Monday, 25 May 2009

Gain Half a Stone in 48 Hours... and Lose it in 10 Days

One of the advantages of twittering your meals, blogging your workouts and obsessively recording your weight is that you can backtrack through a period of time and see exactly what you were doing and how it affected your weight.

You can usually tell when I have strayed from the path of nutritional righteousness because I don't twitter what I am eating. This is invariably a combination of being too drunk to remember / be capable of taking a photograph - and in any case too ashamed to post it.

A couple of weeks back I went out on a celebration that was always doomed to result in excess. The day after excessive drinking, for me, usually engenders comfort eating, so it's often a 48 hour deal. Day 1 - too much alcohol and bad food while I'm drunk. Day 2 - comfort food to mitigate the hangover.

I have highlighted those days in red in the food/exercise chart at the bottom. On the graph they are blank because I didn't weigh myself for pretty much the same reason my Twittering stops.

Weight change over 2 weeks - note, y-axis is a decimal stones value, not stones and pounds

I wanted to post this as an illustration of how weight can fluctuate wildly without any significant change to body composition. If you look at my own chart for the last few years, you can see it is littered with spikes in weight that quickly decline.

In this case, it took 48 hours to gain 7 pounds, then 10 days to lose them. To gain a pound of fat it takes about 3500 calories. Did I over consume by about 25,000 calories in 48 hours? Clearly not. Nor did I manage to under consume by 2,500 calories per day in the days that followed.

I suspect a big chunk of the extra weight was water retention from increased sodium intake. Another big chunk would be sheer volume of food in my intestines. The 3-day conveyor belt of end-to-end digestion simply had more stacked on it thanks to my celebratory gluttony. And yes, maybe I did manage to eat and drink 3,500 - 5,000 extra calories, a lot of which would have been stored as fat.

As I've mentioned before, it's this transition from poor food to good food that is often responsible for the initial weight loss people report at the start of some kind of diet. This is quickly followed by disillusionment when the pace of change does not continue.

You can probably tell from the chart that I was pretty rigorous about my recovery effort, so for others this might have taken longer.

My advice would to avoid these binges - but if you are unable to, these 3 things can help speed the return to normal over a couple of weeks.

1. Regular fasts
2. Strictly Paleo/Primal
3. Regular short, intense workouts

DayMorningAfternoonEveningWeight (stone-lbs)
8th May
Herring, mackerel, steamed vegetables and coconut11-2.0
9th May
'Super Big Breakfast' - 3 bacon, 3 sausages, 3 eggs, tomatoes and black pudding. 100g bag of salted cashew nuts.
10 x double vodka and apple juice
5 x double vodka and apple juice. Tandoori chicken starter. Tandoori chicken main course.
10th May
Crab, salad, walnuts and nut butter and fruit with coconut creamfastBottle of red wine, tandoori salmon starter, tandoori vegetables side dish, whole tandoori chicken, cheesecake, fresh cream.
11th May

5-Minute High Intensity Top-Up
fastRoast chicken and steamed vegetables11-9.0
12th Mayfast pilchards prawns avocado tomato pepper beetroot nutstrout, broccoli, red pepper, courgette, onion, evoo11-8.0
13th Mayfast
Chest and Shoulders workout with tabata finisher
fastVenison liver fried in coconut oil, coconut cream, red wine, tom puree, venison blood; mixed veg evoo11-5.5
14th Mayfastsardines, avocado, tomato, spinach, little evooHerring, Ling, Broccoli, Courgette, Green Pepper, Leek, evoo. handful pumpkin seeds11-3.5
15th MayCompressed Volume Back Routine + Tabata Squat/Swing FinisherTinned salmon, tinned sardines, walnuts, tomato, green pepper, spinach
tandoori chicken, lamb and prawn platter with salad & a glass of red
16th Mayfastfast
roast organic chicken with lots of crispy skin, red wine, chicken fat & garlic sauce, mixed veg11-6.5
17th Mayfast
fresh crab, chicken fat from last night's roast, spinach & lemon juicecrab and beetroot stalk soup w coconut cream....

chicken curry w coconut cream, wine, onion, yellow pepper, tomato, garlic, broccoli
18th MaySwimming Sprints and Underwater Challenges

Egg, apple, kiwi
canned tuna, sardines + beetroot leaves, yellow pep, walnuts, tom, celery. Mixed nuts finisherbaked trout, kale, broccoli, carrot, onion, asparagus, red pepper, evoo11-5.0
19th Mayfast
ling in c'nut cream & evoo sauce, broccoli, parsnip, carrot, yellow pep, onion, kale, asparagus11-3.5
20th May'Body by Science' Workout and Rowing Tabata Finisher

6 eggs, kiwi
sardines, avocado, beetroot+ its leavesVenison Liver fried in olive oil with coconut cream, wine, steamed veg and evoo
21th Mayfast
trout with steamed broccoli, onion and kale11-2.0


Bryce said...

