Salt & Carb
diet and weight loss | food tracking
Winslow Strong talks about experiment with eating a very low carbohydrate, paleo diet and how he introduced salt and carbohydrates back in.
MyFitnessPal | scale | zeo
So the preconditions of my experiment I was eating very low carbohydrate, so those were the statistics for about nine months before I reintroduced carbohydrates. Exercise six or seven days a week, three of those works strength training and three of those were like light cardio.
The diet was mostly paleo so this means things like wholefoods, no grains a little bit of dairy and no legumes. And I was intermittently fasting, so I was eating only between 12 and eight each day.
So I had some health dissatisfactions on this diet which caused me to try to make a change I was getting unreasonably tired near bedtime, like so tired I had a hard time staying out late with friends because I would just feel like a zombie which was kind of ridiculous. Overall, I wasn’t too happy with my energy levels, I thought they had been better in the past.
I had a high blood pressure reading, I mean not super high but I wanted to bring it down, and I wanted to make faster progress in strength training, so I needed to gain weight I decided and so it wasn’t easy at least for me to gain weight on a low carb paleo intermittent fasting diet. I just felt I had a kind of more ectomorph fuddy type and it’s never been super easy for me to gain weight in any case.
So I looked around the Internet a bit and I found a prescription that sounded convincing for my symptoms. Matt Stone from 180 Degree Health recommended increasing salt, carbohydrates, calories and reducing fluid intake. So that is don’t try to force yourself to drink eight glasses of water a day, just drink when you’re thirsty basically.
So I implemented this in some sense. The first thing I did was I added carbs back for a week to a low-level, may be liked 100 to 150 g a day in preparation for then this lean gain style that I started.
So if you are not familiar with this, it’s basically recycling your calories and carbohydrates on a day where you do strength training, you eat a high amount of calories and carbohydrates, and on and off day you eat a lower amount.
So I put my stats up there, so on eat day of 144 calories and on the off day I only ate 50, and I attract this and added a lot of salt back, so I wasn’t adding any salt to my food, I added about 5 g per day I would estimate. But I wasn’t measuring that every day.
And for carbohydrate sources I tried to stay paleo-ish, so sweet potatoes, potatoes, and some white rice.
So to track I didn’t need too many fancy tools. For nutrition I used myfitnesspal; I found that to be convenient because you can do it with your mobile also. I used basic kitchen scales for weighing food.
I was interested in using my body temperature as perhaps a proxy for my metabolic rate and as a proxy for my energy levels. So I was tracking that when I woke up in the morning every day and then a basic scale and a blood pressure monitor.
So here is what the initial data look like. So here in red I plotted the actual carbohydrate intake, so you can see it comes to a moderate level and you can see the cycling start and then the green line is the smoothed out I did a seven day average on that so you can see it’s gradually picking up over time.
Then you can see how my weight changed. So initially the biggest change was initial, and this was about two and a half kilogram or close to 5 pound increase. And this was not unexpected, so basically when you add salt back in and you get some retention of water I guess under the skin. And if you eat a really low carbohydrate diet, your muscles will often not carry full glycogen store. So when you switch back to high, you carry more glycogen which carries water with it as well.
So here you can see that I kept carbs in red, and I plotted my weight and temperature under the tongue, so this gradually went up over time also and you can see it is also kind of cycling as the carbs are cycling.
So basically I found the amount of carbs I ate the day before actually had pretty significant influence on my weight and temperature the next day. And I did find subjectively that rise in temperature did correlate to an increased energy level. I didn’t rigorously subjectively track my energy by quantifying that, but to me it’s kind of fit this pattern more or less.
And for blood pressure, well as soon as I actually bought a blood pressure monitor device, already my blood pressure was normal and as I said I added in the salt, which there is a bit of debate about whether salt is a dangerous risk factor for high blood pressure. For me I found that it didn’t make any change. My blood pressure kind of stayed steady, and then I got bored tracking it every day so I switched to just on weekends monitoring it. And there’s this quote from a former American Society for hypertension, “The more salt you eat the less likely you are going to die”, but as we say this is debatable. For me perhaps relevant.
So I mean measuring blood pressure every day is a bit monotonous. I think just once a week is sufficient.
So what do I think I took away from this?
I feel better eating a bit of salt and carbohydrates. At least I have more energy, especially during my workouts. I wasn’t exhausted at bedtime and that kind of went away in the first few weeks of making this change.
I felt more relaxed, like more at peace and particularly after meals. So I found tracking nutrition to be a very powerful way to implement a dietary change, but it’s also costly. I mean it’s really annoying to log everything you eat, and I didn’t take it a long-term advisable habit. It’s kind of like give it for a time period, maybe get a rough sense of what you’re eating and then stop.
I think body temperature is an underrated health metric to quantify. I think there is a lot of evidence that it does correspond with metabolic rate which has a lot to do with subjective perceptions of health. So I think in the QS community for those who are interested it might be a good thing to pay attention to.
There was some things I didn’t measure which I wish I had; blood glucose, blood sensitivity, and fasting glucose, total blood work before and after sleep with the Zeo monitor which I now use.
It would have been nice to have had subjective well-being and mood states, but I attract this in the past and I just found it a bit tedious, so I didn’t do that.
At the moment though I just finished up another dietary experiment, so I decided to go vegan for almost a month, and I finished that here when I arrived back in Amsterdam, and I measured many more things this time including what I just listed. So I wrote that up on my blog which you can check out if you are interested.