Project HUGE: A Bad Week In Eating
Posted September 23, 2007 at 2:43 PM by Ben Nadel
This was not a good week of eating for me. Last night, at the gym, the scale read 211 lbs. This is a 6 lb. jump from the 205 that it read a week prior. Now, I know that there is a day to day fluctuation in weight, but certainly, I can chalk this 6 lb. weight gain up to a week of poor choices.
That's not fair; I shouldn't say "poor choices". Some of it was due to poor choices in food and diet, but a lot of it was just do to sociability. Controlling what you eat is so much easier to do when you are alone. When you are with others, controlling what you eat is substantially more difficult. This week has involved a lot of dinner with friends and ordering-in lunch with co-workers. The lunch stuff is not so harmful, I think; it's the eating big dinners that's the real killer.
Eating big, late at night, I think is the main culprit for my weight gain this week. I eat, and then I hang out, and then I go to sleep. I don't do anything active and then I follow it up with 5-6 hours of sleep. My body had no choice but to store the calories as a future energy source (read: body fat).
Dinner, I think, is the worst meal of the day for you. And, ironically, I think it usually is the biggest meal of the day for a lot of people. I think people's eating habits (mine included) are totally backwards; we start out eating small when we have the most day ahead of us and eat increasingly large meals as the amount of day remaining decreases. This sets us up for weight gain without a doubt. We should reverse this. We should be eating big in the morning when we have an entire day to get through and then decrease the meal size as the day comes to a close.
Right now, I am trying to deal with that by not eating any solid food after like 6pm. After that time, I can have a protein shake, but even that, I am trying to not do after like 8 or 9 pm. This way, my body should have a few hours to use up excess caloric intake before I go to sleep. Of course, at the same time, I don't want to throw my body into starvation mode, which is counterproductive as the body will go into calorie conservation mode - exactly what I don't want it to do. That's why I am OK with the late night protein shake. Studies have shown that the body will more readily store excess fat calories as opposed to excess carbohydrate or protein calories (they are not sure why this occurs but it has been a documented observation). Therefore, by allowing a high protein / low fat-carb caloric intake late in the day, I can avoid going into starvation mode while simultaneously lowering the chances of the my body creating adipose tissue from the calories.
Of course, this is all thrown to the wind when it comes to going out to dinner with friends. If I meet friends after work for food, we don't usually eat till like 7pm and when we do eat, it's usually not the best food or food portions. Being social seems to be one of my major inhibitors of weight loss.
There are so many opposing forces in life! Keeping balance is extremely hard. I want to be social, but eat well. I want to be social, but find time to work out. I want to work out, but also put a lot of time into research. I want to do research, but I want to read fiction. I want to concentrate on work, but I also want a romantic relationship. I want a romantic relationship, but I also want friends. I want to eat well and have a romantic relationship, but I want to eat at the same time my significant other eats.
How can we deal with all that and still maintain balance, sanity, and be successful in our pursuits?!? Is it even possible? Isn't the phrase "A Jack of all trades, master of none" just as applicable to social life as it is to work?
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Uh, you can still be social and still eat good. Just don't eat the whole damn plate. :p If you're getting something bad and you know it, then set aside half to take home. Issue solved.
I can certainly get behind whatever measures you need to utilize to maintain self control, a lost art amongst our fellow americans.
I definitely think fluctuations below 5% of body weight are normal though and probably the only time one should pay attention to these minor fluctuations are when cutting weight for competition.
You can drive yourself absolutely wonky fretting so this is the reason why I don't own a scale. I prefer the pants test:
Do my pants fit loose? A+
Are they tight, after a big meal? B- I am probably having too many big meals.
Do I need new pants? D- I really need some duct tape over my pie hole!
Anyways, this is what works for me, Your Mileage May Vary ;)
Thought you'd like this:
I agree with you about the late night / large meal eating. Try what the Europeans do - have dinner at lunch time. Whatever you eat at night, and it should be light (salad, some cold cuts, etc), eat it over the space of an hour or two.
