July 20, 2013 at 9:17 pm #9659
A few months back, I posted my story in the comments section of the one of the 180 blog posts (about salads, I think?). At that time, I had been eating a high calorie diet for a month or so–as much as 6,000 a day–and was enjoying some amazing results. My sleep was better, I was more relaxed and sociable, and a constant pain in my face (dx: chronic ideopathic mid-facial pain) was disappearing. In addition, I was losing the desire to abuse alcohol and other drugs, which was a nice bonus considering I’ve had some minor issues with substance abuse in the past.
However, at the same time I was gaining a lot of weight and I just hit the lower threshold for obesity (BMI 30), and I started having health issues associated with this extra weight. I lost my breath easily, with sometimes embarrassing results. I teach, and although I was feeling more relaxed and outgoing, I would sometimes lost my breath during lectures. I also found myself struggling at normal day-to-day tasks, like getting up from a deep chair. Unbelievably, I even had to put effort into putting on my socks in the morning. On top of this, my wife was (understandably) not happy about my protruding belly, and I needed to find a solution.
With the beginning of summer, I had some time to experiment with diet without it affecting my work or studies, so I did a little macro-nutrient tweaking. I tried increasing protein and decreasing fat and sugar. I tried low starch/high sugar and high starch/low sugar. I went low carb, and then I went no carb. I also started running and lifting weights. The result? I did lose weight (and most of my belly) and I improved my fitness and breathing, but at the same time my facial pain returned along with most of my other chronic ailments. I also started relying more on caffeine for energy, increased my drinking, and was smoking pot on a more or less daily basis. And even when I decided to cut all that out, I just felt worse.
From reading others’ experiences on this site, I understand that many of you are experiencing the same dilemma as I am. I feel somewhat trapped between better health with obesity, or illness with a healthy appearance. On paper, that choice shouldn’t be difficult, but of course it is difficult, and I’m still not ready to give up hope that there’s a middle ground.
Just yesterday, I decided I was going to start ramping up my calories again, but this time I’m mainly going to focus on increasing carbohydrates. I’ll still eat a few animal products with protein and fat, but I want to see if a slightly lower fat intake might allow me to get the benefit of an overall high energy intake, without gaining so much belly fat. My earlier macro-nutrient ratio was probably around 60% carbohydrates (split evenly between starches and sugars), 30% fat, and 10% protein. I’m going to try to push the carbs to 70-80% and see what happens.
I’m also going to continue my exercise, and in fact today I ran a 5k with my wife. Whether or not I’m able to experience the health benefits of a high calorie diet, and remain thin at the same time, I still want to enjoy physical speed, stamina, and strength. This is all the more important if I am a little heavier than I like, because carrying that extra weight requires extra work!
I welcome comments from anyone who’s experienced something similar and wants to share their thoughts. I’ll also gladly answer questions if anyone would like to hear extra details about my experience. As I learn whether this latest experiment is successful, I’ll post my results so that others can benefit from them.July 20, 2013 at 11:52 pm #9670
Yeah that pretty much summarizes everything, and feeling like you have to choose between chubby with no health problems and lean with none is just annoying.
I have a feeling that if most people improve their health problems tremendously with refeeding and then go on to eat to satiety without harsh restriction with regular exercise geared towards improving fitness, that this is the path most likely to deliver both health and aesthetics in the end. But this can take years, and most people are simply too impulsive and emotional to stick with a goal or vision that long – especially when we are constantly exposing ourselves to health and diet ideas.
Thanks for the thought-provoking post David.July 21, 2013 at 12:28 am #9679
I hope you’re right about that, and ultimately, I’ve decided that I’d rather be fat than deal with constant pain in my face (along with my other problems). And I do think that if I lift weights and do a bit of jogging, I’ll be able to stave off the embarrassing side effects often associated with obesity: heavy breathing, slowness, difficulty with daily tasks, etc. I’ll just be a fat athlete.
I’m definitely one of those people who has trouble with impulsivity when it comes to diet. I’m going to keep experimenting to see I can find a way to make this path easier to follow, so that hopefully I won’t be as tempted to jump ship when I remember how much of my wardrobe won’t fit any more.July 21, 2013 at 11:53 am #9700saisriceParticipant
Hi David, thanks for sharing your story. I hope that your path works out well for you and your are comfortable in your body and mind:) I have not experienced something similar so I’m afraid I don’t have any advice. Just sending positive thoughts your way. Is there a reason you were eating 6,000 calories instead of 3,000 or something around there? Also, what are your temperatures like? What were they when you were eating 6,000 calories? I’d imagine they’d be pretty high eating 6,000 but then I’d assume that that’d make it hard to gain weight?July 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm #9706
Thank you for your positive thoughts. I wasn’t aiming for 6,000 calories, but got there naturally by eating to satisfy my appetite. I found that once I allowed myself to just indulge, I was constantly hungry, and sometimes eating would make me even hungrier. Eating a candy bar, for example, would just make me want to eat another one, and so I would! Then, if I added everything up at the end of the day, I had often hit about 6,000.
