14 days to lower inflammation, increase health and get ripped again
This is a newly tailored Quick Diet Experiment to lower inflammation, increase health markers and to lose some fat and subcutaneous water. All main principles are based on things I’ve done with my clients for the last 10 years – with some newly added stuff. The full 14-day journey with daily journal entries will be available for subscribers at my Classic Muscle Newsletter. Simpler summaries will be posted here at bartoll.se.
On May 10, I finally made a comeback at the gym. I had a quick re-visit in September and October last year, but I haven’t really been hitting the weights since 2013, so this comeback is very much needed.
It’s now been 30 days and I’ve regained about 8.5 kg (18.7 lbs). I’m still about 5 kg (11 lbs) shy of the muscle mass I had during 2008 and 2009 when I reached my lowest body fat level ever (pretty much a pound or two short of competition ready). In 2009, my body weight was about 74 to 75 kg (163 to 165 lbs) and my subcutaneous body fat percentage (Parrillos’ 9-site caliper measurement) was at about 3.2 to 3.4 percent (during March to July; but it never got above 4 % until mid 2009.)
As of June 10 (2016) at the start of this experiment, my bodyweight is 72.8 kg (160.2 lbs) and my 9-site caliper body fat percentage is 7.79 %. So at my best, my lean body weight (lbm) was about 72 kg and my current lbm is about 67 kg.
| January 2002 at Fairing Gym. About 88 to 89 kg (195 lbs)
| From my diet experiment in 2008 (mostly ketogenic.)
About 74 kg (163 lbs.)
With that being said, there was a time in 2000 to 2003 when I was about to compete in bodybuilding, and back then my bodyweight was about 89 to 92 kg (196 to 202 lbs) with a body fat level of about 15 percent. So yeah, I’ve been bigger and I have the luxury of muscle memory – at least to a point, bearing in mind that I’m now 42 years old and my time to hit the weights is very limited.
However, considering my damaged lungs, reduced oxygen uptake, and asthma; being lean and keeping the amount of muscle mass at a reasonable level is very important for my everyday life and leading an active life style. The sweet spot for me is probably around 80 kg with 4 to 6 percent of subcutaneous body fat (6 to 8 percent total body fat).
As for other activities, in 2014 I got my Czech Wolfdog Lovec, and he needs about 2 to 3 hours of exercise a day, so I do plenty of walking and bicycling – every day, year round.
Besides shedding some bloat and body fat, there’s another much more important reason for this quick diet experiment and it will govern the approach I will take to simultaneously maximize my health.
In mid-2009 I had a streptococcus infection and a severe allergic reaction to it causing rose fever. It took more than 6 months to fully heal and get rid of the spots of edema (from blood plasma). However, on occasions I’ve had some fluid retention around my ankles and calves during the last couple of years. I always thought of it as a reaction to increased inflammation from stress, pollen, and food stuffs like dairy (and all those factors do count.) Anyway, this has returned this spring and escalated during my weight gain. I now have some puffiness around my eyes when I wake up in the morning and my lower legs hold some water (edema) day round. After doing some research and consulting with an internist, it seems that I’m suffering from injured and inflamed kidneys (as in Nephrotic or Nephritic syndrome.)
A blood and urine test I did last Wednesday confirmed this – and it probably happened back in 2009 as the streptococcus infection is known to hurt your kidneys in some circumstances. This injury and/or inflammation means that proteins can penetrate the kidneys and reach the urea and the bloodstream, causing puffiness around the eyes, edema in the lower legs, increased risk for infections, foamy urine (I’ve noticed signs of this after large meals or a high intake of pure amino acids, which spike blood amino acid levels rapidly) – to mention a few complications. Fortunately, since it only really manifests itself when I eat a lot and are in a caloric surplus, it’s probably not that serious – at least not yet.
So, the best way to reduce whole body inflammation and help the body to repair itself by autophagy is with fasting, having days with severely restricted protein intake, and doing the ketogenic diet, which is very anti-inflammatory on its own.
That will be the approach I will use to heal my body, lower whole body inflammation and at the same time lose some water weight and body fat.