As for being social - I'm not sure, but what about meeting for drinks after your friends have dinner. If you have a significant-other, you need to have her involved with your weight loss goal.
You know, it could be just me, but your little ramble about "what you want" was quite meandering and involved.
You need to concentrate on one or two primary goals. You need to get into a pattern, a rhythm. Winter is coming - NOT a great time for weight loss - so if telling your friends that this is your goal and they'll need to see a little less of you, then they'll just have to suffer through for a few months.
Just some thoughts on the matter.
As a Cold Fusion developer AND Med Student, here is my advice:
To burn fat, you need to be in a situation where your body is not starved, but where your energy needs require the liver to metabolize fat.
(If your body feels starved, it will compensate by attempting to burn fewer calories, and save everything)
Here is what I recommend:
Make sure you have plenty of fiber in your diet. I think this is most helpful in the morning/afternoon. Fiber will slow down your digestive tract, making you feel full much longer. (and after a week, you wont fart quite as much either). Foods that have a lot of fiber in them are generally healthy anyways.
Understand how your liver works.
You liver's job is to keep your blood glucose at about 80. When operating normally, all your cells take glucose out of the blood and 'burn' it for their energy.
When your blood glucose gets too high, your liver starts to take glucose out of blood (and this happens very rapidly), and stores it as glycogen, which is like an array of glucose.
When your blood glocuse gets too low, your liver takes the glucose out of glycogen and dumps it into your blood.
So, why does this matter?
When you have too much glycogen in your liver (your liver can hold about 24 hours worth of extra energy in glycogen form), your liver will start to make fat and dump it into your blood (where your fat cells will eagerly pull it out of the blood and store it). This is what you don't really want to have happen.
When your liver is low on glycogen (and your blood glucose drops), it has to start making glucose on it's own. This is where things get good. Your liver will start breaking down fat (and it also signals the fat cells in your body to let some of it out).
Some of the fat gets burned by your liver, and that energy is used to make new glucose (this process is kind of inefficient, so it's like you get to burn extra calories without doing extra work).
However, you can't make enough glucose this way to power your entire body, so it breaks a bunch of fat down into little pieces that it can send into your blood stream. These "ketone bodies" are really tasty to your heart and some other tissue, so that they'll burn the ketone bodies, and save the glucose for your brain to use. (This is also what happens when you don't eat any carbs at all, but I think there are some significant health concerns to not having any carbs)
I went out unexpectedly with a friend last night and got a burger and fries... I totally didn't eat the fries. I was pretty excited about that.
I am on board with that. I try not to weigh myself any more than once a week. I feel like anything more frequent than that will only give you false hopes or hurt your drive. But certainly, I agree with you about the pant test. When I was working at Equinox as a personal trainer, I usually refused to give people body fat tests cause I told them that's not what was important; the better gauge is how they feel about themselves at the end of the day, and a body fat test will rarely be a good measure of that.
Great list (I commented on your entry).
My goals might seem involved, but I don't think there are really that many of them. I have like 3 main goals. Right now, I am doing OK at keeping it all in hand. I think I just need to be more efficient about the way I divide up my time... still learning at it :)
More fiber is definitely something that I need to look into. In fact, more fruit is something I really need to look into. Working in an office, for some reason, I have a lot of trouble getting the motivation to eat fruit. The deli across the street has fruit, but it always looks scary. I need to start bringing food with me to work - really preparing to eat better.
Thanks for the tips on how the body breaks down and builds energy. It all sounds familiar back from the days of Biology, Intro To Nutrition, and Nutrition and Development, but those factoids have all slowly seeped away to be replaced by ColdFusion and CSS goodness :)
I have only one rule:Don't eat if you aren't really hungry as well as go to toilet whenever you can.My problem was being anxious so i didn't eat cause i was hungry but because i was nervous.But when i have read excellent book You Can Heal Your Life i have understood what was my problem