40 Day Detox Graph
My Body Fat Percentage increased in week 1
It’s been an interesting journey. As you can see from the above graph and from the spreadsheet here overall, I did eventually see a drop in body fat. However, the first week started with an increase, starting at 18.8% on day 1 and increasing 1.8% to 20.6% on day 7. I put this down to a mixture of:
- prolonged exercise on an empty stomach in the morning, which forced my body to go into starvation mode and thus burned muscle rather than fat;
- exercising too much too frequently – the body needs days off to rest so that it can build the muscles you’ve torn during exercise (more muscle equals more calories burnt even whilst resting);
- finding my feet with the new detox foods e.g. eating too much fat in the form of cheddar cheese and eating too high a quantity of the new vegetarian food.
This first week is good evidence showing that a person does not become thin simply by becoming a vegetarian. There are many vegetarian foods that can contribute to an increase in body fat e.g. carbohydrates in starchy foods, fat in dairy products and calories in nuts! A vegetarian still needs to carefully plan what he/she is going to eat, when to eat it and how much to eat. In fact to stay healthy, vegetarians need to put more thought into what they eat than meat eaters as they have to figure out where to get all the nutrients they would normally get from meat. Vegans have to be even more thoughtful with the elimination of all dairy and all animal products. Becoming vegetarian or vegan without properly planning and putting thought into what your body needs is a very bad idea. Start your research into nutrition and what your body needs here.
Factors that contributed to a drop in Body Fat Percentage
As I gradually made the following changes I noticed better results in terms of fat loss:
- smaller meals
- more frequent meals
- eating more slowly
- reducing nuts (reducing calories)
- doing resistance training less frequently to allow muscles to repair
- not exercising on an empty stomach
- rest days
- socialising to reduce stress (stress releases cortisol which encourages fat to be stored in abdominal region)
- drinking more water
- not eating carbohydrates after 6pm
During the 42 day period my highest body fat percentage was 20.6% on day 7 and my lowest body fat percentage was 16.6% on day 39. That’s a range of 4% in 32 days! Two days after my detox (day 44) I reached my lowest body fat percentage of 16.3%.
A slight rise in Body Fat Percentage towards the end
Towards the last few days of the detox (day 40 to day 42) my body fat percentage started to rise again. I put this down to the psychological impact of reaching day 40 and thus realising that there was no way I was going to be in shape for a topless photo on day 42 for an “after” picture. This caused me to have a more relaxed attitude to how much I ate.
Other benefits of doing the 40 day detox
Other than fat loss there were many other benefits from doing the detox:
- I learned about my body and how it responded to detoxing, improving nutrition and exercise
- I learned about nutrition – an awareness that will stay with me for life
- I learned about other eating cultures and discovered different delicious foods
- I learned that I could write daily if I wanted to!
- I found that my body could have potentially healed old wounds
- I gained an almost supernatural sense of smell (I’ll be taking it easy with the cologne from now one)
- I appreciated the ethical position of vegetarians and vegans
- I discovered the benefits of drinking filtered water
- I was able to think with more clarity
- My sexual health vastly improved
- I noticed a drastic increase in positive moods and emotions
I felt fresh / awake
- I gained fresher breath
- I had increased energy levels
- I gained a renewed desire to be creative
- I increased my ability to remain focused on a task and a sustained ability to work towards goals
- I noticed that I could visualise imagery in my mind with a crisper higher definition quality
- I noticed clearer more vibrant looking skin with a lighter tone
- I increased in confidence
- I discovered the significance of 40 days
- I came on TV the day after my detox completed!
I was on prime time Television!
Yes that’s right, on the 16th September 2010, on day 43 or one day after the completion of my 42 day detox, at 20.00 I appeared on BBC1 Watchdog. Here’s my bit:
The Universe opened doors for me on day 40, day 41 and day 43
So as you can see, day 40, day 41, and day 43 were all highly eventful. Coincidence? Or is there really something to the significance of 40 days that seems to be recognised by mystical and religious traditions all over the world? Why don’t you do your own 40 day experiment and let me know what you experience by commenting on this post? Commit to doing something for 40 days (even a detox of your own if you like) and let me know what happens!
Effects of going back onto non-detox foods
Once the detox was complete, I didn’t start consuming everything that was forbidden all at once. I gradually re-introduced different foods to see how my body would react.
