A lot of weight fluctuation is water retention. It’s not unusual for me to pile on several pounds over a weekend and a friend can manage 8 or 9 pounds. You couldn’t consume enough calories to add that amount of weight and it disappears fast enough once you start eating sensibly again so it’s definitely just the body storing more water.
But that’s irritating.
My friend did some research and found a book called the Waterfall Diet.
It’s designed to find out what’s causing water weight gain once and for all.
It’s also not for the feint hearted.
The logic is that if you’re allergic to a food you’ll find out fast and not eat it.
But if you’re only intolerant of that food you probably won’t know. Or won’t be able to work out which one it is.
The proposal in the book is that 9 out of 10 food intolerances are to one or more of these culprits:
So for the first 4 weeks you cut all of those out of your diet completely and then for the next 4 weeks you add one – and only one – of those for up to 5 days a week before eliminating them all for another 2 days and then starting with the next suspect.
On top of that, there is a list of other things you can’t eat during the diet period.
Salt is something to cut down on. So anything you buy should have either no salt or very low salt.
That means reading labels. And allowing for the fact that some manufacturers prefer to list just the sodium content as it’s a lower figure: 1.5 grams of salt per 100 grams of product could legally be shown as 0.6 grams of sodium, so if you weren’t paying attention you’d think it as getting close to being low salt (which is apparently 0.3g salt or 0.1g sodium per 100g). Sneaky to say the least.
Also on the avoid list is caffeine – that rules out tea, coffee and green tea. And there are question marks about the process used to decaffeinate drinks so whilst the book is hazy on these, I’ve decided to cut them out.
Redbush tea is naturally decaffeinated and is pleasant enough. Herbal teas are nice – the book recommends peppermint amongst other flavours but I’m going for anything that’s naturally decaffeinated.
Red meats are also banned – that means no beef, lamb, pork, sausages, bacon, etc.
Chicken is supposed to be organic but that’s not for water retention reasons it’s just for the antibiotics used by the farmers. I’m taking a view that the price difference is too high and am still contributing to our antibiotic resistance.
Fish is allowed. Any fish so long as it’s wild. Or if it’s farmed it has to be close to natural. I’ve read a fair bit about farmed salmon and would agree with that idea.
Any canned fish should be in water or oil.
Tofu and other vegetarian creations are allowed. Quorn isn’t mentioned but it’s not something I’m going to add to my menu.
All sugar is banned. That includes things like honey, agave, glucose, fructose, corn syrup, malt extract and all the other variants manufacturers use to play down the amount of sugar they use.
Alcohol is a no during the diet.
Refined products like white rice, white flour (so the wheat test needs to use wholemeal flour) are banned.
Eating fruit is encouraged, especially red and purple fruits and berries.
Nuts are allowed but not if they’re salted.
Various other restrictions but you get the picture.
The biggest issue is reading labels and figuring out that innocent things like Soy Sauce normally include wheat. Or that yeast and milk creep into almost everything.
Soy is generally allowed but personally I’m going to use goats milk in line with keeping things less processed.
Day 1, Monday 8th September
Weigh in: 13st 9lb (191lb or 86.8kg), 25.5% body fat.
We decided to start our 56 day mission with a 3 day water fast.
We’d both done this before so we knew it was do-able.
A water fast is just that: eat nothing. Drink only water, lots of it.
We added in some exercise: a 40 minute walk on a nearby hill.
Perhaps surprisingly I didn’t feel hungry on day 1.
Day 2, Tuesday 9th September
Weigh in: 13st 3.8lb (185.8lb or 84.5kg), 25.7% body fat.
A nice drop in weight. Sure, it’s almost all water but it’s still nice to see.
More water today along with occasional herbal teas and Redbush. But those are still essentially water (a herbal tea has about 5 calories). And another long walk.
A few stomach rumbles.
And an occasional headache – a typical symptom of the caffeine being eliminated.
If you’ve not done a diet before where there’s no caffeine allowed it’s well worth cutting down gradually for a week or two before the diet unless you want the mother of all headaches.
Day 3, Wednesday 10th September
Weigh in: 13st 0lb (182lb or 82.7kg), 23.7% body fat.
