Category Archives: Health Hacking

7 Day Stoic Water Fast

llap

Note, there is a more up to date version of this post here.

Here are my notes after not eating for a week.

The idea is to fast for 7 days every 3 months of the year. Eat nothing and drink only water – and some green tea if you get really bored.

It’s a cellular cull, a sugar withdrawal game, an immune system reboot and a journey in dematerialisation.

A stoic quest! (-:

“How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight … / done a 7 day fast?”

Why?

  • Well… it’s a challenge.
  • You want to reboot your immune system – or at least wake it up. Make your body generate some new white blood cells which are sharp enough to identify cancer cells and kill them.
  • You want to give your body a break from running on glucose.
  • You want to starve any (pre) cancer cells in your body. Cancer cells run on glucose.
  • Detox included. No alcohol or any other bad stuff for a week.
  • Reset hormone levels / reset insulin resistance.
  • Lowers bad cholesterol.
  • Fasting stimulates the release of growth hormones.
  • Fat loss and visible abs.
  • Food tastes amazing afterwards.

How?

Easy. Don’t eat anything and just drink water. Have a bit of green tea if you get bored.

Prepare. Do some intermittent fasting (IF) in the weeks before. Do a few 18 hour fasts. Then a few 24 hour fasts. You probably want to do a 3 day fast then a 5 day, then a 7 day fast. Some people do 20 day fasts – but that’s a bit extreme for me.

It takes 4-6 weeks for your body to get used to this – it gets efficient at running on fat over six weeks. Read about ketosis and IF.

I would NOT suggest you just switch from a high carb diet to fasting in a day. This is a 6 week project not an overnight thing.

Plan your week. You probably don’t want to do this on a very stressful or travelling week.

You want to get into a mild ketosis state before the fast. Do some low carb / keto eating in the day(s) before. This makes the transition easier.

Try and keep to 1-3 millimolar/l ketone levels.

Notes and Tips

Ketones are anti-catabolic and your body releases growth hormones when you are in ketosis.

It’s a pretty productive time. You will realise how much time food and eating consumes. You might need to go on a few lunchtime walks, not to get too bored.

There can be some negative things for some people: brain fog, back pain, heart racing, bad sleep. A lot of this is probably your brain going through sugar withdrawal. I did not experience this stuff – I’ve been experimenting with this for about 4 months now.

Your underwater breath hold time will increase. Try it. Very cool how you can spend more time underwater.

It’s cheap. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are free.

You might feel a bit of a high on day two/three, this is the ketones.

Some people will react a bit weirdly when you tell them you are not eating for a week. Just don’t tell some people.

Don’t go to gym. You probably want to take it easy with the exercise. I went to gym in my fast – just to see what weights I could lift. Pretty similar, but maybe 80% of the regular weight. If you are not eating protein it does not make sense to go to gym. Your body does not have anything to repair your muscles with after weight training. A few chilled walks or swims are probably enough.

Start eating at a slow pace after the fast – maybe start with a smoothie or something easy to digest.

Cancer
Does fasting really kill cancer cells? Nope it’s not that simple, but it gives them a hard time. It radically slows their growth. The real kicker is that you reboot your immune system and your white new blood cells identify and kill the cancel cells. That’s the theory.

You want to keep sugar out of your regular diet – you can’t just eat lots of sugar for three months and then do a 7 day fast to fix things.

“Fasting for four days causes stem cells to awake from their normal dormant state, and start regenerating. Researchers discovered this practice destroyed damaged and older cells, and caused new cells to be born, effectively renewing the immune system. This is the first time any natural intervention has ever been shown to trigger this self-renewal.” — from this article

FAQ

  • Is this safe?
    Yeah, you can probably go 30 days without food. Don’t stress… but, I’m not a doctor – make sure you are in good health before trying this.
  • Can I take MCT oil while fasting?
    Yeah, if you must. Not needed.
  • Can I take BCAAs while fasting?
    No, BCAAs will help prevent muscle loss, but the glutamine in most BCCA mixes is a bad idea. There is some research that shows cancer cells like glutamine.
  • How often should I do this?
    Four times a year. Every 12th week. Add it to your calendar.
  • How much fat will I lose?
    Depending on your base metabolic rate, probably about 2kg. Not as much as you might think. A kilogram of fat contains 7700 calories. If your base metabolic rate is 2000 calories per day you can lose about 260g of fat per day – a bit more if you are more active. Take a few long walks.
  • What do I do when I get hungry?
    Drinks some green tea or go for a walk.

My results

I went from 84kg to 80kg over the days I fasted. Probably a lot of water loss.

You should notice some fat loss… this photo was on day four:

IMG_2133

Listen to this podcast.

Here are a few more of my Health Hacking posts.

Have fun, crazy kids.

UPDATE 2015-11-16: Here is what I would suggest:

Friday: carb / pizza day. Saturday: low carb. Sunday: zero carbs, start the fast at 18:00.
Mon-Thu: fasting. Friday: fast till 18:00. Enjoy the weekend.

