How I would lose fat if I were injured.
The first thing I would do if I needed to lose fat and I was injured would be to adopt a raw food vegan diet. I would probably do this even if I weren’t injured and I just wanted to lose fat. Going on this type of diet is going to force your body to burn its own fat stores. I call this a diet and not a lifestyle or way-of-eating (WOE) because I don’t think it is sustainable for me or most other people. This diet is a good way to break old dietary habits (addictions) and reset hormones. Therefore eating a raw food vegan is just the first phase of this program.
Once the raw food vegan phase has been completed I would transition to eating a vegan diet. This means I would begin adding cooked foods to my diet. If I had trouble with digesting raw foods, I would start with a vegan diet instead of the raw vegan diet. In addition to cooking some of the raw foods I have been eating, like broccoli, I would start to include cooked roots, tuber, rice, and legumes.
Both of these phases are high plant based, low-fat protocols. I want to make my body burn my own fat stores. Since these phases are low-fat, I only want to stay on them long enough to burn my own stores and then I will reintroduce fats from other sources such as fish and grass-fed beef. If I had a lot of fat to lose I would only eat a vegan diet a few days before adding some external omega 3 fats and protein into my diet. This means I would go at most 3 days on low-fat raw vegan and then I would begin adding some fish into my diet. I would have just one meal on that day with the fish and then right back to the raw vegan protocol. For example, I would eat raw vegan or vegan on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday I would add in some wild caught fish or grass-fed beef. I would go back to the vegan diet on Thursday and Friday. Saturday I would again eat some animal sources for essential fatty acids and amino acids. My rotation would be two days on vegan and one off, or three days on vegan and one off, hopeful you get the idea. I would only add one or two servings of the animal sources, it wouldn’t be a meat fest. I wouldn’t be adding dairy. It would not be a “cheat day”.
Where’s the protein?
How will I get my protein? I will get my protein from the huge amount of vegetables and fruits I will be eating. Since the vegetables and some of the fruits are not calorie dense I will be able to eat a lot of them. Most vegetables actually have more protein in them than people give them credit for. The other way I will be getting protein is through my body utilizing old useless protein cells. There is mounting evidence that suggests a protein deficiency promotes autophagy. Autophagy is a beneficial intra-cellular cleansing process in which the body begins to recycle junk proteins inside the cell to meet the protein needs of the body. Getting enough quality protein in my diet would be another reason why if I had a lot of fat to lose I would have a break from vegan back to primal eating. After 72 hours your body will start breaking down more of its protein stores to supply any amino acids it needs. So a break every 3 days is a good idea. I’d eat some fish or grass-fed ruminant every third day. I’ll call the days I add back protein and fats, “re-feed days”. This is also referred to a protein cycling.
Why not dairy?
I’m trying to eat a low fat diet. Dairy is going to be too high in fat to fit into my diet; however, that is not the most important reason I’m removing dairy from my diet. Dairy products contain a protein called casein and it is the reason to not have dairy. Casein has been documented to break down in the stomach to produce the peptide casomorphin. Casomorphins are peptides, protein fragments, derived from the digestion of milk protein casein. The distinctive characteristic of casomorphins is that they have an opioid effect. Unfortunately food scientist know and understand the effects of casein and that is why one can find it hidden in a lot of processed foods, much like gluten. Casein becomes an addictive substance in the body and that is why it is so hard to stop eating dairy. So by not having dairy I avoid food addiction and over eating.
What is Gluten?
Since I mentioned gluten, I guess I’ll go ahead and bash it while I’m on the subject of addictive foods. Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. One of the problems with gluten is that it can wreck the intestinal tract. The other problem is that it too has opiate effects on the brain. It doesn’t necessarily make one feel high, but it does make you hungry. It can cause someone over eat. That is one of the reasons it is hidden in processed foods. Gliadorphin (or gluteomorphin) is a peptide derived from the wheat protein gluten. The endings of those two words should stand out. Morphine, that’s an opiate. The peptides from gluten and casein are important because they react with opiate receptors in the brain, thus mimicking the effects of opiate drugs like heroin and morphine. In his book, “Wheat Belly”, Dr. William Davis explains why the morphine effects of gluten are so problematic for humans. I highly recommend his book to anyone wanting to learn about why wheat is a part of our obesity problem.