9lbs drop since Monday. Near enough all of it water but still very nice as it’s the lowest weight I’ve been since I started recording my weight in 2001. The highest I’ve been in that time is 16st 11.5 lb (235.5lb, 107kg).
Third day of water plus a long walk.
Walking was more tiring today but still do-able. And from what I’ve read elsewhere the exercise brings forward all the other benefits of fasting and helps reinforce them. Fasting helps the body to remove toxins and generally reboot itself.
If you think about it, from an evolutionary standpoint we’d have fasted regularly: most food isn’t naturally in season all year round so if you didn’t catch a fish or another creature that day, chances are you’d have been fasting. So our bodies are actually accustomed to fasting and conserving energy as historically we really wouldn’t have known where our next meal was coming from.
Some time on the third day ketosis definitely set in. My mouth tasted bad and – although no-one commented – my guess is my breath wasn’t exactly pleasant either. That’s another sign that my body was burning the fat it had been storing.
Day 4, Thursday 11th September
Weigh in: 12st 12.2lb (180.2lb or 81.9kg), 23.9% body fat.
Fat percentage slightly higher today but that’s OK as the amount of water lost over these few days will affect that percentage. Electronic scales only estimate the figure anyway so I’m happy watching longer term trends for fat percentage rather than day to day changes.
Breakfast: Wheat and gluten free muesli (I got mine from Holland and Barrett health food store), blueberries and goats milk.
A snack of a banana at lunch time.
Plenty of water and some herbal tea drinks throughout the day.
Evening meal we adapted a tuna/pasta recipe that we’ve used before. The regular recipe includes a can of cream of mushroom soup (ruled out because it contains dairy) and a stock cube (salt, yeast extract).
We sauteed an onion in water, added in some peas (100g) and sweetcorn (50g), two cans of tuna in water, about 250 grams of goats milk yogurt, lashings of black pepper. We forgot garlic but will likely use that next time. Separately, we cooked “free from” pasta (rice flour & maize flour) and then stirred that in to make a one plate dish.
Quick, easy, different taste from the version with soup – a bit sour probably due to the yogurt, we’ll experiment next time. But for two people that made a giant looking portion with probably no more than 600 calories in it.
The Waterfall Diet doesn’t use calorie counting – it just says to eat sensibly with as few additives as possible, subject to the yes/no lists.
You’re also supposed to drink a glass of celery juice each day – we forgot.
I got up several times in the night to use the toilet – another sign that the water release was working.
Day 5, Friday 12th September
Weigh in: 12st 11.6lb (179.6lb or 81.6kg), 23.2% body fat.
I wasn’t sure whether to expect a weight drop today. The previous two times I’d done a water fast my weight went back up once I started eating again. Not as high as before the fast but definitely up.
Today I was lower in weight. Yippee!
Lots of water and some herbal tea. And a long walk again.
Roughly the same breakfast as yesterday except I ate some seeded grapes as well. Seeded grapes aren’t easy to find in the UK and only seem to appear on the shelves of some supermarkets (mine were from Lidl) when they’re in season. But because they’re not bred to the same extent as seedless grapes (which couldn’t survive in real life) they’re less “processed.”
A few nuts and some dried fruit for lunch.
Evening meal: turkey chilli. Because we’re not allowed red meat, we swapped the beef mince in the regular recipe for turkey mince. No kidney beans in the recipe – not because they’re not allowed but because there are some toxins associated with them.
We fried up an onion, added the pack of turkey mince, added in 4 chopped chillies (2 red, 2 green), a can of chopped tomatoes, we remembered some garlic a bit late on during the cooking, cumin (adds a nice twist to a chilli), oregano, black pepper, some turmeric and some cinnamon. Served with brown basmati rice – that’s allowed but white rice isn’t as it’s too processed.
And we remembered the celery juice today.
It’s simple enough to make if you’ve got a juicer (UK & USA links): 2 heads of celery makes enough for three days and gets over having to forever wash up the juicer after using it. Apparently it’s OK to keep in a fridge or freeze down. And we’ll experiment with adding other items – radishes are suggested as one option, parsley as another but an apple would also be OK.