Saturday, November 17, 2007

15 Pounds in 24 Days...and Falling!

Not only is my blood sugar coming down, but, so is my weight. As of this morning (11-17-07), I have lost 15 pounds in the 24 days since beginning the Paleo Diet, and the first three days were my transition period, when I was still eating some of the "bad" stuff.

So, from merely cutting grains and dairy and processed foods from my diet, plus walking a little, I am down from 233 pounds (as weighed by my nutritionist - now former nutritionist) on October 25th to 218 pounds, as of today. Proof positive that the Paleo Diet is great for weight reduction.

What is happening is that my body has accumulated a lot of fat over the last ten years or so and now, in order to maintain itself, it requires the same amount of calories per day that I was taking in. But, the difference is that now it's not finding those extra calories, because I'm no longer supplying them. If there aren't sufficient calories to maintain all that fat, then it gets burned off as my body goes into "starvation" mode (actually, a state of ketosis) and begins burning fat for energy. Since I have way more fat on me than there are calories to maintain it, it's being burned at a fairly high rate: about .6 pounds of it per day, by my calculations.

Ketosis is a stage in metabolism which occurs when the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies which can be used by the body for energy. Aside from rapid loss of body fat, you can tell you're in a state of ketosis by the smell of your urine. It has a kind of "funky" odor to it that is quite unusual.

Any successful weight (fat) loss program should produce ketosis, otherwise, you're just losing water and, worse yet, perhaps muscle tissue. The big difference in the Paleo Diet is that you're gaining muscle mass, just by the way you're eating. In your former typical American diet, you had very little protein to supply the body with the building blocks for lean muscle tissue. But, on the Paleo Diet, which is rich in high quality protein, you're supplying your body with all the protein it needs to build new muscle. This means that, when there are fewer calories in your diet than there used to be (because you're not pumping yourself full of sugar and starch anymore), your body has to find fuel elsewhere and it starts using your fat reserves as fuel. In other words, your body goes into a ketonic state, in which your liver is processing fat into fatty acids and ketones. It's the ketone waste you smell in your urine. Since the Paleo Diet ensures you'll be gaining muscle mass - not losing it, you're protected from the ill effects of other diets, which only cause you to shed water and muscle tissue.

If my calculations are correct and I'm losing weight at the rate of about .6 pounds per day, assuming that remains constant, I'll be down to about 190 pounds in another 46 days or so. Now, you may ask, what's to prevent this from becoming a "runaway" weight loss? Well, your body's natural tendency is toward equilibrium. In other words, you could never continue losing body weight as long as you're eating food, once you get to a certain weight. We each have an ideal weight at which our body will naturally reset itself to, given the right conditions; i.e., the right diet and exercise level. It's been many years since I've been at that ideal weight and I have gained muscle mass, via strength training in the 1990s, so I don't really know what my ideal weight is, yet. My body will tell me when it gets there. I would guesstimate, though, that it's somewhere between 190 and 200 or so. I say this because, when I began putting on muscle in my early forties, I started out at a weight of around 190 or so. But, I may not have been as lean then as I thought I was, and part of that weight may have consisted of some excess fat. I guess I'll know for sure when my weight loss stabilizes and I'm at equilibrium again. Man, that's gonna feel good!