Self-experiment: 7 day carb test

Guinea pig time! This n=1 experiment comes from Wired to Eat, Robb Wolf latest (and greatest IMO) piece of work. Robb Wolf is one of the most respected voices in the paleo/ancestral scene not only because he was one of the early adopters, but because he gets science, both at an academic level (he is a biochemist) and at a philosophic level (he is not afraid of changing his views when new evidence is available, which is the case with this book).

I encourage you to listen to a few of the many podcasts Robb has been interviewed in, so that you get an idea of what his book’s message is. I will just offer a very brief summary before presenting my results. After publishing his first book, The Paleo Solution, Robb realised that the paleo prescription as a blanket recommendation was not as effective as a more personalised approach. Studies like Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses, which showed wild variations in the blood sugar of people after eating the same foods. That’s why Robb recommends a 7 day carb test (following by a 30 day reset if you’re not currently eating a basic unprocessed paleo-style diet) to find out your individual tolerance to carbohydrate-containing foods.

You may be familiar with this test if you have ever done an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) or have served as a volunteer to find out the glycemic index of a particular food. Glycemic index is a measure of the degree that food rises blood sugar. The idea is that you eat a portion of the food (when I did it in uni was either white sandwich bread or sweetened yoghurt) that contains 50g of effective carbohydrate (i.e. total carbohydrate minus fibre) first thing in the morning (this will be your breakfast) and measure your blood glucose 2 hours later (aka 2 hour post-prandial blood glucose). Ideally, your body will release the insulin required to get the sugar out of the blood and into the cells, so that your blood sugar level will be on its way to normal (anywhere between 5.0 and 6.4 mmol/L are Robb’s recommendations based on clinical experience). If your blood sugar is higher than that, Robb recommends halving the portion so that it gives you 25g effective carbohydrate and testing another day, so that you find out the amount of that particular food you can deal with. If your blood sugar is again too high, you’d better stay away from that particular food.

So what do you need for the test?

  1. I recommend buying the book and reading it beforehand so that you get all the background and detailed instructions/handholding if required.
  2. Clean up your diet if you haven’t done so yet.
  3. Get a blood glucose monitor (aka glucometer). I went to Accu Chek’s website and found out they offer a monitor for free! You need to fill out your details so that they can suggest a model to suit your needs and send you the monitor. The catch is that you need to buy the lancets and test strips at a chemist (they are cheaper if you have a diabetes card).

    Glucometer

    Glucometer

  4. Get a kitchen scale so that you can get accurate portion sizes.
  5. Decide which foods you want to test. These have to be foods that are mainly carbohydrate, such as rice, potatoes, oats, corn, beans, bread, pasta, fruit, etc. Most importantly, these foods should be relevant to you, there’s no point in testing rice if you never eat it nor want to, or testing regular bread if you are gluten intolerant.
  6. Use the book to find out portion sizes of your test foods or calculate them using nutrition panels/databases. If you need help with this, leave a comment on this post.
  7. Start testing! For each day write down as a minimum: the food you tested, the portion size and your blood glucose after 2 hours. Robb included a more comprehensive workbook as a bonus when preordering his book, but if you don’t have it, you want to pay attention to how you feel after eating that particular food. This can give you an indication of how your body is dealing with it.

I decided to test my fasting (i.e. before eating) blood glucose as well as the 2 hour post-prandial just because I wanted to measure the difference between both and also pick up on any confounders (i.e. did I start the day with elevated blood sugar and it wasn’t entirely the foods fault?). You don’t have to do this. I have also included photos of all the foods I tested so that you can see what the portion sizes looked like. Turns out that eating a big whack of carbs with no seasoning or fat is not as enjoyable. I felt bloated and gassy with all the foods in varying degrees, but didn’t feel particularly horrible after any of them.

Day Food Weight (g) Fasting BGL (mmol/L) 2-hr BGL (mmol/L) Delta (mmol/L)
1 Potato, sebago, boiled 457 5.1 7.3 2.2
2 Sweet potato, orange, baked, peeled 290 4.8 5.4 0.6
3 Rice, basmati, boiled 216 5.7 6.2 0.5
4 Steel cut oats 90* 5.3 5.8 0.5
5 Rolled oats 87* 4.7 5.5 0.8
6 Gluten-free bread 139 4.7 4.7 0.0
7 Potato, sebago, boiled 229 5.1 5.4 0.3
8** Hot chips 177 4.9 6.2 1.3
9** Potato with avocado oil mayonnaise 396 5.0 6.1 1.1

* For the oats I measured the dry (uncooked) weight because I calculated the amount using the nutrition panel.

