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13 Weeks: Jailbreak!

Remember the advice in Shangri-La: Moderation in all things -- including moderation.

Charlie Martin


March 16, 2013 - 2:00 pm

Week 6 of my second 13 week season; low carb diet and more exercise, tracking my weight, blood glucose, and body fat. You can follow me at my 13 Weeks Facebook page for daily updates, and you can join Fitocracy (free!) and follow my daily exercise, and maybe even start tracking your own.

So let’s just end the suspense right away: yes, I am feeling a lot better this week.

At one point or another, the draft of last week’s column started with the line “Okay, ‘despair’ may be a little strong…”. I cut it because as I thought about it, I realized despair was the right word. Look it up and we find “Noun: The complete loss or absence of hope. Verb: Lose or be without hope: ‘to despair of ever knowing’” (via Google.) That’s exactly what I was fighting against — the feeling that there was nothing to be done, that there was no real hope. That’s the real enemy of any attempt to change, or to do anything extended really — that moment of no hope, when you don’t see the end in sight. It’s not just diets, either — it happens to me in writing, when I hit the point at which I think “oh, this is awful, no one will want this.”

That’s why I started this on the basis of a 13 week “season” — it was long enough to see some real changes, short enough to be bearable. Even so, about the fifth and sixth weeks of the first season, I’d reached the point where I was wondering if it was going to really do any good.

So look at the results this week: my 7-day average weight is down 3 pounds, my 7-day average blood sugar is down 16 points. What happened? I don’t know for sure, but I can tell you one thing I did differently, based on a lot of suggestions from others who’ve done the low carb thing. I broke training. I got out of the no carbs jail for a couple days. I had my ice cream, and I had some congee (zhou, Asian rice porridge). I didn’t go real far off the overall diet except for violating the carb rules, and based on calories I was actualy doing fine.

So now I’m back on the low-carb diet. What did I learn?

First, yes, you can break the diet for a day or a few days and get back on. What’s more, for me at least, if you do it with rice and ice cream, you don’t get sick like I did after Thanksgiving.

Second, your body can get used to anything. In weight training, they tell you to change routines fairly often if you want to keep making gains. The trick is to watch what happens. I broke the rules a little bit, up to maybe 100g of carbs one day, and didn’t have my blood sugar go nuts, didn’t gain back lots of weight. (Right now, I’m on a little bit of a bounce, but I’m basically up to where I was complaining about not being able to break in the downward direction.)

And third — there’s a new-ish idea in the nutrition world: orthorexia. It means an unhealthy fixation on a healthy diet. Maybe, just maybe, an occasional 4 oz cup of ice cream (26g carbs) is good for you.

Date 7 day Weight 7 day Glucose 7 day Bodyfat Sum Fitocracy Points Weekly Fitocracy Points
2013-02-01 272.50 116.43 33.1 447 447
2013-02-07 272.63 114.57 30.79% 1881 1881
2013-02-14 271.91 110.43 30.36% 2606 725
2013-02-21 273.79 115.29 29.16% 3775 1169
2013-02-28 274.44 104.00 30.00% 4929 1154
2013-03-07 273.11 115.86 30.24% 6022 1093
2013-03-14 269.86 101.86 30.10% 7233 1211
Δ since 2-1 -2.64 -14.57 -3.00% N/A N/A

Charlie Martin writes on science, health, culture and technology for PJ Media. Follow his 13 week diet and exercise experiment on Facebook and at PJ Lifestyle

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All Comments   (10)
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I'm taking the liberty of giving a few suggestions.First, I'm a physician;I do a lot of T2DM . Four pharmaceutical companies have asked me to run clinical trials based on my charts I believe the central role of insulin resistance is the key to weight /euglycemia. When I lecture, i mention 'adiponectin' a measure of the IR. Think of them as the opposite ends of e teeter totter.As adiponectin goes up,IR goes down.High adiponectin causes lipolysis -out of proportion to caloric restiction/exxercise. How to increase adiponectin? Exercise ,TZd's-but they're expensive , and have a weak -but real link to bladder cancer.(So does diabetes.) GLPsAlso expensive-although I know how to cheat with them to cut the dose by 2/3 and hence the cost.Testosterone-not ery much though.and CINNAMON. The baseline article is by Patel et al. If you'd like a link or the article ,let me know.Cinnamon has multifactorial effects . It binds to the insulin receptor and turns on the downstream proteins.So,it's like insulinanyone with a waistline of 40 " (male) or 35 "( Female ) is in IR. The little secret is the more midsection fat,the more IR.It becomes a positive feedback cycle.So the fat,get fatter. Cinnamon decreases appetite-both by binding to neuroreceptors and slowing gastric emptying.So,it's like the GLPs (Victoza,Byetta,Bydureon ).But not as strong.It's cheap. Unlike the GLPs TZDs. I recommend you start on 1,00 mg bid and after two weeks increase to 2 in AM and 1 in PM. I don't know if you're on any specific meds. If you are and would like specific help,please let me know. As a control I've recently started a patient(263#,A1c of 11.3) on Cjnnamon and low dose (0.6 mg/day) VZ. He's euglycemic. Wt is decreasing at about 4#/wk/I expect his A1C to be 6.5 by June and his wt to be 195 by September. PS.SOme of the Cinnamon bottles say 1,000 mg per serving size,and on the back say serving size is 2 pills. I rec'd you start at 2,000/day Best of luck and I think you'll be very pleased.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh, and please give me any references you think I'd be interested in. I'm not an MD but I fake it fairly effectively from doing my PhD work at Duke Med.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You know, I've got a big bottle of cinnamon at home; I tried it a few times but it gave me a little GI upset. On the other hand, this was before I dropped wheat.

