Those of you following my blog are familiar with my 2 most recent trips to NYC. For the newcomers, I’ve condensed my traveling experience as digital entrepreneur in my most recent book Urban Escape.
During both of these trips I noticed that I’m struggling with maintaining my weight while following a similar nutritional approach with the one from Romania. I had to overfeed (feast) every few day just to break-even. Not that it was unpleasant or inconvenient (just saying). If I would have rigidly followed my strategy (low-calorie + daily IF + strength training) I would have lost more fat, which was not my goal.
Obviously, I was using more energy.. But how, or when?
My smartphone came with a widget that’s been running on a side screen. It’s basically a pedometer. I don’t care about how much I walk everyday, but if I can explore the data from my walking routine and analyze what’s been collected for almost a year, it’s a nice feature indeed.
So, let’s look into it.
Here’s a typical day of May 2015:
And here’s a typical day of February 2015:
There’s obviously a big difference. Notice the daily pattern of May compared to February 2015.
During my first trip, in Sept. 2014, there’s even a bigger difference. Here’s a typical day:
This is a nice app since it also shows me the time of the day when I did most of my walking.
Now, let us take a look at monthly trends. This is Sept. 2014:
I was walking an average of 7.8 km a day (~4.85 miles). Times 30. That’s 234 km or 145.5 miles in September alone. The daily extra 403 kcals burned may add up to more than 12,000 kcals on a monthly basis. However, I don’t trust the accuracy of these kinds of apps…
But just for fun, 12,000 kcals/3,500kcals (which is in a pound of fat) is 3.43 pounds of fat loss in a month. That’s what I would have lost had I kept my low-caloric approach everyday. Simply by enjoying walking in New York City.
Looking over Nov 2014 or Feb. 2015 while I was in Romania and focusing on work, you can see a much different picture:
April to June 2015 are similar to September 2014:
Other Reasons Why Context Matters
Even though my first stay in NYC was short and it lasted 3 weeks (my second trip was for 6 weeks) it was enough for some changes to take place with my body.
I didn’t experience jet lag, probably because I fasted all throughout the round-trip flights – 30+ hours each way. Here’s an insight into my June 2015 trip back home.
I’ve also strategically used cold thermogenesis and hot showers to minimize jet lag.
I’ve noticed some pronounced changes with my microbiota. The first one was the frequency of bowel discharge. While in NYC, I had to go more often. Some of the reasons could be the increased movement routine (walking) + the intermittent overfeeding.
The time difference between the U.S. (East Coast) and Romania is 7 hours. This difference affected the time of the day when I felt the need to go the bathroom for #2.
As I returned home from both of my trips, it took ~2-3 weeks to reinforce my morning bathroom routine. During those first 2-3 weeks, I had experienced the urge in the afternoon (when it would be morning time in NYC).
The urban jungle (NYC) is loaded with non-native EMF radiation. Your body is constantly bombarded with electromagnetic radiation from everything around. Part of my experiments in NYC included keeping my phone in airplane mode whenever possible. I would somehow reduce the non-native EMF from the constant communication between the phone and its carrier’s signal tower. I also intensified my daily CT (cold thermogenesis) practices to mitigate for the increased EMF stress.
Plus, keeping my phone on airplane mode, I would mute the non-stop notifications that I get from my social media accounts. This would allow me to experience the city more thoroughly. It would force me to find direction without relying on technology and by simply asking and interacting with people for directions.
I had to commute daily, using the subway system for 1-2 hours. I took advantage of this time spent underground to read as much as possible. I read an average of 1.5 books a week while riding the sub; Sadly, most of the people in the sub play candycrush games or sleep (as most seem to be chronically fatigued). I wrote more about my subway reading strategy here and about the books that I’ve read recently here.
A somewhat positive change in my gut microbiota is possibly due to the increased consumption of vegetables and other plants foods.
I suspect I may have shifted the microbial diversity in a good direction. Nonetheless, I was able to maintain (most of the days) and improve my low-calorie nutrient dense ketogenic approach, deriving 65-70% of the calories from fat, ~15% from protein (I eat moderate-to-low protein) and the rest from fibrous carbohydrates.
As I returned home, my refrigerator became host of more fibrous rich foods. This seems to be working well for me currently.
I also consumed a lot of nuts, peanuts, cheese, and dark chocolate. I wrote about how cheap it was for me to eat in NYC with this strategy in my recently released book. To get an insight:
– broccoli slaw – 340g (~12 oz) – $2.5
– peanuts – 400g (~14 oz) – $2
– cheese – 220g (~7.8 oz) – $2
– mixed nuts (cashews, Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts) – 100g (~3.5oz) – $2
– full fat yoghurt – 200g (~7oz) – $1.5
– coleslaw – 400g (~14 oz) – $1.25
– Brussels sprouts slaw – 340g (~12 oz) – $2.5
– bacon – 440g (~15.5 oz) – $6
– dark chocolate – 100g (3.5oz) $3
I went shopping every few days. When I had my main meal at home I mixed brocolli slaw, coleslaw, and Brussels sprouts with bacon, some cheese and some full fat yoghurt into something looking like this:
It takes 5 minutes to put it all together. When I ate out I usually consumed eggs and some vegetables.
I made a habit of consuming many more vegetables and plant foods than previously. And it takes some time (a couple of weeks) until your microbiota diversity shifts into a direction in which these foods are absorbed and used properly. At first you may feel bloated and uncomfortable. If you eat the very high fat, and often times, hypercaloric nutritiously poor ketogenic diet that’s promoted out there, these symptoms may be more pronounced due to the low population of bacteria made to digest fibrous foodstuff in your gut. But if you introduce these foods gradually, such symptoms may be reduced to minimum or eliminated altogether.
When I got home, I started using more pre and probiotic foods and things started working even better because 5-6 hours after my second and last meal (in the evening), I much often experience “satiation pangs”.
I’m not sure if this term has ever been used so far, but unlike hunger pangs, satiation pangs are spiking feelings of satisfaction/satiation that I get even in the days what I eat less than 1,000kcals.
My gut bugs talk to my brain telling it they got what they wanted. My energy levels are higher compared to my former higher-fat approach (which were quite high as well). This may be a hint to the strong connection between the gut and the brain, that’s receiving an ever increasing attention from the scientific research community these days.
My sleep is also improved as a result of this. However, I also use more CT in the evening and I minimize the exposure to artificial light as part of the strategy to improve circadian rhythmicity (with some minor exceptions).
Whatever strategies I implement, it seems to take at least 21 days until they start feeling part of me. Loretta Breuning, a well known author, talks about developing good habits by hacking your neurotransmitters in her books which I highly recommend, though she advises for 45 days to enforcing a routine, instead of 21.
The point I’m trying to make is that it is reckless and unwise to take a strategy that works for someone (or to take general dietary recommendations) and expect to work the same way for yourself. We’re all different in terms of gene expression and we’re all exposed to different epigenetic factors. So, each of us requires their own well crafted individual approach. The idea is to test, observe, and improve…