Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Diet and Psychological Reform, Part 1

I regret that there's little time for introductions. I'll be sure to post primers on the topics that will arise in this post soon, ideally before the year's out. Today, I'm announcing my diet plan. The reason for doing this publicly is twofold. 1) The fear of shame is an added negative incentive to stay on track. 2) I've developed some techniques and philosophies that I find to be unique. I've also found them to be extremely helpful, and as such, feel they will benefit others by being shared.

So today, I am beginning my diet. To be frank, here are the rules:

  1. Alternate-day Fasting: One day of eating, one day without.
  2. 3000-Calorie Days: On days I eat, I'll consume ~3000 calories.
  3. Strictly Primal/Paleo Eating: For those unfamiliar, that's no grains, sugar, legumes, or vegetable oils. High-fat, low-carb, based around the consumption of REAL, whole foods. There will be a primer on this.
  4. Under 80g (Total) Carbs/Day: In alignment with Primal/Paleo methodologies.
  5. Sprints on off-days, weights on on-days, and 4 or less workouts/week: More on this in a moment.
          Goal: 145lbs by April 1st, 2010.

Now, as you'll come to understand, and may have gathered from the blog's title, I place a great deal of emphasis on understanding. I believe the most important question is "Why?" Remember this, if you plan on reading again. It'll help make sense of what I'm saying. That being said, let me provide a reason for each of these rules:

  1. Intermittent fasting is a proven method of weight loss. The premise is quite simple: If one goes without eating for a certain length of time, then eats to their fill, a caloric deficit is created, resulting in weight loss. Alternate-Day fasting seems an extreme method for some, but I feel a rhythmic approach will help me settle into a repeatable routine.
  2. My Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR; the amount one's body burns if one remained sedentary for an entire day) is around 2500. At first, it seems contradictory to eat more than I burn, but remember, I'll be eating 3000 calories every two days. That means, I burn 5000, eat around 3000, and have a deficit of 2000 calories. That's a lot. That's good. Eating above my BMR has two benefits, too: First, it prevents my body from going into "starvation mode" (*1) . Secondly, it should/will eliminate the "deprivation mindset", the feeling that a dieter is depriving him/herself of something. While this is true, clinging onto the deprivation mindset is a surefire route to failure. More to come on this.
  3. I am of the absolute firm belief that the Paleolithic/Primal way of eating is the only true way to attain optimum health. This diet is based on the premise of evolutionary biology, and is increasingly becoming supported by properly-performed research. Again, more to come on this soon.
  4. Carbohydrate promotes insulin promotes fat storage. It really is that simple. Since my goal is to end up looking like, oh, say..this guy (minus the d-bag haircut, sunglasses, and boxers doubling as shorts), the idea is to cut fat storage to an absolute minimum. It can be done. 
  5. Sprint exercises (short bouts of intense, maximum capacity work) are huge releasers of hGH (Human Growth Hormone). hGH in turn promotes fat release and muscular development. Science behind this and support for it come later. Same applies to weights. Compound, functional movements (think squats, deadlifts, presses) recruit multiple muscle groups for intense work, increasing hGH and testosterone levels. The idea with sprints is to do quick (<15 minute) workouts that promote fat loss. With weights, the goal is muscle development. Exercise also tears down muscle, so I'm limiting myself to 4 workouts a week to allow full recovery time (and allow my body to build muscle, rather than tear it down with overuse).
That's the WHY's. See Part 2 for HOW.

One more thing. Here's the before photo:

My, my, Mr. Mattingly. It seems we've got a bit of a ways to go.

(*1: I realize a lot of this seems like hearsay. Right now, this post is being rushed to get it out to a large audience [primarily Facebook friends, remember: Shame!]. As I have more time, I will write individual posts explaining the science behind these physiological functions. I believe defending and proving assertions is essential if you want anyone else to believe a viewpoint.)


  1. Bret, if you actually were to do this, Zoe and I will easily outweigh you and kick your ass. 145 is not a healthy weight for your height! You look great right now!! You seem to do really well with eating healthy...why not just set a goal to train for something?? ( I think mini marathon registration opened today ;) and not worry about the weight aspect? You SHOULDNT be 145 and your body is going to start tellin ya that soon. Therefore you're setting yourself up for disappointment (not necessarily failure...but a whole lot of struggle and beating yourself up). I'm not sure that fasting is ever really healthy... However, I do find your approach interesting and of course, respect your points and ambition. ;)

  2. Working my way through your posts, so here's my first response... thoughts, etc.

    First off, kudos for through your initial pic out there on the web. I am not nearly so bold, although I have taken "pre" photos for my own reference. If only I had taken one when I was 207 (my highest) so that I'd have an even more motivating reference now.

    My best week, 4 months ago, yikes, was when I followed something similar to what you are talking about. I did a series of 3 24-hour feast/fast cycles with a third day of just eating. With my schedule, this meant dinner(s), breakfast and lunch, and then the fast. My weight lifting was done near the end of the fast.

    Here's the thing though. I was simply not as hungry as I thought I would be. I had trouble meeting even 1400 calories a day, both physically and satiety-wise. And really, all I was eating was meat! I have to assume that my body simply wasn't feeling hungry because it was getting the extra calories from my body fat stores. I had plenty of energy too, while not feeling hungry, AND lifting weights and swimming in a river almost daily. I also was able to finally fit into a swimsuit I had not fit into in 5 years that week. Not so now, but still, I just listened to how hungry my body was.

    One comment I wanted to add, in regards to the end weight thing, not knowing your height at all, is if you've gotten a reasonable calculation of your current body fat, and then calculated out your lean body mass?