Friday, August 31, 2007

The Feeding

Low-carbing. Ketogenic diets. Cyclical Ketogenic Diets (CKD). Targeted Ketogenic Diets (TKD).

I have a lot of riding to do this weekend, all of it very strenuous, and I figure I'd better put some glycogen reserves in my system today or I'm gonna be screwed tomorrow. That means today is going to be a "free day" for eating. Anything I want in any quantity I want. Here is the rationale:

Saturday's ride is going to be 103 miles with about 8,000 vertical feet gain.

Figure an easy 5,000 calories. That first 30 miles is gonna hurt.

Add to that Sunday's ride which climbs Mt. Evans to over 14, 000 ft. ASL. I'm figuring another 3,000 calories for this one, probably more.

That's 8,000 calories in activity alone - not to mention Basal Metabolic Rate (about 2,500 calories per day).

Logic tells me I could eat lard by the spoonful today and it would all be burned off this weekend.

So why do I feel so guilty about going off-plan? I guess I need a new definition of the plan.

That's where we come to those terms at the start. Everyone reading this is probably at least passingly familiar with Low-Carb nutrition. I won't take the time here to correct any misconceptions people may have - let's instead talk about something more interesting.

Ketogenic Diet: A diet (e.g. a low carbohydrate diet) resulting in the production of high levels of ketone bodies. Ketones are energy-containing organic chemicals formed as a result of the incomplete breakdown of fat. This condition is known as "ketosis" and is the goal of low-carb diets.

Lyle McDonald gives the most user-friendly but still scientific treatment of ketogenic, ketosis, CKD and TKD in Cyclical Ketogenic Diets Part 1.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet:
The "cycling" on and off of a ketogenic way of eating. Typically Monday through Friday are ketogenic days while Saturday and Sunday are off days. The basic idea is to build up glycogen stores on the weekend and use it up during the week. This is a very popular diet with bodybuilders trying to save muscle mass while cutting weight/fat.

Targeted Ketogenic Diet: A TKD is the same as a regular ketogenic diet, but you take in 25-50 grams of carbs about 30-60 minutes before weightlifting workouts to supply energy for the muscles (Note: These carbs will be burned during the workout, and should not be counted towards the 30g/day limit). For some people this can help maintain strength while on the ketodiet.

In the past I was mainly following the TKD. However I realized that I simply can't take in enough carbs prior to long-distance cycling to fulfill my requirements. Thus I am switching more towards the CKD. Friday (or day before) carb-up then total depletion on the rides.

I understand the science. So why do I feel so guilty doing it?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Magic Bullets

OK, I'll admit it. I'm a tweaker and I look for shortcuts. So when it comes to weight-loss I'm always looking for the quick and dirty solution. Instant gratification is waaaay to slow.

Along those lines I take a variety of supplements to help the process along. I thought someone might be interested in my current experimentation (format is dose x times taken per day).

  • DHEA (200mg x 2) - It is the most plentiful androgenic hormone produced by the adrenal glands and it is quite important to body builders and athletes because in men, around 50% of all testosterone is derived from it, while women derive over 75% of their estrogen from it and nearly 100% after menopause. (
  • Coconut oil (1 tsp x 3) - Coconut oil is a medium-chain triglyceride, meaning it is very easy for our bodies to break down and absorb. Essentially, it is a fat this metabolized like a carbohydrate. Along with that, there is some research to suggest coconut oil stimulates the thymus and increases metabolism.
  • DIM (Diindolyl methane) (400mg x 2) - Diindolyl methane is a dietary indole found in cruciferous vegetables.The health benefits of "enhanced absorption" diindolylmethane are four-fold:
    • promotes healthy testosterone levels.
    • promotes healthy estrogen metabolism.
    • promotes fat loss.
    • supports healty breast, cervical, uterine and prostate tissues.(
  • Fish Oil (2400mg x 1) - Fish oils are derived from the fat of deep-sea, cold water fish and are a natural source of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). Omega-3 is an important nutrient for maintaining a healthy brain and nervous system. Fish Oils themselves are said to contribute to healthy heart function and joint flexibility as well as supporting brain, nerve, and visual function. (
  • ECA - The ECA stack is a drug combination used as a stimulant and in weight loss. ECA is an acronym for ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin. The effects of the ECA stack in weight loss are primarily due to the ephedrine component. Ephedrine acts both as a beta agonist and stimulates the release of norepinephrine. Increased circulating norepinephrine in the body then acts on white adipose tissue by increasing cAMP levels. This causes a thermogenic effect, raising body temperature and increasing the user's metabolism in conjunction with the rest of the stack (Wikipedia)
The careful observer will note that quite a bit of the supplementation is aimed
at raising Testosterone levels. As any article on will tell you:

The physiological actions of testosterone in males are far reaching. For example:

  • Increases in basal (resting) metabolic rate
  • Increases in red blood cell number and total blood volume
  • Promotion of sodium and water retention in the kidneys
  • Increases in muscle protein synthesis resulting in increased muscle mass
  • Reductions in muscle glycogen breakdown during exercise
  • Increased calcium retention in bone
(List edited to show effects I'm interested in)

Another general side-effect is Testosterone helps lipolysis (fat metabolism). Based on articles and reviews I was just reading I'm going to try a new supplement as well that will be taken pre-workout. More on that after I've tried it. I may also start supplementing with Resveratrol, the enzyme found in grape skins which is also shown to have effects on the Estrogen/Testosterone balance.