I never took my temperature, but I did feel warm. Regardless, it was very easy to gain weight on that many calories–way too easy. Now I’m hoping that if I keep eating the huge quantities of carbohydrates, but watch my fat intake, that maybe I’ll be able to benefit from this eating plan without the rapid weight gain.
My theory is that it’s probably carbohydrates, rather than the fats, that are responsible for driving down the stress hormones that (could have) caused my illness. I have reasons for thinking this, but I’ve had enough theories that I also recognize I could be wrong. We’ll see!July 21, 2013 at 11:36 pm #9730
David, Thank you for your really well-written and thoughtful post! Please keep us informed. Rooting for you!
I actually had pain in my face in that exact place. It started when my 4am insomnia started in April (which I believe was induced by low-carb eating for about 6-7 months, which was basically low-calorie too). Also some very sharp, sudden, passing pains in the top of my head. Weird. I guessed the face pain was a minor sinus infection that I couldn’t clear because I wasn’t sleeping well, but I had no clue, really. I’ve been eating like a horse for going on 3 months now, and I haven’t had that pain in about a month. Also sleeping through the night most nights, starting about a month ago, too.
You express yourself very well, will be eager to read about your explorations.July 22, 2013 at 12:07 am #9732
Thanks for the feedback, Mighty. The facial pain really has been the worst symptom for me. At some points I would do literally anything to make it stop, which is why I started seeking out questionable, expensive, and even dangerous “treatments.” Mysterious, uncontrollable pain is maddening, as I’m sure you know. It was amazing to me that binging on junk food for several weeks actually made it go away–I certainly never predicted that.
I will definitely share my experiences with my current trial. Writing on this forum is therapeutic for me, since I can’t really share this with any of my friends or family without sounding crazy. :)July 22, 2013 at 7:57 pm #9781
You know, for some reason I was thinking about what you wrote, and remembered you saying you got a lot of calories from beverages. Now this is kinda a mainstream idea, but they say that calories from liquids just don’t trigger the “I’m full” feeling like calories from solid food. That might account for an appetite for a big caloric intake like 6K. Maybe. I.e., the appetite might be sated on less if it were mostly solid food. Don’t know if it’s relevant or worthwhile, but it was something I thought of so thought I’d mention it.
Because the “reduced fluids” bit has really helped me a lot, I’m drinking a few soft drinks like juice and lemonade for the first time since I was a kid, so that when I do drink with a meal, it’s not just plain water. And I think that’s helped. I’d sworn them off years ago as a hassle, empty calories, waste of money, etc. But, for myself, I have to be careful not to chug ’em down in mass quantity because they’re so delicious and don’t “feel” like food to me.July 22, 2013 at 9:25 pm #9786
That’s definitely something to think about. I’ll keep your advice in mind if my current scheme doesn’t work out. Right now, the sugary drinks are treating me very well–providing lots of energy–so I’m very enthusiastic about them. In fact, today I had so much energy that I ran three miles, came home and mowed the lawn, and then went out on a long walk with my wife. Without the sugar I would probably be dragging right now, but instead I’m feeling relaxed and content–and my facial pain is less than it’s typically been the last few weeks.
Rather than sugar, I think it’s fats that are the true empty calories. But as always, I could be wrong, so I do appreciate your input.July 23, 2013 at 12:22 pm #9836
Wow! And do you feel up for another round of all that today? (Because I would be resting double-time after a day like that.)
Very impressive. Maybe I should be a little less conservative with the drinks then.July 23, 2013 at 1:01 pm #9837
This kind of stamina isn’t normal for me either. It feels like my present diet is fueling recovery very efficiently. I’m actually about to head out to the gym for a shorter run (1 mile) and a weight-training session. If I can keep up this schedule, and get a good time in my 5k race this next Saturday, then I will conclude I’ve finally found the right diet for me–at least for now.
