Stomach Woes Have Snuck Up On Me

In the last year, I have had increasing issues with stomach pain. Nothing too bad. Yet with increasing frequency.

At first, I thought that the increased fiber from a peasant diet was the culprit. I also thought it might be legumes (still properly prepared). So I reduced both and then I had issues with two meat-based meals at restaurants. Another suspect was the high amount of resistant starch I was getting via chilled potatoes. To address that I started re-heating potatoes.

I’d feel better for a few days. Then worse. I could not find a pattern, other than the frequency has been increasing.

Then a week ago, I may have discovered the trigger. After 25 years of drinking black coffee on an empty stomach with zero issues, I don’t think I can anymore. I’m not 100% certain. More like 60% now. But what happens is my stomach starts gurgling loudly when I drink black coffee first thing in the morning without food.

My initial tests have been trying to find the least amount of food I can still consume at 5:30 AM so I can drink coffee. Those tests are not going well. I really do not want to start my eating window this early. An eating window of more than 12 hours almost always leads to weight gain. Plus I am not hungry that early. I just want glorious coffee. I started adding half & half to that first coffee and it seems to help.

I am also feeling fuller for much longer after eating. It feels like my digestion is slower.

I am at the initial stages of trying to solve this riddle. If you have any experience you can share or tips, please leave a comment. I lost 4 pounds in the last week and I was trying to gain muscle. Not good.

The Upside to Health Blogging

A year ago, I was researching my own protein needs. I had just lost a lot of weight using the carb-friendly Peasant Diet that had moderate to low protein and I was figuring out what to do next. My research took me to some of the work of Lyle McDonald on P-Ratios.

From the post High Volume or High Protein Foods For Fat Loss:

The P-Ratio is a value that describes the rate at which you gain or lose fat and muscle when dieting or bulking. A 1:3 ratio says that for every 1 pound of muscle gained, 3 pounds of fat will be gained. On the flip side, it also means that when dieting, a pound of muscle is lost for every 3 pounds of fat.

The ideal situation is to have high a P-Ratio when gaining and a low P-Ratio when dieting.

The P-Ratio explains why the heavier you are, the less need you have for protein when dieting because very little muscle is sacrificed. On the flip side, it makes the case that as one gets lean, protein needs are increased to defend against muscle loss.

At the end of that post, I had made the case to myself to increase my protein intake. It was to become my new story. Then I got injured and I forgot all about P-Ratios. The next several months were spent with physical therapists and trying to solve the riddle of getting my knee pain to go away.

In May, I had a breakthrough on my knee and I have been making progress ever since. My activity is up and I’m regaining muscle in my legs. Yet, I’m still dropping weight, when I want to gain at this stage.

Puzzled by this development, I dug through this blog and found that post from a year ago on P-Ratios. It was information I learned and posted on quickly without having much time to reflect on that information or become better at eating a higher protein diet.

It is a good thing that I have 1,500+ posts of breadcrumbs leading me back to what captured my interest on that day. It helps me make better decisions going forward. If you do not blog, having a private journal might be of benefit to you.

I just listened to a podcast where an investor would write down his reasons for buying or selling a stock. Then he would revisit his writing to find flaws in his decision making. It made him a much better investor. I’m certain having this blog has made me more healthy than I would be without it.

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Fasting Lessons I Learned This Month

The plan was to do my 4th Fasting Mimicking Diet from July 3 to July 8 and then donate blood on July 9th. Let me unpack that sentence.

A Fasting Mimicking Diet is a 5-day very low protein diet created by Dr. Valter Longo. It has longevity benefits. The reason I wanted to donate blood just after the 5-day fast was that I knew that due to being in a low-calorie mode for 5-days that many of the toxins liberated from fat cells would be in the bloodstream. Donating that pint is just another detox pathway.

That was the plan. But I made an error that may not apply to you.

Iron Levels

In order to donate blood, you need to meet a certain iron level. That level will likely vary from region to region. In Seattle, they increased the requirements in 2017. Since then, I have been turned away a few times for just missing the lower boundary of iron of what they accept.

I want to pause here and explain this to the idiots that interpret me being turned away as proof that my diet leads to iron deficiency. My iron levels are in the healthy range. In fact, I’d go further and say they are probably optimal. The blood bank changed their policy to protect the health of the donor. They were concerned that after donating, the donor’s iron level would drop too much for the weeks post-donation.

Anyway, I learned online how fasting can lower iron levels. Since I was already on the lower boundary, I knew if I fasted before donating that I’d likely be turned away. So, I donated on July 9th and started my fast on July 18th.

I got my 4-gallon pin for Washington in 2017. I expect to get my 5-gallon pin in 2019.

Possibly Wrong About the Potato Version of the FMD

In March, I put together this post The Potato Diet Version of the Fasting Mimicking Diet. The short version is that I felt Dr. Longo did not convincingly explain why one would need to restrict healthy carbohydrates during the 5-day fast provided that protein was kept very low. So, I constructed a potato diet version.

In a follow-up interview on Found My Fitness, they talked about a relationship between insulin and IGF-1. It was beyond my understanding, but the lesson I took away was that potatoes might interfere with the benefits of an FMD by affecting IGF-1.

I still suspect that just getting the protein super low is the secret sauce, but if I am going to go through the effort of such a strict diet for 5-days, I can at least play by the rules. Even if I don’t understand them fully.

Prepping For Cold – Even in the Summer

My initial plan for this fast was to go 5 days with zero calories. The reason was I figured there are benefits of applying different fasting strategies and that following the most strict version of zero calories would make the most sense in the summer. The reason is your body temperature drops. Being in a warm season would make it easier.

As day 3 was winding down, I started to feel colder and colder. It was sunny and 73 F in Seattle and yet my hands and feet were ice cold. By 6 PM, my right hand was turning yellow.

I knew I had to end the fast, as I did not adequately prepare for feeling cold. So I went to the store to get cabbage and avocados.

Fat Bomb Mistake

About an hour or two after eating a few avocados and a plate of steamed cabbage, I had to run to the bathroom. A quick search on a fasting forum taught me that eating a high-fat high-fiber meal after going 3 days without food was an error.

Before I do my 5th FMD, I will revisit the food choices in the Fasting Mimicking Diet book.

Calling it over on Day 4

About 10 am on Day 4, I called it quits on this fast. I was cold and felt awful. As for hunger, it wasn’t bad at all. A little on the evening of Day 1 and the morning of Day 2, but not bad after that.

Wrap Up

Even though I didn’t get the full 5-days, I still feel this fast was successful, because I learned a few important lessons. The two big ones are to solve for heat regardless of the season and to not eat fat bombs after days of no calories.

I started the fast at 194 pounds. After a full day of refeeding, I am at 188. I expect to settle in at 191 or 192 by the end of the week.