This gives you 5 days of fasting – with at least 4 days in a ketosis state. Should do the job for the health and immune system benefits. Obviously you can keep going.

UPDATE 2015-11-19: It’s important to make sure you are in a state of mild ketosis before you start the fast so you don’t have to worry about your body converting muscle mass into glucose. The whole point of this fast is to get glucose out of your blood for a prolonged time.

Gluconeogenesis involves the construction of new glucose molecules from amino acids harvested from the breakdown of protein primarily found in muscle. While this adds needed glucose to the system, it does so at the cost of muscle breakdown, something less than favorable for a starving hunter-gatherer.

But human physiology offers one more pathway to provide vital fuel to the demanding brain during times of scarcity. When food is no longer available, after about 3 days, the liver begins to use body fat to create chemicals called ketones. One ketone in particular, beta hydroxybutyrate (beta-HBA), actually serves as a highly efficient fuel source for the human brain, allowing humans to function cognitively for extended periods during food scarcity.

Our unique ability to power our brains using this alternative fuel source helps reduce our dependence on gluconeogenesis and therefore spares amino acids, and the muscles from which they are derived. Reducing muscle breakdown provides obvious advantages for the hungry Homo sapien in search of food. — from this article

I Want To Look Good Naked

A geek’s guide to getting to 10% body fat and having visible abs in 4 weeks or less.

This guide is all about maximum impact, with the least effort, but it still involves some work and discipline.

Intro

I was fat kid at school and I’m a geek. I never had visible abs – until now. Who better than an ex-fat kid with an unhealthy preoccupation with health reading to write about visible abs and low body fat numbers?

I set out to get to 10% body fat and this is a collection of things I’ve learnt. Getting to 10% body fat turned out to be non-trivial, but it’s been a fun challenge.

This post is the result of three months of learning and experimenting. It’s an all-in-one compact guide which includes a number of ideas: intermittent fasting, ketosis, GOMAD, CKD, Occam’s protocol, focused abs exercises, efficient weight training and some food supplements. I did not come up with most of these ideas, but I’ve packaged them into a fairly simple 3-day routine.

You may also want to read my previous post about rapid fat loss:

Three Meals a Day is the New Tobacco. That was all about fasting, ketosis and losing 10kg in 4 weeks. This post assumes you have dropped to reasonable body fat (around 15%) and you want to start optimising things a bit more – getting to 12% or 10% body fat.

Keep in mind, I’m not a doctor, so please read about these topics for yourself.

I-Want-To-Look-Good-Naked

The WHY?

I struggled with the title of this post – I had to ask why? a few times. The original title of the post was “Gym Nerd”. My “why” was to look good on the beach. I enjoy a challenge and making sense of all the complexities involved in health and fitness. I did this for fun, to see what would happen, but is this really just about body fat and visible abs?

What was the real “why?”. Why go through all this effort? My best answer so far is that I suspect most people will be driven by some primal thinking – looking good naked and feeling a boost in confidence. I think feeling in control of your body also gives you a feeling of control in your life.

This can’t hurt and you will look great naked.

Let’s get started…

The Basics

  • Eating is 80% of the story
  • Set goals
  • Collect data
  • Get a friend to join you
  • Get interested in these topics and read about them

Goals and Metrics

My goal was to get visible abs – mostly for the Cape Town summer / beach days. My original goal was just to lose 10kg, but nobody wants to be just another skinny guy, so another goal was needed.

In 4 weeks my body fat dropped 4%. I lost 3kg of fat and gained 4kg of muscle. The compound effect is key here: 7kg change.

It’s not just about losing fat. You want to do two things at once: lose fat, while gaining muscle. This is not a body building bulk-up and cut programme – you are doing both at the same time.

In my case it was actually a bit easier gaining muscle than losing fat.

The 3 key metrics you want to track are:

  1. Fat lost
  2. Muscle gained
  3. Body fat percentage

Find a way to measure these and record this data, daily if you can.

I also wanted to gain strength. I managed to increase my bench press one rep max from 90kg to 100kg. I also managed to steadily increase my max squat, dead lift, military press etc.

The Data

The body weight graph below shows my weight over the last three months, first dropping 10kg (previous experiment), then taking a break, and then gaining some muscle while bringing down my body fat percentage.

Weight / Time
Weight / Time

Next up, body fat percentage going down from 16% to 12%…

Body Fat / Time
Body Fat / Time

Muscle going up from around 39kg lean muscle to around 43kg… 4kg muscle gained.

Muscle / Time
Muscle / Time

Note: the data is not super accurate, because I just use a BIA machine and plug some numbers into a spreadsheet daily, but it shows the trend well enough.

