderation" plan, but then it takes two
MONTHS of VLCD to get back to where I was before. From 165lbs back to
175lbs. The slope on both the rapid 10lb rising trend and painfully
slow losing trend is IDENTICAL on the graph in each experience. Over
and over again. This 175lb set point is being defended even more
staunchly than the earlier ones? Why won't the 165lb set point stick?

I've had it! When do I just accept that I have to eat less than
everybody else?

Damn the outside pressure. In extreme frustration after a year of
wasted effort, I am about to go back to the only regimen that ever
worked for me - VLCD. What the hell else is there? There is no more
trust. How could there be?

I am extremely frustrated by this. I feel a little blue about this.
Sugar of course always picks up your mood, as do calorically-evil
comfort foods like homemade mac 'n cheese (been decades). Guarantee
you no one is ever unhappy while eating an ice cream cone! Until
after. But is this semi-depression frustration normal for lack of
meeting one's objectives or from eating too few calories as CRAN sites
mention? Possible VLCD warning signs: I am "a bit" more anxious than
before, "a bit" more blue than before, less sexually interested than
before, had bouts of insomnia which is new, am "a bit" more irritable
(who isn't happier eating fun sugary fatty foods), and have very low
drive and low male competitive aggression and general low subdued
energy... And yet can still workout for hours and hours per day (on
top of work). Are these low-energy blue spells from working out too
much or from a lack of calories or lack of fat or lack of carbs or
simply lack of feeling good about myself in meeting the simplest of
all goals (to not be fat)? Which comes first. Nor has it reached any
troubling or terrible level. Just something that hangs in the
background on one or two days a week, hard to even notice. Could be
standard diet response or even age? Something minor to live with for
fat loss, or VLCD warning sign?

I once heard about a very rare genetic disease in passing on a NPR
show where this doctor's patient can eat a single 10-calorie saltine
cracker and then gain pounds of body fat from it, out of complete
proportion to the net weight of what he actually ate. The very concept
blew my mind. I didn't catch the disease name, and don't believe I
have it, but am extremely curious to learn about the science behind
it. This too seems to break the mantra "a calorie is a calorie" linear
rule and assumed laws of body mechanics. How? Any info on this
phenomenon?

I feel it is proper and healthiest for a person to be alert and listen
to their own body and keep cutting back until results appear. But this
can also put you on the border edge of disordered eating. The
sickening thing of it is - you can always be 'better'. The sad crazy
truth is whether you normally eat 20 cheeseburgers every night but ate
21, or normally eat three almonds a day but ate four, there is always
a reason to explain your lack of fat loss. Always one more thing you
can still cut out in hopes of getting results. It feels like it
becomes an ever-escalating arms race war between you and your body -
each side lowering the calorie bar even lower, fearing what the other
side will do in retaliation if you don't. Every nutritionist I know
says this is impossible. "A calorie is a calorie." Eat less and
exercise more and you will lose fat. "If I tie someone to my hospital
bed and curb their calorie intake...." Ad nauseam.

In my two year all out fight, every moment of every hour seems to
revolve around workouts and around food - planning how to fit in the
next workout into your day, thoughts of being too fat, denying myself
countless items that everyone else around you enjoys (from the vending
machine to coffee machine to free doughnuts and bagels to coworker
lunches to grocery store stops), from planning for what to do for
dinner or what to eat before aerobics classes or lifting to planning
for this weekend's ski house visit and fearing the group dinner and
hot tub in equal measure - everything in life revolves around food.
Who honestly doesn't think about food often? And yet, I can go days
without eating, easily and very happily, in the much-reported standard
fasting person's natural high.

