High Fat Diet

IMG_2202Okay, with all the relatives in town, and the fun of eating out, I’m not toting around a loaf of bread, and insisting on my boring low-fat diet. So it’s two slices of pizza and a “salad” (the good kind with the tossed-in fat and meat), with frozen yogurt for dessert. This is the only time I’ll watch the quantity of food I’m eating (like normal people do, I guess).

I rode 50km this morning, with some good hill efforts, so I’m probably keeping a little ahead of my fork. I’ll still lose weight eating this, even though I have to resort to the dreaded “portion control” mindfulness. Think of it as a LCHF diet with real healthy fats, plus some plain bread.


Update: Ate more off-plan junk after dinner, including a bunch of cookies, more pie, and chocolates. I’ll hope to burn off the calories on the Sunday morning ride, but from experience, I know “you can’t outrun your fork”.

Dinner @ Golden City

IMG_2162Golden City is the best Chinese restaurant ever, because the food is great, the service is actually good, and the place is clean, bright, cheerful, and quiet. There might be a few other places like this, but I’ve never seen them. So instead of dreading a family outing, I’m actually pretty happy to have dinner there.

I only had a 600g loaf of bread today, so I’m pretty hungry. I hammered some hills this morning, fueled by Thanksgiving dinner and pumpkin pie, and I PR’ed the 5th Ave Hill Sprint from Date to Laurel, placing an overall 4th @ 2:00 (out of 2,900 total attempts). I’ve been monitoring my progression on this hill, because on my fixie, my times are a direct function of my weight. I’ll still probably lose another 5-7 kg, so I expect to improve by another 10 seconds or so.

Anyway, my family is in town for Thanksgiving, and four of us are pretty involved (obsessed) with health and fitness, so the dinner conversation always includes a debate over carbs. I give them the vegan argument that you get everything you need from bread, tortillas, beans, rice, and vegetables. Everyone else worries about protein, and thinks you have to get it from meat. Plus, they’re convinced that bread makes you fat, and I only get away eating a pound a day because I bike a lot. We have the same conversation every meal (because I bring it up), and no one changes their mind 🙂

Easiest Diet In The World

IMG_2185I used to think that the low-fat vegan crowd were diet-Nazis, who couldn’t even begrudge me a reasonable amount of fat or meat in my diet. They seemed particularly humourless, singularly bent on taking all the fun out of food. Well, I finally “get it” now, and not because of their constant beratings and lectures.

I started eating a very low fat (~10% of calories) diet, because I learned a few simple things. First, the body doesn’t easily turn carbohydrates into fat (de novo lipogenesis in humans is slow and basically insignificant). Secondly, the body simply and reliably burns fat from adipose tissue during low to moderate exercise [1]. So, I put 2+2 together, and eat only “carbs” (breads, tortillas, noodles, etc.) and avoid all fats (oils, meats, etc.). I eat whenever I’m hungry, and my exercise is a one-way fat burn (can’t come back, even if I eat a loaf of bread after a workout).

I ate most of this challah loaf after a 100km ride on Saturday. It’s made with eggs, so it has more fat than I wanted, but 50g of fat after a hard workout won’t kill you. Before the ride, I ate a nice fresh bagel and drank 350ml of orange juice. For dinner, I had a rice and bean burrito. For dessert I ate about 300g (most of the box) of Shredded Wheat cereal with blueberries, bananas, and almond milk. I ate a few corn tortillas for good measure.

It’s a great relief knowing that unlimited carbs (but no fat) won’t make you fat, nor interfere with your fat-loss workouts. I just eat till I’m full, and consider the food as re-fueling my glycogen stores. At any rate, I know that even refined carbohydrates aren’t easily turned into significant amounts of fat, so I’ll eat yummy breads like challah. A big post-workout carb meal doesn’t “nullify” my efforts, since the fat was burned during the exercise, and carbs aren’t turned into fat. (Sure, calorie restriction would probably work to burn even more fat, but why would I bother?)

