Milestone report – in the 170s

Forgive me. I love any excuse for a milestone report, be it in lb or kg.

Today is MyFitnessPal streak day 2,750.

As of this morning I went under 180 lb. My new weight is 179.5 lb = 81.4 kg.

Total lost so far: 104.9 lb = 47.6 kg.

Total to lose to “normal BMI” is now just 6 kg = about 13 lb.

I’m hoping to get under 80 kg by the end of the year.

It will be close. I’m ok either way though.

And onward.

November 28, 2019 – quarterly test results

My quarterly blood test results are in, and the results are great.

I recommitted to WFPB (Whole Food Plant Based) in September of last year, after being inspired by Dr. Greger’s guidelines in “How Not To Die.” I also follow additional recommendations for comfortable, sustainable weight loss from people like Chef AJ, Potato Strong, and Plant Based Gabriel, with some tweaks of my own.

And I carefully do calorie logging in MyFitnessPal. Calories count, whether you count them or not. I find calorie logging as essential as overall healthy eating and exercise.

To sum up, blood sugar remains normal, cholesterol is fantastic, blood pressure is great, and I continue to lose weight. The rest of this post are details, if people are interested in numbers and more!

What I eat and don’t eatI

I try to follow Greger’s Daily Dozen for the most part. The main exception is that I avoid eating nuts. As with many people, I find that nuts do, in fact, impact on weight loss. Calories count. See Chef AJ’s advice for example. She’s very supportive.

Although I avoid nuts, I do add flax seeds to my salads, which add healthy fats, aid in nutrient absorption, and are also tasty.

I’ve also been “sequencing” more, which is recommended for people trying to lose weight, by Chef AJ and others. Sequencing just means starting meals with very low calorie density foods, like a big salad. Then going on to cooked non-starchy veggies. Then, if you like, finishing off with satisfying starches, like potatoes.

Desserts are just fruits.

I find sequencing really helps with calorie control. There is no feeling of deprivation. If I’m hungry I’ll eat something, like a fruit, or some cherry tomatoes, some carrots or even a potato.

I’ve become somewhat of a carrot junkie lately. They make great snacks and are also nicely sweet tasting. I’ll slice them up and microwave them, air fry them, and even eat some raw. I think I’m turning into a rabbit. When cooked, they’re really tasty with some ginger powder sprinkled on them.

So I eat lots of veggies, and have fruits every day. In other words, I eat lots of carbs. Carbs do not impact negatively on blood sugar or weight.

Some Notes on Fruits

For weight loss reasons I have adjusted the kinds of fruits I eat. It turns out I had been underestimating the calories in many fruits. It’s very easy to underestimate if you don’t weigh things! Now I’m being more careful. I’ve basically given up bananas because they have an unusually high calorie density compared with most other fruits. In fact, 100 grams of bananas have more calories than 100 grams of potatoes! It’s a waste on a diet because they aren’t really filling; if I have a bunch in the house I will mindlessly eat them all.

For the most part, the fruits I eat are bags of frozen blueberries. Only 49 calories per 100 grams, and they make for a nice after dinner dessert. I’ll sometimes have watermelon and persimmons too.

Other Foods

I also eat firm (momen) tofu a few times a day. I find it filling, and it has a lower calorie density than potatoes, healthy fats, and has lots of protein. I’ve been eating tofu in place of other legumes in general lately. It agrees with me more.

I avoid animal products, oils and other added fats (completely), added sugar (as much as is practical), added salt (as much as is practical), and also stay away from highly processed high calorie density foods, like breads and pastas.

I don’t obsess about tiny amounts of animal products, like bonito extract in miso soup at a restaurant. I’m trying to make this easy and sustainable. I will also very occasionally have some sushi with a friend. When I eat rice I try to go for brown rice when possible, but I will eat white rice if that’s all that’s available.

No Fasting

I do not do intermittent fasting. It’s not necessary and I’m not interested in it at all. The whole idea is a big turn off for me. Dr. Greger’s latest research reports also confirms there is no advantage to intermittent fasting over ordinary daily calorie control (and, in fact, can be dangerous). I know there are a lot of IF fans out there, but I would not recommend it because it just doesn’t seem like a fun lifestyle, and it isn’t needed.