And yet around others, I am forced to recognize that it is I who have
become out of touch. I feel like a wide-eyed astonished Alice in
Wonderland at the ski house during breakfast. All these perfectly
trim and chiseled flat-mates are eating kids sugary cartoon cereal!?!
With fatty carby whole milk!?! Cups worth!?! Drinking carby orange
juice!?! FOUR glasses!?! Egg omelets!?! With cheese!?! And Bacon!?!
Toast!?! Butter?!?! Jam!?! FIVE bananas!?! FOUR waffles or pancakes
each!?! Plate drowned in a CUP of real maple syrup!?! SIX sausages!?!
MORE bacon!?! Where I force myself to Nordic ski all day, alone,
versus going alpine skiing with the group since that won't burn enough
calories for me (on my morning orange), on the flip side others go
back to bed after such tremendous eating to later spend the day simply
outlet shopping by car!?! Then a normal lunch with Philly cheese
steaks? Then a 'normal' dinner full of countless other nutritional
horrors like meatloaf, gravy and mashed potatoes? Followed by dessert?
Yet so trim. For eating more and working out less. It just doesn't
make any sense. The looking glass seems broken. I have a VERY hard
time accepting this advice. Been there, became 240 lbs. Sell me on it!

I used to think that those perfect washboard-abs guys you see hanging
out at beach resorts eating huge hot fudge ice cream sundaes, at
midnight no less, were just jerks trying to show off when in public,
while afterwards in private purging and fasting for days later. Now I
wonder if these guys really can eat that much without gaining fat.
They probably can eat those suggested 3K calories of food per day.
Fitday works for them, but not me or others?

I realize the immediate inclination is to dismiss my data as some
unintelligent internet dolt who is obviously under-reporting what they
eat. Just like someone who can eat amazing quantities of normal food
(3K cal/day) ridiculing people who are fat because he imagines how
much food it would take in massive over-eating quantities to make his
own genetically-gifted self fat. Almost wish I could see their faces
getting fat on an orange a day. After spending so much time
calculating the exact calories of food, I've achieved a sense of what
food contains without always checking. So now I vaguely guess that my
morning orange has 100 calories given its size. Just checking software
now I see it's only 65. But even say if I'm off in calories, by what
magnitude? If the nutritional label is off on by box of frozen
spinach, even if off by double it's now 140 cal instead of 70. (The
Dr. Wafford CRAN S/W and Fitday and food labels all seem to agree -
I've come to trust them, it's my body I don't trust).

I've removed the usual "more calories than people realize" normal food
culprits from my diet (sauces, cheeses, oils, breads, dressings,
skins, dairy, sugars, starches, grains). So yes, please point out
where I'm sneaking more calories into my diet without realizing it.
Years of cutting food item after food item out in order to find the
'healthiest" non-fat-producing regimen hasn't left much to fool around
with. You tell me. No evil "just a spoonful doesn't count" ice cream
hidden in the freezer from decades ago, for example. No processed
food in the cupboard or fridge for me even to sleepwalk to and eat
without ever knowing. No oil in the stir-fry (no more stir-frys).
Pretty much already a calorically-dense-food-free scientific bubble.
"If you're really hungry, there's only frozen vegetables in the
freezer, have as much as you want. Oh, you're suddenly not hungry
anymore now? Hah! There's never any bread or cookies so you can stop
looking." Even though I always do look anyway, like a hopeful dog
searching for a buried bone. I must walk past the vending machines at
work countless times each day, still, even when all I ever do is to
look through the glass shaking my head at all the evil bad processed
fat+sugar junk foods in there and then walk back to my cube. At least
it's break and exercise. Even if maddeningly trim people walk back
eating that junk.

It's probably too easy for you to dismiss this. I am at a complete
loss myself. I'm obviously doing something wrong. What? I really want
to understand this. If I see one more 20/20 piece on people cutting
back from 12 cheeseburgers to 5 nightly and losing tons of weight I'll
scream. I too would find dismissing my data easier than being forced
to confront any possible loopholes in feel-good "a calorie is a
calorie" mantra assumptions. I wouldn't be sharing my pain if I could
figure this out. I may be the only person that my small town my doctor
has ever seen with this problem (yet I feel most would never report
this, this is my sixth attempt writing this where maybe I won't delete
it as "too whiny" this time).

But I cannot be the only person in the entire country who has faced
this. Am I?

