The Man who didn’t Eat for 382 Days

Intermittent fasting has been in the zeitgeist lately it seems, and for good reason; people the world over are reporting increases in energy, weight-loss, mental clarity and more. But is it safe? And how long can you fast for? This case study provides some very interesting insights. Of course, the obvious limitation of a case study is that N equals 1. However, I still think that case studies can be very useful in certain situations. This is one of these situations, as the methodology in this study was rather extreme. If you’d rather see the video breakdown of this, click here.

The study was on a man of 27 years, who weighed 456 pounds before beginning. The methods were very simple: he would fast. In fact, he fasted for 382 days straight. He was allowed to consume “non caloric fluids ad-libidum.” (1). He was given a multivitamin for all 382 days, yeast and vitamin C for the initial 3 months, and paladac (a multivitamin used to treat vitamin deficiencies) for the final three months. He was also given potassium supplements between day 93 and day 162, and sodium supplements from day 345 to day 355. He was an inpatient for a period of time, but then allowed to live on his own.

So, what happened? Well, he didn’t die. In fact, “…fasting in this
patient had no ill-effects.” (1). He also lost 276 pounds, going from 456 pounds to 180 pounds. After 5 years, his weight was stable at 196 pounds.

Here’s where this gets pretty damn interesting. His blood glucose decreased “systematically” and stayed at about 30mg/100ml. As a reference, a diabetic with hypoglycemia may have a blood sugar of less than 70mg/100ml. However, the patient ” remained symptom-free, felt well and walked about normally” (1). Basically, he should have been extremely tired, shaky and irritable due to low blood sugar. So why wasn’t he? Ketosis. When carbohydrates are restricted to usually 5-10% of calories, the body will enter ketosis and begin to use its stored fat for energy. The same thing happens when you eat nothing. Of course fasts of this length should be very carefully considered, and they would only be applicable in subjects who have considerable amounts of weight to lose. However, this case study provides some very interesting insight into common claims regarding starvation and the way the human body works. Food for thought.

BM.

Study:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2495396/pdf/postmedj00315-0056.pdf

 

 

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Internal Vs. External Locus of Control Explained

An understanding of this psychological phenomenon can have some pretty beneficial implications for your life. If you’d prefer to watch the video version of this article, click here.

Your locus of control is defined as a “generalized expectancy of internal versus external control over behavior outcomes” (1). Basically, it describes how much you feel that you are in control of yourself and your behaviour; people who have an internal locus of control tend to feel in control of themselves and what happens to them, and those with an external locus of control are the opposite. Not surprisingly, this phenomenon has been studied in its relationship to mental health. Let’s look a few studies.

The first study grants full access. The other two do not, but useful information can still be gathered from the abstracts. The researchers took 492 participants from Hashemite University (HU) and asked them to fill out three questionnaires: “Multidimensional Health Locus of Control Scale (MHLC), the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SLS), and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D)” (1). The depression scale and satisfaction with life scale were used to be correlated with the results of the locus of control scale. You can read the study yourself, I’ll just get to the results. I quote:

“… the results confirmed the relationships between the two cognitive constructs (locus of control, satisfaction with life), and depressive symptoms, among students at HU. Significant positive correlations were found among internality Locus of Control (IHLC), externality Powerful Others, and Satisfaction with Life (SLS). Additionally, the internality was negatively correlated with two subscales of depressive symptoms [reversed positive affect and interpersonal difficulties] and TOT depressive symptoms.” So firstly, those participants who were more internally oriented were significantly more satisfied with life. Those who were internally oriented were also less depressed.

Another quote: “In contrast, externality Chance (CHLC) was correlated positively with powerful Others, the four subscales of depressive symptoms [Depressive Affect, Somatic, Reversed Positive Affect, Interpersonal Difficulties] and TOT depressive symptoms, and negatively with Satisfaction with Life (SLS). Significant negative correlations were found also among Satisfaction with Life (SLS), the four subscales of depressive symptoms depressive symptoms and TOT depressive symptoms. Additionally, significant positive correlations were found among scores in total depressive symptoms and the scores in four subscales of CES-D, and further proved high internal consistency for the scale among the study sample of college students.” So this means that people who more externally oriented were more depressed, and less satisfied with life. Lastly, this study “…supports past research indicating the importance of student belief system as a predictor of student mental health.” All of this information is important. It means that changing your beliefs about the degree to which you have control in your own life can have a very positive impact. Let me briefly expand on that. Imagine you fail a test. You can accept that you probably should have studied harder, or you can blame it on your circumstance. In the latter scenario, you remain in control. In the former situation, you will likely feel powerless, and this easily leads to depression.

The second study I looked at was a meta-analysis of studies looking at the relationship between locus of control and depression. The abstract stated that “locus of control orientation and degree of depression were significantly related, that the relation was moderately strong, and that it was consistent across studies. Greater externality was associated with greater depression. Studies that included separate subscales for locus of control for positive and negative outcomes produced similar results” (2). Unsurprisingly, this study yielded similar results to the one above: people who are more externally oriented are more depressed.