So, I’ll continue with this low-fat diet (<10% of calories) and we’ll compare the weightloss rate on my progress chart. I’m never hungry, and even occasionally overeat a little too much bread and/or tortillas. But I’m progressing towards my 70 – 75 kg goal (I weighed in at 77.4 kg this morning) at a noticeable pace. It’s pretty rewarding, and worth giving up the fat for. Don’t worry, I’ll eat reasonable amounts of meat after I make my weight goal.

Riding on the Streets of Paris

IMG_2166The Paris Hotel in Las Vegas has a little Potemkin village wrapped around the casino gaming floor, with quaint old European cafes, shops, and restaurants. They also put in cobblestone streets and painted a reasonably convincing cloudy blue sky on the ceiling. So when I finished my 90 km fixie ride up to Red Rock and back, I rode into the casino and ate a petit sandwich with a Perrier at Le Cafe, in my sweaty t-shirt and jeans. The street scene was so authentic, that the only bicycle in a Vegas casino looked about right.

Las Vegas Blvd in front of the Bellagio also looks like Europe, with its tree-lined streets and lake-front view. There’s no bike lane, so you have to race the cars on The Strip like it’s the final sprint up the Champs de Elysee. You could stage a nice criterium there, only blocking off a few streets. (The Strip is so slow, everyone drives on the back streets anyways.)

Anyways, I managed to eat lots of bread, fruits, and vegetables, with little meat or fat. There wasn’t any bakery in Paris, but I bought a big bag of Rold Gold pretzels from the sundry shop near the elevators. My weigh-in this morning was good, and I lost about a kilo over the last two weeks.

Another Loaf, Another 10 Minutes

IMG_2156I was feeling hungry before dinner, so I made a bread run on my bike, and picked up a ciabatta loaf. My legs were pretty tired, so I only made two hill efforts, and got back home to enjoy the bread. It seems that ciabatta isn’t great after sitting for 8 hours. I also noticed it’s significantly cheaper ($3.75) than the fancier fougasse ($5.75), and it tasted like it.

Anyways, that didn’t stop me from eating the whole 500g loaf in 10 minutes. I’m not worried, because I’ll need the glycogen for the long weekend rides. I’m not stuffed, and will probably eat something else with friends at a restaurant tonight. Maybe I’ll order a fruit plate. Anything I order will be low-fat, because any fat I eat at this point is going right to my adipose tissue.

I ended up eating rice and vegetables for dinner, and some more tortillas afterwards.

Gabriel’s Tortilleria

IMG_2144Every three days or so, I run out of tortillas, and I make a run to Gabriel’s on 25th & Imperial. It’s always open, as they’re making tortillas around the clock for stores and restaurants. The assembly line is right behind the counter, where they stack and package the tortillas that come off the machine. They keep some bagged tortillas in an insulated box, so if they can’t give you a bag right off the line, they still have warm ones for you.
I always buy the same thing: a 3 lb (1.36 kg) bag of fresh corn tortillas, and 2x 500ml of fresh salsa (red and green). The total is $6.85 USD (the tortillas cost $1.55). They taste the best when you eat them out of the bag, right on the spot. They’re soft, warm, rich, and aromatic. Sometimes I’ll buy them for lunch, and bring the rest home for later. I’ll eat about a pound of them per day, which is only about 1000 calories/day (about a third of what I eat).

One Loaf, One Sitting

IMG_2134No, this isn’t a small pretzel. It’s a 400g loaf of something called fougasse, a semi-flat bread related to Italian focaccia. I remember my neighbour mentioning it, as we both shop at Bread & Cie on 5th. I’m glad I took a picture of it, because it was gone in about 10 minutes. It was so good, and I was really hungry after 4 days of heavy riding, that I finished it all in one sitting.

It’s wonderful eating freshly baked gourmet bread without any guilt. Since going low-fat (< 10% of calories), and trusting the science on de novo lipogenesis (DNL), I eat this stuff until I’m full. The carbs just get stored as glycogen in the muscles, and not as fat in adipose tissue (no matter what Gary Taubes says).

This fougasse was so soft and fresh, and the anise and sesame seeds added a nice aroma. It really hit the spot. This is the way people should eat. I can’t believe I used to be afraid of bread. I had to prove to myself that a pound of bread a day was safe (by losing weight eating 30 lbs of bread, and by researching DNL). Now, count me in the low-fat, plant-based camp again.

