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Fat Loss aka Cutting Strategies, programs, and discussions on how to lose fat while maintaining LBM.

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Old 04-13-2012, 02:52 PM   #1
Darkhorse
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lyle McDonald
Of Whooshes and Squishy Fat

A few weeks back I answered a question about Not Losing Fat at a 20% Deficit, What Should I Do? and among other things, one comment I made had to do with a water retention that often occurs during fat loss which can mask fat loss and make it appear as if the diet is not working. I also mentioned specifically that I had written (with a straight-face no less) about whooshes in The Stubborn Fat Solution, along with a related phenomenon which I call squishy fat.

In any case, to expand on that issue, I’m going to excerpt the chapter section from The Stubborn Fat Solution dealing with both phenomena. With that introduction, I give you (again, with a straight face)…

Of Whooshes and Squishy Fat

Before you freak out and think you’ve entered some weird Internet forum where people talk about stalls and whooshes, please bear with me; there’s actually some physiological rationale to what I’m going to discuss.
Many people have noted that fat loss is often discontinuous, that is it often happens in stops and starts. So you’ll be dieting and dieting and doing everything correctly with nothing to show for it. Then, boom, almost overnight, you drop 4 pounds and look leaner.

What’s going on? Back during my college days, one of my professors threw out the idea that after fat cells had been emptied of stored triglyceride, they would temporarily refill with water (glycerol attracts water, which might be part of the mechanism). So there would be no immediate change in size, body weight or appearance. Then, after some time frame, the water would get dropped, the fat cells would shrink. A weird way of looking at it might be that the fat loss suddenly becomes ‘apparent’. That is, the fat was emptied and burned off days or weeks ago but until the water is dropped, nothing appears to have happened.

For nearly 20 years I looked for research to support this, I was never sure if it was based on something from the 50’s or he just pulled it out of thin air as an explanation. Recently, one paper did suggest that visceral fat can fill up with water after massive weight loss but that’s about it.

Somewhat circumstantially, people using Bioimpedance body fat scales (which use hydration to estimate body fat levels) have noted that body fat appears to go up right before a big drop. This implicates water balance as the issue here.

As well, women, who have more problems with water retention, seem to have bigger issues with stalls and whooshes than men. Further, some individuals who have done dry carb-loads (high carbohydrate refeeds without drinking a lot of water) have seen them occur; presumably the body pulls water into the muscles and out of other tissues (fat cells). In lean individuals, appearance is often drastically improved with this approach, it doesn’t do much for those carrying a lot of fat.

I’d note that dry carb-loads suck because you’re so damn thirsty. Interestingly, even normal refeeds often work in this regards, perhaps the hormonal effect ‘tells’ the body to chill out and release some water. So not only do refeeds seem to improve stubborn fat mobilization the next day (as discussed above), they may help the body drop some water so that you can see what is happening.

Finally, many have reported whooshes following an evening which included alcohol. A mild diuretic, this would also tend to implicate water balance issues in the whoosh phenomenon.

I’d also note that this isn’t universal, lean dieters often see visual improvements on a day to day basis; a lot seems to depend on whether or not they tend to retain water in general. Folks who do have problems with water retention tend to have stalls and whooshes, those who don’t show nice consistent visual changes.

On a related topic, I wanted to discuss something else that often happens when people are getting very lean and dealing with stubborn body fat: the fat gets squishy, feeling almost like there are small marbles under the skin. Yes, very scientific, I know. That’s the best I can do.

As folks get very lean, down to the last pounds of fat, the skin and fat cells that are left will often change appearance and texture. It will look dimply (as the fat cells which are supporting the skin shrink and the skin isn’t supported) and feel squishy to the touch. This is bad in that it looks really weird, but it’s good because it means that the fat is going away. I have nothing truly profound to say about this topic, just realizes that it happens and usually indicates good things are happening.
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Last edited by Darkhorse; 04-13-2012 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 04-13-2012, 02:58 PM   #2
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Here's another I found. I highlighted the important part in red pertaining to the subject even though the author didn't say it specifically..

Quote:
Originally Posted by by Renee Cloe
WHY THE SCALES CAN LIE

A biologist at Berkeley shared something very revealing on the low-carb BBS system about 4 years ago that helps us all through the erratic weight fluctuations you invariably encounter: Fat cells are resilient, stubborn little creatures that do not want to give up their actual cell volume. Over a period of weeks, maybe months of "proper dieting", each of your fat cells may have actually lost a good percentage of the actual fat contained in those cells. But the fat cells themselves, stubborn little guys, replace that lost fat with water to retain their size. That is, instead of shrinking to match the reduced amount of fat in the cell, they stay the same size! Result - you weigh the same, look the same, maybe even gained some scale weight, even though you have actually lost some serious fat.

