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13 Weeks of Fast Days and Slow Days

My new experiment, with more carbs. Down five pounds, let's see if it's meaningful.

Charlie Martin


June 8, 2013 - 2:00 pm
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The hypothesis: a slow carb diet with intermittent fasting, along with continuing to work for greater integration of exercise into my daily life, will help me lose weight and improve my still too high blood sugar. This is the third experiment of 13 weeks duration, in an ongoing series. Follow my daily updates at Facebook and join me on Fitocracy to follow my progress there, of which there will be some, honest.

So, here we are, already a week in to the third 13 week experiment, and I’m about two weeks behind on things I was going to do. I haven’t been able to put together my participation in the Victoza experiment yet, and I haven’t gotten back to the volunteers — one of them called herself a “lab hamster” — as I promised. And my only excuse is that real life can be a pain in the ass sometimes. See also the Buddhism stuff: duhkha. That’s the word that’s usually mistranslated as “suffering”, but which is better and more accurately translated as “disappointing” or “unsatisying”. Duhkha is the disappointment of realizing that things do what they damn well please and you can’t necessarily control everything to work out right.

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So now that I have you utterly confused whether this is a 13 Weeks piece or an Undecorated Buddha piece, let’s go ahead and talk about the experiment. It was a little difficult getting started — I sort of eased into the new diet over the span of a few days — but I was pretty well set by Wednesday. More on the actual diet in a bit, but here’s the first week’s results.

  • I’ve lost 5 pounts, from 275 — I was actually up to 281 or so during my vacation — to 270.
  • On the other hand, my glucose has been high, ranging from 120 to 140 morning fasting glucose.
  • But on the next hand, er, tentacle, my glucose has been much more stable, staying within a few points throughout the day. After my experiments with hypoglycemia last time, this seems kind of nice.
  • the notion was to try to get up to 2000 fitocracy points a week. This week’s total was, er, zero.

As won’t be a surprize to most of you, getting the exercise started was even harder, and you know, I think I need to think more about why. And heee’s one of those places where I’m going to dump some emotional and historical, if not hysterical, stuff. To start with, I’ve never liked much in the way of athetics, with the exception of martial arts; when other little boys dreamed of football glory, I wanted to be Sanshiro Sugata or Miyamoto Musashi. The sports or athetic endeavors I’ve enjoyed have always been stylized ways of killing people: karate, Japanese sword, Western fencing, shooting sports, later taiqi and Chinese wushu. (Which is to say “kung fu”. Gong fu (功夫) actually means “great accomplishment”, wu shu (武术) means “war technique”. This is your pretentious Chinese lesson for the week.) Other than that, I actually like lifting weights. In the story of the Tortoise and the Hare, the tortoise had “great gong fu”.


龟兔赛跑 — The Hare and the Tortoise

So it’d seem the answer is to do martial arts and lift weights.

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All Comments   (20)
All Comments   (20)
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Ugh on the depression. So sorry you have to deal with that. It's very sucky.

When it comes to exercise, few if any of us are able to create and sustain a workout all on our own. It takes a special mindset to be able to challenge and improve your fitness without an outsider giving your feedback and impetus. I know I don't have that mindset. This is why I take classes. I let the instructor focus and push me to improve. I focus on giving the instructor the workout they ask for.

Since you love martial arts, find a studio you like. It may take some looking. See if you can watch a class or get a free class to check it out. Once you find a place, sign up for 3 classes a week. This is very very important! Three a week is the minimum you need to progress in any activity. And then go to those classes no matter what! Unless you are really sick or physically hurt, there are no excuses. Oh and "tired" does not count.

As for work. You'll have to trust me on this, it's like the financial adage of "pay yourself first". Keep yourself in shape and other things fall into place. If you love the workout you are doing, it will not only help you stay in shape, it will help you mentally at work and will very likely improve your work performance. Why? Glad you asked...

When you are hyper-concentrating on something, your brain goes numb to what it sees, you miss things, make mistakes. Taking that time to completely break with work and physically work out will be a huge benefit. Even if you break from work, go to a class, then return to work, you will see a vast improvement in your ability to concentrate and to pick up on things you missed earlier… things staring you in the face. Without that break you might have stared at the same mistake for hours while continuing to miss it. (ask me how I know this…)

I took martial arts classes for 7 years (then had to stop but that's another story for another day). During 5 years of that time I was in college as a returning adult student. I was working on my Computer Science degree. I had a husband, 2 grade school kids, and a dog at home, and I was working. Most nights during each semester with everything going on and with freakishly slow modem speeds (remember the good old 2400 baud modems?), I was getting about 1-4 hours sleep a night during the week.