** Days 8 and 9 were bonus days. My friend Timmy was curious about the hot chips, so I did the test. They didn’t spike my blood sugar as bad as the plain potatoes because fat lowers the glycemic index of foods. Then my friend Sandy wondered how the hot chips would compare to cooked and cooled potatoes served with homemade avocado oil mayonnaise. Despite this option being a lot healthier and tastier, there was no real difference in glycemic response. Having said that, it’s important to note that the blood sugar rise is not the only thing to look at. Are Maccas hot chips healthier than boiled potatoes? Hell no!, for a multitude of reasons. Let’s not get blinded by a single number and always look at the full picture.

So what did I learn from my tests? One, that I had a pretty decent response to most of the foods I tested except for potatoes. Alvaro had a pretty good response to them (5.9 mmol/L) and a crappy response to rice (7.4 mmol/L), which was just fine for me. Interesting results if you consider that we should have more or less the same response given that we’re both Peruvian… BUT! I’m 1/2 Japanese and he’s only 1/8 Chinese. So it looks like my carbohydrate metabolism genes are more Asian than Peruvian and his are more Peruvian than Asian.

Alvaro’s only hurdle was rice, all other measurements were between 5.0 and 5.9. I found this interesting given that his DNAFit report said his carbohydrate tolerance is moderate and he should shoot for lower GI foods, while mine said my tolerance is high and I can get away with a bit more of the high GI foods.

Finally, I found it hilarious that my blood sugar after the gluten-free bread was stellar. I stopped eating bread in 2011 and have eaten gluten-free bread only occasionally – I’d say once a fortnight on average, mainly when eating out. Will I start eating gluten-free bread with reckless abandon? I don’t think so. I still prefer eating vegetables both for taste and health reasons. But I won’t stress too much and let the gluten-free bread happen when it happens.

Potato

Potato

Sweet potato

Sweet potato

Basmati rice

Basmati rice

Steel cut oats

Steel cut oats

Rolled oats

Rolled oats

Gluten free bread

Gluten free bread

Potato (half dose)

Potato (half dose)

Hot chips

Hot chips

Potato and avocado oil mayonnaise

Potato and avocado oil mayonnaise

If you’re interested in Robb’s new book you can find it here: Wired to Eat.

DNAFit – Genetic information for Fitness & Nutrition

If you know me or have read my blog before you may know I’m very passionate about self-experimentation. As a scientist, I find published research extremely valuable generally speaking, but when it comes to individual circumstances there’s nothing like testing things on yourself and finding out what works.

I had been thinking about getting a DNAFit analysis ever since I heard about this company in podcast land. It wasn’t until recently, when I grabbed a discount code from another podcast, that I finally bought 2 kits: one for me and one for my husband using his birthday as an excuse.

The process is simple: order your kit on the DNAFit website, wait until it arrives from the UK, get a sample of your cheek cells in the provided plastic tube, send your kit back and wait patiently for your results.

Results come in 3 PDFs: one with the fitness bit, one with the diet bit and a handy infographic with a summary of recommendations, perfect for people who prefer pictures over words. The reports explain in detail which genes are analysed, what is your allele (the combination of bases in that particular gene) and its effect on your body. The results are also available online.

dnafit_screenshot

There were a few things I wasn’t surprised to hear:

  • Saturated fat sensitivity = low, i.e. I can deal with saturated fat just fine, which makes absolute sense considering my blood lipids are always stellar even though my saturated fat intake is almost twice the recommended limit
  • I’m lactose tolerant which explains why I generally don’t get any digestive discomfort when consuming dairy (I do get some respiratory issues but that could be something else in the dairy rather than the lactose)
  • I have raised alcohol sensitivity (thanks mum for those Asian genes)
  • I have slow caffeine sensitivity, which means a cup of coffee after lunch will likely wreck my sleep
  • Raised omega-3 need, which makes sense because most of my health issues are inflammatory in nature
  • Raised anti-oxidant need, for the same reason
  • Raised vitamin D need due to the colour of my skin making it less efficient at absorbing sunshine
  • High injury risk – this applies to soft tissue injuries, which makes absolute sense considering all the injuries I’ve had in the past few years
  • Fast recovery speed, which explains why it takes me so little time to recover between sets when training

These were the things that made me go WTF??!!

