The first one is pretty subtle; the second is rather less so; and the third is about as subtle as global nuclear war.
Archive for the 'geekery' Category
It’s kind of a slow night in the NFL, so I’m half-assedly digging around the internet for data on alcohol metabolism and ketogenic fat loss.
Basically, my premise is that alcoholic ketoacidosis is a thing, and is both related to ketosis and physiologically different from other forms of ketoacidosis, so maybe there are ways to use it to my advantage. I had a vague notion going in that alcohol consumption — in particular, the hard stuff, rather than maltose-laden beer — somehow speeds up the transition to ketosis after a carb load. If it does so by depleting liver glycogen, a few stiff drinks would act as a cheat code to get deep into ketosis after a depletion workout.
Unfortunately, most of what you get if you google up “alcohol metabolism” is variations on the theme of “OH WOW YOU GUYS, DID YOU KNOW THAT DRINKING TOO MUCH IS BAD FOR YOU? SOME VERY SMART PEOPLE IN WHITE COATS SAID SO, BECAUSE SCIENCE! (No, we won’t tell you the science. You’d never understand it.)” I did, however, come up with some hits.
Recall that the presence of liver glycogen inhibits ketosis, so after a carb load we want to get rid of that nasty hepato-starch as quickly as possible… ideally without soaking up too much intramuscular glycogen, which we’ll want to have around next time we lift. From this remarkably non-histrionic article, we discover that alcohol inhibits gluconeogenesis in the liver. It does this by inhibiting the conversion of lactate to pyruvate; it’s been a while since I’ve done any skill-grinding on ketogenic diet physiology but this doesn’t strike me as directly relevant; it removes a pathway for the liver to generate glucose, but if the liver’s stocked up on glycogen that pathway would be too much effort.
The article also indicates that alcoholic ketoacidosis usually happens after “starvation” (that is, a day or three of fasting), and while we’re going to take advantage of the acute fasting response and its increase in growth hormone and catecholamines that’s going to happen after we drop a few fingers of whiskey. We would like to lift, then eat, then drink, then fast for sixteen-odd hours; and we’d prefer to spend as much of the fast as possible in ketosis. Drinking at the end of the fast, while pleasant, isn’t the operative variable.
This “helpful” little thing reinforces the idea that alcoholic ketoacidosis results from inhibited gluconeogenesis after glycogen depletion. Glycogen depletion’s what we’re after, so about the best we can hope for from inhibited gluconeogenesis is that a drink or three will shut down some of the complementary glucose-releasing processes in the liver and put greater demand on hepatic glycogen stores.
(This blog post has been interrupted by the Patriots remembering that there’s a football game going on in the second half.)
However, all is not lost. This abomination, aside from the quality of the reporting giving me cancer, suggests that… well, I’ll let the paper title speak for itself: “Ethanol acutely stimulates islet blood flow, amplifies insulin secretion, and induces hypoglycemia via NO and vagally mediated mechanisms”. It sure looks like acute alcohol consumption can trigger insulin release, leading to hypoglycemia, which would presumably lead to hepatic glycogen release into blood glucose. Which, y’all will recall, is what we want.
If it’s relevant, which is a big “if”, this’d play right into the Carb Backloading strategy of a big but short-lived insulin spike right before bedtime, disposing of any blood glucose left over from the carb load (or, presumably, liver glycogen if you don’t carb-load the night before a non-lifting day) and setting up a prompt growth hormone spike once you get to sleep. On the other hand, recall that my research methodology is “dick around on Google Scholar until something interesting happens on Sunday Night Football”, so take this with a pillar of salt.
If you ever want to see people gripped by nameless, protean dread, all you have to do is get on a bus.
So I’m digging into the “induction phase” on Kiefer’s Carb Backloading diet plan. Some of you will be grimly sympathetic already; “induction” on a ketogenic diet plan basically means “depleting all the glycogen in your body until you get fully into ketosis (and incidentally feel like shit for a week)”. Yeah, lucky me. Glycogen depletion is the price I have to pay for slamming Pringles and Rockets after my workouts. At least I get to drink while I do it (fun fact: alcohol without carbs hastens and deepens ketosis, hence the “alcoholic ketoacidosis” that’s freaking out your pharm-major friends when they hear about Atkins).
Keto sucks; “low-carb flu” and struggling with 60% of your max for sets of five is an enormous pain in the ass, but that’s what we have to go through to earn our sushi rice and carby treats once we get to the glycogen loading phase. I have yet to find a way around that. Dieting in general sucks, because when you’re in an effective state of calorie depletion you get hungry. I have found a few ways to mitigate that, and I’ma write about them here.
Yes, to deal with hunger I suggest you skip breakfast. Yes, this is part of my ongoing jihad against meals in the morning, but hear me out and you might learn something.