Weekly Routine

I follow a 3 day cycle: Training day, 24h fasting day, IF day. Add one carb day in the week and these fit nicely into a 7 day week. Stick to the 3 day cycles – this also matches your rest days for weight training and should give you a healthy amount of time in a state of ketosis.

Saturday: Carb day
Sunday: 1 – Weight training day
Monday: 2 – 24h fasting day
Tuesday: 3 – IF day
Wednesday: 1 – Weight training day
Thursday: 2 – 24h fasting day
Friday: 3 – IF day

You get the idea.

Carb Day

You get one cheat day a week to pretty much eat what you like. On this day you eat fruit, dairy, pizza etc. It does not have to be Saturday, but Saturday seems to work well. Don’t go too crazy. Eat slowly. Maybe have 1/2 a pizza. Make sure you also eat some healthy stuff on carb days, veg etc, because two of the days are pretty much just protein and fat days. For bonus points: about 60min after you eat lots of carbs – do air squats and push-ups – this tells the body to send the energy to the muscles rather than store most of it as fat.

Day 1: Weight Training Day

Get up early. Have your Creatine and TiTea with MCT about 45min before gym. Sip BCAAs 15min before gym. Don’t eat any solids before gym.

Go to gym. Exercise your whole body in about 45min. Sip BCAAs through your gym time.

I alternate between Olympic bar days and gym machine days. Make sure you do squats or low-rows. You want to stimulate the release of growth hormones by exercising as many core / lower back muscles as you can at the same time.

Warm up well. Stretch after your gym routine. It should not take more than an hour in total.

Hit the rowing machine for warming up, 3-5min should do it.

Train to failure – while keeping good form. Do 5 reps per set. For each rep, lift for 5 seconds, bring down the weight for 5 seconds. Don’t rest at the top or bottom. Keep the muscle under stress for as long as possible. Full range of motion. Slower is better. You get the idea.

Squats, military press, dead lift, Yates rows, bench press, pull ups, dips, abs. Make sure you know how to do these things with good form.

You want to take a two day break between weight training days, sometimes 3 days for full recovery. Add more weight to your programme after the 3 day break. Ideally do the Olympic bar programme on this day.

On weight training days I drink a litre of grass fed / organic milk. Drink 500ml milk with a 20g scoop of whey protein isolate and some chia seeds about an hour after gym. Then another 500ml with protein and chia an hour later. Read about GOMAD / LOMAD. In short: squats and milk help you gain muscle. Milk protein is 80% casien – slow release. Make sure the protein powder you use has very little carbs (around 1g per 100g).

Btw. this real-milk-protein-milk-shake tastes great. You can also use a blender and put some flaxseeds in there – nice and nutty taste.

Milk has about 50g of carbs and 30g of protein per litre, so you want to get some afternoon exercise to use those carbs. Go for a long walk or a swim or a spinning class. I usually go for a 1km swim or a 90min walk.

Have a protein snack around 17:00. Biltong is good.

Eat a good dose of lean protein around 19:00. Tuna or grass fed steak. Have a few boiled egg whites. Have some glutamine. Have some more boiled egg whites if you get hungry towards 20:00. Go to bed early and get your full 8 hours of sleep.

Total protein for the day should be above 120g – add it up!

You can work out your protein intake with: lean body mass in kg x 2.2.

Example: I weigh around 82kg, with 12% body fat, so lean mass is 72kg, my protein for the day should be 158g. (82-(82*.12))*2.2

There is 3.6g of protein in an egg white, and only 71 kilojoules, so snack away. Yes, BCAA count towards daily protein intake (count about 90% of the BCAAs as protein – similar to whey protein isolate).

A can of tuna with lemon juice and some pepper is a good snack which gives you 20g of protein. There is 20g protein in 100g of steak. 23g in 100g chicken. Have some avo with your protein to keep things interesting and add some fibre. Avo only has 9g of carbs per 100g, but don’t eat too much – you want to limit the crabs.

An egg white has 0.24 g of carbs, zero carbs in steak, chicken and tuna.

For bonus points, try and get a slow release (low carb) casien protein powder and drink before bed. This should give you 6 hours of slow release protein. Whey Protein is a fast digesting protein. Egg white is medium. Casien is slow.

Protein and sleep, good combo. 9 hours if you can. If you think about it, we probably evolved to go hunting – stuffed ourselves with meat – and then slept. The body likes to rebuild itself with sleep and a belly full of protein.

Day 2: 24 Hour Fasting and Ketosis day

Fasting is much easier than counting calories and carbs.

This day is pretty simple. Don’t eat until 18:00. Have 1/4 dose Creatine morning and have a bit of coconut oil in your green tea. This helps protect your muscle mass. Have some green tea through the day – keeps you busy.

This is a fat burning day. Get some exercise in the afternoon. You can have some MCT oil late afternoon if you want to do some high intensity cardio like spinning. Take the MCT 45min before training.

You should be in a ketosis state most of this day – since you last had carbs before 22:00 the previous day.