  • Low carbohydrate sensitivity, which means I can theoretically relax my guard when dealing with CHOs… however my family history of diabetes and n=1 experience with starches and sugar tell me this is probably a case of epigenetics having a bigger impact than the genetic predisposition itself
  • Raised salt sensitivity which I didn’t expect because I have such low blood pressure even though I typically eat lots of salt
  • My power/endurance response is 18.8% vs 81.2% which is just CRAZY to me considering I’ve always SUCKED big time in endurance activities (e.g. long-distance running, swimming) and done way better in power activities (e.g. sprinting, weightlifting)

I didn’t have any expectations around the following topics:

  • I don’t have Coeliac Disease predisposition (woohoo!). The funny thing is that my husband do has a predisposition, even though he’s the one who refused to try going off gluten when I first found my gluten intolerance issues
  • Normal vitamin B need
  • Normal cruciferous vegetable need, which means that my detox pathways work just fine
  • Detoxification ability medium to fast, same as above
  • Medium VO2 max response

The diet report also comes with tips, recommendations and a suggested optimal diet (either Mediterranean, low carb or low fat), which in our case was Mediterranean. I must say I found this recommendation a bit on the “everything in moderation” camp, but I might be wrong. In summary, we’re both meant to cut down on sat fats, eat more MUFAs and PUFAs (especially omega-3), watch our glycemic load intake (Alvaro more than me), don’t go crazy on the caffeine, get more sunshine, and get more antioxidants. Alvaro also has to up his folate and cruciferous vegetable intake. We have already introduced daily citrus fruit in our diet and I’m aiming to increase our fish intake in lieu of some of the meat.

Now, for the million-dollar question: would I recommend getting this analysis? Depends. If you have the money, the curiosity and the intention to implement suggestions, go for it (especially if you can score a discount voucher like I did). Same if it’s important for you to optimise your health and/or performance, for example if you are a professional athlete.

Want to learn more? Go to the DNAFit website.

The oats + AltShift experiment

Several months ago, I blogged about the porridge experiment. I ate rice porridge with black sesame, walnuts and goji berries for a few weeks to make the Chinese doctor happy. I attributed my positive health results to the herbs and went back to eating my normal (irregular) breakfast. Well, turns out that my chi has been declining again and the Chinese doctor gave me another breakfast talk. This time she did specifically mention the word “oats” and “every morning”, in order to boost my spleen chi. She also said to have ginger and cinnamon daily, which I don’t mind because I love both, and, most importantly, a glass of red wine every night. Woo hoo!

I’ll be honest and say I freaked out a bit about having oats for breakfast every morning. First, I hadn’t had oats since 2011 and I wasn’t sure how they would affect my blood sugar, hunger and inflammatory reactions to gluten (no, oats are not gluten free). Second, I’ve been doing AltShift since January 2nd with great success and I wasn’t sure if it made sense to try to fit the porridge macros into the plan. But I’m a scientist and a curious person by nature so I decided it was an experiment worth doing.

I don’t have a sweet tooth anymore so I’ve been making my porridge savoury. I cook the oats with either water or broth, mix it with fresh microplaned ginger, sometimes cinnamon, sometimes turmeric and eat it as part of my breakfast. I asked the Chinese doctor if I could eat other things with the porridge (e.g. eggs) and she said I should eat EVERYTHING. Yay! The glutton foodie inside me rejoiced. Because I’m still doing AltShift to the best of my ability, I do 1/2 serve of porridge on 5S, plus eggs or sardines. Sometimes I add a couple teaspoons of chia seeds that I soak in water while the oats cook, and/or a piece of butter at the end. On 3S days I have a full serve of porridge plus egg whites (mixed in), or tuna in water (separate). I normally add kimchi or sauerkraut on both shifts.