The good news is that this water replacement is temporary. It's a defensive measure to keep your body from changing too rapidly. It allows the fat cell to counter the rapid change in cell composition, allowing for a slow, gradual reduction in cell size. The problem is, most people are frustrated with their apparent lack of success, assume they have lost nothing, and stop dieting.


However, if you give those fat cells some time, like 4-6 months, and ignore the scale weight fluctuations, your real weight/shape will slowly begin to show. The moral of the story - be patient! Your body is changing even if the number on the scale isn't.


PATTERNS OF WEIGHT LOSS

Common patterns of weight loss from tracking a lot of people who become assimilated into the low carb lifestyle, a pattern emerges.... the 2 week induction is pretty heady...weight lost just about every single day, enormous and unbelievable amounts of weight loss are reported. This is often followed by complaints that weight loss "stalls" or that the rate drops to only 1 pound per week.

Many people just don't know that fat-loss ...the actual goal when on a weight-reduction" diet, is rate-limited. In other words, the human body has factors that prevent more than a certain amount of fatty-acid release from storage...and even more factors that prevent those released fatty acids from being used up instead of stored back into the fat cells.

A priority of the human body is survival. Anything that threatens its survival results in the cascade of events to maintain the previous status quo. Water fluctuations are one way the body does this. OK...so you done good on Atkins' during induction...lost 10 pounds the first 2 weeks. Maybe 7 the first week and 3 the second. But, whoa! Weeks 3 and 4 there is NO loss! And weeks 5 and 6 is only 1/2 pound each!

So... what gives? Initially, the body jettisons the water attached to the glycogen stores that we diligently deplete to get into ketosis...this accounts for about 3-5 pounds of water. In addition, muscle stores of glycogen are not being replaced when used...which will account for the rest. All in all...MAYBE 1/2 pound of fat was metabolized during the first week... and MAYBE 1/2 pound of fat was metabolized the 2nd week. Of that 10 initial pounds, only 1 pound was fat and 9 pounds water...

The body senses this lack and sirens start shrieking: Warning! Warning! Losing water... new thing...got to get back to the status quo! Brain tells body to produce and release that vasopressin anti-diuretic hormone....more water is retained, and no weight loss noticed. Fat loss is still occurring, MAYBE even 2 pounds per week, because ketosis is firmly established and appetite suppression is in effect...but water retention is hiding that continuing fat loss. The body is preventing dehydration with this mechanism, and that's a *good* thing.

From the perspective of the scale, it can be discouraging. Which is why the mantra: Water retention masks fat loss (repeated frequently to oneself) is helpful. Water retention will mask ongoing fat-loss for as long as the body retains the water. We can combat this by drinking more water...but we aren't going to totally overcome this mechanism during the initial water-loss phase of the Atkins diet. By weeks 5 and 6, things start to get back in balance, and the scale will begin to reflect the true fat-loss...which, as mentioned before is rate-limited.

Individuals vary, but max weight loss runs about 2 pounds per week...under extremely optimal conditions... or 1% of body weight (whichever is the lower number). So don't use the scale as an excuse to undermine your progress. Even when the scale is in a stall, fat loss can be occurring.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We've been told over an over again that daily weighing is unnecessary, yet many of us can't resist peeking at that number every morning. If you just can't bring yourself to toss the scale in the trash, you should definitely familiarize yourself with the factors that influence it's readings. From water retention to glycogen storage and changes in lean body mass, daily weight fluctuations are normal. They are not indicators of your success or failure. Once you understand how these mechanisms work, you can free yourself from the daily battle with the bathroom scale.

Water makes up about 60% of total body mass. Normal fluctuations in the body's water content can send scale-watchers into a tailspin if they don't understand what's happening. Two factors influencing water retention are water consumption and salt intake. Strange as it sounds, the less water you drink, the more of it your body retains. If you are even slightly dehydrated your body will hang onto it's water supplies with a vengeance, possibly causing the number on the scale to inch upward. The solution is to drink plenty of water.

Excess salt (sodium) can also play a big role in water retention. A single teaspoon of salt contains over 2,000 mg of sodium. Generally, we should only eat between 1,000 and 3,000 mg of sodium a day, so it's easy to go overboard. Sodium is a sneaky substance. You would expect it to be most highly concentrated in salty chips, nuts, and crackers. However, a food doesn't have to taste salty to be loaded with sodium. A half cup of instant pudding actually contains nearly four times as much sodium as an ounce of salted nuts, 460 mg in the pudding versus 123 mg in the nuts.

