I should say first that although I am focusing on my weight and fat loss in this post, it is not my primary goal. Improving my health and maximizing my life is what I’m all about. The fat loss is just a side effect of getting myself healthier. A healthy body is in balance, including a balanced level of fat stores to lean body mass. I’m just one of the lucky ones that wears her imbalances on the outside. Yes, I said that I am lucky. Our culture puts (way too much) emphasis on weight and how we look. We can argue about whether that’s good or bad, but it is what it is. That social pressure to conform is very strong and is painful for those of us who are overweight/obese. That is what leads us down so many torturous roads looking to get the weight off. My history with this has been long and painful, but it brought me where I am today. Without that, I never would have realized that my eating habits were slowly killing me or that it wasn’t normal to be exhausted before you even started your day. There are millions of people who look just fine on the outside but suffer many of the same problems I did or much worse – things like autoimmune conditions, cancer, heart disease. However, just because they’re not fat, they see no reason to change their diet or lifestyle. It’s much easier to stay content and take the (inadequate and often side effect causing) drugs and make do. Sure I wish I didn’t have to live the last 25 years in a fat body struggling to figure out how to set myself straight. But without that struggle, I’d never have persevered to find the path I’m on now. For 25 years I’ve been going about this backwards – trying to lose weight to get healthy. Now I know I really need to get myself healthy in order to finally and permanently lose the extra fat.
I’ve been on this Paleo journey for over a year now but I am far from having it all figured out. Early on, I was so amazed by my increased energy, lack of cravings, and slow, deliberate progress towards my fat loss goals. It was wonderful that I could eat however much I wanted – the feeling of abundance really resonated with me after years of counting, measuring, etc. I even got to enjoy treats in the form of baked goods made at home with almond or coconut flour. Over the course of the year, I was able to shed 50 pounds pretty effortlessly. But since the start of 2012, I’ve stalled. As much as I love mining the interwebs for information about health and nutrition, sometimes there can be an overload. I started reading things about “safe starches” and how keeping your carbs too low can cause some health problems. These niggled at my brain and kicked a little crack in my armor. I started eating a bit more fruit… a sweet potato here and there. Dark chocolate almost every night. Although I never really fell off the wagon, I was definitely dragging my feet behind it, slowing myself down. The little monster of doubt crept in along with the extra carbs.
As much as I wish it wasn’t so, I am extremely carb intolerant. It should come as no surprise after 30+ years of abusing them. I’m just fortunate to have caught this before I developed Type 2 Diabetes. It was certainly the road on which I was headed! I tried to set my ship right earlier in the year with a Whole 30, but wound up including the fruit and sweet potatoes in there as well, although I did nix the dairy and baked goods. It really was a wash – even “healthy” or “safe” carbs can really slow my progress. Since then, I’ve shied away from the baking but have been using chocolate quite a bit for my fix.
All of this spelled the return of my cravings, which is NOT fun. I decided to play around with some amino acid supplementation recommended in The Diet Cure, but those actually didn’t do much at a low dose and made me tired and irritable at a higher amount. I really don’t think that is my issue. When I’m eating low carb Paleo properly, my mood and energy are generally just right. The tweaking I attempted really threw me off. So… back to basics! Grassfed/pastured/wild caught MEAT, VEGGIES, and healthy FAT. What it really means, though, is that I’m just going back to what I know works best for me. After a couple of days, the craving monster has already quieted down and I woke up feeling calm yet energetic this morning. I remember this person! And she’s me :)
The other thing I’m super excited about trying is intermittent fasting with Bulletproof Coffee. OK, this might seem weird since the best part of this diet for me is that I can eat whenever and however much I want (kind of the opposite of fasting) and I quit coffee/caffeine almost a year ago. So what’s going on? Have I finally lost my mind? It’s not as bad as you think. On the weekends, it’s generally not unusual for me to not eat for the first time until after noon, without even trying. Sometimes it’s because I’ve slept in, sometimes just because I’m not hungry yet. This lets me know that it’s possible.