First off, IFing helps you deal with ghrelin better. Ghrelin is, among other things, the “hunger hormone”, and it does neat things like sharpen your awareness and make you think better. So bathing in ghrelin every morning isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But from a hunger perspective, once you’ve come to terms with “zOMG I can’t eat until noon and it’s only 8:30 FFFFFUUUUUUUUU…” there’s not a hell of a lot else that dieting can throw at you from an acute hunger perspective. You get really hungry around 10, deal with it for half an hour or so, and then realize that it’s not such a big deal.
By far the bigger benefit of IFing, though, is that you backload your meals. On a “normal, sensible” diet, you eat a breakfast that doesn’t quite satisfy; a lunch that doesn’t quite satisfy; and a dinner that doesn’t quite satisfy. You’re always hungry, and you always have to stop eating before you’re satiated. When you’re IFing, though, you get to eat a big (er, “normal”) lunch and a big (er, “normal”) dinner, to the point where you’re stretching your stomach sufficiently for it to send “stop eating, dammit” signals. IFing, you can eat to the point where you’re full and want to stop, rather to a point where you know you ought to stop and can convince yourself that you’ll be full-ish, kinda, relatively speaking. It’s good.
Also, you can sleep in an extra half hour.
Protein shakes before meals
This is another “fucking with your satiety response” trick, which is how many diets work (until they stop working). Simple idea: About half an hour before you eat a meal, start drinking a protein shake. Give it a good 40g of protein, and while you’re at it throw in a teaspoon of Metamucil and a teaspoon of some greens powder. You’re probably not getting enough veggies anyway, and the fibre is good for (a) enhancing your sense of satiety and (b) giving you some truly majestic shits, especially if you do the right thing and eat veggies with all your meals. (Fibre also tends to carry off some of the kcal from your meal with it down your colon, although I’m not sure if consuming it before a meal makes this work.)
Plan some smaller meals and chug a protein shake before each. When you’re on a kcal deficit you want to be taking in more protein anyway, to minimize lean tissue loss among other things, so you should be doing this anyway, but the protein shakes will increase your satiety on each of the smaller meals. And you never know, you might actually put on some muscle or something useful like that.
Ephedrine + caffeine stack
It works, bitches. Take 20mg of Ephedrine HCl and 200mg of caffeine when you get up in the morning, then again about four hours later. EC is thermogenic in general, so you should be stacking it anyway, but for the first few weeks (months? Depends) that you take it it’s also a mild appetite suppressant. And seriously, stacking EC is cheaper than lentils, why would you not.
I’m told that taking L-tyrosine with EC can potentiate its appetite suppressant effects even after it’s stopped being effective, and L-tyrosine seems to be well-regarded as a peri-workout stimulant anyway. If it’s cheap (I haven’t played with it at all, ever), go for it.
I’m going to throw out some props to my favourite nootropic ever. L-carnitine L-tartrate is fucking amazing, for me, for sheer focus. Want some extra willpower for five minutes or so? Listen to Hatebreed. Want some extra willpower for two hours or so? Pop some LCLT. I’ve been sticking to at most 1.5g/day to avoid developing a tolerance, and so far it’s still helpful for (among other things) getting me to the gym when my fuckitometer is reading high. I think I’ve mentioned before that if I’d been slamming this stuff in junior high, I might’ve gone to MIT. Not cheap, but not out of sight pricey.
Find a diet plan you can stick to
Something like Cheat Mode, where you carb up after heavy workouts, helps a fuck of a lot because it gives you a chance to eat your face off under controlled circumstances. I ate Cheat Mode for half a year or so and probably lost about half a pound of fat per month, because I wasn’t really trying. I ate a Mk. 1 mod 0 targeted ketogenic diet, lost just under a pound a week, and hated it for a month and a half because there was no real payoff. I ran Lyle’s Ultimate Diet 2.0 and lost over a pound a week, and my carb-ups were fucking glorious. Right now I’m giving carb backloading a shot, with the hope of finding something somewhere in between. Try a bunch of different plans, and see what works best for you.
Suck it up or stay fat
This is the last piece of advice from the Lyle McDonald article that sort-of inspired this one. If you’re in a kcal deficit, you’re probably going to get hungry. Embrace it; that means you’re doing something right. Yeah, it sucks; put on some metal and get over it. Embrace the suck. Most of hunger is just habit; your body telling you “I’m used to getting a meal half an hour ago, and I don’t see no meal here; what the fuck, buddy?” Give it a week and that gnawing hunger won’t gnaw quite so hard. Make ghrelin your bitch.
I will also say that you shouldn’t be going hardcore kcal-deficit for too long — work in a cheat meal every week or ten days, and work in a total diet break every two months or thereabouts. (Want more details? Buy Lyle McD’s books; that’s where I get much of my info, and I’m not about to give away his ideas for free.)