Thursday, November 15, 2018

The 5:2 Diet - Why I'm Sticking With It (16 Lbs. Lost)

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In 2009, celebrating Janice's Birthday in Las Vegas - 197 lbs.
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Last month - walking in Canmore, Alberta, Canada - at 183 lbs.

Bread pudding & ice cream dessert -of the sort we ate almost every night in Alberta (Jasper, Banff)

I know all about the widely circulated trope that "diets don't work".  Hell, I've been on some before that never lasted more than a month, and all the weight came right back.  It reached its nadir back in 2009 when a doctor's visit (after a 10 day trip to Las Vegas for wifey's birthday) showed me tipping the scales at 197 pounds. My primary doc, herself a Vegan, almost had a fit and informed me I was "playing around with my life". She wasn't lying as three years later I was getting HDR (high dose) brachytherapy in San Francisco for prostate cancer - which is still lurking around even after a salvage treatment of focal cryotherapy last year.

In May, 2016,  I  had (briefly)   - before getting my gall bladder removed - reduced my weight to 186 lbs.   This was because the surgeon allowed me (after a severe gall bladder attack on Easter Sunday night) to go on 3-week holiday to Barbados, provided I played it safe: no fats, nothing to trigger another (possibly worse) attack

That meant scrupulous avoidance of typical Bajan fare such as fried flying fish, fish cakes, macaroni pie, fried chicken and rice with plenty of Bajan gravy, beef stew, lamb chops and pudding and souse (a Bajan delicacy )   The result? By the time of my return and surgery on May 16th (which I did a blog post on)  I had dropped some 8 lbs.  Of course, in the months that ensued all those pounds went back on - as I made up for all the foods denied the previous 5 weeks.

Two years later  the new threat that emerged was pre-diabetes, as my a1c hit 6.0 in April this year, and that motivated me to do something.  Since Janice planned to commence the 5:2 diet I decided to join her - both to make it easier for her, and to take a pro- active step in the direction of avoiding Type II diabetes.  The latter remains an ongoing battle given the disease runs in my family, but at least I have managed to now lose 16 pounds since July - when we both started it. (In the photos shown, you can see me at 197 lbs. in Vegas in 2009, and then down  to 183 in October this year -  while on holiday in Alberta, Canada)  

The incredible thing now is that in the aftermath of  getting back Oct. 6th, the weight had barely increased (by 1 lb. if that) and this was after enjoying great food:  bison steaks,  lamb chops, mashed potatoes, and desserts (see image of a bread pudding and vanilla ice cream dessert.)   The takeaway?  You can indulge on a holiday of 10 days- even without any fast days - and incur only minor damage. This morning, after the 2nd day of fasting this week (Mon.,  Wed.) I weighed in at 181 lbs. or 16 lbs.  less than that at the date of that  2009  Vegas image.

The 5:2  diet is actually an intermittent fasting program, and pretty simple. In a nutshell, you can basically eat anything you want (within reason, i.e. no ice cream sundaes  three times a day) on the plan...for five days a week. But the other two days are fast days.  That means - or did mean- no more than 500 calories a day for women, and no more than 600 a day for men.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that over any given extended time interval x (say x =  4 weeks) you end up consuming fewer calories—so you also end up losing weight.  Two separate payoffs are lowering your blood pressure (high BP also runs in my family) and regulating serum glucose levels, which includes the a1c which refers to those levels over an extended bloc of time.

It should also come as no surprise that this  intermittent fasting diet is blowing up online after a new study found that people on the diet had a lowered risk of heart disease (and a faster metabolism) than people who counted calories.  I had tried the calorie counting gimmick before - like Janice- and simply wasn't able to sustain it, not day in and day out.  ( I have been able to sustain this intermittent fasting for going on 5 months now).  Somehow, I am able (like Janice) to mentally accept the lower amounts of food and work within that framework.

Two separate payoffs are lowering your blood pressure (high BP also runs in my family) and regulating serum glucose levels, which includes the a1c which refers to those levels over an extended bloc of time.

Another note: the creator of the diet, Michael Mosley has loosened  the caloric restrictions, upping the total to 800 /day for men and 700/ day for women. This means that there is latitude to even go slightly 'wild'  on fast days - say having a turkey hot dog at night with the cooked veggies.

Another point made by Mosley, the "best results" come via fasting at least 12 hours, from previous night's dinner, to breakfast.  Interestingly, nearly every day we spent in Alberta found us with a 12-13 hrs. span from our dinner in the evening to breakfast (usually a buffet), such as at Jasper's Sawbridge Inn.  This fasting diet may well be something for people to keep in mind now that we are all facing the usually gluttonous holiday season.  Lastly, it should go without saying that exercise, e.g. walking, resistance training, ought to accompany any diet for optimal results.

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