The base question is : Can you train your body via years and years of
increasingly tighter calorie restricted dieting to simply use less and
less and less calories daily? Or is this normal aging? My grandparents
eat next to nothing. When they see me having to work out so many hours
every day of the week while still being fat, their response to my
mother is frequently "Now why doesn't he just skip eating instead?"
Makes sense. Then why doesn't it work?

So all this diatribe rant reduces itself to twenty questions :

1) Am I alone in this "breaks the calorie=calorie laws of physics"
VLCD behavior (remaining fat on 800cal/day)?
2) Can you eat less than everyone around you yet remain obese, over
two years?
3) Is the body really a straight-line linear mathematic model as
nutritionists portray?
4) "Eat less/least, exercise more/most" is wrong? Over a whole year?
5) Diets simply train the body to use less and less and less calories?
6) Does starvation mode exist despite what nutritionists say?
7) Is this disordered eating (ED) or simply a healthy "listen to your
body" adjustment? Friends eating 3K/day panic when they learn what I
eat. Any calorie restriction at all = ED? What's the fine line to
cross between healthy monitoring and ED? ED sites suggest it's not ED
until the subject becomes under-weight (BMI 18). "There are no obese
anorexics."
8) Am I alone in never being hungry - until only AFTER I eat
something?
9) Alcohol fuels your hunger like a roaring forest fire?
10) Is it true alcohol completely shuts down your body's ability to
use fats, storing them instead? IE, that glass of red wine with salmon
at splurge wknd dinner makes the salmon fats much worse than if you
abstained? Wine = good = false when trying to burn body fat?
11) Can you save up WW "cal=cal" calories to spend like dollars later?
Starve all week then give yourself one wknd day of a normal
candlelight dinner out with god forbid even a glass of wine, without
getting obese? Or is this comparative-to-VLCD binging where the body
non-linearly stores every calorie during the normal meal. My data for
my body seems to say calories are not linear WW points or dollars.
12) Nutritionists and studies say it doesn't matter when you eat. IE,
even eating at night is OK ("cal=cal"). Yet other studies show 6x/day
eating better than one meal per day like nighttime dinner. That's how
I became fat. Yet bodybuilders say to eat protein after nighttime
workouts. Which?
13) Need to boost metabolism, so need to gain lean muscle mass, so
need to eat more protein calories, where more calories creates more
fat, round-robin "get nowhere" viscous circle? Lean mass gain
supplements needed?
14) Is set point theory real? What explains the 10lb x7 step function?
15) If metabolism only drops 40% max, why my 200 cal/day fat loss so
slow?
16) Where I gained fat on 800 cal/day, my true metabolism is ~400-600?
Some people just have slower metabolisms than others and should always
eat "less than normal" to not get fat? Is this flexible and trainable
or fixed and genetic?
17) How do you go from 200 cal/day to 'normal' 1200 cal/day w/o
gaining fat?
18) Is there a sports nutritionist with experience in this?
19) Can one go from 120lb to 240lb back to 120lb? Or did I screw
myself for life, setting up all the wrong fat hormones, etc?
20) Fasting for three days is too easy since never hungry. One must
force himself to get hunger pangs by eating (since indicates working
metabolism)?
21) I really should eat 3K calories/day as per Fitday? Who'd EVER get
fat if they could eat that much food? Every day! Or accept having to
eat less than standard formulas as my own unique difference?
22) I'm obviously still eating too much & working out too little if so
much body fat remains, right? It's the no-lie final equation result &
indicator. Keep cutting food & upping exercise over time until results
finally show? To infinity?
23) What the hell is fuelling my workouts if not previously stored
body fat? Humans cannot run on air. So I might not have the fastest
riding pace, but it's gotta be using some even minimal calories for
those hours per day?
24) -- For Sports Nutritionists to answer ---
25) Are you better off eating 200 calories of carb (putting you 200
cal deeper into the hole) beforehand to fuel a better anaerobic sprint
workout, hoping to make that 200 calories back in higher metabolism
later, or to skip the extra 200 calories outright and go out for a
doable 85% level effort on lower fat-burn energy instead? Low cal
hasn't worked - no fat loss.
26) Are you better off eating 200 calories of protein (putting you 200
cal deeper into the hole) after a post-lifting workout, hoping to
build extra lean body mass to make that 200 calories back in higher
metabolism later, or to skip adding the extra 200 unneeded calories to
your day right before you go to bed? Low cal hasn't worked - no
muscle.
27) Need calcium to burn fat? Need fat to burn fat?
28) Need potassium supplements? Multi-vitamin not enough? What else
should I take?
29) What am I missing by avoiding all grains? Empty calories since get
fiber from veggies, right? Same for bread, cereal, rice & pasta,
right?