Day 3: IF Day

Have some green tea with coconut oil. Eat at 14:00ish. This is major health food time. Eat a raw salad, green leafy veg, avo etc. Get all those micro-nutrients in. Lunch should contain some healthy protein, fats and fibre.

Usual afternoon training.

Usual protein meal at 19:00. Steak and broccoli or spinach, carrots etc.

Notice how you are cycling the ketosis state (CKD), on day 3 you put some carbs back in your body to give you enough energy for your training the next morning.

The 3 day cycle gives you 50 hours without carbs, which should give you about 30 hours in ketosis.

Abs Training

I go to killer abs classes at the Virgin Active, once or twice a week.

There are two abs exercises in the 4 Hour Body book which you want to do: Myotatic Crunch and Cat Vomit Exercise.

Keep adding more weight to your abs exercises – you want to end up with about a 10kg medicine ball doing the myotatic crunches.

Food

See the Eating section of this post.

Fibre

You should be eating around 30g of fibre per day. Fasting can impact your digestive process, so make sure you eat enough fibre and drink enough water, especially on your IF days and cheat days. Good sources of fibre: avo, chia seeds, flaxseeds, broccoli, apples. I started adding some chia seeds to my milk on LOMAD days. The dietary fibre content of chia is approximately 56.5g per 100g, 14.1g soluble.

Rest

Make sure you rest and sleep enough. You probably want to take a week off between three week sprints. Or take a week off between every two weeks. If you feel tired and don’t want to go to gym, take an extra day. Rest is good.

Supplements

Get yourself some Creatine HCL and BCAA. I started taking flaxseed oil a few weeks ago, one capsule in the morning, one at night. I don’t use any fat burners and I avoid coffee / caffeine. Take some calcium + magnesium to help with recovery.

MCT oil is useful for training while staying in ketosis.

On weight training days I take a full dose of the Creatine and 2x 8g BCAAs. On non-training / IF days I sometimes take a 1/4 dose Creatine. I only take supplements about 3 or 4 days a week. It’s probably a good idea to take a break from the supplements after every 4 week cycle.

That’s it!

It’s that easy. Now all you need is a healthy dose of self discipline. Make it a game. Track your progress and challenge a friend. Rinse repeat this 3 day cycle until you get to 10% body fat. You probably want to do 3 or 4 week sprints at a time. Have fun, crazy kids.

FAQ

  • Can you give me a short summary of all this stuff please?
    This is the short summary.
  • Do I really need to do this 24 hour fast thing?
    You can probably do two IF days if you really can’t do the fasting. Fasting gets easier the more you do it. After a few IF days you should be able to do a 24h fast.
  • Do I really need to drink a litre of milk on weight training days?
    You don’t have to – just make sure you eat enough protein on that day.
  • Where do I find these BIA machines?
    Try the Discovery shop in Sea Point. I know the Stellenbosch Virgin Active has one. You want to find a BIA machine with 4 electrodes (contact points). Those 2 electrode BIA scales are probably not ideal.
  • Where do I get this grass fed milk?
    I buy Camphill milk at the Sea Point Spar, but your best bet is probably to use Ethical Co-Op. Read this post about pasture fed cows.
  • What about before and after photos?
    Meh. Not really my thing, but I did post a photo here recently.
  • What if life gets in the way and I can’t stick to this 3 day cycle?
    Don’t stress. You still want to have a social life – go to that party and enjoy it. See it as a carb day. Just make the following day a healthy eating / detox day and then start the 3 day cycle again.
  • This diet must be super cheap?
    Yup. After you have the supplements.
  • You are doing this all wrong!?
    If you have suggestions or questions please comment below.

Notes on Fat Loss

You can probably bargain on losing around 300g of fat per day in a ketosis state. Think in grams not kilograms when it comes to fat loss.

You simply can’t lose 1kg of fat overnight – water / hydration level fluctuations make it hard to measure fat loss.

There are 7700 calories in 1 kilogram of body fat. My base metabolic rate is around 1950 calories per day. In a ketosis state I can burn about 250g of fat per day simply by being awake.

You probably want to speed up the process by doing some exercise. This should give you an idea of calories and fat burn for a few activities:

250 cal – 1k swim : 32g
125 cal – 20min walk : 16g
330 cal – 60min walk : 45g
500 cal – 90min walk : 65g
800 cal – 1h spinning session : 104g
600 cal – 1h mountain walk : 80g
300 cal – 1h gym : 40g

These are estimates.

The easiest way to burn fat is still to let your base metabolic rate consume the fat – which is why eating is 80% of the story.

Overview / Example

Time Training Day 24h Fast Day IF Day
7:00 Creatine, TiTea, BCAA + Gym 1/4 dose Creatine, BCAA / Coconut oil Swim
10:00 Milk
13:00 Walk Health Food
17:00 Swim / Spinning Protein snack. Walk Walk
19:00 Protein Protein

More Reading

BIA Machine Photos:

BIA 1

BIA 2

BIA Trend

UPDATE: 23 October

12% body fat, still about 2.1kg of fat to lose. Here is a photo…

Around 12% Body Fat

UPDATE 30 October

10% body fat. Goal reached!

