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JJeffreyBragg

Another Newbie

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It's disappointing to see these forums aren't terribly active. So newbie or not, I'm jumping in with a post, if only because hanging back just contributes to the lack of activity! I've read "The Longevity Diet" (haven't yet got my hands on a copy of the older Roy Walford book but I'll try to find one). I think I understand the basic principles pretty well; of course, the devil's in the details, it's the *application* of the principles that's the real challenge.

 

I got into this thing sort of backwards. After years of carrying around a big load of belly fat (and I'm now 67) I finally became convinced that I was needlessly endangering my own survival. My blood pressure was high; my breath often seemed ketotic; I felt rotten much of the time. Six years ago I had an emergency gall bladder operation; the gb turned out to be partially gangrenous by the time they got it out; the hospitalisation was worse than the gb attack -- with their morphine, their antibiotics, etc., they managed to give me a massive case of oral thrush (candidiasis - yeast infection) as well as edema so severe my genitalia were swollen to basketball proportions; docs and nurses were unconcerned, apparently regarding all that as normal. The thrush was so bad I could *feel* the yeast sizzling and fermenting in my throat, like a continuous alka-seltzer. I got myself signed out as quickly as I could, threw away the Nystatin they sent me home with (for the thrush), bought a bottle of Bragg's Vinegar and stopped the thrush cold in its tracks in 24 hours. I had to get out fast before they killed me, lol. I quake with fear at the LD book's constant advice to "see your doctor" -- I haven't seen one since I got out of that hospital. If I'd been seeing one, I'm sure I'd already be on statins and heaven knows what else; most mainstream medics these days seem to have completely sold out to Big Pharma.

 

So I just decided to start losing weight. I'm 5' 11" and I guess I weighed something like 215 pounds (I had no scale when I started so I'm just estimating) and I looked like I was eight months pregnant -- NOT good for a 67-y.o. guy! Now two and a half months later I'm closing in on 170 pounds. There's still some visible fat and I think I'd like to get down to 160 (what I weighed in my late twenties) and then perhaps gain back a bit in lean muscle mass. (There's a brand-new community fitness centre in the village near me; 30 years ago I learned resistance training with free weights so it would be simple to take that up again, and very much to the point given my age + my interest in CR; maintaining bone mass and muscle are obvious concerns on both counts.)

 

I've only just bitten the bullet and started trying to count calories to see how much I'm eating or not eating just now. Last couple days it looks like it's on the order of 1000 cal/day; I was surprised it was that low, but I've cut way back on how much I eat, slashing portion sizes and just not eating things like ice cream and cheddar cheese. Hunger pangs were quite annoying at first, but the old body switched into fat-burning mode pretty easily and I don't have much trouble with that now. Perhaps my weight has come down somewhat rapidly, but that's the way it happened; once I hit 170 (and I'm nearly there now) maybe I can slow things down a bit for those last ten pounds.

 

I'm a bit surprised at some of the posts here, the fear of carbohydrates, the concern with eating the minimum possible protein that some seem to have. I didn't read much of that in "The Longevity Diet" -- the emphasis there seemed to be on flexibility and moderation, with very little emphasis on prohibiting any classes of foods other than perhaps fast-food junk.

 

Personally I LOVE whole grains and would not willingly go without my hot cereal in the winter. I take delight in oats, spelt, rye, kamut, buckwheat, quinoa etc. I also enjoy peanut butter; the hardest thing for me is cutting back hard on my consumption of that item (it IS rather energy dense and fatty). At the moment, while I'm burning fat and losing weight, I'm relying a lot on big salads and soups with lots of veggies in them. I keep thinking, "this would be so much *easier* if I lived in an urban centre with big supermarkets." I'm in a very rural area of Manitoba and our small local co-op supermarkets just don't get the variety of fresh produce that I see when I go to the city -- which happens only every couple of months unfortunately. I could really enjoy all those exotic vegetables (assuming I could afford them, that is; I'm retired and pretty poor).

 

My wife is Not Interested and has a pretty typical North American diet; so I cook for myself and don't have a lot of time or energy for elaborate recipes; that's not a bad thing necessarily -- pure and simple is often tastier and more enjoyable anyway.

 

I do have one serious question for you experienced CR people: obviously if my daily caloric intake is only around 1000, much of the deficit is currently being made up by body fat that's being consumed. As my BMI gets lower, at what point will I suddenly start to experience much more serious hunger? Or will that happen at all? My BMI is 24 at the moment; at my target weight it would be 22.3; 20 seems like it would be a bit extreme, but who knows. At this point I only know I'm still not anything like skinny. (I think I probably *need* that resistance training to build up some muscle mass. I do occasional heavy household lifting and snow shoveling but that's not consistent enough to really keep in shape.) I want to know basically if I'll hear alarm bells when the surplus body fat's all gone.

