At the start of autumn, I posted Fall Strategies For Nutrition and Fitness where I outlined my seasonal approach to a low-carb/paleo diet.
The premise is that our bodies have growth and repair cycles, just like the planet. During the spring and summer is when the planet grows. Long days stimulate carbohydrate cravings and growth. The fall is when nature rests and repair begins for the following spring. Shorter days will reduce carbohydrate cravings provided you don’t bathe yourself in artificial light after sunset and stimulate repair.
I believe many of today’s health problems, especially cancer and obesity, are a result not allowing the body to go into a repair mode during the colder months. Repair means more sleep, less carbs and less exposure to blue light.
The focus of winter is fat loss, injury recovery and rest.
Kerry Park 2008 Snow Storm by MAS (can you see the Space Needle?)
Here are my winter strategies for nutrition and fitness.
- Sleep More – Continue loading up on sleep. Less daylight means energy conservation. This is the season for rest and repair. Longer sleep will boost your immune system too. I have black out blinds in my room and zero electronics. I’m now having the deepest and most restful sleep of my life.
- Removal of All Sugars – OK, not all sugars. The only acceptable sugar will be the small amount in the occasional piece of dark chocolate (73% or higher). Nothing else. That includes alcohol.
- No Fruit Except Berries – Fruit is not in season. Wait until spring.
- Ketogenic Exploration – Winter is the season for very low carbohydrate intake. When your carbohydrate levels drop low enough you will enter a state called ketosis. During ketosis the body burns ketones instead of glucose. Many dieters have found this is the holy grail of fat loss. I don’t know if I ever entered ketosis. This season I will purchase ketostix to measure. Depending on how successful I am with regular ketosis, I may experiment with a cyclic ketogenic diet (CKD) closer to spring.
- Cold Weather Exposure – Cold weather means cold weather training. It’ll toughen you up and may lose some more fat.
- Very Short Workouts – Since the carb levels are low, I am going to keep exercise to a minimum. I want just enough to maintain current levels of strength and trigger hormone-sensitive lipase for fat loss. One brief high intensity weight lifting session and one 4 minute Tabata per week should be enough. If I can do that without stimulating a carb craving, I may add an additional workout, but diet comes first. All workouts will be done in a fasted state. I will also add in some fasted urban hiking around Seattle.
- Daily Intermittent Fasting – I am going to use the Leangains 16 hour daily fast method. In the fall, I did about 3 each week. For winter, my goal is to do it daily. I’ll also be supplementing with BCAA.
My primary goal for winter is fat loss. If I am to hit Level 3 Leanness in 2011, it is most likely to happen at the end of winter. This is all uncharted territory for me. I’ve never done a ketogenic diet or daily IF. Will I make it? Stay tuned.