A Weight Loss Challenge

Recently, there was a spot on NPR about a small clinical trial examining intermittent fasting as a weight loss strategy. Researchers tracked a small group of overweight, pre-diabetic people for three months, asking them to do just one thing: eat only during a 10 hour interval each day. In other words, they fasted from eating for 14 hours each day (more than half of which, I assume, were during sleep). The participants didn't have to change what they ate or how much (SOURCE).

The researchers found significant, albeit only about 3%, collective weight loss in the 19 participants who completed the study. 3% may not sound like much, but if you weigh 250 pounds, that's about seven to eight pounds of weight loss (about a half a pound of weight loss per week or so). In addition, the participants' blood pressures and cholesterol levels improved significantly as well. The study had a few limitations. It was small and there was no blinding or placebo control (SOURCE). Still intriguing though.

Always the human guinea pig, I decided to put the study findings to the test. For the past few days, I have been adhering to an even stricter intermittent fasting regimen. I am only eating during an eight hour window during the day and fasting for 16 hours. In practice, this usually means eating my first meal some time between 10 AM and noon, and eating my last bite no later than 6-8 PM, depending on when I started.

I've only been at it three or four days now, but I've lost weight consistently each day, about four or five pounds in all (thus far exceeding the results of the aforementioned study). I plan to continue the crude, unscientific, N=1 trial for a fortnight, my usual time window for such frivolous "fitness challenges." What I am liking about this particular challenge thus far is that there is no restriction on what I can eat. I don't eat a lot of junky food, but I could. I do tend to eat more high glycemic carbs than I probably should, such as bread and pasta and rice.

I'll check back in near the end of next week with my findings. My challenge time window incorporates the Christmas pagan holiday, which may involve eating some calorie dense food with friends and family during the non-fasting time of the day. However, as of now, we have no firm plans for celebrating the holiday in any meaningful way.


How to Make Vital Wheat Gluten or Seitan

Recently on one of the whole food, plant based nutrition groups I follow on Facebook, there was a discussion about whether vital wheat gluten (also sometimes called seitan) is a "whole food."

A few people in the group didn't think it was.

Those people either did not do any research whatsoever or they have a very rigid definition of what a "whole food" is.

Seitan is technically a refined and processed product of ground whole wheat (flour) in that it is concentrated wheat protein with a lot of the starch removed. However, the refining and processing involved in making seitan is actually ridiculously simple. It involves making a rigid dough out of whole wheat flour (or bread flour, which has a higher gluten content) then soaking the dough in some more water to wash away the starch, which leaves chunks of gluten behind (SOURCE).

CLICK HERE to see how it's done.

Boom. Flour and water. That's all you need to make vital wheat gluten.

Now, is your homemade vital wheat gluten going to turn out like the exorbitantly overpriced seitan you buy in those tiny boxes at the store? Absolutely not. But the industrial process for making seitan is not any more complicated than that.

In my next post, I'll get into how to make tofu at home. Fun Fact: Tofu may even be a more refined and processed plant food than seitan, albeit only slightly.