Monday, September 12, 2016

Inches Not Pounds

August 2016
Looking at this recent photo (August, 2016) taken of me, it appears that I am definitely getting closer to my destination of being lean and fit.  Recently, I decided to increase the length of time between my last meal in the evening and my first meal of the day.  Gradually, over the course of the last year, I had gone from a fasted state of 12 hours to one of 16 hours.  The thinking behind such a change is to increase the time in which my insulin levels are low and my body switches into fat burning mode.

Looking at another photo below taken last year (September 2015) with my friend Richard, who looks very good, maintaining an ideal weight that allows him to eat what he wants, when he wants, because his hormones are in balance, you can see that my strategy of extending my fasted state has made a big difference.  In fact, last year's photo was taken when I was stuck on a weight loss plateau that I could not get off no matter how much exercise I packed into my daily routine.  For instance, in 2014 I hiked and biked more than 5000 kilometers, and in 2015 I completed the equivalent of a walk across Canada by walking on average 13 kilometers a day.  Moreover, when last year's photo was taken, I had just finished two months of eating clean and I still was stuck on a plateau.

September 2015
Before going on the 16 hour intermittent fasts, I did drop about 25 pounds between September 2015 and May 2016 while having a 12 to 14 hour break between meals over night.  However, when this year's photo was taken, I had moved to another plateau and I thought that increasing the length of my fasted state would get me off the new plateau.  That did not happen.  However, this time around I decided to measure my waist before and after two months of 16 hour fasts.  To my surprise, although I did not lose any appreciable weight, I did manage to take 10 centimeters or 4 inches of my waist, which tells me that my body definitely started to burn more of my visceral fat.

It shows in the two photos. In the lower photo, I am wearing an extra large shirt and my belly is protruding.  In the photo above, I am wearing a large shirt, one size smaller, and my belly appears to be flatter.  Moreover, my torso is smaller.

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My take away message is once again we should not become overly focused on scale weight.  It measures the total weight of lean muscle mass, bone, organs, visceral and subcutaneous fat and water, which means that scale weight will not capture any significant changes of body composition when the body weight remains relatively stable.  For example, you may lose 10 pounds of body fat while gaining 10 pounds of lean muscle.  Over all, this would be a very positive change for your health that would not at all be reflected by your scale weight.

The moral of my story is focus on fat loss, in particular, the fat around your waist.  Indeed, waist size is a much better health indicator than body weight or body mass.