Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dieter's edema?

If you're on the Turbulence Training e-mail list, you probably know about Brad Pilon and his Eat Stop Eat program. The idea is, you eat "normally" five days a week, and fast for two. I sort of hate the concept, but I'm sure it's effective at least to a point. I mean, if your weekly calorie intake is only 5/7 of what it was, you're sure to lose weight unless you also reduce your activity level, which to his credit Brad says you're absolutely not to do. His theory, which I actually think I basically agree with, is that as long as you stay active your metabolism won't slow down even if you skip eating for a day. Certainly that would explain why my metabolism hasn't come screeching to a halt even though I not infrequently have days like yesterday when for a variety of (mostly stupid) reasons my entire calorie intake from dawn to dusk consisted of a nonfat latte and a few almonds.

What I don't like about Eat Stop Eat is the tacit endorsement of a "normal" diet, because there's so much that's unhealthy about the way most people eat. If it was an eat-as-much-as-you-want-whenever-you-want diet that nevertheless emphasized healthy food choices, I actually think I could get behind it, because for some people--and to some extent I'm one of them-- being on a strict eating schedule and observing strict portion control is crazy-making.

As usual I'm getting off on a tangent. To get back to the "dieter's edema" thing, this is something that supposedly can happen as a result of too-strict dieting. As belly fat is lost, waterlike fluid allegedly rushes in to occupy the space created, resulting in abs that are "smooth" not "ripped." A reward meal will get rid of it, supposedly. And intermittent fasting will allow you to avoid it altogether. Supposedly.

Personally I'm skeptical. Very. I think we've all had the (discouraging) experience of starting diets, kicking our workouts into high gear, etc, and finding that in the short term we look no better. Worse, even, in some cases. I don't think it's dieter's edema that's at fault, though. Inflammation leading to water retention in the muscles, maybe. But the dieter's edema thing sounds like a made-up problem to me.

What do you all think?