 

Anyway, there's my introduction to the forums, FWIW! :D

Edited by JJeffreyBragg

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Jeff,

 

Welcome to the CR Society Forum, and congratulations on making a start on your own CR practice.

In general, we suggest that people start CR by having a set of blood tests done to establish a baseline, (see the test and biomarkers page on the CR Society web site) and then start measuring and recording one's food, for example using

www.cronometer.org

You might also be interested in a commercial product, http://nutribase.com/

then start cutting down on processed foods, refined flour, sugar, increasing vegetables and complex grains. I try to get 25% of my calories from fat at every meal, along with getting protein and fiber with each meal to slow the absorption of glucose, minimizing the spike in blood sugar. When the new diet is stable and comfortable, then you can start reducing calories, while maintaining good nutrition. Your weight will start to drop. Try not to lose more than 500gm per week. There will come a point where you will know you have lost enough, or too much. You will notice weakness, or cold, or something which tells you that weight is your minimum, and then you eat enough to maintain your weight.

That, at least, has been our standard prescription. It sounds like you plunged into it and just started losing weight, and only now are finding out how many calories you are consuming. Before I scold you, I must confess that I did exactly the same, although, I was starting from a much lower base. I was 46, 5'6", and 59 kg. I dropped to 51 in 6 months. Even that was a bit fast, and I looked pale and wan, and felt I had gone too far at that point. Seven years later, I am now back up to around 54kg. We generally recommend not loosing weight so fast because of the concern that various fat soluable chemicals from the environment may have been stored in your fat stores, and losing weight rapidly will release them too rapidly into your system, as well as putting undue stress on your organs. It is preferable to follow the gentle and steady path I outline above, but you can only go forward, and I know that many of us started just as you did, impulsively, and then only later reading, and trying to understand the science.

 

One of the questions all newbies are concerned with is knowing what the right level of weight is for them. After a number of years of practice, you get a feel for what works, but in the first flush, you want some external guidance.

 

Tony Zamora's site has a good CRON calculator:

 

www.scientificpsychic.com/health/cron1.html

 

 

Our understanding of the science behind calorie restriction has evolved over the years I have been involved. Although a significant number of our members believe that getting sufficient protein to maintain serious muscle mass is important, you are correct that the research is suggesting lowering protein to the range of 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight per day, up to around 1g/kg-day. Higher levels of protein raise the levels of Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) an insulin-related growth hormone. There is ample evidence both from laboratory studies and from people with a genetic disorder that limits IGF-1, called Laron Dwarfism, that lowering IGF-1 levels results in longevity and reduces or eliminates cancer. In mice and rats, CR seems to lower IGF-1 on its own, but in human beings, it is possible to be on CR, eating a lot of protein, and having high IGF-1. Although IGF-1 is not the only metabolic pathway affected by CR (and fasting), it is a critical one, and not suppressing it may eliminate much of the benefit of CR.

 

From my own experience, I have taken up weight lifting again for about a year and a half, after a hiatus of several years. I have found that although my strength has increased significantly, my muscle mass has not.

 

Although some of our members have put a tremendous effort into setting up these lovely forums, many of us are a conservative lot, and much of the activity remains on the mailing lists.

 

The CR Society Main Discussion List <cr@lists.calorierestriction.org>

General Interest Issues to the CR Community <crcomm@lists.calorierestriction.org>

To reply to your questions:

There are probably as many varieties of CR as there are practitioners, but the practice I follow entails getting about 40-50% of my calories from brown rice, or other whole grain products. I eat a large salad

every morning, and following a recent paper, try to leave a little time before going to the main part of my meal. I always try to get 25% of my calories at each meal from fats, and to have some protein

and fiber with each meal, the objective being to keep my blood sugar from spiking. Fats, proteins, and fiber, slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.

Effect of consuming salad and yogurt as preload on body weight management and cardiovascular risk factors: a randomized clinical trial

 

 

 

 

 

I also eat two meals a day, breakfast and lunch, and then have an 18-hour fast. Recent papers suggest that the time away from food, is as important, and perhaps more important, than just lowering

caloric intake.

A group at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center modified the genes of a strain of mice to constantly express FGF21 at levels 10 times the amount it would normally be expressed in the liver under starvation conditions.