Logging with MyFitnessPal

I log my food and exercise calories in MyFitnessPal, and keep within 1540 net calories per day (food calories minus exercise calories). Today is my MyFitnessPal Streak Day 2,747. Daily logging in MFP has been a great sanity check and prevented me from having a complete rebound when I fell off the wagon in the past.

I’ve lost a total of 46.4 kg = 102 lb so far, and am just 7.2 kg = 16 lb from a normal BMI. Getting closer and closer! It’s never been this low since I started MFP logging in 2012.

Blood test results

Here are the latest and previous results. Normal ranges are in parentheses.

Total cholesterol (120-219)

  • Nov 28 – 118
  • Aug 29 – 116
  • Jun 8 – 136
  • Mar 19 – 133
  • Dec 20 – 124

This remains low, which I think is fine.

HDL good cholesterol (35-80)

  • Nov 28 – 46
  • Aug 29 – 40
  • Jun 8 – 34
  • Mar 19 – 38
  • Dec 20 – 36

LDL bad cholesterol (70-139)

  • Nov 28 – 55
  • Aug 29 – 56
  • Jun 8 – 73
  • Mar 19 – 72
  • Dec 20 – 67

Quite low! But that’s supposed to be great for your heart.

Triglycerides (30-150)

  • Nov 28 – 62
  • Aug 29 – 79
  • Jun 8 – 129
  • Mar 19 – 114
  • Dec 20 – 100

Also a drop from last time.

Blood Sugar HbA1c (4.7-6.2)

  • Nov 28 – 5.9
  • Aug 29 – 6.1
  • Jun 8 – 5.5
  • Mar 19 – 5.9
  • Dec 20 – 6.5

This value does not fluctuate over the short term. It’s a 2-3 month average. Previous HbA1c quarterly values were 8.2, and 10.8. So it’s a great improvement over time, and has been in the normal range since March.

More medication eliminated!

My doctor takes a conservative approach to reducing or eliminating medication, but finally today he said he doesn’t think I need my blood sugar meds at all anymore and dropped them completely! He said I can feel free to brag. The nutritionist was also very pleased.

The “E” Word

That would be exercise, something that has never been my strong suit, but I’m trying. It’s good for health, and the calories burned give me a calorie buffer when needed.

My daily exercise is mostly walking, and I’ve started doing daily indoor cycling too. I feel it gives me a better workout that I can actually feel, and burns more calories in a shorter time. Indoor cycling is deathly boring, but listening to NPR or music helps.

I’m going to start some upper body resistance training to build up some arm strength and maybe add some muscles, for my health. I haven’t started that yet though.

Onward!

Intermittent fasting – unnecessary and can be dangerous

There is a fad of late called intermittent fasting, or IF for short. Adherents promote various versions. For example, eat only every other day, limit eating time to just a 6 or 8 hour window a day, go on a water fast for multiple days, etc. Some even go on prolonged water fasts for multiple days at a time – or even weeks!

These people claim various benefits, including faster weight loss, changing the body’s metabolism, better long term weight loss, curing disease, and whatnot.

Dr. Michael Greger, the author of “How to Not Die” and the upcoming “How to Not Diet” has researched fasting intensively for his new book, and has been releasing videos at his site lately ahead of the release.

His very reasonable conclusion, I’m happy and relieved to say, is that not only can IF be dangerous if not done under strict medical supervision, but there are no benefits at all for weight loss, as compared to just ordinary reasonable calorie restriction.

Here are some of his recent videos. Note: I can’t stand listening to his voice, so I watch these on mute. They are all closed captioned.

This video shows that eating every other day can actually increase your cholesterol: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-alternate-day-intermittent-fasting-safe

IF can actually slow body fat loss (like keto): https://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-fasting-beneficial-for-weight-loss/

It doesn’t make any difference at all whether you do intermittent fasting or continuous calorie restriction. In other words, a regular calorie restricted diet has the same effect. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/Alternate-Day-Intermittent-Fasting-Put-to-the-Test

There is no advantage to intermittent fasting for weight loss. It might be dangerous. It’s completely unnecessary. Plus, to me, the whole idea seems contrived and unpleasant. I like eating. I eat healthily now. I’m down 101 lb and just have 16.5 lb to go to achieve a normal BMI. I did this without any fasting at all. I don’t ever feel deprived. I eat lots of healthy foods (whole food plant based) on a normal, daily schedule.