Even with all that, I was religious about showing up at my martial arts classes. There was nothing better than being able to hit the heavy bag or spar with someone or even just yell loud when I was having a lousy week. During that time the only thing I had to concentrate on was the activity. And it was great!

So, no matter how much you think you don't have time, make the time. At work you can tell them you have to step out for a bit to go do some Physical Therapy, but you'll be back. While they may not have sympathy for a martial arts class, few people ever have issues with "doing PT". ;)

If you try to take up a martial arts class and find it isn't for you, move on to something else (there is always something else!). Once you find that one thing that works for you, it will change your life. If you love the activity, you will find it brings you benefits you never ever expected.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well my own exercise experiment ran into Vimes' Law (if you break the rule for a good reason you'll break it for a bad one), as a result I've lost a month.

So I'm starting over. This time I'm blocking out a specific time for the exercise and programming the computer to swear at me and tell me to go. Hopefully that bit of structure will tip things toward sticking with it.

I've also given up on Fitocracy as a tracking tool, it's just too cumbersome to input the data, so I'm running a spreadsheet tracking weight, body fat % (so far I haven't seen the erratic results you had last time) and exercise reps.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Bean recipe for you. IN a 6 qt Crockpot I cook 1 lb of split peas (I buy yellow peas, green are fine) in a 32 oz box of chicken broth - I add a few cups of water and a bullion cube if the water level gets low. As the peas start to get soft, I add a rinsed can of chickpeas, another rinsed can of red beans (or your favorite canned bean), a can of ro-tel chile & tomatoes, a can of chopped green chile. If you want to add diced ham or pre-cooked bacon, now would be the time, I usually add meat in the winter and skip it in the summer.

Let this cook for an hour or two - When the peas are tender/ready I heat 2 or 3 Tbl of olive oil in a skillet and cook a diced yellow onion and 4 or 5 minced cloves of garlic, a Tbl of crushed red pepper, another Tbl of curry powder, one of cumin seed. I stir this well until the spices are cooked into the aromatics and pour this into the pot of peas, dip a bit of the broth back into the fry-pan to rinse the remaining spices into the pot of peas. Then I add a few handfuls of (well rinsed) baby spinach, put the lid on and turn off the heat. Give it 3 or 4 minutes and dish it up. You can serve this w/a big scoop of plain yogurt to kind of tame it if it's too spicy + add some more protein.

This 'dal' is a 'stick to your ribs' pea soup, and I like it, in hot or cold weather. I used to serve it over basmatti rice but I've cut way back on the rice these days. I find a cup, cup and a half of this with a salad is a nice lunch or supper. Protein, fiber, plenty of flavor but not a lot of money.

Good luck to all of us!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I like it. But "too spicy"? not sure I believe in that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Just wanted to thank you for these posts. They inspired me to get serious back in January. I'm down 20lbs but have stalled out for the last few weeks. My fault, I let somethings creep in. But I'm stopping those so hopeful I can restart the losing.

I actually had success with eating cheese. I found a recipe for cheese rollups, just melted cheese in a pan, with some spices, which if you don't roll up and cook a bit longer can become skillet pizza, sans bread. Mozzarella is best for the base. I found that I have a near infinite variety by changing up the toppings, such as mushrooms, pepperoni, pickled banana peppers, etc. I even had a Ruben of a sort by seasoning the base with dried onion and caraway seeds, melting some swiss on top then a bit of corned beef with a low carb thousand island dressing and sauerkraut on top. A bit over-filling but tasty. Here's the skillet pizza recipe that inspired me
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I love exercise, have always been athletic, and I cannot exercise at home by myself. I never do it. But if I go to the karate studio or the gym, I am fine and really enjoy myself. After all martial arts is more fun with other people to hit. Got any friends who do martial arts?

I also work in IT, I've been trying to stand more at my computer. I am short, so no equipment is needed for this. I just put my keyboard on a couple of 3 ring binders. I find the change from standing to sitting and back again feels good. I've even done some the tree yoga pose while working...luckily no one walks down my cubicle aisle very often.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ya wanna lose weight? Unless you have a documented medical condition, all you really have to do is to get up and move...and keep moving. Do something!! It doesn't take a rigorous physical regime. It doesn't take a militant approach to dieting.


