One size doesn’t fit all.
A plan for 2021.
A nutrition and health post ; first out of a series of 6 posts.
Blog time : it’s January and a year since i started working on my health problems with a dietary approach, iv’e made a lot of progress which i’m happy with but i think i could do a lot better still so i’m working out my own plans for 2021. When i started my experiment with dietary changes last year i really didn’t know what i was doing or even , at first, quite how to do what i was doing : i actually remember some degree of panic and anxiety about what i was actually going to eat when i stopped eating nearly everything that i did eat before then. Looking back on what i did first now seems to me to be more like a harm reduction model as what i actually did first was to greatly reduce my pure sugar intake and then quickly reduce my all-sources carbohydrate intake. Later on i took up more knowingly a low carb/Keto approach, then accidentally discovered intermittent fasting and later in the year went on to experiment with sequential medium term fasts.
In this post i want to explore the overall strategy i intend to start off 2021 with and begin to explain why it’s a more complex strategy than my simplistic approach of this year. In this post i’m going to lay out the basic, broad-brush ideas and then follow up each of the major points with a separate post more fully explained and i hope with some amount of rationality attached.
One size (diet) doesn’t fit all ; or a least not all of the time.
In 2020 i found an approach that worked for me for a while : that is…that i lost a decent amount of body fat, cured my hypertension and accidentally my new arthritis as well. My weight loss was almost linear for 16 weeks and then simply stopped, in fact it’s hardly budged since and although i’m a lot better, fitter and healthier my stall point was somewhat above where i would really like to be. My experience is very close to many other people that have taken the same kind of dietary approach : in this case the low carbohydrate/ketogenic model. What i see when i look at other people’s ‘numbers’ (Dr David Unwin demonstrated this in his series) is a similar pattern to my own : initial high weight loss (diueretic phase) followed by a steady period of linear weight loss and then a sharp ‘stall’ or cut off point. Sometimes after that there’s a bit of a ‘bounce’ as some weight is regained and then lost again but generally this is a very different pattern to what always happens with caloric restriction dieting in which weight is lost quickly at first (same diueretic phase) then there is a gradually reducing rate of weight loss almost like a sine curve and then a reversal of the curve when the dieter simply fails and gives up…..that caloric restriction dieters give up and fail is one of the few universal truths and equally sadly true is that they all end up significantly heavier than when they started out.
What i learned from this year is that i accidentally hit on one of the few dietary approaches which does take weight (fat) off quickly , doesn’t seem to have an immediate fail and rebound stage and has some useful side effects : in my case helping me to at least retain muscle mass and sorting out my health problems as an example. However, what i also found out during lots of reading and research is that my one size/one approach, while ok-good isn’t the best thing i can do for each thing i want to achieve and especially not on a long term basis……to some that might come as a bit of a surprise having seen some decent level of success so far.
A new (cyclical) long term approach.
My main new insight into this is that the dietary approach that i would take for one aspect of health wouldn’t necasarily be the same as the best approach for a different aspect and to explain that in brief i’d like to give a few examples :
1.I have found fasting to be a useful strategy for weight control an general well-being, in fact the research all suggests that i should do longer fasts but maybe less frequently…..equally though a total fast all the time isn’t a viable long term solution to everything.
2.A low carbohydrate approach is useful at first, even long term, for harm reduction but there are times when adding carbs will be a useful, even vital dietary tactic : here for example i’m thinking about long mountain in hard conditions and where a moderate to high carbohydrate diet would be an effective way of feeding us.
3.That one of my key health goals as a 62 year old is to retain and build muscle mass so while fasting generally preserves muscle mass it certainly isn’t the best strategy for building muscle.
A very quick summary then is that i need to do different things, possibly at different times to hit the varied requirements i have for my nutrition, fitness and health goals this year. At this stage i think that i need to take a different approach than i did ‘last’ year with my rather simplistic low carbohydrate model. I think that the way to go might be a cyclical approach over say a 6 week period, that’s the kind of time frame in which i would keep to a particular workout regime so the kind of thing i’m working up is also a 6 week dietary model which would incorporate a longer fast plus intermittent daily fasting but with short periods of higher intake feeding (especially protein and carbohydrates) to support the muscle building goal. In this series of posts i want to lay out each of my health and nutrition goals and show how i might achieve them with a more considered and structured approach.
Cold start to the year !