The last study I looked at 114 undergraduate students. They were asked to complete a locus of control scale, achievement anxiety test, and a procrastination scale. Students also provided their GPA. The results speak for themselves: the internally oriented “students showed significantly lower academic procrastination, debilitating test anxiety, and reported higher academic achievement than the latter.” (3). The latter in this case was the externally oriented group. It pays to feel in control.

Obviously, there are situations where this isn’t applicable; if something blatantly out of your control happens, like a loved one dies, an internal locus of control may not help you much. However, the research seems pretty clear that going through life with a general sense of agency is significantly better for your health than not to.

I hope you got something from this. Best,

BM.

Research Referenced:

1: http://ejop.psychopen.eu/article/viewFile/241/pdf

2: http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=1988-35828-001

3: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.2466/pr0.95.2.581-582

 

Ketogenic Diets|RANT

I made a video one evening that is essentially a rant about the keto diet. After doing the ketogenic diet for about 6 months, and following YouTubers on their keto journey, I began noticing things that really piss me off.

It seems to me that people will follow a diet, and they will proclaim that it is healthy because it is the diet. For example, “My Vegan diet is healthy,” “My Atkins Diet is healthy,” “My high protein is healthy,” and on it goes. My response to this is, “I doubt it.” What drives me crazy about this reasoning is that people forget what they’re eating at the expense of what they’re not eating, whether it’s animal products or carbs. Your diet is only as good as the quality of food you’re eating, there is no evil macronutrient.

And that’s where we get into the heart of the rant. I see lots of keto YouTubers do a grocery haul and I don’t see vegetables, and I do see processed crap. “Oh, but it’s super low carb!” Who cares? It’s not healthy! If you think a bunless McDonald’s burger is worse for your health than a sweet potato, you’re not on Earth. This demonization of carbohydrate is absurd. There are good carbs and bad carbs, just like there are good fats and bad fats. I keep carbs low because I like ketosis, not because carbs are bad. This is the mentality you should have.

The bottom line is that you must focus on healthy food first, and then focus on the eating style you like. The diet is irrelevant if your body is not getting proper nutrition.

As always, I hope this inspires your neurons to fire differently. Best,

BM.

 

Why I No Longer Eat a High Carb Vegan Diet.

I decided to try a high-carb low fat vegan diet for my persistent acne, after seeing a video by Nina and Randa on YouTube where they claimed they got rid of their bad acne by eating in such a way. I tried it out, and I discuss my experiences in video form here.

So to be clear on what I was eating, my diet consisted of fruit, vegetables, starches, grains, beans and legumes. I didn’t eat processed vegan foods, and I made sure to take my vitamin B12. Before I get into my experience, I also want to make it clear that I do not think eating this way is always unhealthy for everyone, I’m just sharing my experience, and Veganism is something I may go back to in the future.

At first, I really enjoyed eating in this way. I had more energy, my endurance increased, and I lost weight. After a few weeks however, I developed GERD (Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease), which is essentially frequent, bad heartburn after eating. This was particularly bad after my morning oatmeal. I thought my body would adjust, and so I stuck with it.

After about 4 months, my acne was the worst it had ever been, my GERD was unbearable, digestion was a nightmare and accompanied bad gas and bloating, I had absolutely no labido, and in fact… well you can guess. My sex life suffered as a result, and I felt very angry and aggressive much of the time. Given these issues, and in an effort to fix my terrible digestion, I cut out all gluten containing grains and my beloved oatmeal, and started eating a handful of walnuts every day because eating zero fat is absurd (Sorry McDougall). I felt better, my digestion improved, and my skin started to look much better. I thought I had solved it!

Unfortunately, I hadn’t. I began noticing that I was tired after eating, and I could not be satisfied very easily. I also developed IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) which I wrote a post about on this site. I let the IBS do its thing for a couple of months because I thought it would get better with time and with the aid of healthy probiotics. It fluctuated, and sometimes was not as severe, but it didn’t go away. One day at work after coming from the bathroom for the 3rd time, I decided enough was enough, and changed my diet completely. My IBS is totally gone now, and the video on that is available here (I won’t go into detail now).

Ultimately, a high carb vegan diet completely failed me. Maybe it would be better now as I feel that I have healed many of my gut problems. I wanted to share my experience because I don’t see a lot of people talking about how veganism failed them, it’s usually the opposite. I also wanted to show people that you’re not the only one who may be struggling on this type of diet. I hope this is helpful, and as always, best.

BM.

How I lost 50+ Pounds|What’s the Best Way to Lose Weight?

This post is the accompaniment to this video. Generally speaking, there are two components to losing weight and keeping it off. Those are nutrition, and training. I’ll address the training component first.

From personal experience, the one thing that is going to make a massive difference in your training success is to have specific training days. For example, Monday, Wednesday and Friday could be cardio days, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday could be lifting days, and Sunday a rest day. This specificity will keep you accountable, and it becomes a routine that if broken, is only your fault. Whatever schedule you choose, it’s very important that you can sustain it, and that it becomes as natural as brushing your teeth at night.