Day 43: The Omega 3 fats in fish healed my inflammation symptoms but I was highly sensitive to the caffeine in chocolate!
I was still in pain and suffering from the symptoms of inflammation since day 40 so the first non-detox food I ate was fish (Cod). It was ok to eat (not amazing as I find cod one of the smellier fish), but heavy on my digestive system after eating. About 10 minutes after consumption I felt as though my face muscles were twitching. I then checked myself in a mirror and could see my face muscles twitching. Though, I didn’t sense any trauma. I did seem to sense trauma (as if I was sensing the pain and suffering of the slaughtered animal) a couple of times after eating food contaminated with meat in Syria when I did my first detox/vegetarian experiment. However I did notice that my headache decreased and finally disappeared and the inflammation in my nose eased and I could breathe through my nose with more ease. I believe it was the Omega 3 in the Cod that did the trick. Omega 3s are anti-inflammatory. That’s one of the reasons it’s recommended to eat fish twice a week. I do feel gutted that even though I went out and bought flaxseed oil this day I didn’t use it to see if it got rid of my inlfammation symptoms. Next time I will consume flaxseed oil (which is a vegan source of a type of Omega 3) when I feel similar symptoms and see if it cures the problem. Let me know if you have or haven’t experienced relief from inflammation symptoms by using flaxseed oil by commenting below.
In the evening I had chocolate flavoured sesame halva and two small cubes of strawberry flavoured Milka chocolate. I couldn’t get to sleep at night. I felt full of energy. I was puzzled because it felt as if I had drank some caffeine, even though I hadn’t. It was only the following morning that I found out that there is caffeine in cocoa products. I was quite surprised at how sensitively my body responded to the caffeine present in two small cubes of Milka chocolate and some Cocoa flavoured Turkish Halva! I don’t ever recall noticing the caffeinated effects of chocolate before. Incredible!
Day 44: Fight Fat with Fish and how DECAF Green tea got me high
Following the introduction of lean meat (cod) yesterday, my body fat dropped to the lowest since I started taking recordings 44 days ago to 16.3%. Does this mean that in order to lose fat it is more efficient to use lean meat as a form of protein rather than a mixture of vegan sources of protein? I think it’s possible. I think with lean meat you can avoid eating carbohydrates if you want to, whereas with vegan sources of protein, the forms (e.g. legumes, rice, bread) are almost always packaged with accompanying carbohydrates. I have experience of buring fat to the thinnest I’ve been when I was consuming fish daily with steamed vegetables for a bout a month. While writing this I’ve also just discovered that maybe the connection with buring fat isn’t just with lean meat, but specifically with fish.
The non-detox foods I experimented with today were a mug of Decaf Green Tea and two slices of Stoneground bread and a free range organic boiled egg (not all at the same time).
My heartbeat was racing after drinking the DECAF green tea. I couldn’t believe how sensitive to caffeine my body was post detox. I found it hard to focus and concentrate on my work too until later in the afternoon, by which time the caffeine probably had left my system.
I noticed no side effects from the bread.
The free range organic boiled egg was very light while eating. It didn’t taste eggy in a bad way. It tasted and felt fresh, wholesome, good clean food. Again no side effects were noted after eating the egg.
Setting the cricket free!
The cricket had been in the flat for over a week now. It seemed to me and my wife that its colour was becoming less vibrant than when we first noticed it. There was insect repellent on the windows so it couldn’t get itself out if it was clever enough to work its way out, and no other insects were coming in. Part of me wanted to keep the cricket as in Chinese culture, cricket’s are considered to bring good luck if found and kept as a pet in one’s home and also because it seemed to extend a hand of friendship towards me earlier. The other part of me was concerned that it would die if it stayed in the flat. We captured it (ok not we, my wife captured it – yes, I know, bit of a wussy moment for me) and tried feeding it lettuce. When I looked into it, if it was what we suspected, a female tree cricket, it turned out they eat other small insects not plants. Though I wasn’t 100% sure it was female tree cricket because I couldn’t see any wings! Dilemma, dilemma, dilemma! In the end we decided to free it in the hope it could survive. According to Sods Law, it was probably trodden on by one of our neighbours or eaten by a bird moments later…
Facebook Status Updates on the effects of non-detox foods
The following are status updates expressing how I felt after consuming different non-detox foods.