30) One normal splurge social dinner per week acts like fat-store
binge re-feed for VLCD? Avoid at all costs?
31) VLCD perhaps worked when BMI 30, now need new approach?
32) What's the name of the "saltine creates pounds of fat" genetic
disease? Might learn something from this.
33) Besides testosterone & TSH, what other VLCD-negatives & blood test
clues should I look for? Both specialists insisted that hormone levels
are totally unaffected by diet, as did the dermatologist, dismissing
Vitamin E during skin and nail problems. I don't buy any of this,
fearing VLCD deficiencies, or is it true?
34) I need a less ridiculing GP doctor who can work with me rather
than feed me "eat less, exercise more" mantra & ignoring it not
working. Which type of specialist should I look for? Or continue to
experiment alone?
35) Where can I get my metabolism tested since my small-town doc
refuses to refer me?
36) OK to eat carbs? OK to eat fats? But only alone, never together in
same hour, else sugar insulin response from the peach will cause the
fat from the almond to be stored away as fat instead of used
metabolically?
37) HOW can I gain 1lb/wk body fat on 800cal/day? Doesn't this mean I
am over-eating by 3500 calories/wk? Where is this fat coming from?
38) If I'd eat only when truly hungry (ie, desiring watery spinach vs.
fun foods), I'd be eating even less. Still follow my natural hunger
signals or instead force myself to eat calorie-light foods more often
even when not hungry as do now (ie, 6 times a day)?
39) -- For Bodybuilders to answer ---
40) Midway through a really extra heavy lifting session, do you ever
get light-headed tingling sensations in your cheeks and face? Feels
like a diabetic lack of sugar sensation or is it a desirable fat
burning moment or is it something else? Only happens rarely maybe
twice per month lifting, never cycling or running, ruling out sugar
crash? Anyone else ever get this? Might be due to rapid and forced
inhale & exhale breathing during lifts?
41) To gain muscle you need to eat more calories and thus gain fat. To
lose the fat, you have to cut the calories and thus lose the muscle
you gained. What gets you to the point of mostly muscle and little
fat? Supplements?
42) Is it possible to lose body fat and build muscle at same time? Or
should I go 100% VLCD cutting phase again to get down to 120lbs FIRST,
then add in more protein calories for lean mass gain? ("Cut calories
first to lose fat, then when trim, eat more to gain muscle").
43) Or should I always switch every two weeks between VLCD cutting
phase for fat then extra calorie bulking phase for muscle, back and
forth? Bill Philip's "Trick the body before it can adapt" approach?
44) Is it time to give an ECA stack another chance since it provides
chemistry to preserve lean mass and burn fat instead? Three month
cycle? Some people need ECA to bring up their thermogensis to normal?
(ie, Drumlib)
45) Bought creatine but never used it, thought no point if its effects
disappear when stop using it. Try it anyway? For looks only, or better
workouts?
46) Does lack of protein really hinder post-lifting muscle growth?
It's THE only reason for my lack of lean mass gain? Really need 1g/lb
body weight to see any muscle growth to boost metabolism? Ignore
increase in body fat? Until what threshold? 10-15lb swings? 5% body
fat swings?
47) Are split routines better for lifting than my "each muscle group
once per week" routine? Look to be more sore, more often, since
indicates muscle growth? My stale 9-month routine is crap, exercise
variation is key? Or same exercise in same way to produce the biggest
looking tricep?
48) How do you get an always-hungry makes-you-shake inefficient
metabolism from an efficient "go days w/o food" one? Lifting alone
isn't doing it.
49) Should I continue to eat protein after evening lifting? Don't you
fear night calories being stored as fat?
50) Do personal trainers help those poor sap people (like me) who
spend hours in the gym every day for years but never look a shred
different from the day they walked in? Good to point out bad chemistry
or bad form mistakes, or waste of money?
51) -- For Runners to answer ---
52) Should I focus on improving my running pace via intervals before
working on my run distance (improve my 8:30 min/mi race pace vs. my
current 8mi distance)? Quit "work on speed when easier-on-ankles
slimmer" mindset?
53) Can a Clydesdale runner become a slim one? Endomorph into
ectomorph? Examples?
54) -- For Cyclists to answer ---
55) Replace LSD w/ sprints? Since intervals and sprints are so
incredibly hard from such a low-calorie energy state, suggests I must
force myself to do them? Easy slow fat-burning LSD miles are
worthless? Even for fat-burning?
56) How does YOUR winter off-season diet differ from on-season?
Calories of both?
57) I doubt the age argument ("You're not 20 anymore"). We all see
trim Masters cyclists decades older than me that dust the field in a
TT. As cyclists age, our riding style changes? Hill climber when
young, LSD when older & heavier? Doubt this - there are still older
climbers out there like Pantani.
58) Is one rest-day per week too much or not enough? I feel it's about
right.