Not only will the sodium make you retain water, but when you eat a lot of carbohydrate, and cram tons of glycogen into your musculature, your body needs to store water along with the glycogen at (I believe) a 1:1 ratio. At least I've read this many places.

This frequently accounts for a good amount of the initial weight fluctuation of falling off the wagon, and getting back on it, in my personal experience. Have you ever noticed a 'Carb Hangover?' For me, I feel dehydrated and really congested after a night of pizza (or other diabetes explosion), even if I have only 1 or no beers. I feel pretty certain it is related to the amount of water that gets sucked into the musculature along with glycogen.

Any thoughts on this?

Vin - NaturalBias said...

It's great to see that you're a fan of the 80/20 rule. :)

According to your meal plan, it looks like you intentionally skip some meals. Is this part of your paleo philosophy? What's the reason behind it?

thania said...

Thanks for so detailed information, it is very helpful to me.

Methuselah said...

Bryce - good point about the glycogen storage. I kind of knew that but had failed to make the connection. I reckon we now have tow suspects for the post-binge weight fluctuation and it would be interesting to know whether, for example, people with more muscle mass get bigger fluctuations. Unfortunately I have never been able to separate the carb hangover from the alcohol one because for many years it has literally only been excess alcohol that could persuade me to eat carbs! But it sounds plausible. When I get time I will do some reading around this.

Vin - I prefer to keep it 95:5 but I keep getting invited to parties. I should be less nice to people ;-) I do consciously skip meals - this is a mixture of planned fasting (I usually go for Tues and Sat) and reactive fasting (when I eat too much one evening.) But in general I strive to make my eating patterns random to mimic the ebb and flow of supply we would have encountered as hunters. I also try to have macro cycles - for example, a week of eating a lot of food, even though I do still have fasting days, and other weeks where I am generally a bit hungry all week.

Anonymous said...


Never got back to you about the Vibram Five Fingers; I have a client who, instead of insoles, has cork inserted under the heel of her shoes. She has your same leg length issue and says this has reduced her pain. My suggestion would be to split the difference: get yourself some Nike Free 3.0's, insert some cork to compensate, and see how your body adjusts. In the meantime, spend as much time barefoot as possible and see how your hip/back feel. Let me know if you have any more questions.


Methuselah said...

Thanks Skyler - good thinking. Yesterday I received a pair of Women's Classic instead of the Men's Flow I ordered, so I won't be trying the Vibrams until they get the order right anyway!

Kat Eden said...

Wow, I love this post.

In Melbourne where I live we've had a male model/personal trainer all over the news for the past 6 months. Reason being he decided to gain 30 pounds or so in order to better relate to his clients. From day one I was certain he wasn't going to get it back off as quickly as he claimed. Sure enough, he just popped up on a current affairs show displaying angst at not being able to shed all the extra flubber!

Thanks for baring all on your blog, v interesting reading.

PS: Bryce - I thought I was the one to coin the phrase 'carb hangover'! I definitely relate!

Methuselah said...

Kat - thanks - I like the sound of that story - I take it he was trying to lose the weight on some kind of low fat cardio-heavy regime? What's the name of the guy, so I can Google to find the news story?

Shelley said...

I found this

more pics

better info

Methuselah said...

Thanks Shelley! I will be following this story. Fascinating.

Mini said...

It was a very good weekend though, and a very important celebration, although some of us behaved better than others!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I love that Im not the only one who drinks 15-20 drinks when its party time.

Most people will say they had 3 GD glasses of wine like it was a wild night.

I am very into staying in shape and eating healthy, but like to get loose when the time is right.

Good Post.

Methuselah said...

Just saw this recent video about the personal trainer who gained all that weight. Looks like he's still struggling.

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