Knowing how much to eat
How would I know how much to eat on this diet? It would be important for me to have enough calories to prevent being hungry and eliciting a starvation response from my body. The starvation response in animals is a set of adaptive biochemical and physiological changes that reduce metabolism in response to lack of food. After prolonged periods of starvation the body has depleted its body fat and begins to burn lean tissue and muscle as a fuel source. This is something I definitely want to avoid. I will need to calculate my energy needs to find out how much food I need to eat. I need to calculate my basal metabolic rate and factor in my physical activity level to establish my energy needs. Knowing how much to eat will keep me from being hungry and eliciting the starvation response.
The basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy expended daily by humans at rest. To calculate my BMR I’m going to use the Harris-Benedict equation.
BMR = 66.4730 + (13.7516 x weight in kg) + (5.0033 x height in cm) – (6.7550 x age in years)
BMR = 655.0955 + (9.5634 x weight in kg) + (1.8496 x height in cm) – (4.6756 x age in years)
BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) - (5.677 x age in years)
BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) - (4.330 x age in years)
I’m from the United States so I’ll use the English equivalent.
BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches )
( 4.7 x age in years ) =
_______ x ____ (activity factor) = __________ kcalories a day.
BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches )
( 6.8 x age in year ) =
_______ x ____ (activity factor) = __________ kcalories a day
1.2 = sedentary
1.375 = light exercise 1-3 times weekly
1.55 = moderate exercise 3-5 times weekly
1.75 = hard exercise 6-7 times weekly
I like to use my desired weight to calculate my energy needs not my current weight. It stands to reason that I should calculate my desired weight not my current weight. If I calculate my current weight that will give me my energy needs to maintain my current weight. I want to know how much energy I need to achieve my desired weight. My desired weight is 165. My height is 70.5 inches.
66 + (6.23 x 165) + (12.7 x 70.5) – (6.8 x 52) = 1635.7 x 1.2 = 1962.84 a day
There are calculators online that will do the math for me, but its fun to look at how the formula works.
I used the 1.2 activity factor because I’m pretending to be injured and unable to exercise. My normal activity level would be 1.55 for moderate exercise 3-5 times a week. So I now know how much energy I need to consume to maintain my body weight. How do I calculate how much energy to pull out of my diet to allow me to lose fat and not elicit the starvation response?
The Starvation response or mode
Before I get into how many calories to cut, I need to address the Starvation Response. When I search the internet for Starvation Response, I get a lot of links to articles claiming that the starvation mode is a myth. Its not that the metabolism slows down or necessarily “holds” on to fat it has stored. The body becomes hyper efficient at utilizing every calorie taken in from food or drink. It is more efficient for the body to break down its own lean tissue than it is for it to break down its fat stores. If I lose lean mass my metabolic rate will go down even further. I definitely don’t want this to happen! This would really work well if I was in a famine situation. But I’m just trying to shed fat. I do not want to lose lean body tissue.
How many calories to cut?
According to most studies and health advice it is a realistic and healthy goal to lose 2 pounds per week. A pound of fat contains approximately 3,500 calories. If I wanted to lose 2 pounds of fat in a week I would have to create a 7,000 calorie deficit. That seems like a lot of calories. I would divide it by 7 for my daily calorie deficit. That brings it down to only a 1,000 calorie per day deficit. That is a lot of calories. Sorry I’m not going that low. I’ll have to use something less than that to make sure I don’t elicit the starvation response and walk around hungry. The recommended level of calories to not go below is 1,200 for women and 1,600 for men. Most nutrition experts recommend never going below 1,000-1,200 calories a day. I calculated my BMR at 1,636 approximately and my calorie need after multiply my activity factor was roughly 1,963 per day. If I subtract my BMR from my activity factor I get 327 calories. Now, this isn’t a huge amount unless I consider how much it will amount to over a period of time. Not to mention the fact that as long as I’m losing fat, I’m not gaining. 327 calories will amount to 2,289 over the course of a week. That would be more than .5 lb of fat gone. That is more than 2.5 lbs in a month. I can live with that. It would be 34 lbs of fat over a year. No starvation response, no lean mass lost, and no hunger during that year.
