Body fat: 27.0%
Sleep: 5hrs 44mins
BP: 124/74 @78bpm
So the weight loss is slowing, as expected. I lost only 1.0kg over the past 24hr period, and I put that down to: 1) most of the “easy” calories have now dropped off, and 2) I didn’t do my exercise yesterday. I have one, sometimes two days off a week. According to the monitor on the bike, I use around 550-650 cals per 40mins bike session – not sure how accurate that is.
That said, I’ve now dropped 4kgs in 3 days.
I woke up early – 5:30am, and started working by 6am. Had my two double espressos. I didn’t feel hungry, however if Jennifer had put some thick buttered toast with vegemite in front of me, I would have found it hard to resist!
Other than feeling a bit weary from not enough sleep (5hrs44mins), I’m actually doing ok. I wrote till about midday, then did my exercise – 40 mins on the bike, 17.4km, 584cals. I found the 2nd 20 mins really tough going. A week ago, before I began the fast, I did 40mins, 19.1kms, 673cals. Today I just didn’t have the energy to push myself.
Interestingly though, I did the whole session averaging a heart rate of 126bpm, which is 82% of my Maximum Heart Rate. I hit a high of 142bpm, which is 93% of my MHR. So I was well and truly into my aerobic zone.
It’s interesting how my fast is affecting the rest of the family, and the family’s routine. By rest of the family, I mean Jennifer and our eldest son Henry, who’s currently staying with us. Both Henry and Jennifer are good cooks – but more than that, they enjoy cooking. For them it’s a creative endeavour, but it’s also an expression of love.
I’m very fortunate!
Without me eating though, the routine of meals has been shattered. So too the routine of cooking. I never realised how important this was to the dynamic of family life. Of an evening we would all sit around the dinner table and talk – about all sorts of things. Politics. What’s happened in the news that day. Books we’re reading, or have read, or want to read. Shows we’ve seen. What we liked, what we didn’t. We’d discuss the mechanics of storytelling.
Henry would bring us up to date with the latest stuff on Reddit that’s caught his attention. Or detail story points from highly cerebral sci-fi or fantasy novels that he’s read. Our dinner conversations are invariably wide ranging and intense at times! An important part of the day, when we come together as a family unit.
That’s not happening while I fast. Nor is that time in the afternoon when Jennifer, and Henry, prepare the meals for dinner. That used to be a time of activity and creativity and fun. That’s dead time now. I never realised how important the socialisation of eating really is to me. Now Jennifer walks around the house with Autobiography of a Yogi or one of the I Am Presence books playing loudly on Audible on her iPad.
Here now is another extract from Dr Jason Fung’s book, The Complete Guide to Fasting. Here he busts a myth that fasting puts you into “starvation mode.”
“Starvation mode” is the mysterious bogeyman always raised to scare us away from missing even a single meal. Why is it so bad to skip a meal? Let’s get some perspective here. Assuming we eat three meals per day, over one year, that’s a little over a thousand meals. To think that fasting for one day, skipping three meals of the one thousand, will somehow cause irreparable harm is simply absurd.
The idea of “starvation mode” refers to the notion that our metabolism decreases severely and our bodies “shut down” in response to fasting. We can test this notion by looking at the basal metabolic rate (BMR), which measures the amount of energy that our body burns in order to function normally—to keep the lungs breathing, brain functioning, heart pumping, kidneys, liver, and digestive system all working, and so on. Most of the calories we spend each day are not used for exercise but for these basic functions.
The BMR is not a fixed number but actually increases or decreases up to 40 percent in response to many variables. For example, I never seemed to get cold as a teenager. Even skiing in -22°F weather, I stayed warm. My BMR was high—I was burning a lot of calories to keep my body temperature up. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that I no longer endure the cold so well. I also eat far less than I did as a teenager. My BMR has gotten lower, so I no longer burn as many calories on basic body functions.
This is what most people mean when they say that metabolism slows down with age, and it contributes to the well-known tendency of older “snowbirds” from the Northeast and Canada to retire in warm places like Florida and Arizona. Daily caloric reduction has been well documented to cause a dramatic reduction in BMR.
In studies with a baseline daily calorie consumption of approximately 2500 calories per day, reducing calories consumed to approximately 1500 calories a day for a long stretch of time will result in a 25 to 30 percent reduction in BMR. On the other hand, overfeeding studies, where subjects are asked to deliberately eat more than they normally do, causes an increase in BMR. Reduced metabolism makes us generally cold, tired, hungry, and less energetic—our bodies are essentially conserving energy by not burning calories to keep us warm and moving.
From a weight standpoint, reduced metabolism is a double curse. First, we feel lousy while dieting. Even worse, because we’re burning fewer calories per day, it’s both harder to lose weight and much easier to gain weight back after we’ve lost it. This is the main problem with most caloric-reduction diets.
Suppose you normally eat 2000 calories a day and cut back to only 1500. Your body cannot run a deficit indefinitely—it will eventually run out of fat to burn—so it plans ahead and decreases your energy expenditure. The end result is a decreased BMR. This has been proven repeatedly by experiments over the last century. Because of this well-known “starvation mode” effect of daily caloric restriction, many people assume that fasting will result in a similar but more severe decrease in BMR.
Luckily, this does not happen. If short-term fasting dropped our metabolism, humans as a species would not likely have survived. Consider the situation of repeated feast/famine cycles. During long winters back in the Paleolithic era, there were many days where no food was available. After the first episode, you would be severely weakened as your metabolism falls. After several repeated episodes, you would be so weak that you would be unable to hunt or gather food, making you even weaker.
This is a vicious cycle that the human species would not have survived. Our bodies do not shut down in response to short-term fasting. In fact, metabolism revs up, not down, during fasting. This makes sense from a survival standpoint. If we do not eat, our bodies use our stored energy as fuel so that we can find more food.
Humans have not evolved to require three meals a day, every day. When food intake goes to zero (fasting), our body obviously cannot take BMR down to zero—we have to burn some calories just to stay alive. Instead, hormones allow the body to switch energy sources from food to body fat. After all, that is precisely why we carry body fat—to be used for food when no food is available. It’s not there for looks. By “feeding” on our own fat, we significantly increase the availability of “food,” and this is matched by an increase in energy expenditure.