IMG_1984

Three Meals a Day is the New Tobacco

A geek’s guide to rapid fat loss: 10kg in 4 weeks, while sitting at a desk in office hours.

In summary: this is a sure way to to make your body run on fat for a full three days per week.

If you liked this post also read the follow-up post: I Want To Look Good Naked

Intro

I tried low carb / paleo diets over the last two years, maybe 8 weeks at a time, on and off, and I’ve gained some muscle in the gym, but I never really felt that I was seeing a real impact and results. I see results as dropping a jeans size and/or losing 10kg. So, I did a bit of research and found a way to fairly easily lose 10kg in four weeks.

“Skinny is the new skinny!” – all this “Strong/Healthy/Fit Is the New Skinny” talk is amusing, but I still want to lose fat.

I have this theory that there is this an evolving barrier as to what is considered radical or extreme. Nutrition is a complex mine field of information with lots of vested interests (Sugar Inc. and Corn Inc.). There is a lot of legacy popular thinking around – things people just accept without any critical thinking.

It’s not hard to think that in the evolution of the human body there must have been many days where finding food was hard, yet topics like Intermittent Fasting (IF) are considered extreme. When I first read Lean Gains some months back I thought an IF diet was extreme, but after reading about it a few times in different places and a friend mentioning it, I changed my mind. I guess I triangulated the message.

Almost everybody likes to believe that you have to eat breakfast and get your three square meals a day. Three square meals a day is a major reason why so many people are overweight.

Fasting is not an extreme thing. Get over it. Move that barrier in your head. You can probably go 30 days without food if you have to. A 3 day fast is a walk in the park in the bigger picture, and it’s a very efficient way to burn fat.

“Three meals a day is the new tobacco.”

The human body wants to store fat because it’s afraid it will not get food over the next few days. Every time you eat till you are full, with some nice carbs and sugars (in just about everything available in the supermarket), the body produces insulin and packs away lots of energy, just in case it needs it later. Keep eating till you are full three times a day, for a few years, and you end up like so many people who are unhappy with their body.

Key Ideas

  • You can burn a lot of fat if you fast for 2 days of the week. Extend this with a 3rd fat burning day, after getting some protein and fats. It’s not that hard. It’s not extreme.
  • Diet is 80% of the story. On low carb / maintenance days, eat only two meals a day. You don’t need to do a lot of cardio to lose fat. Your base metabolic rate and what you eat is more important. Simply get the body to eat itself.
  • I can’t just tell you to follow rules. You need a why. You should get interested in this stuff and go read about why all of this works. Figure it out. There is no 5min summary. You have to care.
  • It’s a game. Set some targets. Get a friend to join you. Put some data in a spreadsheet every day. Plot a graph. Weigh yourself every morning after you get up – with a digital scale – after the first wee. What gets measured gets managed. You want to aim for 2.5kg loss per week – aim for 300g / day. Think in grams, not kilograms.
  • Get into a routine. Find a routine that fits your life and work. Routine. Routine. Routine. Turns out routine is very healthy.
  • Lastly, you don’t have to follow all of this advice, but hopefully this gets you thinking and researching for yourself. I’m not a doctor. btw. this post is probably only relevant for people over the age of 23.

Background Story

Recently my cousin wanted to lose a lot of fat (20kg) before his wedding and I decided to join him – as a good motivating best man would. We did a lot of reading and we tried a few things. I had been feeling a bit out of shape since last year – had a pretty unhealthy stretch of time in London (Techstars programme) and ended up weighing 93kg. I felt like a change and I felt like geeking out on a bit of health related reading and experimentation (on myself).

The following is a set of notes on how I think we can, and should be changing the way we eat and exercise.

Works for me.

My goal was to lose 10kg in four weeks, drop to around 12% body fat and drop a jeans size. I’m 182cm, I was around 91kg when I started and I think my lean body mass was about 70kg.

joe-graph

Three Very Obvious Steps

  1. Get ready. First get used to a maintenance mode. Eat only two low-carb meals a day, with 16 or 18 hour fasts – skip breakfast. Make sure you can maintain this. Do this for a week or two. Your body needs to adapt to be happy with 6 days with almost no carbs. I eat a raw salad for lunch and a protein snack around 18:00.
  2. 4 weeks of fat burning and rapid fat loss.
  3. Back to maintenance mode. Two low carb meals a day, 6 days a week. One day per week where you can eat carbs, fruit and dairy.

Intermittent Fasting

Daily IF is fairly simple…

16 hour fast: 18:00 – 10:00, or 19:00 to 11:00.
18 hour fast: 19:00 – 13:00.

