8 Weeks: Lessons Learned

 

Never Minimize or Maximise

No matter what the variable: you shouldn’t minimise or maximise. Whether it is cholesterol, LDL-P, body fat %, cortisol…there is always a healthy, optimal range. That’s not to say that the recommended ranges are correct, only that trying to eliminate something entirely will usually lead to unintended consequences.

 

You Must Experiement

Every body is different and every body will react to foods differently. Some will use that as justification to do and eat whatever they want. They’ll argue that they feel fine so it must be OK, right? Unfortunately, that’s not legit. To know which diet works best for you (i.e. which diet best helps you to achieve your goals) you must control for different foods. Gluten is problematic for many. You may eat bread and feel fine, but until you have completely removed gluten from your diet for a sustained period (e.g. 30 days) you don’t have a control, and you can’t say with confidence whether gluten is problematic for you.

 

Eat Less Protein / Eat More Fat

I reduced my carbohydrate significantly, but protein filled most of the gap. The low keto score on my Ketostix suggested that this had led to gluconeogenesis: my body converted the excess protein to carbs. This meant that my body wasn’t burning stored fat as fuel. This reinforces the previous point: you need to tinker and test. I never would have suspected gluconeogenesis (skip to 4 minutes). Next time I will have better tools to estimate my ketone levels.

 

Weekly Cheat Meals are Bullshit

Cheat meals aren’t inherently bullshit, but for me, with my goals, weekly cheat meals weren’t helping. The weekly cheat undid all the benefit of the previous 6 days. By the end of the experiment they weren’t even that satisfying. The cheat meal model might work for others, and maybe it could work for me, but I think I’m better off without them for now. Moreover, given that I was around 15% bodyfat, I really had no need for them.

 

Set Points are a Bitch

Your body has a natural tendency to stay at a certain weight. It takes a lot of effort to get passed one of these points, and it takes another few months of effort to permanently shift to a new set point. My cheat days pushed me straight back to my set point of about 75kg.

 

Calories Still Matter

You’re unlikely to lose weight eating 100g of nuts everyday. No matter how good your hormone profile, you still need to keep an eye on your calories. I don’t believe in any strict relationship between burning X thousand calories and losing Y lbs of fat, but over time a calorie deficit will affect your body composition. Of course you need to ensure your hormones are working in your favour to make that calorie deficit come from stored fat.

 

I Didn’t Work Hard Enough

I shouldn’t have had so many cheat meals, and I should have put more time in the gym. 10 minute HIIT training sessions just aren’t enough. Next time I’ll try longer sessions and/or multiple sessions in a day. I’ll also find a better balance between my regular diet and occasional cheats.