Yesterday (Saturday) was weigh-in and measure day. The results for the past few weeks are as follows:
As you can see I didn’t take any measurements on the 1st or the 8th. I can’t recall the reason why. In any case you’ll note that I started the Poliquin accumulation phase on the 5th October, and by the 15th when I got around to taking some measurements, you can see that I had a good result. Although my weight was pretty much the same as 3 weeks previously (217 pounds), you’ll see that I actually lost a pound of fat and replaced it with a pound of muscle. Then the following week (the 22nd) things were maintaining a good direction, I had lost another pound of fat and put on about 1/2 a pound of muscle. I was really encouraged as this is what the books say should happen, i.e. slow and steady progress losing between a pound to 1.5 pounds of fat per week.
Then something happened. Sure I was sick for a week and a half, but I still followed my diet plan, although perhaps not eating enough on several days. The interesting thing is that most people seeing my gross weight result yesterday would think it was a great result. My weight went from 217 to 214 pounds over one week – a loss of 3 pounds! However the devil is in the detail. The skin folds show that all that 3 pounds were lean muscle! Arghhhh! In fact, I put on a tiny bit of fat over that period. The worst possible result. Of course it could very well be that my ‘skin fold reading’ technique with the accumeasure is not so good, however I have to assume that it is accurate. So I automatically looked to see what may have caused the muscle loss. I put it down to one of two things (or maybe a combination of the two), firstly since I was sick and not training I may very well have lost some lean muscle over that time. Secondly I may have put my body into starvation mode and so it was using muscle for energy instead of fat stores.
I am tending towards the second theory. Why? Well fortunately this week I got sent a really timely email from Will Brink pointing me towards a free download by a couple of guys, a “Fat Loss Report“. You can get the report here – and I highly recommend it (c’mon it’s free!). In the report I learnt about leptin. I encourage you to get and read the report for all the details (it isn’t a long report – and very easy to read), however I’ll try and summarize the key point about leptin that I got out of it.
The report writers describe leptin as the “anti-starvation” hormone, that is when leptin levels fall in your blood stream your metabolism slows and fat burning hormones decrease, and fat storing hormones increase. This caused me to go whoooa. I sure don’t want to increase my fat storing hormones! So what causes leptin levels to fall? Well, a calorie deficit will do it, and of course that is what I am on 6 days a week. The report writers say that over the course of 6 days of calorie deficit, leptin levels will have fallen from to about only 50% of normal values. The good news is that only one day of “refeeding” will increase leptin back up to normal. Which is what I was doing, right? Well I found out maybe I wasn’t refeeding correctly. You see on my refeed days I would bump my calorie intake up from 2,200 calories to 3,400. However I would get that extra 1,200 calories through healthy stuff like chicken, protein powders, vegetables etc. You may recall me complaining about how much healthy food I had to eat to get to that 3,400 calories. It actually was a real drag.
Well I found out from the report, that the best way to raise leptin is actually to eat carbs + fat together! Not carbs and protein, or protein and fat, but carbs and fat. The report writers even went as far to claim that eating pizza is a great combination of carbs and fat to raise leptin! So by me eating low fat on my refeed day, I’m thinking that maybe I actually didn’t get my leptin levels back up to normal, which is why my body stubbornly held onto my fat. I need to try something to get my fat burning back on track, so yesterday I decided to try the author’s advice. I went out and bought a pepperoni pizza, and gorged myself with 5 slices. Yummmm. I should point out that one slice is only 47 grams, which is much smaller than the slice one gets in the US. So yesterday I still stuck to the limit of 3,400 calories, but chose more fat/carb combinations to do it.