Savoury porridge with butter, boiled eggs, ginger and kimchi

Savoury porridge with butter, boiled eggs, ginger and kimchi

Savoury porridge with egg whites, ginger and turmeric

Savoury porridge with egg whites, ginger and turmeric

Savoury porridge with egg whites and kimchi

Savoury porridge with egg whites and kimchi

Savoury porridge with eggs and kimchi

Savoury porridge with eggs and kimchi

Because I’ve been eating a fairly big breakfast I don’t feel hungrier than normal. I have noticed I’m a bit more sleepy in the morning, but that could be a number of things. The biggie has been my reaction to gluten. I was fine with 1/2 dose but my reflux came back with the full dose. To rule out if it was the gluten content in regular oats (I was using Macro organic quick cooking oats), I bought a bag of uncontaminated oats, which claim to have < 3 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. It might be placebo effect but I do feel better with the uncontaminated oats. Regardless, having a whack (or half a whack) of grains at breakfast has made my digestion a bit slower. My pulse has gotten better, but I don't know if it's the oats or the acupuncture treatment the Chinese doctor gave me concurrently, or both. Anyway, things seem to be moving in the right direction for the most part, so I'll keep doing what I'm doing for a while.

AltShift experiment (part 7)

I’m not superstitious but there’s something special about number 7, and so this will be my last bi-roundly update on the AltShift experiment. I’ll post more about it whenever there’s something I want to share but by now I feel results are starting to become predictable. Past updates are available here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6. This update includes rounds 12 and 13.

Round 12 was tough. It was right after Easter and I was trying to reverse the damage done by too much food and alcohol. I had another day of binge eating and drinking the next weekend, resulting on the numbers below. On the bright side, I finally got to try recipes from the book (see my cook-up post here). The Instagram photos in this post are all from the book.

Round 12:

  • Put 7mm on my waist, 3mm on my thigh and 1kg. Hips stayed the same.
  • Averaged 15,090 steps and 6.4 hours of sleep with 97-100% sleep efficiency. I attribute this to the fact that Alvaro was on annual leave, so not waking up before 6am to go to work.

Round 13 had less hiccups and, predictably, my results were a lot better. While in the past I felt I needed to track my food intake to stay on track, now don’t need to do it to stay compliant because I know when I’m exceeding the macronutrient limits. I also know that regardless of macronutrient and energy limits, I put on fat when I eat way beyond satiety or drink too much. I still enter data in my food diary sometimes, but mainly to double-check when in doubt and to satisfy my data junkie tendencies. Measurement wise, I don’t know what’s my fat percentage but my arms and legs look very lean. In fact, my legs are skinnier than usual and I’m having trouble putting on muscle, which is fair enough given my age. I don’t mind being light, though, I feel stronger (relative to my weight) and faster this way.

Round 13:

  • Lost 1.6cm off my waist, 6mm off my hips, 1.7cm off my thigh and 2.6kg.
  • Averaged 13,030 steps and 7.2 hours of sleep with (theoretical) 97-100% sleep efficiency. I know I’ve been waking up before my alarm goes off (Alvaro is back at work) but apparently I don’t move too much when I do.

If you’re interested in learning more about AltShift, head to 30kview.com.

AltShift experiment (part 6)

Life has been hectic lately (we moved from the Buddhist centre to a studio unit recently), but I’m still shifting. Past updates are available here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5. This update includes rounds 10 and 11.

We found our new home in the midst of round 9. When round 10 started, I decided to keep things as simple as possible, meaning I did very basic cooking, did not track my food intake and ate out a fair bit. I also took a 1-week break from weightlifting and did a few basic upper body workouts in a gym close to work. The move happened during 3S and we didn’t get a fridge until the day after. Okay, excuses, excuses. We ate out and I made poor choices (including too much fat and 4 bottles of sparkling wine between me and 2 friends), but I resumed the plan on the following day.

Round 10:

  • Gained 1.3cm on my waist, lost 3mm off my hips, 2mm off my thigh and gained 1.6kg. Essentially, my body started to take the shape of a typical woman my age.