The second component to sustainable long term weight loss is nutrition. This is arguably the bigger piece. If I can conceptualize my approach in three words, they would be “eat real food.” It starts here, and here’s why. I see weight-loss as a bi-product of a healthy lifestyle, it does not (or should not) exist in a vacuum. This means that losing weight should accompany a commitment to healthier being: better sleep, stress reduction and real healthful foods. As an example, someone experiencing a severe illness may lose a lot of weight, but it’s not in the slightest healthy. Health, not looks, should be the focus. If done this way, the looks will follow.

The other reason that I advocate a real food approach is that processed, refined foods in today’s world have not existed for the past few millions of years of our evolution. This means that our bodies have not adapted to eat these things, thus causing inflammation and making weight-loss and healthy living very difficult. Food companies also manufacture foods to be addicting, and so telling someone to “just eat less” doesn’t work, because we’re not hard-wired to “eat less.” The solution is to “break-up” with junk food, and adopt a whole foods diet that fits your lifestyle and your body. I believe people tend to feel better on either a higher carb or higher fat diet. Which macronutrient ratios you choose matter much less than the quality of the food you eat. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and organic meats/eggs/dairy are the foods that we’ve evolved to eat. Eggs and dairy are much more of a recent introduction evolutionarily speaking, but if you tolerate them, I think there’s a place for them in your diet.

If you don’t want to adopt this approach, and you’d rather take a “flexible dieting” or “IIFYM” (If it Fits Your Macros) approach, go for it. But if you do, then it comes down to eating less than you are eating right now, and that’s difficult. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, one macronutrient (protein, carbs and fat) has to be on the lower end. It’s easier to be committed 99.9% of the time (and cheat once in a blue moon) than to know that some foods are bad for you but eat some of them sometimes; psychologically, it’s easier to see non-food as not food. Just because you can put it in your mouth, chew it and poop it out doesn’t mean you should.

I hope this is helpful. Best,

BM.

 

Calories in/Calories Out and Jason Wittrock’s Experiment|My Thoughts

As usual, the video version of this article is available here. Let’s dive in, shall we? Jason Wittrock is an American bodybuilder and personal trainer who’s been doing a ketogenic diet for the past while. Jason has a YouTube channel devoted to spreading the ketogenic lifestyle. Recently, he did a 3 week (21 day) 4,000 calorie challenge. He was inspired to do this by an overfeeding study he learned about while at a Low Carb USA conference. So for three weeks, Jason ate 4,000 calories everyday, with the macronutrient breakdown being roughly 80% fat, 15% protein, and 5% carbohydrate. One should note that this was close to double what he normally eats.

So what happened? Well, he started this experiment at 148 pounds, and 5.2% bodyfat. After the 3 weeks, he weight 145 pounds, and was 5.0% bodyfat. Yeah, you’re reading that right. He lost weight. How is this possible? My explanation is as follows: Option 1 here is that we assume Jason was BSing the whole thing in an effort to push the lifestyle and promote his diet and therefore earn more business. I think this would be irresponsible, as I see no valid reason or evidence for such a claim. Therefore, we’re left we option 2.

Option 2 has two sub-options. A, is he that the calories in/calories out theory has been essentially debunked. Option B is that the theory still holds true, but Jason’s metabolism ramped up and he literally starting using 4,000 calories a day. Take your pick.

The thing that we must always remember about a theory is that it should be true 100% of the time for it to be a good theory. Any doubt, and rationality has it that we become skeptical. Ergo, Jason’s Experiment leads me to be skeptical of the calories in/calories out theory. While I’m skeptical, I also am aware that it is fully possible that the theory still applies, and as mentioned Jason’s metabolism ramped up. What do you think? Head on over to my video and drop a comment.

I’m sure this gives us all something to think about. As always, best,

BM.

 

The Psychology of Weight-Loss|The Mindset You Need to Have

I have a video regarding this topic which you can check out here. Essentially, given my own experience and what I’ve gathered from the experience of others, there’s a certain psychology that accompanies sustainable weight loss. In my view, there are two components to this psychology.

The first thing is that you have to believe that it is possible for you to lose weight. This may seem obvious, but it isn’t. One of the biggest reasons that I failed multiple times losing weight in the first place was because I genuinely believed that it was not physiologically possible for me to; I believed that I had a certain body type, and that was the one I was stuck with. It is necessary, however, for a person who desires to lose weight, to wholeheartedly and genuinely accept that they can. This is step 1.

Step 2, or the 2nd component to this psychology, is that you must want to. This again seems obvious, but what I mean is more nuanced than simply “Yeah I wanna lose weight.” What I mean by this is that you must want and be willing to make a commitment to health and sustainable weight loss long term. The reason diets fail is because they are unsustainable and temporary. A person wanting to lose weight and keep it off must be willing to adopt a set of values and patterns of behaviour which are conducive to long term success.

That pretty much sums it up. Believe that you can, and have the fire within to make it happen. As always, I hope this is beneficial. Best,

BM.