Watch what you eat, of course! But you don't have to be militant or OCD about it..

Just get up and do something, and keep moving! If you burn off enough calories, you can eat just about anything you want, just about whenever you want.

The problem is, you aren't moving enough. You aren't burning up any calories.

People often ask me how I stay so 'skinny' when I eat so much! I tell them it's because I get off my ass and do something. There's always something that needs doing. Get up and do it! Oh, hush. I'm 6'6" tall. In the nineties I was up to 270 pounds. I got off my ass, stopped stuffing my face and started moving. You don't even have to climb on the scale every day. (I'm about ten pounds lighter than I want to be, at the moment.)

Unless you've got a well documented medical history that screws with your metabolism, quit whining and making bad excuses. Just get up and move. If you can't get up and move, stop stuffing your face.


Yeah? Really? So...who's in charge? You or your stomach?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is an abundance of evidence widely available which confirms that exercise alone does not lead to sustained weight loss. I think most people are looking for recomposition rather than weight loss alone, trying to build muscle or lean body mass and reduce fat tissue, so exercise, particularly resistance training is an important and frequently ignored component of all programs, but not the panacea we hope it might be.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, we know how you stay skinny, it is by talking out your ass.

Being active is important but as many know who have trouble losing weight, that isn't the magic pill. Many are very active, watch what they eat and still either maintain or gain.

So really, if your whole idea of knowledge is just spouting off on the "common" knowledge that has proven to be wrong for so long, just keep it to yourself or at least learn how not to be such a douche.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
JK, I'm sorry but Hugh has the facts on this. See, eg, here:
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm looking forward to hearing from your lab rats. I was not sorry to hear about a delay in the Victoza plan. Byetta might be a slightly better choice if you must try another med. See Blood Sugar 101 for an overview of med choices. None of the choices are good (promotes growth of abnormal pancreatic cells...yikes!) except for Metformin. Metformin seems to prevent cancer. It does this, I suspect, by controlling blood sugar.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hi BG101,
"...metformin activates AMPK, which decreases protein synthesis and cell proliferation.. reducing the stem cell population and inhibiting epithelial to mesenchymal transition."
Quote (2011) from: "Diabetes, cancer, and metformin: connections of metabolism and cell proliferation"
Ann. N.Y. Academy of Science 2011 Dec;1243:54-68
(doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06285.x)

For (2012) technical details (metformin vs. stem cells & epithelial/mesenchymal transition) see free full text:
"Metformin: An Emerging New Therapeutic Option for Targeting Cancer Stem Cells and Metastasis"
Journal of Oncology Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 928127
link =
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Stick with basic multi joint weight lifting moves. Squat (back or front), dead lift, standing press and bench press. Nothing fancy. I changed up my routine from Texas Method to 5/3/1 and am only doing 2x a week (am old guy and need more recovery time). Good luck. God bless. We are watching you :-)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
First, good luck! I hope to see you back on fitocracy soon. I think the IF will be good for you. The problem as you identified is down regulation of metabolism on a chronic low calorie diet. I would worry a bit about hypoglycaemia on the fasting days following a 5/2 schedule, so be cautious with your medications.

Personally I like the 16/8 hour format for IF better and because your calorie intake is fairly consistent day to day it might have better results in terms of limiting hypoglycemia. If you like resistance training, adding Starting strength or a 5x5 type program might be the best option in terms of fat loss and muscle preservation or gain.

Just remember the value of endorphins in combating depression! Best thing you can do is burn a few calories to help you work out of the blues!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Before fasts it helps to eat cooked beans - whether intermittent or just overnight. Their effect lasts into following morning with reduced levels of hunger hormone grehlin & sustained butyrate (a short chain fatty acid) levels in blood. Another effect of certain bean derived short chain fatty acids after they bind to their receptors is that this increases intestinal hormone peptide PYY for signal of satiation.
After cooked bean meal the level of propionate (another short chain fatty acid) goes up & sustains high propionic acid blood levels for 2 hours. Propionate shunts into the portal vein & meets it's short chain fatty acid receptors (GPRC41 & 43) in the white adipose (omental).
There it induces expression of glucose transporter (GLUT4) coming up to active position. More impressively, propionate activates it's receptor protein CPRC43's anti-inflammatory effect on adipose tissue macrophages; leading to reduced TNF alpha & cytokines. In addition this dynamic of propionate restricts actors that remodel the extracellular adipose tissue membrane (a serious compounding complication of obesity).
Beans' content of raffinose galacto-oligo-saccharide is not found as much in "whole" grains. When we next eat after a cooked beans meal the level of glucagon like protein 2 (GLP2) goes higher & this is important since GLP2 stymies the entry of LPS (lip-poly-saccharide molecules shed from gram negative gut bacteria).