Crack slaw, a great go-to 5S meal

Cheers with the nth bottle of sparkling #bubbles #wine #movingday

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Drinks to celebrate the move

Round 11 arrived with great news: I got my lost Fitbit replaced (shout-out to April and Jennifer from the AltShift Facebook group for bringing this to my attention). I also got back to weightlifting, although with a modified program to address the posterior chain weakness that is to blame for my recent injuries, and back to cooking most of our meals, at least for the first few days. I went to Canberra for an Easter meditation retreat, so I reverted to my default holiday mode (i.e. paleo-friendly plus drinks) and resumed AltShift as soon as I got back home. Aside from my daily physical meditation (which I consider movement but not exercise), I went for a walk most days during the long weekend.

Round 11:

  • Gained 4mm on my waist, 4mm on my hips, 1.2cm on my thigh, and 1.5kg (this is 57.9, which is my ideal/competition body weight). Now I just need to get rid of the fat around my waist!
  • Averaged 13,763 steps and 7.06 hours of sleep with efficiency ranging from 88% to 100%, but most of the time on the upper 90s.

Pork shoulder and roasted Brussel sprouts, one of my fave 5S combos

Quinoa & tuna salad on 3S

If you’re interested in learning more about AltShift, head to 30kview.com.

AltShift experiment (part 5)

AltShift experiment update! If you missed the previous updates, you can find them here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4. This update includes rounds 8 and 9.

I travelled to Melbourne to visit my sister on the first 2 days of 5S. My initial thought was to stick as much as possible to the protocol, but soon I realised it was better to just eat paleo-friendly. We had a few amazing meals, some great wine and, most importantly, precious time together.

Round 8:

  • Lost 8mm off my waist, 3mm off my thigh and 1.1kg. Put 7mm on my hips.
  • I lost my Fitbit on the first day of 3S. Losing a device that costed $130 sucks, but it’s a relief in a way, something less to obsess about.
  • I got better from my cold but too much food and drink in Melbourne made my digestion sluggish.
  • I also got better from my back injury but had my training program modified to upper body stuff, light power snatches and cleans and no squats.
  • I started the March Charge with friends from uni. It’s a fundraising campaign to help beat cancer, where you sign up to run, swim or cycle X kilometres, and people donate money to sponsor your efforts. Unfortunately for me, my team signed up to run (I suck at running and it’s not great for my weightlifting training). If you want to encourage me to not give up, you can donate here. Thanks in advance!

Melbourne eats

More wine #sisters #family #wine #vino #melbourne #travel

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Melbourne drinks

Round 9:

  • Lost 4mm off my waist, 1.1cm off my hips, 8mm off my thigh and 1.2kg. This is the lightest I’ve been since I can remember.
  • This was a result of fat loss but also muscle mass loss most likely due to changes in training (no squats, running every day).
  • My digestion was up and down.
  • 5S breakfast from Practical Paleo

    3S “sandwich”

    If you’re interested in learning more about AltShift, head to 30kview.com.

    AltShift experiment (part 4)

    This update #4 of my AltShift experiment (previous posts here: part 1, part 2 and part 3). This update includes rounds 6 and 7.

    Round 6 started back in Sydney but still with Buddhist stuff going on, involving eating out and partying a bit. This happened during the 5 shift, making it a bit easier to stick to it. I finally got a Fitbit! Based on reviews, I decided to go with the One. I know this gadget can be dangerous for a data junkie like me, but I wanted to know whether I’m complying with the activity and sleep components of the protocol.

    Round 6:

    • I put on 1.6cm on my waist, 4mm on my hips, 1.4cm on my thigh and 2.5kg. So basically, I reverted what I had achieved on the previous shift.
    • Averaged 13,294 steps and 8.05 hours of sleep with 99% efficiency.
    • My digestion was still compromised but got better with time.
    • I felt a bit sick: slightly sore throat, a few sneezes, tired.

    Eating out on 5S: smoked meats and coleslaw at the Erko

    Eggplant bolognese, made with lean pork mince, surprisingly a 3S meal

    Round 7:

    • I lost 1.1cm off my waist, 8mm off my hips, 9mm off my thigh and 2.2kg. Not my leanest during the experiment, but close.
    • Averaged 12,844 steps and 7.15 hours of sleep with efficiency ranging from 95% to 100%.
    • My digestion got better on 5S, and then again worse on 3S.
    • I got a cold, which is very unusual. Sore throat, sneezes, coughs. No weakness, tiredness nor fever, though.
    • I got injured again. My hip flexor was still tight and I overused my back while snatching. This injury is not as serious as the one I had a year and a half ago, but it’s annoying.