 

The starvation hormone, fibroblast growth factor-21, extends lifespan in mice

 

 

The males lived 30% longer than the control mice, and the females lived 40% longer.

 

In answer to your final question, you probably won't suddenly get powerful pangs of hunger when you have reached your proper CR weight. As I indicated above, experience CRers find that

point that seems right. You know when you're below it, because you feel faint, or weak, or very cold, or ill. The actual effect will depend on your physiology. Think of it as testing the waters.

lose a little more weight and see how that feels. At some point, you will know you have lost enough, or gone too far. Then back up and stay around your proper CR weight.

Best of Luck, good health, and long life to you,

Dave

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Thanks so much for your welcome and your thoughtful response to my initial post, Dave. Believe me, I understand the difficulties with new forums, getting people to participate, weaning members from email lists to forums, etc.! I've been through that mill several times; I like forums because it's all *there* in front of you, easy to follow the development of a thread, and prebuilt forums apps like phpBB and IP Board are pleasant to use and easy on the eyes. Yet so many people stick stubbornly to the old email lists. I guess in the end we need both options.

 

I'm relieved to discover that most of my instincts seem to be reasonably well on target. Funny... it's only now after having already lost forty pounds that I'm suddenly starting to *feel better* on a regular daily basis. I'm sleeping more soundly, having less trouble with depression, even feeling a bit more energetic. But it took two months and a loss of forty pounds before any of that started to kick in!

 

I've already implemented several of the things you suggest. I'm relieved to hear your strong vote for the whole grains, and pleasantly startled to hear the recommendation to get 25% of caloric intake from fats; I have never shared the general horror of fats that seems to be such a big feature both of mainstream allopathic medical advice and of most weight-loss programmes. One book I read (by a medical doctor) stressing dietary defenses against strokes and heart disease insisted that egg yolks are "out" entirely, I think on the unproven assumption that their cholesterol goes straight onto the arterial walls. Mind you, I now eat eggs very rarely, but when I do they are whole eggs, which I enjoy as an occasional treat.

 

I haven't enough patience for rigorous calory counting; to do it right would mean weighing (or carefully measuring) much of what goes into my meals, and that's entirely too obsessive/compulsive for me. I don't cook by recipes and measured ingredients. So I tend to regulate things by keeping a diary of what I'm eating (which is new for me and plenty compulsive enough at that) and keeping a close eye on the weigh scale to tell me what's happening. It seems to be working well enough, especially since I continue to research my calories and thus to grow gradually more familiar with the caloric values of various foods.

 

I'm looking forward to getting back into resistance training; I enjoyed my spell of weight-lifting thirty years ago and have tried now and again to take it up again at home, which hasn't worked for lack of a dedicated space. Now there's a little community fitness centre in reach that may be all I need to get going again.

 

I regard CR as something worthwhile in and of itself, regardless of whether the theory behind it is proven or unproven. It *feels* better to weigh less, it's nicer to enjoy a higher-quality diet without stuffing oneself, and what *is* proven is the immediate effect on various health biomarkers. That's good enough for me right there; if indeed it should turn out that there are longevity benefits, well so much the better.

 

As in your own case, two meals a day, six hours apart, with perhaps a small late snack at night occasionally, works well for me. My body feels like it needs the fasting period. And yes, I plunged into it without even knowing I was doing CR at first; I was just determined to eat less and to slash portion sizes; it also made sense to start by eliminating a few of the obvious fattening items in which I knew I overindulged. Then later on the discovery of CR was an "Ah!" moment; itmade wonderful sense and gave me a framework upon which to order my knowledge and expand it. CR is pragmatic enough to appeal greatly to me.

 

What gets me shaking my head, though, is the various strange combinations of CR with other dietary disciplines that one notices in some of the posts here. Particularly the vegan and the paleo combinations. I would have thought that the average vegan would find CR superfluous -- doesn't it virtually happen on its own for them? And I'm totally unable to comprehend how paleo and CR mesh, really; but then, I tend to think paleo is based on a large overlooked fact: the fact that there's no evidence that paleolithic man was longer-lived than modern man, rather the opposite, and that evolution does not select for longevity, because the evolutionary process is so directly related to reproduction. (Once the organism has reproduced, a new selection cycle begins and what happens to the superannuated reproductors no longer matters in an evolutionary sense!) Anyway I think it would be *harder* to maintain a CR regimen whilst maintaining the paleo bias for large quantities of fatty meat.

 

Thanks for the various links and the list references. Those will be helpful in getting better oriented. And again thanks for the friendly welcome and the refusal to scold me! It feels good to be here.