Bodybuilders want to have me eating only after workouts, and beef
jerky all day long. Cyclists say the answer is eating before workouts
to fuel them, eating pasta all day. Atkins says no carbs.
Nutritionists say no fat. CRAN people say lower calories to live
longer. My moderation from each group hasn't produced enough results.
What gives?

I still love food, so I'm not worried about ED despite surprisingly
concerned alarmist comments from athletic friends and coworkers. If
one could eat foie gras and dessert Riesling every day and remain
skinny I'd be all over it. ED sites all list "being underweight" as
the prime indicator for ED (aka "there are no obese anorexics"). Lance
Armstrong weighs his food obsessively every day. Loosen the rules to
simply "ED = think about food a lot" and suddenly every single runner
or cyclist or dieter or wine connoisseur would qualify. I'm not keen
on whey protein shakes or bars (prefer real food for potassium and
micro nutrients since I always worry I'm probably not getting enough)
but will do them if suggested. I still adore my old traditional
European enjoyment of life - but am willing give it all up (as I have)
if it'd only work, dammit.

With all the hours spent in the gym I should look like Arnold. From
all the hours of aerobics I should look like Bill Rodgers. I'm willing
to continue spending multiple hours of my life in the gym daily if
it'd just produce ANY visible results. Otherwise why bother? I should
see something after two years (at least a whole year of serious free
weights versus Nautilus)?

I'm clearly doing it all wrong. I have the will power to do whatever
it takes. Just tell me what the hell it is I'm supposed to do from
here. What avenues are left? All the data points to yet another VLCD.
I have the gnawing feeling that if I hadn't caved in to pressure from
everyone to eat more and fearing the ED label last year that I would
have been closer to my BMI 20 goal by now. Recent trips to Europe
amaze me in how everyone there (men and women both) are so perfectly
trim and in shape across the board with impossibly tiny waists by
current American standards, all by eating "entirely the wrong
meat-based foods" according to the American nutritionist mindset. What
gives? My European relatives (all thinner than me) think I'm insane
spending so much time in the gym and refusing their full-fat wine and
beer dinners, "like a crazy American."

