What Is Going To Work For Me?
I am constantly trying to tinker with what works best for me when it comes to nutrition. Occasionally, I’ll drag my wife into one of my crazy experiments. I remember a few years ago when we decided to limit carbohydrate intake to below 15 grams a day in an effort to go into what is called a state of ketosis. It’s a fat burning state that some studies say provides amazing mental clarity and an increase in metabolism.
Our N=2 experiment taught me a few things in regards to what works for us on an individual basis. First, you can imagine what it’s like to limit carb intake to 15 grams or less daily. Second, we had committed to limiting our carb intake until we were producing ketones and were in full on fat adapted burning state. We knew this because we had purchased test strips that would detect ketone production. Ketones show up in urine, so we would pee on a strip daily to see if we were ketogenic.
Seven days into our experiment, I was dying. I couldn’t get satiety or fullness from food. I was constantly hungry. And I wasn’t able to sleep at night. Not to mention the fact that, at 3pm, I could barely keep my eyes open, I was experiencing brain fog, and I wasn’t losing fat. Rather, I was watching my muscle mass decrease.
My wife, on the other hand, was flourishing. She had perfect sleep and was waking up in the morning, wide awake and ready to go. Her training session intensity was increasing and she was in a great mood.
The studies were telling us that ketosis would do exactly what it did for her, but not me. It was at this point that I realized we have to be able to tinker with our nutrition to find what works for each of us. I went from 15 grams per day to 35 grams per day and, within 24 hours, I was no longer in ketosis, but my brain fog, lack of sleep, and low energy were gone.
You have to figure out what works for you. If it’s change you are seeking, then I suggest you follow the guidelines of how to tinker and find out what works for you.
My guidelines on how to tinker:
Objective markers- Track what it is you want to change. If you are trying to see a change in body composition, then you need to track this. Not daily, but bi-monthly will do. You also have to track the variables associated with any performance or body comp goals you have. These are the big ones.
Track sleep. I use sleepbot. It’s a free App available in the itunes store.
Track hydration. How much water did you drink? Should be more than 64 oz per day. You won’t lose weight in a state of dehydration.
Track some aspect of nutrition. I recommend daily carbohydrate intake.
Subjective markers- Track how you feel. This will help you connect the dots. It puts together what actually works for you and how you can carry what is working forward.
Track how you feel each morning when you wake up. I use a scale of 1-10.
Track how hard you felt like you trained. Again, I use a scale of 1-10
Once you have 4 weeks of tracking under your belt, you can start to look at what is working for you. Example: I noticed that when I train hard and I get 8.5 hours of sleep, I start to lose weight. However, if I am eating more than 50 carbs a day, I can’t lose weight no matter how much sleep I get or how hard I train.
Not all diet trends work for everyone; not all studies show us what is effective and true for you. Listen to your body. Then, tinker with all of the information and find out what works for you, specifically.