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Dave, I've already signed up for the "CR Support Group" Yahoo email list, but there doesn't seem to be much activity there either. I note you gave me email list addresses for two other email lists that are neither Yahoo nor Google groups. How does one subscribe to those two lists? I Googled and found a subscription form but have no idea if it's current or not.

 

Meanwhile I continue trying to learn a bit more about CR itself in practice (as distinguished from CR/paleo, CR/vegan and the rest of the hybrids). Rereading the "Longevity Diet" book it finally crashed through to me that the preferred CR target weight (for those that have one) is based upon one's "set point," the weight one's body naturally tends towards and probably was in early adulthood. In my case that is probably 165 or 170 pounds; as best I can recall that was my weight range in my late twenties and early thirties. Later on, that changed first to 180, then to 190 and then upwards of 200 pounds; but I was manifestly quite overweight then. Picking 170 as a probable set point, then CR target is 10% to 25% less, according to the book. Let's see... hmmm... that's anywhere from 153 pounds to 127.5 pounds -- eek!!! :o That's a bit scary. However, getting to 170 from an estimated 215 hasn't been all that difficult even though most of that journey happened without benefit of the excellent advice in the "Longevity Diet" book. I'm just starting to crack through 170 at the moment. Maybe it won't be *too* tough to make it into the actual CR target zone in the fulness of time. ;)

 

What puzzles me is that it seems to take (for me) a daily caloric allowance of 1000-1200 to make any discernible progress. As my diet continues to improve hunger is less of a problem, but I'm not sure why it's taking that much of a reduction to lose weight. I would have thought that 1500-1750 would have done the trick. I'm sure I must have been consuming at least 3000 calories/day (if not more than that) before I started this. Of course I am 67 and fairly sedentary in winter these days (well, it was -24C with a windchill well below minus thirty today, which has something to do with it -- though I did go for a walk with the dog even so, I've been feeling so much better with 45 pounds gone). Maybe I just don't need as much as I think to keep me going. Could be a question of needing to form some new eating habits, I suppose.

 

Jeffrey

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Thanks for the archives link, Keith. It says at page bottom on the actual forums that the forums are read-only and that this is a temporary situation. Is that correct? And if so, any info as to when active posting status will be restored?

 

Actually, though, what I'm really looking for is a *support group* list that routinely deals with newbie questions and concerns. From what I read of the archives (in both sections) it looks like newbie posts are rare and most of the traffic has to do with scientific papers and technical issues. I'm looking for help with nuts-and-bolts questions about CR in practice, particularly when getting started and becoming accustomed to a radically different way of eating and living. Any suggestions? Isn't there an email list or forum somewhere that has such a focus? Thanks!

~Jeffrey

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Thanks for the archives link, Keith. It says at page bottom on the actual forums that the forums are read-only and that this is a temporary situation. Is that correct? And if so, any info as to when active posting status will be restored?

 

Actually, though, what I'm really looking for is a *support group* list that routinely deals with newbie questions and concerns. From what I read of the archives (in both sections) it looks like newbie posts are rare and most of the traffic has to do with scientific papers and technical issues. I'm looking for help with nuts-and-bolts questions about CR in practice, particularly when getting started and becoming accustomed to a radically different way of eating and living. Any suggestions? Isn't there an email list or forum somewhere that has such a focus? Thanks!

~Jeffrey

Well, each forum kind of has a personality that comes out. For example the CRSociety mailing list does tend to deal with the scientific minutia of Calorie Restriction. To be honest sometimes people can be a bit harsh on occasion to new comers. Another favorite list of mine is http://www.longecity.org/forum/forum/237-calorie-restriction/ but that one is sometimes dominated by paleo diet followers who often insist that people eat high protein diets. The CRSociety members generally have been frowning on high protein after Dr Luigi Fontana resleased a study that included CRSociety members and found that some potential benefits of CR may be missing in those that followed high protein diets. But generally you'll get a better beginners support from the followers on longecity. The books that have been written by CRSociety members are really worth getting. I believe http://www.livingthecrway.com has a growing following and takes a gentle approach to newcomers, but to my mind it's a little more commercial than I'd like to see. One of my favorite resources for CR Info is http://www.scientificpsychic.com/health/crondiet.html .

 

I hope you find this useful, Jeffrey. Best of health in the future. Keith

 

 

 

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Thanks, Keith! Much obliged for the tips. It's so good to get this kind of survey of available lists, rather than having to find out the hard way. ;)

~Jeffrey

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