I’m still not sleeping well–insomnia is a perennial problem for me–but I seem to be recovering even without ideal sleep. Hopefully the sleep will come with time.July 23, 2013 at 11:55 pm #9882
David, congrats on your progress :)
I have been following this thread for a while, since you first posted and have been wanting to ask something. I did the same thing as you, ate upwards of 6000 calories somedays during initial refeeding and also mainly (following youreatopia). At first, I upped my calories from the standard 1800-2000 to 3000 at first and that quickly turned into 4000, then 5000 then more. Over the last few months, I have added back in exercise (cardio 4-5 times a week) and average now 2800-3500 calories. I am a female, with little body fat, and consume an EXTREMELY HIGH CARB and semi moderate/low fat. (Around 75% carb and 25-30%fat). I came from a restricted intake (well never too low calories, but super low fat) and add that to working out obsevively everyday (I was a totally DISASTER).
You say that you follow a low fat, high carb/ sugar diet, I am wondering how this works for you and if you think it’s a good way to go? My body seems to do really well on such high carb and low fat. It doesn’t react well to a lot of fat or red meat, but, I do eat a lot of protein (lots of canned tuna) and I mean LOTS. but, do you think the body adjusts to the high amount of carbs in relation to the low fat intake coming in and how do you think that keeps people lean? I mean I have a lot of muscle, and am pretty lean considering I eat a diet full of 3000 calories and 75% carbs, AND I am a girl.July 24, 2013 at 1:51 am #9895
So far, my low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet has been amazing. I honestly feel better than I have in ages. Last spring, when I was eating 5,000-6,000 calorie a day (with around 200 grams of fat a day), I noticed many health benefits, but I was also lethargic, experienced indigestion, and gained a lot of unwanted weight. However, when I restrict fat, but max out my carbs, I get all the benefits of a high calorie diet, without the worst drawbacks. This makes me think that (for me anyway) carbohydrates are the main drivers of good health, improved energy, rapid recovery, and a relaxed mood.
In response to your question, I would say that a 75% carb diet sounds reasonable, if you’re getting adequate protein, which is something I determine according to my appetite. Based on my hunger, I can tell when my body needs protein, and when it doesn’t. Today my protein came from 3/4 lb. of scallops, a chicken breast, some mozzarella cheese, and skim milk in my cereal. Grains also contribute to protein, but I don’t really count them.
There’s one thing I’m confused about from your post. You said that your diet was “around 75% carb and 25-30% fat,” but that doesn’t leave any room for protein. Did you mistype something?
The purpose of both carbohydrates and fats in the diet is to provide energy, although the two macronutrients are metabolized quite differently. Generally speaking, if you eat a low-carb diet, you need to replace your carbs with fat, and if you eat a low-fat diet, you need to replace your fat with carbs. You could also mix fat and carbs equally, which is what we see in the typical American diet. In my opinion, carbohydrates are far superior to fat as an energy source–and if you eat enough of them, you won’t need much more than a few grams of fat.
The only time I would recommend eating more fats is if you have trouble maintaining a healthy weight without them. For example, there was a study of gymnasts on a potato diet, and they simply couldn’t eat enough potatoes to stop (unwanted) weight loss, so the experimenters had to add oil to the diet to keep them healthy.
Since you are so lean, that’s something you should watch out for. Beyond that, I’d stick to the high-carb, low-fat diet, especially since you’ve already observed that your body performs the best that way.July 24, 2013 at 10:28 am #9909
Yes, that was a mistype, they were merely estimates (but obviously didnt add up) so I thought about it again, and found that what I am getting is more like 65% Carb/ 15-20% Fat/ 15-20% Protein. (Protein is the one thing that I have never, ever counted, so I just assume the rest would amount to protein intake).
I am not losing weight, but not seeming to gain either. But, I dont think it would be such a bad thing if I gained a few pounds anyway! Haha :P
It’s nice to know there are others who eat such high carb and are staying lean, I always feel like the odd ball out for eating so much compared to everyone else! It just goes to show that the diet/fitness talk, is just nonsense and all that low-carb and “limiting” carbs….for what? To gain weight back when they reintroduce carbs? I would rather eat EXTREMELY high carb and low-moderate fat and stay lean :)July 24, 2013 at 11:15 am #9922FinngarianParticipant
*taking notes* I also want to be rid of my low metabolism symptoms without staying obese like I am. The last time I was trying to be sort of athletic I was running 6-9 miles a week, still at about 225 pounds… “running” meaning a slow jog at about 15 minutes per mile. I wasn’t eating enough though so the running would crash me a couple of hours afterwards.
I just had the thought in my head after talking with one of my former running partners that a run might feel good. This is huge after not wanting to run for about the past 8 months or so. Maybe I’ll be on my way soon :)
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.