Less Peasant, More Bodybuilder

In previous posts, I’ve discussed my version of the Peasant Diet. Check out How I Used the Peasant Diet to Lean Out which was posted a year ago. In that post, I covered how I used a diet of high-volume unprocessed food – mostly carbs – to drop from 222 to 200 pounds without feeling hunger.

I strongly believe that if you design a diet that minimizes hunger, you will minimize the risk of regaining the weight.

After an inactive winter due to an injury, it would have been normal for me to gain some weight back. But I didn’t. By April, I was down to 197. That is when I declared victory.

I had lost weight without experiencing hunger and I was able to maintain that loss for a year even during a period where I was sidelined with an injury. I consider 197 to be the upper bound of my ideal weight.

The Peasant Diet was a great tool to get to that point, but as I recovered from my injury, I knew my activity would increase. I’d likely regain some muscle and get leaner. As you get leaner, you need higher levels of protein to preserve lean muscle mass. This was discussed in my P-Ratio post.

So starting in July, I began increasing protein and scaling back on potatoes. It is working. I’m down to 192 and look great. I know winter is coming, but I think I’m ready for it, just like I was last year. The skills I learned from the Peasant Diet easily apply to the higher-protein version (Bodybuilder).

Seattle fall

Seattle fall photo I took years ago.

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.

blog sign

Fasting Mimicking Diet – More Questions and Comments

I was a bit critical of the Longevity Diet Book. Dr. Longo sold me on the merits of doing a Fasting Mimicking Diet during his interview on Found My Fitness, but I wasn’t a fan of the book. I thought it was too dumbed down and it didn’t explain some core concepts I felt were important.

Book Review: The Longevity Diet Book Overview

I didn’t buy the book. I got it from the library, read it in 2 days, and then returned it. So I no longer have the book in front of me to check what I am about to post.

Non-Fasting Optimal Diet

A few days ago, I listened to Dr. Longo’s interview with Ari Whitten. In the interview, I felt Longo did a better job of explaining his standard optimal diet, which is mostly vegetarian with some fish. The diet he believes is best is low in sugar and low in saturated fat. To be clear, this is the diet you follow when you are not doing the Fasting Mimicking Diet.

Longo explained his reason as being based on epidemiological studies. The populations with the longest life expectancies consume mostly seafood with little animal protein. He makes the point that organic grass-fed meat might be perfectly healthy, but we don’t have data at this point to support a longevity claim for eating in that manner. Maybe I missed it in the book, but I felt he explained his reasoning better in the interview.

I can respect this stance completely. Longo is an expert on what happens to the body when cells are deprived of amino acids and how we trigger repair processes. Nobody is really an expert on what the optimal diet is for longevity, so he decides that a basic Blue Zones diet is the default optimal. There may be better options, but there is no evidence yet. So if decades from now we start seeing keto people outpace the rest of us in longevity, we can reexamine the Blue Zones diet as the default optimal. Fair enough.

Side note: I suspect the longevity benefits of the Blue Zones are mostly due to strong social bonds, which in my opinion would be easier to form if you lived in beautiful weather year-round along the ocean.

Is Ketosis Required?

This is another question that came to me at the end of my Potato FMD: Do the full recovery benefits of the Fasting Mimicking Diet require the person to be in ketosis? Is that signal necessary? The hack that I have been posting about here uses potatoes to stay under 20 grams of protein, which is low calories and very low protein, but not ketogenic.

The Potato Diet Version of the Fasting Mimicking Diet

My hack observes the low protein requirements, but not the low glucose requirements. I recall not hearing a good case on restricting glucose to trigger autophagy and apoptosis. I was more swayed by the math described in the 2011 Protein Cycling Diet book.

But does the ketosis signal itself play a role in repair? More specifically, ending the ketosis signal. Would someone get a greater repair response – perhaps more stem cell production – coming out of ketosis? I do not know. Anyone?

My plan is to do the 2 avocados a day approach on my next FMD. Then I will be ketogenic and in full compliance. But I would still like to know.


Photo by Charles Deluvio

Is it Working?

I talked to a few people about this diet. People with issues that could benefit from trying it. They showed no interest. The big reason is people want to be rewarded for taking a sacrifice. With the FMD, you are taking a leap of faith that processes you don’t fully understand will improve your health in some manner which you can not measure.

This is not true for the truly sick. People with chronic illnesses or near end of life will be motivated to try anything. But very few other people will. Someone asked how would I know if I benefited from the Fasting Mimicking Diet. I said I didn’t know. There won’t exist a copy of me that doesn’t do the FMD that I can compare myself to.

In the future, I believe we will have methods to measure so many health markers that we will be able to get real-time scoring of the body’s repair processes. Getting those numbers will be the needed motivation for the general public. Until that day comes, I think the only people that will do this form of protein-restricted fasting will be the very ill and health geeks like ourselves. And many of us will lose interest as some other diet catches our eye.