My personal feeling is that IF is just one of those fads. If you’re interested in it check the actual research out before trying it.

Major Milestone – down over 100 lb!

Today is MyFitnessPal streak day 2,726 (I’ve had ups and downs) and I’m happy to report that as of this morning I have lost a total of 100.5 lb (45.6 kg). 

I follow WFPB (Whole Food Plant Based) eating. This means being mostly vegan, eating mostly whole foods, avoiding as much added sugar as is practical, and also avoiding oils. It’s all “mostly” rather than 100% inviolable rules. It’s a basic guideline I stick to as much as possible. 

For example, I will eat white rice if brown rice isn’t available. I’ll have miso soup in a restaurant even though I know it contains bonito extract. I might very occasionally even have some fish in a sushi restaurant (though I mostly stick with the vegan options). I think this is all in the spirit of WFPB eating. If I’m on a 14 hour air flight I’ll order the vegan meal even though I know there is probably some oil in it. That’s probably the only time I have any oils.

I’m also down over 62 lb since recommitting to WFPB in September last year after reading Dr. Michael Greger’s, “How Not to Die.” His book was a trigger to get me back on the right path again. Chef AJ, Potato Strong, and Plant Based Gabriel have all also been inspirations and supportive during this process.

During this time, all my blood values have returned to normal. In particular, my dangerously high HbA1c came down over time and has been in the normal range for months now, and my cholesterol values are all super great, and the doctors are very pleased.

As mentioned in a previous post, I have tweaked Dr. Greger’s advice to suit me (everybody is different), in order to (1) keep on track with my weight loss and (2) have really great digestion.

Some of my tweaks include:

  • More careful “sequencing” to eat more food from the low calorie-density side of the chart. This just means starting meals with lower calorie-density foods like large salads and non-starchy vegetables before moving onto more satisfying starches, like potatoes.
  • Avoiding some foods from the low side of the calorie-density chart which I personally still feel are too high in calories, like bananas. Blueberries and watermelon have much lower calorie densities, while bananas have a higher calorie density than potatoes!
  • Having potatoes rather than rice when possible, because of lower calorie density, and they are more filling to me. They are really great when topped with nutritional yeast and moistened with a bit of soy milk. Air fried they are also great.
  • Not having too many potatoes. About 10-12 ounces seems good for a main portion, rather than a couple of pounds, like some people do.
  • Avoiding nuts. Sorry Dr. Greger, they do count. They are extremely high calorie. I do add flax seeds to my salads though. They contain healthy fats and have a slightly nutty flavor and make the salads more satisfying.
  • Logging food and exercise calories, and my daily weight, in MyFitnessPal (calories count whether you count them or not). MyFitnessPal has been my weight “sanity check” for 2726 days now, which has prevented me from having a full rebound even when I fell off the wagon a couple of times in the past.
  • And I don’t eat a lot of legumes because no matter what I try they cause unpleasant digestive side-effects. However, instead, I have lots of firm tofu! That doesn’t seem to bother me, and provides lots of protein, and also healthy fats, and is definitely on the lower side of the calorie density chart.
  • For exercise, I basically walk as much as possible. I track that using MapMyRun, which syncs to MyFitnessPal. It’s good for health, and it gives me an extra calorie buffer each day. I’m trying to work up into resistance training also so I can build some upper torso strength and muscles, but haven’t really gotten into it yet.
  • I do not do intermittent fasting. I do not think it is necessary, and it just doesn’t appeal to me.

Eating this way seems long-term sustainable to me. There is no sense of deprivation, which is important. It may seem like I’ve been doing this a long time, but consider this:  time passes whether you are dieting or not, so you might as well take up healthy habits along the way.

This morning I’m down to 83.4 kg. According to BMI charts, that’s just 8 kg from a normal weight! (And yet, here in Japan, I still find it hard to get clothes that fit me in a regular shop!)

My short term goal is to get into the 70s by the end of the year. At this rate I might or might not make it – it’s a slow pace. But I am slowly and consistently losing weight, so I’m not too worried about that.

And onward!