I wrote all of this to say I would avoid going below my BMR. Probably going under my BMR by a few hundred calories wouldn’t hurt anything. So if I wanted to go with cutting my calories by 500 it wouldn’t hurt anything. That would give me a pound of fat loss per week. I think that would be very easy to do. If I chose to cut my intake by 500 calories that would be 52lbs in a year. Amazing!
Another big twist to the story
But what if I over calculated my BMR. It would be easy to do it. I have more fat than lean tissue. I use my Tanti scales to measure my percentage of body fat. Sometimes I double check it with a handheld device from Omron. My scales give my body fat percentage as 18%. My Omron usually reads about 14%. I’ll use the measurement from my scales so that I say that I might have less lean mass than I really do. So 18% of 178 is 32.04 lbs of body fat. That leaves me with about 146lbs of lean tissue. I’ve only have 146 lbs of metabolically active tissue. This drops my BMR to 1,517. Yikes!
How to do the Vegan thing
Last year at BenGreenfield’s “Become Superhuman Live Event” I met Ray Cronise. If you are not familiar with Mr. Cronise’s work you should do a search on the internet and find out about him, or visit his website, www.hypothermics.com . Ray pointed me in the direction of Dr. Joel Fuhrman. “Eat to Live” is Dr. Fuhrman’s book that Ray recommended to me. This is the book I would read and follow to lose fat on a vegan diet. I’ve read a lot of vegan and raw vegan diet plans but this one is the one I like best. One of Ray’s favorite quotes is, “You can’t out exercise your mouth”. Which means one can always eat more calories than they can exercise off. Eating a vegan, especially a raw vegan diet can help by allowing you to eat more without consuming a lot of calories. I know…I know, who wants to eat more if all they eat is vegetables? Well, the amazing thing is after you drop all the additive foods, vegetables taste better. Fruits especially taste better after you drop the addictive foods.
So here is the plan.
I’ve read Dr.Joel Fuhrman’s book, “Eat to Live”. One might want to read this to see Dr. Fuhrman’s recipes, meal plans, and get more details about how to eat a non-addictive food lifestyle. If I want to really drop weight fast go full raw vegan, and remember to eat enough calories to avoid the starvation response. If I want an easier plan that might not drop as much weight as quickly as full raw vegan then I would use a vegan diet. To make the plan even easier to follow I would have protein and fat re-feed days a couple of times a week, separated by a least two days.
So how is the Primal?
There is still much debate on what our ancestors ate. Some research shows that our ancestors ate a lot of meat. Some researchers question whether that is true or not. What made us human? What changed us from other apes? I like the book, “CatchingFire: How Cooking Made Us Human”, by Richard Wrangham. I think he has some great ideas on what made us human. Clearly we have been eating plants for a very long time. Our closest relatives the bonobos and chimpanzees have high plant food diets. Also research shows that we have been consuming roots and tubers for a very long time. Dr. John McDougall believes we are starchivores. It might be a good idea to check out his book, “The Starch Solution”. Nutrient dense and calorie sparse is the key to good health.
If I was injured and couldn’t move around I think a vegan diet would be the ideal way to eat a nutrient dense and calorie sparse diet. Cycling in some animal products to cover some important things like essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and B-vitamins is also a good idea. The main down side of the animal products would be the calories. Eating organ meats would be the best way for me to get the most nutrients for the least amount of calories. Once I’ve reached my desired goal of a certain percent of body fat I return to a way of eating that included whole foods both plant and animal.