The National Weight Control Registry reports that all their long-term
losers still only eat an average 1200 calories per day (meaning some
must eat less) instead of 3000 and also workout an average of an hour
per day (meaning some must do more), day in and day out for every
single day of their entire lives. This seems to go against everything
nutritionists say in their one-size-fits-all basal calorie
calculations. By definition every NWCR member has an ED? Eating too
little, working out too much? And 1200 calories is their maintenance
eating, how much did they eat to lose those pounds to get there?
Therefore is 800 cal/day really so beyond the pail? Standard calorie
formulas apply 100% to everyone, and genetic variation doesn't exist
where some people naturally must eat less than average?

Is it my genetics that dictate my seeming 800 calorie/day metabolism
which my diet must follow to avoid weight gain, or is it my years of
increasing calorie restriction that has trained my body to simply run
on 800 calories/day where it gains fat on regimens consuming more than
that?

Where does one go to from here? What's left to optimize out of the
equation? Has anyone ever overcome this appalling situation of VLCD
not being enough? HOW!?! I do not accept the answer of "face it you're
older, it's clearly too hard for your body type, just give it all up,
it's too high a cost to your quality of life, accept yourself as a fat
person and simply surround yourself with even fatter friends." You'd
be amazed how often I hear that. I will not throw in the towel yet
(maybe when I'm too old to care beyond 50).

I obviously have to be doing something wrong somewhere.

On the plus side - they say that CRAN is life extending. However I'd
rather be trim and comfortable once again being social in a hot tub
with my athletic and European friends any day. My real life has been
hijacked by obesity. I want it back. It's been a two-year all out war
on fat. Perhaps I just need a deep breath before the final assault.
Can't be alone here. Need to retool my WOE once more and fine tune my
strategy, to land my war-turning D-day.

Unlike my alarmist friends, I feel as if I haven't done enough yet or
been perfect in my eating yet. There's still some room to improve. The
no-whine drill sergeant in my head says to cut out ANY splurge day and
any wine and any social eating, stay put at 800 cal/day every day of
the week consistently, regardless of Fitday, but to up my workout
intensity to include more grueling "hate them so" sprints both running
and cycling, add a few carbs if need to for sprints only, start a
split routine lifting so I hit each muscle group twice a week instead
of once, add more protein post-lifting even if powders and its
hard-to-accept additional calories, and don't listen to misguided
others of easier "Philly cheese steak lunch and meatloaf dinner yet
stay trim" body types telling me to eat more and exercise less since
my body obviously differs from theirs, otherwise keep tight with the
existing program which will break the wall eventually (ie, now on year
three). Do you agree? Or am I just kidding myself? Where instead I
should eat exactly what successful bodybuilders like
http://www.johnstonefitness.com/ eats? Screw the "eat less, do more"
mantra?

Is there a common proven-in-real-life regimen to correct this
situation when VLCD isn't enough? How doesn't one get off a VLCD
eating regimen? No study ever mentioned this side of the plan.

Eat more and exercise less to lose body fat? That's going to be a REAL
hard sell for me. And hasn't worked yet on four attempts.

Tips from anyone who has had real life experience on how others have
escaped this Twilight Zone hell would be appreciated. Thanks for
reading...

VLCD_hell
240/120/175


  #10  
Old January 15th 04, 10:03 PM
Patricia Heil
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Help! 800cal/day = good diet or ED? "Eat less, do more" not working?VLCD trap?



The Surgeon General is NOT saying 800 cal/day. He is saying less
than most people eat, which can be 2500-3000 calories a day on a
sedentary lifestyle.

He is telling people for whom using the remote counts as exercise,
to get up off the chair and work out at least 30 minutes and
preferably up to an hour a day.

From what other people have posted here over the years, you're
starving yourself and your body is saying I'm not going to shed
a pound unless I'm sure I'm going to get the calories I need.

I'm sorry, I couldn't read your whole posting so I don't know
how long over all you've been doing this. At one point you said
you were losing about a pound a week and that's good. If you
were losing more than 2 pounds a week it would mean you were doing
something you were going to regret. So think, are you still
losing a pound a week or not.

And by the way, the "friends" who won't associate with you
because of weight aren't friends at all.

vlcd_hell wrote:


 




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