So eat supper at 19:00 and then eat lunch the next day at 13:00. Start with 16h, work your way towards 18h or 19h.

“Have you tried skipping? – with a skipping rope? No – a meal.”

Ketosis

Your body has a mode where it runs on fat, but this only kicks in after all the sugars in your body are used up. This mode is called Ketosis. You want to get into this state as soon as possible after eating your last meal before a fast. This is the real ticket to rapid fat loss. If you were wondering why low carb diets and fasting work, this is it.

“Ketosis is a metabolic state where most of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood, in contrast to a state of glycolysis where blood glucose provides most of the energy.”

Below I have a photos of Ketosis testing sticks (you can get them from a chemist). I try and keep a constant colour / level in my 3 days fasts. I confirmed that after the end of the 2nd day where I eat protein and fats I stay in Ketosis for the +1 / booster day.

Keto test strips: Roche Accu-Chek Keto-Diabur Test Strips.

You get 58 hours of confirmed ketosis with this (2+1) plan, probably longer. I’ve dropped 3kg in this 72 hour window.

IMG_0809

The 72 hour fasts. 2+1 day fasting.

Fast for 48 hours, have some fats and protein, then another 24 hour fast.

Day one can be hard. You might get a very slight headache. Drink enough water. Go for a walk.
Day two is usually much easier and you might feel a bit of a natural buzz – high on life – you feel clear headed, with enough energy – this is the ketones. Survival mode growth hormones and endorphins kicking in.

“Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.”

The trick is to get into Ketosis as fast as possible and you want a full three days of fat burning. Eat a very low carb diet on the day before the fast. You don’t really fast for a full 72 hours, at the end of day two you have some fats and protein, but keep the carbs extremely low and the protein fairly low to keep burning fat. Eating lots of protein will kick you out of ketosis.

The 7 day cycle to burn fat

Summary: Starting from Saturday: carb, low carb, fast, fast, booster fast, low carb, low carb.

“I can fix you in six weeks.” — Internal dialogue then I see some people struggling at gym / spinning class.

This is my routine, feel free to adapt it to suit you. I like to swim and I like to go to gym two times a week. You may want to just go for walks or get some other form of exercise.

  • Saturday: Carb day. Eat a pizza. Eat fruit. Eat dairy. Have a few glasses of wine if you like. Have three meals if you want. You get the idea. Don’t stuff yourself too much.
  • Sunday, Low carb day. Titanium Tea with MCT oil. High intensity gym. Swim – get those carbs and sugars out of your system. Low carb eating, two meals for the day. Keep it very low carb, because you want to get into Ketosis quickly when you stop eating. Low carb means less than 20g of carbs per day. Less if you can. Check the labels on food. Eat your last meal around 18:00. Have some meat, veg and fats ideally. Take your hand full of of supplements, magnesium is a good idea. From now on it’s just water and green tea.
  • Monday, Fasting day 1, morning swim, water, green tea or rooibos tea, no milk in the tea, take a long walk in the afternoon. 24 hours in. This day can be a bit of a challenge, stick with it.
  • Tuesday, Fasting day 2, water, green tea. 48 hours in. At around 18:00 on Tuesday you have 30ml of MCT oil (or coconut oil) and 30g of protein – maybe an egg white or two. Try and use a very low carb protein powder (1g/100g) mixed in water and chia seeds. As little carbs as possible. 1 hour spinning class. Evening swim.
  • Wednesday, Booster fat burning day, Titanium Tea with MCT oil, gym, swim, you can have a nice low carb big meal around 18:00 if you like, steak and veg.
  • Thursday, Low carb day, morning swim, IF. Try and eat raw salad things – get all those micro-nutrients. Raw broccoli. Raw red cabbage. Some tuna or eggs. No dairy. Take a long walk.
  • Friday, Low carb day, morning swim, IF in the morning, two meals, go out with friends and have some food and drinks.
  • The Bonus Plan: On the last day of the fast at 18:00, have a can of tuna, MCT and a hand full of supplements, get some more cardio in, spinning, swimming and get that 3rd good data point on the scale on the Thursday morning. This gives you a full 72 hours confirmed ketosis. I managed to max out the ketosis test strips with this.

Why the protein and fats on day two of the fast? Because I want to minimise muscle loss. Give your body the protein it wants and a bit of energy to get to gym the next morning. Keep the carbs to an absolute minimum (under 2g of cabs – which you can’t really avoid because it’s probably in the protein source).

MCT Oil
MCT Oil

Exercise routine

  • Gym – full body functional workouts, try to stimulate all the muscle groups (at once – which releases more growth hormones). Squat, dead lift, military press, pull ups, dips, bench press. 5x5x5x5 – try and do slow reps: 5sec up, 5sec down, 5 reps x 5 sets. You get the idea. Happy to share more on this topic, but it gets a bit boring. Also try kettle bells. Function training with Olympic bar.
  • Swimming – upper body, thermo fat burning effect of the cold water. On days I gym I sometimes only swim 500m. I usually swim 1km at a time.
  • Walking – nice and relaxed, go for a one or two hour aimless walk.
  • Spinning – tone those legs.