    Another spin on egg salad for breakfast on 5S, this one has bacon and comes from Practical Paleo

    Post-workout 3S dinner: rice, tuna, tomato, coriander, lime

    If you’re interested in learning more about AltShift, head to 30kview.com.

    AltShift experiment (part 3)

    As you may or may not know, I’m currently testing a fat loss protocol called AltShift (see my previous posts about it here: part 1 and part 2). This is my update for rounds 4 and 5.

    As I said before, one of the reasons I started this experiment was to find out how quickly I can go back to my original weight category in the (unlikely) event that I decide to enter a weightlifting competition. I got my answer on round 5: 37 days. See the stats below for more details.

    Round 4:

    • Lost 9mm off my waist, 1cm off my hips, 5mm off my thigh, and 500g.
    • My digestion was better than in the previous shift.
    • The swelling issue from the previous shift started to resolve.
    • My energy and sleep were normal.
    • I PR’d on snatch (+1kg) even though my hip flexor was still in recovery mode.

    Carnitas and coleslaw for 5S

    My version of ploughman’s lunch, a typical 5S quick meal

    Lunch: green mango salad with chicken #paleo #primal #glutenfree #grainfree #realfood #jerf #altshift #3shift

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    Vietnamese salad, one of my go-to 3S lunches

    Round 5 (5 shift):

    • Lost 1.6mm off my waist, 5mm off my hips, 1cm off my thigh, and 2.4kg.
    • Compared to baseline, the numbers were: 2.8cm off my waist, 2.2cm off my hips, 2cm off my thigh, and 3.1kg. This is the leanest and lightest I have been during the experiment.
    • I was super lean and started to see the shape of my abs.
    • I was able to wear pants that were too small until the previous round.
    • My digestion got back to normal.
    • My hip flexor was still tender, but didn’t prevent me from training.

    Egg & olive salad (recipe here)

    Naked burgers

    Round 5 (3 shift):

    This was the first time I put AltShift on hold. I travelled to the Gold Coast for a 3.5-day Buddhist course, which fell on the entire 3 shift. I was tempted to make it work but we were eating out with friends and having drinks at night, so I decided it was easier to eat paleo-friendly the whole time. I also stopped tracking my intake, which means I ate more than I needed. My activity was limited to prostrations (a form of physical meditation) in the morning and some walking on the beach, and to and from shops.

    The results:

    • My digestion was wrecked from too much food and some of the crap I had (chips, alcohol), even though the majority of my intake was pretty clean.
    • I didn’t measure again but I could see my body getting fattier around the middle.
    • Too much sitting and not enough movement made my hips more stiff.
    • I didn’t get sick but my throat was slightly sore on the last couple of days.

    To be continued…

    If you’re interested in learning more about AltShift, head to 30kview.com.

    AltShift experiment (part 2)

    As you may or may not know, I’m currently testing a fat loss protocol called AltShift (see my previous post about it here). Here is my update for rounds 2 and 3.

    Round 2:

    • Lost 1mm off my waist, 2mm off my hips and 5mm off my thigh. Gained 700g.
    • I ate a bit less on both shifts but was still well within the protocol limits.
    • I wasn’t as hungry on the 3 shift as the previous round.
    • I discovered why so many AltShifters rave about egg salad.
    • My digestion was perfect on the 5 shift, but slow on the 3 shift (I was also very gassy during this shift).
    • My energy and sleep were normal.
    • My strength was good most of the time, but I pulled my right hip flexor toward the end of the 5 shift so had to take it easy for a few days after that.

