Calorie Counting, Food Quality and Starvation Mode

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with someone about calorie counting, food quality and starvation mode. It turned out that he tried to lose weight by counting calories. In a two week period, adjusting his diet to be 200 calories sub basil metabolic rate, he didn’t lose one single kilo. Definitely a frustrating experience, but not to be discouraged and being a super intelligent individual, he figured out what was going on. His basal metabolic rate had actually dropped because of his diet. He had essentially gone into starvation mode and his body was trying to compensate!

When a person drops caloric intake by any significant amount, the body will react (appropriately) by going into a kind of starvation mode. It will actually slow down in order to compensate with the lower availability of energy. So if your basal metabolic rate requires 1800 calories, then lowering your caloric intake to 1600 may actually cause your metabolic rate to drop to that same level and as such, you end up suffering with hunger for nothing! (This isn’t all true, of course. There is lots of evidence that this “starvation mode” is actually beneficial for long term health and aging).

So what did this person do to compensate? He found out that the only way that counting calories would work for him was to eat zero empty calories. That’s zero sugar or low quality carbs. The amount of food that he ate wasn’t the only variable on his weight loss. The quality of food became a huge parameter. He started eating high quality food consisting of lots of veggies (spinach in particular) and fish (he’s a fan of salmon). After increasing the quality of his food, he noticed huge strides forward with respect to weight loss. And this wasn’t the only thing he noticed. I don’t want to make this sound as though it would be common, but his hair actually began growing in thicker and darker!

I’m not suggesting that people who go on calorie restricted diets will experience the same thing, but after noticing some grey on my thinning head the other day, I’m seriously considering following his lead.

Regardless of his fountain of youth like experience, at least it can be fair to say that low calorie diets on top of high quality food is definitely the way to go for those looking to quickly drop weight. Add a comprehensive exercise program on top of that, and your metabolic rate may not decrease as much due to metabolic “starvation compensation” and you will definitely notice serious results.

Paleo Dieting with Turkey Leftovers

Canadian Thanksgiving just passed and along with it, many people likely passed out due to the infamous turkey coma - the indulgence of food to the point of requiring the pants unbuttoned. In the process, I’m also sure that most of us who are keen on keeping our diets fairly well in check likely through it all out the window and took part in the indulgence, joining in quite willingly to the feeding frenzy. Personally there were a couple of times over the course of the long weekend that I let out the sigh - the pre turkey coma sigh - the universal language for “oh my god I’m stuffed”.

But for the lucky few who survive to tell the story, turkey leftovers are dealt around and for days on end, the smell of turkey fills the air at offices around the country as employees microwave tupper wares filled with Thanksgiving’s bird.

Fortunately, Turkey is a great source of protein and skip the bread and mashed potatoes and substitute with veggies to have a great and cheap paleo meal! Even the gravy, assuming no added sugar, is completely paleo friendly.

Remember - meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar, which unfortunately doesn’t include pumpkin pie… although Thanksgiving exceptions are generally overlooked.

Letter on Corpulence - William Banting’s Low Carb Diet (Circa 1864)

Low-carb dieting is nothing new. In fact, what some may consider to be a “fad diet” goes back nearly 150 years!!

William Banting, a teacher who had problems fighting obesity is one of the first recorded testaments to a low carb diet. After numerous failed attempts to lose his stubborn fat, Banting took the suggestion from a doctor to try a certain diet. This certain diet, although not referred to as such, is for the most part a low-carb diet.

According to Banting himself, the new diet didn’t only solve his weight issue, it also cured him of some of his ailments. In his astonishment at what a change in diet could do for him, Banting felt it his duty to spread the word of the low-carb lifestyle.

In 1863, at his own cost, Banting printed and distributed a pamphlet called, “Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public”. In this open letter, he describes his diet failures and how this miracle low-carb method worked so well for him and others whom he passed the idea on to.

As far as I can tell, given that the book was published well before 1900, it is in the public domain. I’ve transcribed it from a pdf version of the original that I found and have made it available for your own perusal below. The writing is a bit on the “old style” side, but I found it to be quite interesting and definitely recommend it to you, should you be interested at all in diet. It’s astonishing how little things have changed.

(Keep in mind that the word, “Corpulence”, is a middle English word for obesity)

Snacktime with Kielbassa Snack Sticks!!

I was hard up for some food this evening, so had to make a trek out in the snow to the grocery store to find some healthy snack alternatives. Near the deli aisle, I spotted what at first looked like a pack of peperoni sticks, but what turned out to be turkey sticks! Yes, the Old Style (the brand name) Kielbassa Turkey Snack Sticks are a turkey based kielbassa that actually tastes rather good.

The bonus? Not only are these things pretty tasty, each serving (just under a stick) is only 2g of fat and has “only” 360mg of sodium (lots, but small compared to most meat sticks). The Kielbassa snack sticks also pop a good 7g of protien and only 1g of carbohydrates.

Combined with some cheese sticks and some crackers, I’d say we have a fairly good zone snack on our hands (despite the arguably high salt content).

Some low carb, low fat turkey kielbassa with some cheese and crackers makes a great Zone snack.