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The obeses & Type 2 diabetics have higher reaction to the same level of LPS a normal person gets; which coincides with the diabetic's also having elevated amounts of immunological Toll-like receptors (TLR4 & 2) . Although higher fiber meals lower the LPS crossing the gut barrier Type 2 diabetics can get 125% higher LPS levels than normal up to 4 hours after a high fat meal. As previously mentioned saturated fat favors LPS entering; so chilli con carne, bean stew, pork & beans, etc. works well together.
Type 2 diabetics deal with elevated LPS. High LPS increases endoplasmic reticulum stress in the adipocytes, up-regulates ceramide made that alters cell membrane signalling & has implications for worsening insulin sensitivity.
LPS structural feature lipid A binds to LPS binding protein put out by the liver only when enough LPS is around to up-regulate that receptor's transcription. It is then that the complex functions to trigger immunological responses.
Skeletal muscle insulin resistance is worsened by increments of LPS. At only 50 pico-grams/mL it works pro-inflammation pathways but we don't get a rise in glucose "burning". When levels rise toward 500 nano-grams/mL the sheletal muscle cells shift to metabolizing glucose & decrease their use of fatty acid oxidation (myo-tubulules lose insulin sensitivity as low level inflammation rises with LPS).
Beans (cooked) abate this skeletal muscle insulin resistance by holding down LPS infiltration. We don't benefit from LPS bound to it's receptor being presented to TLR4 which in turn instigates too high levels of pro-inflammatory interleukin 6 (IL6), causing c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) binding to insulin receptor substrate (IRS-1). Once LPS provokes decreased phosphor-ylation of Akt impaired phospho-inositide 3 kinase (PI3K) skeletal muscle glucose transport falters & high blood glucose prevails; because skeletal muscles as our largest site to "dispose" of excess blood sugar.
Cooked beans' carbohydrate content is not all that matters.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
LPS levels are elevated in obesity/Type 2 diabetics. The consequence is ongoing elevation of our natural human immunological system's pro-inflammatory cytokines (like IL6 & TNFalpha) affect the thyroid hormone dynamics
IL6 & TNFalpha, in conjunction with LPS, in the circulation raises the blood level of free T3 (tri-iodo-thyronine) & conversely lowers the peripheral levels of free T4 (thyroxine) thyroid hormone. Those pro-inflammatory cytokines instigate enzyme de-iodin-ase to convert free T4 thyroid hormone to free T3.
The obese child has higher than normal T3 even though they have elevated thyroid stimulating hormone activity. They are getting fat from more differentiating adipo-cytes; as opposed to adults who get fat more from hyper-trophy (bulking up lipid droplets) of adipo-cytes.
When free peripheral (outside of the thyroid gland) T4 thyroid hormone levels are lowered the result is increased fat building up as central obesity. Yet only 20% of the so called "morbid" obese of >39 BMI have a sub-clinical low hypo-thyroid.
T3 adversely influences fatty acid oxidation & other metabolism features. Which ties into the paradoxical high leptin levels in obesity - since leptin (the coordinator of adipose tissue with the central nervous system) also affects the conversion of T4 to T3.
A problem arises when a reinforcing feedback loop locks in central obesity. Once free T3 levels are high it instigates further pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL6, TNFalpha & others). Then IL6 itself influences how things work (even more so when excess LPS in circulation) to even further decrease peripheral free serum T4 thyroid hormone.
Mono-nuclear (immunological) cells have thyroid hormone receptors, whose function includes modulating our "innate" immunity response in a way that works in conjunction with our "adaptive" immunological "T" helper cells. The obese person's adipose tissue macrophages are locking on to lots of the pro-inflammatory signals without "normal" T4 thyroid hormone supervision.
The problem excess LPS/TNFalpha/IL6 causes is that then the local adipose tissue "T" helper cells themselves modulate to their pro-inflammatory pattern. The "T" helper pheno-type assumed then directs more & more of the adipose tissue macrophages to differentiate into the on site macrophage pheno-type that is itself pro-inflammatory (detailed previously).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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