The more highly processed a food is, the more likely it is to have a high sodium content. That's why, when it comes to eating, it's wise to stick mainly to the basics: fruits, vegetables, lean meat, beans, and whole grains. Be sure to read the labels on canned foods, boxed mixes, and frozen dinners.

Women may also retain several pounds of water prior to menstruation. This is very common and the weight will likely disappear as quickly as it arrives. Pre-menstrual water-weight gain can be minimized by drinking plenty of water, maintaining an exercise program, and keeping high-sodium processed foods to a minimum.

Another factor that can influence the scale is glycogen. Think of glycogen as a fuel tank full of stored carbohydrate. Some glycogen is stored in the liver and some is stored the muscles themselves. This energy reserve weighs more than a pound and it's packaged with 3-4 pounds of water when it's stored. Your glycogen supply will shrink during the day if you fail to take in enough carbohydrates.

As the glycogen supply shrinks you will experience a small imperceptible increase in appetite and your body will restore this fuel reserve along with it's associated water. It's normal to experience glycogen and water weight shifts of up to 2 pounds per day even with no changes in your calorie intake or activity level. These fluctuations have nothing to do with fat loss, although they can make for some unnecessarily dramatic weigh-ins if you're prone to obsessing over the number on the scale.

Otherwise rational people also tend to forget about the actual weight of the food they eat. For this reason, it's wise to weigh yourself first thing in the morning before you've had anything to eat or drink. Swallowing a bunch of food before you step on the scale is no different than putting a bunch of rocks in your pocket. The 5 pounds that you gain right after a huge dinner is not fat. It's the actual weight of everything you've had to eat and drink. The added weight of the meal will be gone several hours later when you've finished digesting it.

Exercise physiologists tell us that in order to store one pound of fat, you need to eat 3,500 calories more than your body is able to burn. In other words, to actually store the above dinner as 5 pounds of fat, it would have to contain a whopping 17,500 calories. This is not likely, in fact it's not humanly possible. So when the scale goes up 3 or 4 pounds overnight, rest easy, it's likely to be water, glycogen, and the weight of your dinner. Keep in mind that the 3,500 calorie rule works in reverse also. In order to lose one pound of fat you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in.

Generally, it's only possible to lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week. When you follow a very low calorie diet that causes your weight to drop 10 pounds in 7 days, it's physically impossible for all of that to be fat. What you're really losing is water, glycogen, and muscle.

This brings us to the scale's sneakiest attribute. It doesn't just weigh fat. It weighs muscle, bone, water, internal organs and all. When you lose "weight," that doesn't necessarily mean that you've lost fat. In fact, the scale has no way of telling you what you've lost (or gained). Losing muscle is nothing to celebrate. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue. The more muscle you have the more calories your body burns, even when you're just sitting around. That's one reason why a fit, active person is able to eat considerably more food than the dieter who is unwittingly destroying muscle tissue.

Robin Landis, author of "Body Fueling," compares fat and muscles to feathers and gold. One pound of fat is like a big fluffy, lumpy bunch of feathers, and one pound of muscle is small and valuable like a piece of gold. Obviously, you want to lose the dumpy, bulky feathers and keep the sleek beautiful gold. The problem with the scale is that it doesn't differentiate between the two. It can't tell you how much of your total body weight is lean tissue and how much is fat.

There are several other measuring techniques that can accomplish this, although they vary in convenience, accuracy, and cost. Skin-fold calipers pinch and measure fat folds at various locations on the body, hydrostatic (or underwater) weighing involves exhaling all of the air from your lungs before being lowered into a tank of water, and bioelectrical impedance measures the degree to which your body fat impedes a mild electrical current.

If the thought of being pinched, dunked, or gently zapped just doesn't appeal to you, don't worry. The best measurement tool of all turns out to be your very own eyes. How do you look? How do you feel? How do your clothes fit? Are your rings looser? Do your muscles feel firmer? These are the true measurements of success. If you are exercising and eating right, don't be discouraged by a small gain on the scale. Fluctuations are perfectly normal. Expect them to happen and take them in stride.

It's a matter of mind over scale.
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Old 04-13-2012, 03:19 PM   #3
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VERY interesting and well timed articles. I didn't realize fat cells could hold water like that. Combined with my already low water intake, I'm guessing my body wants to hold water. I've also noticed the huge difference the next morning after a carb load or alcohol. Also interesting how that plays a part in the accuracy of bioimpedace testing, which I've definitely observed varies based on hydration levels. Not sure all of this is my probelm, but something to consider.
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Old 04-13-2012, 03:21 PM   #4
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You were my muse.
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Old 04-13-2012, 03:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darkhorse View Post
You were my muse.
I thought so. The articles were TOO well timed
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