How do you really lose fat? you breath it out, get some cardio.

Eating

  • No white carbs. Don’t eat bread, sugar, chips, rice, potatoes etc.
  • Don’t drink fruit juice or any drink with sugar in it.
  • Don’t eat dairy.
  • Don’t eat fruit.
  • Take one day off per week – your carb, fruit, dairy and breakfast day.
  • Eat mostly: eggs, red meat, tuna, biltong, avo, (raw) salad and vegetables.
  • Eat 100g protein per day, a can of tuna is 40g, egg 7g, broccoli 4.2g/100g.
  • Eat lots of green veg, broccoli, spinach etc
  • Don’t eat anything “low fat” – it’s full of stabilisers.
  • No artificial sweeteners.
  • Eat raw. Takes more energy to digest. Don’t eat processed food.
  • I did not use any fat burners etc.
  • I avoid all coffee, but see what works for you.

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Random Notes and Tips

  • When you skip breakfast for your 16/18 hours IF, take vitamins in afternoon, I have a small bottle with my daily vitamins in my laptop bag.
  • Go for blood tests every two months or so. Good motivation.
  • Get that VitB shot once a month. Watch your iron / Haemoglobin count.
  • Take a cold shower over neck and top of back after gym or after a steam bath.
  • Sleep enough, 8h/day.
  • Get a health related book as bed time reading, good motivation.
  • High intensity cardio like running is probably not your best option for fat loss. Not sustainable, too hard on the body, just makes you age quicker. Who has time to train like a tri-athlete?
  • Drink two glasses water when you wake up. Drink lots of water throughout the day.
  • Damage control on carb days: eat slowly. Have some fats, lemon juice, vinegar or cinnamon before you have carbs.
  • I do air squats for 2min while a brush my teeth in the mornings. Electric toothbrush feature.
  • Stretch daily. Get up from your desk and stretch every now and again. Take a walk over lunchtime.
  • If you sit at a desk most of the day – try this stretch – see video below, works well to get into squats.
  • For general health reasons, avoiding cancer and rebooting your immune system (keeping it sharp), you want to fast for 5 days, 4 times a year. A 5 day fast every 3 months.

FAQ

  • Do I really need to go 72 hours without eating? (2+1)
    No, you can do 24 hours of fasting and then extend with a booster fat burning day (1+1). Or you can have a can of tuna at the end of day one (1+1+1). Or you can just do IF with 16 or 18 hour fasts per day. See what works for you. It gets easier over time. The trick is to get onto a state of Ketosis and then try and extend this. Burn as much fat as you can. Get some exercise to make sure you burn lots of fat in that time. Your base metabolic rate is probably not enough to see rapid results.
  • What’s with the +1 / booster day idea?
    After you are well into Ketosis, you extend your fast with a day in which you are eating fats and a bit of protein, you just keep the carbs at ~zero. Have TiTea / Bullet Proof Coffee on the morning of the booster day. Have some MCT on the afternoon of the booster day (if you want to get some cardio in that evening and get another good data point on a scale the following morning.)
  • What about muscle loss?
    Yeah, I suspect there is some muscle loss involved here, but add more protein or BCAAs if you are worried. I wanted to lose a lot of weight. I was not too bothered. Ketones are anti-catabolic – the protect against muscle loss. Your body also releases growth hormones when you are in ketosis.
  • Why not just low carb with three meals a day?
    General low carb diets like Paleo, Banting, Slow Carb and Noaks probably work over time, but they did not really work for me. Been trying them since 2011. They get very boring and you lose interest, you keep eating till you are full and you keep taking in lots of energy, too much hidden carbs.
  • What about alcohol?
    Sure, have some at social events. Don’t mix fats and alcohol, only lean protein with wine/whiskey, try to avoid beer. You can in theory stay in ketosis while drinking alcohol, but avoid the carbs in the drinks – this pretty much just leaves whiskey or very low carb dry bubbly.
  • Do I have to do TiTea or can I drink Bullet Proof Coffee?
    Yeah, coffee is fine, if that works for you. I have a mid morning slump if I drink coffee.
  • Surely the butter in your TiTea is dairy!?
    Yeah, take the butter out if you want to be super strict. I just use a bit. Gives it some taste.
  • How long before gym do I take the MCT / TiTea?
    About an hour. Depends on how fast a metabolism you have.
  • Can woman do this?
    As far as I know: yes, most woman can. It might be harder to go through the glucose withdrawal phase, but take more MCT oil in that time to generate more ketones faster. When getting used to ketosis you should not restrict calories. Later on you can be in ketosis and restrict calories. It gets much easier over time.

Three Weeks? Six Weeks?