So what is intermittent fasting (IF) with Bulletproof Coffee? It’s basically just finishing dinner by 8:00 pm and then having your next meal 2:00 or later the next day. This creates a 6 hour window in which you eat (thereby causing you to fast for 18 hours). The cool part that makes this different from regular IF is that you get to have Bulletproof Coffee (BC) throughout the morning for a good dose of fat and energizing coffee. But doesn’t the fat negate the whole “fasting” thing? Nope. As long as you don’t eat carbs or protein, the beneficial effects of fasting still apply. Cool loophole, right? As for the BC – it’s a special type of coffee free of mold and lots of toxins that have most coffees leaving you all jittery and wired. The creator of this protocol, the Bulletproof Executive, explains how to find toxin free coffee on your own (it’s not easy) or you can buy it from his site, which is what I did. Yeah, I know it might be hype, but some people I trust really could tell the difference (and they have no vested interest) so I’m willing to give it a shot! The other component of BC is the fat – grassfed butter and Medium Chain Triglyceride oil. The latter is just a purer (and tasteless) form of the type of beneficial fats that are in coconut oil. Between the two you get a good whack of fat soluble vitamins and a lot of energizing fatty acids.
I haven’t received my coffee in the mail yet and I am leery of returning to a caffeine dependent state, so I’m waiting on that part. But I’m super excited to get started so I made my own version of Bulletproof Cocoa, instead! I used a cup of heated unsweetened almond milk (25 out of its 35 calories are from fat, so I think I’m safely staying under the fasting radar) with a tablespoon each of Kerrygold butter and coconut oil (I’m holding off on getting the MCT oil since it’s pricy and coconut oil gives similar effects). To that, I added a spoonful of cocoa, some vanilla, a dash of cinnamon, and a few drops of liquid stevia. I had some this morning before I left for work and took another 16 ounces or so of the stuff with me in a sealed container. I had half of it while typing this up:) I’m saving the rest for a little later on in the day.
Also, I’m easing into this thing. I am not making the eating window absolute right now. The only goal I have is to replace breakfast with the cocoa or coffee until lunch. I’m not worrying about finishing by 8:00 pm or waiting all the way until 2:00 pm to eat. It’s going to take some adjusting so I’m going to take it easy. My goal today is to make it to at least noon, which shouldn’t be hard considering it’s already 10:30 am and I have another cup of cocoa to have before lunch. Feeling good!
My main goal with all this is to really force my body to stay in fat burning mode aka ketosis for longer each day. This will encourage my metabolism to take advantage of the smorgasbord that is my generous fat store. I think that my leftover anxiety that caused me to eat often was holding me back. Since I was so traumatized by my horrendous blood sugar swings in my former life, I always felt uneasy if I didn’t have some sort of emergency food on hand. I also tend to eat preemptively like the idea of actually getting hungry is the scariest thing in the world (which is WAS when I was a sugar burner). This behavior had me taking in a lot more protein much more often that is strictly necessary. I suspect that was keeping me partially dependent on glucose instead of shifting completely over to using fat due to how our bodies can make glucose from protein if there is an excess. So now, my body will have no choice – adapt to using fat, or crash. Our bodies are smart; I know mine will choose the former :) The fact that I can drink the cocoa or coffee throughout the morning really helps with that psychological hump I need to get over about being hungry as well. It’s moving me in the right direction without activating the panic mode of feeling like I’m intentionally starving myself. The fat is nice and satiating so I won’t have to worry about being hungry, which is awesome.
That being said, this is a step on my journey and a little experiment I feel ready to undertake. I would not recommend this for anyone first switching from a carb heavy diet. At least for me, making the switch to a completely free eating low carb diet was a necessary step to help me get over the dieting mindset and switch to thinking of this a just a new way of life. At this point, I’m very much looking forward to this kick-starting my fat loss and getting an even better grasp on my relationship with food.
I will keep you posted on how this goes.
Have you tried IF and if so, how do you feel about it?
What do you think about coffee?
Do you think that mold and other toxins in most coffee can affect people or does that just sound like BS?