Lately I have been on a weight loss kick. I have a kidney transplant, blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol problems also. I want to keep my weight within the normal BMI, that is Body Mass Index. My optimum weight at least when I was a kid was around 150lb. Recently, that is after my kidney transplant my weight has been around 185-190lb. That is over the recommended normal weight for my height, which is 5′ 11 1/2″ or at least it used to be, I feel like I may have shrunk a little due to the effects of gravity on age, so I am probably more like 5′ 10 1/2″, but whatever it is to get to be within the range of normal weight, I would have to lose weight.
I saw a show on one of the PBS channels about this British guy who is concerned about death and longevity. He did some research and discovered that fasting, i.e. not eating as much, as we do in a normal American diet, is a key. There was a 3 day fast with nothing but Miso soup and black tea, an every other day fast, with one day eating one meal of 400 to 600 calories, and then the next day eating normally and then a third fast twice a week with normal eating five days a week. I chose alternate day fasting which seemed to be a reasonable compromise, my experiences with three day fasts in the past have not been pleasant and I thought the five and two method might be too lax.
After a few weeks, I noticed a real decrease in weight, on the days when I fasted my blood sugar was down and I didn’t need to take insulin or as many of the pills I had been taking. Blood pressure did not seem to be as much affected, and I don’t know about cholesterol, but the article below suggests that cholesterol and blood sugar would be modified in a beneficial manner. They suggested blood pressure would not be affected as much and that is what I experienced. Blood pressure, was better but not as much as I had hoped. I did find that blood pressure was reduced by exercise, walking specifically.
My body weight in the morning now is about 175lb when I get up, and goes up to about 179Lb after two meals in a day, less with one meal, and a half hour walk or more every day. Where as previously it had been at about 185lb upon waking and went up to 190lb. The fast worked rapidly and effectively. One side effect I noticed was that on the non fasting days my blood sugar shot up higher than normal, and I am not sure if that is because of decreased use of medication or because my body had not adapted to the diet. I noticed also an increase in energy levels. At first I became tired sooner at night but after a week or so I adjusted to the pattern.
After three weeks or so I became a bit concerned about the speed of the weight loss and decided to switch to an every third day fast. This did not work as my body could not adjust back to fasting after two days of meals as easily as the ever other day, so I dropped the idea and now I am simply eating less. A good sized breakfast, and a light dinner, with perhaps a snack of a handful of no salt sunflower seeds, or a piece of fruit in between, or if my blood sugar drops too low, which is now a concern, a piece of a protein bar if it drops to the point where I feel woozy.
I am hoping that eating less overall will keep me from gaining weight back. A big part of the solution I think is avoiding prepared and fast foods, which tend to be laced with salt, fats, and sugar, all things to avoid in the diet. I keep salt to a minimum, just what is in the salsa and hot sauce I like, buying Turkey bacon or Soy Bacon and sausages for breakfast which tend to be low fat and low sodium. Eating only one or perhaps two eggs a day, and I am thinking of switching to egg whites, using salsa and other low fat alternatives to butter or jam on toast, eating whole grain bread and keeping that to a minimum or using corn tortillas instead of bread. I use a lot of veges in my meals, keep the grains lower than before, only eat chicken with the fat removed, usually by baking the cuts in tinfoil, then refrigerating and throwing away the fat that accumulates before I heat the meat to eat. I tend to saute a lot, so I use extra virgin Olive oil and tend to keep the heat medium to low so that I don’t overcook, because I tend to like to throw in lots of fresh ingredients, so most of my cooking time is spent pealing and chopping vegetables, then sauteing them or steaming them. I like to prepare potatoes in batches by baking several days worth in the oven wrapped in tin foil, I do the same with chicken, salmon, etc. the trick is to under cook, then put them in the fridge so that you can just grab and throw them in the skillet at the last minute with your sauteed veges. Also use lemon wedges instead of salt and fruit instead of sugar, although I have to admit occasionally I drop some chocolate into my morning coffee.
As a result my BMI is now just within the normal range at about 24%-25% over ideal. I am in the 25th percentile for persons my age, meaning that 75% of men in their 50’s weigh more than me. I don’t know if it is controlled for height as well in that statistic, at least according to the BMI calculator I used.
After I get used to this new weight I plan to fast again to drop down to my goal of 165lb as morning weight, but I don’t want to drop precipitously as that may cause a boomarang effect or have deleterious health effects. The “people’s choice” ideal weight for my age and height seems to be 170lb. which will probably be my top weight after meals if I hit the 165lb for morning weight.
BMI calculator with some nice features, includes sex, age, and tells you where you fall in the percentile of your peers. It has links to ideal weights and is pretty nifty.
Alternate Day Fasting versus Calorie Restriction is examined in this article from “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”
The only data I could find on fasting and kidney transplants was for Muslims fasting for Ramadan, which means fast all day and eat at night for a month.