I suspect you can actually do 10kg in three weeks if you follow this pretty strictly and don’t gain too much on carb days.

My suggestion, if you are not yet used to a very low carb diet and fasting, is to do:

Prepare:
Week1: Low carb + 16h IF
Week2: Low carb + 18h IF, try one 24h fast in this week
Week3: Low carb + at least two 24h fasts and/or try a 48h fast

Fat loss:
Week4: 2+1 fat burn
Week5: 2+1 fat burn
Week6: 2+1 fat burn

In the first three weeks you up-regulate all the things you need to produce ketones. After your body adapts to a few short fasts it will be much easier to fast in future.

In six weeks you should also be able to condition your body to not need breakfast – and keep the fat off.

My Results

I lost 10kg in 4 weeks. I dropped a jeans size. 34 > 33. I ended up 12kg lighter than I was in London last year. A number of people have commented that I look a lot more skinny. So, yeah – happy. Maybe next I’ll try and get some visible abs, for summer.

More Reading

There is obviously much more to read out there, go research some of these topics.

Feedback Most Welcome

Comments are very welcome. You might need to re-read a lot of this stuff. It’s not easy to take everything in, in one go. If any friends are reading this and have questions or would like advice, I’m happy to chat.

Thanks

Thanks to the following sources for information: The 4 Hour Body book, Lean Gains and other IF related articles, Roark Gym blog, my cousin Jacques for all his advice and reading, Wouter for his gym routine, Tim Ferriss for the Titanium Tea ideas, Tom for pointing me at MCT oil, Nikki, Georg and Ernst for early feedback.

Have fun, crazy kids.

UPDATE 2015-08-20: It’s possible to max out the keto test strips, after 84h of fasting, and spinning on the last night, but I would not recommend it. Felt a bit slow after that.

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Body fat measurements in Cape Town

Finding an reasonably accurate body fat measurement around Cape Town seems hard. Using three different techniques I ended up with readings between 14% and 20%, in the same week. So I phoned the Sports Science Institute and then ended up talking to some people at UCT.

These are the options, in order of accuracy:

  1. Dexa, around R900 per scan, UCT has a machine, but it’s only used for research.
  2. Hydrostatic weighing, could not find one.
  3. Bodpod, could not find one.
  4. BIA, some Virgin Actives (Stellenbosch) have this and the Discovery Shop in Sea Point has one.
  5. Skinfold, done in many places, comes down to a lot of averages in equations.
  6. Infra Red, the older Virgin Active machines, you can get two very different readings with tests done right after each other (2% range in readings between three tests).

I think the BIA machine is the best option. You just have to be very consistent. I generally use it at 11:00 after not eating in the morning. Try and do the same things, same hydration levels etc before you use the BIA machine.

UPDATE 2015-09-17: Since getting to around 16% body fat I’ve regularly been collecting data with IR and BIA machines and the trend data is actually useful. I now think that the original 20% reading with BIA was probably not too far off – the trouble was that the Discovery Skinfold test of 14% was probably pretty out / under – I went to go talk to them and the equations / tables they use seem to always give readings under the real value.

Titanium Tea

This was breakfast today…

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Here you have…

  • Black tea: English Breakfast or Earl Grey
  • Green tea or Ginger tea – sugar free
  • Butter, unsalted, grass fed – must be grass fed
  • Coconut oil, extra virgin, organic, I like the non-unscented one
  • MCT oil
  • Add some Matcha or Raw Cacao if you like, or cinnamon, turmeric and cayenne pepper

Very easy to make, just make two cups of tea. Put it all in a blender.

Read more here, I don’t bother with finding the exotic teas mentioned.

Update 2015-08-05: Drop a block of dark chocolate in the blender.

Update 2015-08-17: Make sure you use virgin or extra virgin coconut oil. You can also use MCT oil. I use butter, coconut oil and MCT oil.

Update 2015-08-18: Also add: cinnamon, turmeric and cayenne pepper if you like.

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Muscle vs Fat

I’m trying to stick to one 2013 new years resolution: get in shape again. The SleekGeek community and SleekGeek REBOOT diet has been a huge help.

The Stellenbosch Virgin Active has a pretty cool BIA machine which sends you PDF reports with your progress.

These two reports are 24 days apart.

Day 1:

21Jan

Day 24:

14Feb

It seems I lost 4.9kg of fat and gained 3kg of muscle, resulting in a 5% drop in body fat%.

Notice the total weight does not change much. Without data like this (estimating fat and muscle mass) it would be easy to feel a bit discouraged – only looking at total mass on a scale, but I’m pretty happy with the results.

Yes, BIA is not super accurate (+-4%) – but I have 7 reports along the way which all point at the same trend.

I’m simply going to gym 4 morning a week and doing 30min of cardio (with HRM) on school run days (about twice a week).

Nice toy. Thanks VA.

ps. Also notice that BMI is BS number.