Why I'm eating half my food today
Well it’s late in the week, and it’s been a busy one. Launching our Couples Challenge meant a couple of late nights, and some crossed eyes, as I tried to figure out what was happening with our Facebook page. It’s a lot of fun so far, and we’re hearing from some really great people! It’s going to be tough to choose!
So today, I find myself in an unusual position – I am feeling hungry.
That’s right, hungry. Of course, this goes against all my new instincts that I have built over the last 3 months, on the slow carb diet to lose fat, and using Occam’s feeding, to gain muscle. So it’s a bit difficult to sit with, however I know it’s just for a day.
So why, you may ask, am I sitting around and not doing anything about it? Why am I not going and cooking up some beans, some chicken and some spinach? There’s a good reason for this hunger, and it is in fact by choice, not due to me being stuck away from the fridge, or in a place with no good food options.
The reason is based on a couples of blog posts I read on Tim Ferriss’ website the other day. I should say, re-read, because I read these back when they were new, 4 years or so ago.. so why was I reading posts this week that are almost 4 years old? The first answer is that good information doesn’t get old, and the second is because these two posts were the first look at two of the most important chapters in The Four Hour Body – Slow Carb Diet and Geek to Freak.
Between these two posts, the slow carb diet is explained, and Tim’s experiment to gain 34 pounds in 1 month. Reading these got me eating lentils back then, though I didn’t continue to do so every day until this January. But there’s details in them that make a lot more sense, in the context of the book.
But why am I hungry today?
Answer: To gain more muscle.
Between the photographs that show a huge change, and the references to weird training experiments in Colorado, is this little bit of information: “Eat enormous quantities of protein (much like my current fat-loss diet) with low-glycemic index carbohydrates like quinoa, but drop calories by 50% one day per week to prevent protein uptake downregulation.”
And there is it. Simple and easy to understand. It is also discussed in the book, though for me it got lost amongst lots of ‘what if’ scenarios and suggestions of how you could do this (ie maintain calories, but drop protein down to only 5-10% of total food).
Having been stuffing myself full of protein in the last few weeks, in an effort to get through my weight gain plateau (with good results – see this article), I was wondering about what this was doing, endlessly filling myself with food. And I thought, maybe at some point there’ll be a switch that just flicks, and my body won’t be taking in as much as it was a few weeks back, when this much protein and food wasn’t ‘normal’. And then as if by magic, I reread these posts, and the answer was there. Doing this sure didn’t seem to hurt Tim’s ability to gain muscle over his experimental month.
So I choose to just eat half. Eat half of each meal. That’s taken the form of cutting out the starches, so I’m back to 100% slow carb, and drink half as much protein shake too. Though not officially ‘calorie cycling’, it is a new adventure into testing the body’s reaction to food intake.
Though I was quite concerned about the effects it might have, I seem to be progressing through my day quite fine. I do wonder about muscle recovery effects, however I’m already a few days after my last workout, so muscle growth isn’t as big an issue as it might be if I had just trained at the gym yesterday.
My mood hasn’t been effected like I thought it might be, and my concentration is still solid. So perhaps there is something to this. I know I’m going to eat again in an hour or so, so I’m not concerned with my hungry feeling, I am just noticing it. And tonight, I will have a regular slow carb meal, with smaller proportions, and be ready for tomorrow.
Have you experimented with calorie or protein cycling? I’m interested to hear from people who might have tips or advice for us all!
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