What the approach will look like
The first two days will be very low calorie, almost like a fast, with close to zero amounts of protein which will kick autophagy into high gear. Autophagy is your body’s natural cleaning process – it is the cellular equivalent of a spring cleaning. Over time, cells accumulate dead organelles, damaged proteins, and oxidized particles that interfere with cell function (especially the mitochondria) and accelerate aging. Autophagy is the body’s method of ridding itself of this clutter, meaning it helps to keep you healthy, young, and mentally sharp.
Now, being temporarily protein deficient will lower insulin production and mTOR activity. You might ask why a constrained mTOR activity would be desirable, considering that mTOR is the signal or muscle growth. By stomping down mTOR for a limited amount of time, it will spring back up at record levels once you eat enough protein again. While being chronically protein deficient (as seen in many vegans and vegetarians) is awful for your brain and your body, being protein deficient for only 24 to 36 hours will accomplish the exact opposite.
Also, restricting or cutting out protein for a day or more will prevent protein habituation – a scenario where your body get accustom to a high protein intake and starts to use more of the protein as fuel, losing some of its anabolic properties.
There’s no reason to do a strict water fast for activating autophagy, simply keeping the total protein intake below 15 to 20 grams will do the trick (and no meal with more than 1-2 grams of leucine, as leucine activates mTOR at 2-3 grams.)
As a quick overview, here’s my plan for this first 14-day diet experiment:
|June 12. Start of the diet.|
Day one: fasting with 3 or 4 cups of coffee with about 5 grams of MCT oil per cup to quickly provide ketones – your brain’s preferred fuel. It will also help you reach ketosis faster. I’ll probably add some butter to a cup or two and have some extra fats in the evening. No protein, no carbs.
Day two: three meals containing a cup of homemade bone broth with about 5 grams of extra collagen protein, a serving of a green supplement and 5 grams of MCT oil. Very low protein and no carbs. Should be close to ketosis – especially if very physically active.
Day three to five: a regular ketogenic diet done in an intermittent fasting fashion. Starting the day with 2 or 3 cups of coffee with about 5 grams of MCT oil per cup and perhaps some grass fed butter for more energy. Then 2 to 3 larger meals in the late afternoon and evening based on fish or red meat or pork with vegetables and a lot of fats.
Day six: Metabolic day to increase leptin production with a higher energy/caloric intake. More fats, slightly higher protein and some additional carbohydrates – mainly from extra vegetables. Depends on how I feel that day. I will probably constrain the carbs to remain in ketosis.
Will also be more active with a longer training session and longer walks with my friends and our dogs.
Day seven: Second “fat fast”. Same as day one; fasting with 3 or 4 cups of coffee with about 5 grams of MCT oil per cup. No protein, no carbs.
Day eight to ten: the same ketogenic diet as days three to five.
Day eleven: Metabolic day to increase leptin production with a higher energy/caloric intake. More fats, slightly higher protein and perhaps some additional carbohydrates – mainly from extra vegetables.
Day twelve: Third “fat fast” with no protein or carbs (just as day one, but only MCT oil for fueling my brain).
Day thirteen and fourteen: the same ketogenic diet as days three to five.
After: Slowly beginning to introduce carbs again mainly 20 to 30 grams before a workout and 40 to 60 grams after the workout.
If I would do this only for the health benefits and the autophagy, I would probably do a water fast for 36 to 48 hours followed by a ketogenic diet with bone broth, veggies and low protein for 4 days followed by another day or two of fasting. Although I would lose a few grams of muscle mass with such an approach, I would regain that muscle within a week. However, the last time I did long fasting (24 to 36 hours) and also a ketogenic diet was in 2009 and 2010. So I’m not used to it and would probably feel miserable with an all-out approach. Since I have tons of things to do, that’s not suitable for the moment.
So, the 14-day layout above is structured for providing extra fuel for the brain and minimal muscle loss, all while losing tons of body fat and improving health by increasing mitochondria function and lowering whole body inflammation.
After the 14 days, I will slowly introduce carbohydrates again and see how my body responds. Carbs will be added where they do most good, right before and after a workout.
This introduction and small excerpts from the diet experiment will be available on my official website bartoll.se.
The complete diet experiment, with daily journals, will be documented and published in its entirety on my membership website Classic Muscle Newsletter. Subscriptions starting at only 4.99 USD a month!