You know, your point about insulin resistance is interesting too. I just passed 42 inches around the waist going down, and there's been a fairly sudden change in my morning glucose, with a number of days in the low 90's -- and a new record low today of 90. Now, I'm fairly ridiculously large-framed (yes, I know, but really, with 95+ percentile wrist and elbow transverse measurements and very high bone density) and I wonder if I am not about to pass that threshold, or possibly even have passed it?

Okay, so you're recommending 2000 mg cinnamon as 1000 mg morning and night, increasing to 3000 mg, 2 in morning 1 at night.

Corwin, drop me a note at chasrmartn AT gmail DOT com and I'll give you the whole list; mainly for the DM I'm doing 1000 mg metformin daily at night, down from 2500 when I started this in October.

By the way, some translations, folks: T2DM is "type 2 diabetes mellitus", the insulin-resistant sort of diabetes I've got; TZd's are thiazolidinediones and here's a Wiki article on them: ; GLPs are "glucagon-like peptides" All of these are implicated in the fairly complicated regulation of body fat and insulin.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nassim Taleb's book "Antifragile" explains why going off your diet periodically is a good strategy. The human body has evolved to benefit from variability in both the quantity and types of food you eat each day. He suggests that maximize health (and presumably, weight loss) you should fast some days and feast others. Some days have lots of protein and other days have none. Check it out.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh... AND I'm so glad you are feeling better.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I will have to restart on Monday. I got a lot of running tips this weekend -- which do nothing for me due to my bum knees and ankles-- but back after a minor jailbreak starting Monday. Congratulations Charlie!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Cyclic Amp (cAMP) is the cell's sensor of glucose level & there is a cAMP receptor protein. Glucose activates/deactivates genes that depend on the cAMP receptor protein being at work in that cell.
This cAMP receptor protein influences the cell without necessarily being dictated to by that cell nucleus' genetic transcription process. Because it is responsive to the real time status of the cell it is not a dynamic dependent on a cell's long term operating trend (ex: like adaptations from months of eating low carb that has become Charlie's status quo).
cAMP protein receptor regulates certain chaperon proteins' synthesis, heat (& cold) shock genes and also cytoplasm proteases (or their complexes) which depend on ATP. This is involving genes encoding enzymes for ribosomal proteins, transfer tRNA, subunits of RNA polymerase & other molecules.
In simple terms: Charlie M. upped his carb level, the resultant glucose increased cAMP receptor protein activity & then the cellular encoding shifted to make more glycerol from his carbon.
This extra glycerol gives more molecular skeletons to tag high fat intake liver lipids to & thus make into triglycerides. Then more "fat" derived lipids went out of the liver as triglycerides in real time & subsequently Charlie M's exercise regimen cleared more of his meal "fat" generated lipids.
Without glycerol to make triglycerides meal "fat" lipids are backed up from naturally circulating in the blood to get to cells for all the things cells use lipids for. VLDL is the human post-prandial triglyceride shunting molecule & very low carb diets are notable for decreasing VLDL levels as well as lowering triglycerides.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Charlie M is "...feeling a lot better this week...."
Extra carb derived glucose leads to a transitory elevating of insulin level. Insulin in the central nervous system is antagonistic to cAMP.
When cAMP lowers in the hypothalamus the result is a phase of hypothalmic signal activity in the brain gets turned off. This in turn engenders the feeling of well-being.
Our beta-endorphins do this when get to bind to receptors, they instigate a neurol drop in cAMP level. And so, ice-cream gets to be an ideal "comfort food" - whether from grieving a relationship loss or just being "beat".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've just perused a few Paleo websites to see how close my diet actually is because while I haven't been setting the weight loss world on fire, I've been steadily losing weight over course of the past two years.

And some of the sites I looked at generally allowed you two or three meals per week that broke the carb rule somewhat. Maybe that's what you just tweaked in.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
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