    Breakfast: egg salad. #paleo #primal #glutenfree #grainfree #realfood #jerf #altshift #5shift #eattheyolks

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    Egg & cucumber salad (5 shift)

    Round 3:

    • No changes in measurements or weight, however…
    • I retained a lot of water, particularly on the 3 shift; my face, feet, ankles and legs were swollen, as well as the fat cells in my belly.
    • Out of frustration I gave in and had drinks twice: on the second last day of the 5 shift (2 gin & soda with cucumber slices) and on the first day of the 3 shift (2 glasses of red wine). Drinks were part of catch-ups with good friends, so they were enjoyed and didn’t cause regret.
    • My digestion was terrible on the 5 shift and got better on the 3 shift. Quite the opposite to what I was expecting.
    • Strength was still good, I PR’d on back squats (+8kg) even though my hip flexor was still giving me some grief. I’ve had a few days of light work in preparation for my next lifting cycle.

    5 shift “fast food” dinner

    Breakfast: smoked turkey breast rolls #paleo #primal #glutenfree #grainfree #realfood #jerf #altshift #3shift

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    3 shift “fast food” breakfast

    Doesn’t get more Peruvian than this… 3 shift compliant

    If you’re interested in learning more about AltShift, head to 30kview.com.

    AltShift experiment (part 1)

    As some of you may know, I like to experiment on myself. In my constant pursuit for health and happiness, when I see something that makes sense I try it and see how it works for me. That’s how I ended up being a Buddhist who eats a paleo-style diet. And that’s what made me want to try AltShift.

    Despite its name and what I do for work, this has nothing to do with computers. AltShift is a fat loss protocol (diet, if you want to call it that way) created by Jason Seib, one of the people in the paleo world that I’ve been following for a few years. He’s devoted most of his career to help people lose fat. He’s a gym owner, trainer, author of The Paleo Coach, and runs a podcast and training website alongside Sarah Fragoso, another paleo personality. In other words, the guy knows his stuff.

    The protocol is based on macronutrient and calorie cycling. This helps prevent adaptation and accelerates fat loss, at least in theory. Protein, in general, tends to stay the same within a particular creature’s diet (Google the protein leverage hypothesis if you’re interested), so what cycle are carbs and fat. When fat goes down, calories go down.

    What motivated me to want to test this protocol, aside from plain curiosity, was the extra fat that I have put on in the past few months and have bumped my weight set point to ~3kg more than what it used to be and feels right for me. My genetic baggage, a broken metabolism due to poor food choices and yo-yo dieting, and my age make this task harder than what it seems. Finally, as a future dietitian I like to have first hand experience of different approaches before recommending them to a client or patient.

    Me and 2 friends started on January 2nd. I have been tracking my food intake the whole time (it’s kind of fun when you don’t have to do it for an assignment!) and was surprised to see how inaccurate were my guesses, particularly in the low fat/lower calorie cycle (aka 3 shift).

    A 3 shift meal

    I weighed and measured myself a few days before starting and plan to do the same at the end of each 5 shift. Below are the results and some observations from the first round:

    • Lost 2mm off my waist (could be measuring error!) and 900g
    • Interestingly and despite having been eating lowish carb for the past ~5 years, it was easier for me to go very low fat on the 3 shift than to go very low carb on the 5 shift
    • I was hungrier than usual on the 3 shift, and felt cold during the day
    • My digestion was perfect on the 5 shift, but slow on the 3 shift (I was also very gassy during this shift)
    • My energy and sleep were normal
    • My strength was normal, I had no problem hitting my percentages in training (during both shifts) even though I have stopped using pre-workout and whey protein

    I’ve enjoyed the challenge of finding recipes appropriate for each shift. To be clear, this is not strictly a paleo protocol, but encourages paleo-style food choices and certainly can be done using 100% foods that fall under the paleo denomination. I have been eating exactly the same things I normally eat, just combining them differently to fit within the guidelines. If you check my Instagram feed you will see my food does not look a whole lot different to what it used to.

    Lunch: Scotch fillet and salad #paleo #primal #glutenfree #grainfree #realfood #jerf #altshift #5s

    A post shared by Gaby Mora (@gabymoragondo) on

    A 5 shift meal

    I will continue to track my progress as the experiment goes on, and will keep posting my observations. Judging from the overwhelming amount of positive feedback on the AltShift Facebook group, this stuff works. BTW, that is one awesomely supportive group for anyone who decides to join the journey.

    If you’re interested in learning more about AltShift, head to 30kview.com.