At the end of the day, I know there are no magic bullets. Hard work, logging food intake, sticking to the Low-Carb WOE is the answer, but, the supplements give me hope that I'm making the process move just a little faster. And, based on the condition I wake up in the morning, I know the Testosterone supplementation is working ;).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Slow, Fat Kid

Recently my friend pkq asked me to include her in any training rides I was doing this week as she had time off from work moving in to her new place, and she wants to start exercising more again. This request bothered me for some reason - I wasn't comfortable with it and it has taken me a few days to figure out why.

I'm the slow, fat kid.

The story is familiar to many. Fat kid, non-athletic, last picked for teams, teased mercilessly. As a result I hate putting myself into direct competition with another person. I will go out for casual rides on the weekend with anyone, but as soon as peoples' competitive nature comes out I get sick. I've pretty much stopped going on Hypoxia group rides for this very reason. I'm still the fat kid on the bike - the slowest rider, the slowest climber and I will not put myself in a position to be ridiculed for it.

That brings me to this week. Yesterday's ride was a workout, not fun. Hill repeats. If I had someone else along on that ride,

  1. I would have gotten competitive myself and not stayed within heart rate or cadence zones, defeating the purpose of the training, and,
  2. I would be putting myself in a position to be ridiculed for lack of strength, speed, fitness, etc. I know pkq would never do that to me, but the situation felt too much like it used to.
I didn't call pkq. I suffered on the hill alone. Just like I've always been.

The Long Road Ahead

The weight dropped back down to 176 today. I was probably retaining some water from the 2(!) mini pecan pies I had for lunch on Monday. Can you say "Impulse control?"

I was talking to the wife last night and found out she is having similar issues with unexplained weight gain which won't shed. One thing we came up was we aren't taking multivitamins anymore and we aren't eating much salt, and the salt that we do eat is Kosher - no iodine. Iodine is essential for Thyroid function. The thyroid controls metabolic rate.

This morning I bought a multivitamin. I also doubled the DIM supplement I'm taking (still within recommendations on label) and I'm restarting Coconut Oil as a supplement. 1 tablespoon, 3 times a day.

Finally, with much soul-searching I decided to restart the ECA stack for a limited time. I know this will cause some disappointment with some friends but I'm desperate, and I'm going into it with a plan. I have a built-in stop date. I can't take ECA while doing polyphasic sleep - it will interrupt the sleep & REM patterns too much. Also, I don't want to be taking it during my trip to Minnesota, so before I leave, I will use the NLP Swish technique to flush out the compulsion.

I've also restarted logging my food and calories in vs. calories out on FitDay. I will post the link to my journal and I invite all my friends to look at it and help me keep diligent about both logging and food choices. I'll try to remember to post weight fluctuations there too.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dazed and Confused

Here it is two and a half years since my last entry and a lot of things have changed - some things for the better some not.

One of the things that has not changed for the better is my weight. Those who know me know that I've struggled all my life with being overweight. From the time I was in high school I settled into a high range in the 220s and then would starve myself down to the 170s.

In 1998 I topped out at 230 pounds and found a medication I was on had a major side-effect of weight gain. I dropped the med and started the Low-Carb Way Of Eating (WOE) and eventually got myself down to a stable 155-160.

Over the intervening 9 years I would sometimes "slip" and bounce up to 165 and once even 171 but I would always get back on track and get back into my "comfort zone."

This last winter, however was difficult. Usually in winter I shed pounds from summer's long riding and lack of WOE diligence but this year lack of activity and depression caused a major weight gain. By this spring I was bouncing between 165 and 170. The really disturbing part of this is that summer is typically when I gain a few pounds.

Now here it is almost the start of September and when I stepped on the scale this morning I had to maneuver around to keep it under 180!! I had come to accept earlier this year that with the cycling and weightlifting that my new "stable" weight would be 165. I still looked trim but looked like I had some muscle but 180 is completely unacceptable! The shorts I bought this spring are uncomfortable and the "loose" shorts I bought in July are getting tight. I have no hope of getting into my regular jeans now. Guess it's back to the fat pants :(.

At this point I'm very confused. When I've been tracking my food I've been around 50g carbs/day and usually in the neighborhood of 200 to 500 kcal/day deficit. I'm riding a minimum of 100 miles/week, sometimes up to 200/week. I don't understand what else I need to do.

I'm very depressed about the situation and more than a little panicked. I can't -- WON'T -- go above 180 lbs.

I have 4 months - 16 weeks - from September 1 to January 1. I will see 165 on January 1st.