Today is a rest day with lots of carbs to replenish the glycogen stores. At most, I’ll take a 5 km walk before dinner. Then I’ll cook up a big bowl of noodles, some popcorn, tortillas, etc. While some people think about restricting calories, I only think about what I’m going to eat next.

Carbs (Alone) Won’t Make You Fat

Click the image below to read Berkeley professor Marc Hellerstein explain that the body makes very little fat from de novo lipogenesis (DNL) of dietary carbohydrate, so carbs by themselves won’t make you fat. However, eating carbs with fat results in a “fat sparing” effect (consumed carbs are burned instead of fat), causing dietary fat to make a beeline for storage in our adipose tissue.
Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 8.19.03 PM

This pretty much explains both why low-fat (< 10%) diets work, and why low-carb’ers avoid all carbs in their high-fat diets. Both are right, kind of. The low-fat crowd knows that excess dietary fat goes right into storage. That’s right, of course. And low-carb’ers think that carbs cause insulin spikes which makes your adipose tissue store serum glucose as fat (the alternative hypothesis of obesity, aka “carbs make you fat”). But, that’s extremely overstating the effect of DNL, which is tiny (normal diets in healthy people won’t generate but a few grams of fat a day), while ignoring that fat gets stored directly as fat (the “fat sparing” effect). So carbs make the body store dietary fat as fat, not glucose as fat. Someone please tell Gary Taubes that it’s

food -> insulin -> serum triglycerides -> adipose
and not
carbs -> insulin -> glucose -> adipose

They measured DNL with doubly labeled water and other accurate means. And they’ve traced dietary fat accumulation a long time ago. This is well-known stuff by now. And yes, no-carb meals will also raise insulin levels (and glucose levels).

So, if you eat little fat, you won’t have any serum triglycerides to store as fat. It’s pretty easy to eat less than 50g of fat a day when you’re motivated to lose weight. Plus, all my biking burns way more than that. Yes, fat would make meals more “satisfying”, but it would also slow down progress to my weight goal. I can live without eating it for a while. I’m not starving. I’m eating more than 600g of carbs a day.

But people will believe what they want, and they’ll blame carbs for making them fat, mostly because they like fatty foods. Personally, I’ll go high-carb, low-fat when I want to lose weight, then go to reasonable fat (30%) for maintenance.

So I ate a huge loaf of sourdough yesterday (~ 600g), and ate a bunch of noodles and tortillas today. I ate very little fat yesterday (only some Thousand Island dressing on a salad). And of course, I rode about 240 km this weekend. Today alone, I burned 2600 calories on a 4.5 hour Moment Cycles shop ride.

I don’t mind burning off a bunch of fat while I bonk at the end of a long ride. I just don’t want to eat a bunch of fat afterwards to replace it. I collapsed at Dos Brasas at the end of the ride, and drank 3 large Diet Cokes and ate an order of 3 plain tortillas to make the last 5km home. (I only ate about 1200 calories on the ride — 1.5 bagels, a regular Coke, two packs of Shot Bloks.)


Noodle Haul

IMG_2095I’m back in serious weightloss mode again, so it’s time to fuel the body with carbs, and to avoid dietary fat. I’m riding about 200 km/week, so I’m burning lots of fat on the road and in spin class. I might burn 50 – 100 g of fat on a long ride, but a high fat meal could easily replentish it.

While it was fun eating lots of meat last month, and enjoying butter with my bread, I’m going back to the classic low-fat diet. The body does not store excess carbs as fat (de novo lipogensis is slow, < 10g/day), but excess dietary fat is directly stored by the body. So, I’m going to try to limit my fat intake to < 50g/day.

I enjoy the taste of food with minimal added fats, so it’s not much of an issue for me. I’m not worried about eliminating my fat intake, but just keeping it under the fat I burn.

I’m inching towards my final goal weight of 70 – 75 kg. If I burn 50g fat/day (around a 500 calorie deficit), I’ll only lose 1.5 kg in a month. It’s slow-going, and I’ll have to be careful. Fat tastes good, but if you don’t burn it, you’ll store it. Fortunately, carbs taste good but aren’t stored as fat.