“Ali Zaidi feels like crap”
I had my first cup of coffee after 7 weeks that morning.
“Ali Zaidi caffeine is the evil that runs in the veins of zombies”
I continued trying to get used to caffeine for the next few weeks. For a good couple of weeks I felt constantly “high” from being on caffeine. I couldn’t concentrate and certainly couldn’t focus on writing new blog posts.
“Ali Zaidi is wheezing after consuming the leg of a lamb. First piece of red meat in almost two months.”
I went out to a local Pakistani restaurant to eat one of my favourite meat dishes of all time called Lamb or Mutton Nihari. Oh my God! It is a seriously delicious dish. Even though at the time of writing this I’ve just eaten a delicious beef fillet steak, I could kill a Nihari right now! I will definitely have to go and get me some this Saturday on my day off! Anyway, after eating it, on my way home I started to wheeze, and struggled to breathe properly. I also felt quite upset about eating a mammal. It didn’t feel ethically right.
“Ali Zaidi What do vegans feed carnivorous pets (like dogs)? This is perhaps the point where moral veganism falls flat on its face…”
This status was partly inspired by my experience with the cricket. If I kept it as a pet and it needed to eat other creatures for its survival, how would I deal with the moral dilemma of feeding it other creatures if I was a vegan or vegetarian on ethical grounds? It was also probably my mind justifying to myself the renewed eating of meat which I had recently started experimenting with again.
“Ali Zaidi the nicotine in Shisha makes your heart beat faster”
Well I had just smoked tobacco in the form of Shisha for the first time and noticed my heart beating incredibly fast. It was so fast and pronounced I felt anxious. I also noticed this effect when I smoked a cigarette whilst waiting for a friend outside a tube station. I had never noticed these sensations from smoking tobacco before. It turns out, like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant which is supposed to have that effect on you. Did you know that nicotine is a natural pesticide that the plant it is found in, uses to keep insects from eating it? Did you also know that in some places nicotine smoke is blown onto plants to acts as a pesticide? So in effect an addiction to nicotine is an addiction to pesticide! It might be one of the reasons we can get lung cancer from smoking tobacco!
How my eating habits 3-4 months after completion of this detox have changed
The Yo-Yo effect
In the first couple of months I gained an addiction to Turkish Sesame Halva. I was eating loads of it everyday. Needless to say within two months, regretfully, I regained the 2% body fat I lost during the detox. This has made me realise that in order to keep fat off permanently I need to make some sort of permanent commitment to my diet and lifestyle. If I just go on diets for fixed periods of time and then revert back to old or worse behaviours I will experience the Yo-Yo effect of dieting. The funny thing is, as soon as I reached my pre-detox body fat percentage of 18.8% I completely lost my addiction to Sesame Seed Halva. When I tried eating it again, I didn’t care for the taste anymore. Very strange.
To eat, or not to eat animal products is the question
When I first started eating meat again, I initially made a move to organic meat, eggs and dairy. My moral and ethical leanings were still quite strong. I wanted to only consume meat from animals that were treated well and fed naturally. However the sheer expense of organic meat (4-5 times the price of normal meat) has made it an unsustainable option for me at present. If I were richer I would only consume organic foods. I did play with the idea of becoming pescatarian where I would eat only the meat of that which I felt I could kill myself i.e. fish and eggs. I can’t imagine slitting the throat of a cow, lamb or chicken but think I could handle stealing an egg or going fishing… I think. I figured what right do I have to eat something if I would be unwilling to kill it myself? Also my whole experience with inflammation from day 40-42 made me wonder if the Omega 3 from fish was important for my health. I also figured I’d be able to get my vitamin B12 from this source which vegans tend to miss out on.
Hold on a minute …what if I’ve become a domesticated human?
Alternatively, I have noticed that if an animal is taken out of the wild and domesticated it can forget its ability to hunt and survive in the wild. It seems to me that city-life is much like living in a zoo, and I wonder if I myself have become domesticated and for this reason I feel unable to hunt and eat other animals for survival. Could my moral leanings towards vegetarianism and veganism be a product of this process of domestication? I am also not convinced that I’d be able to get enough iron from vegan sources so I wonder if eating red meat every now and again would be better for me.
Organic eggs and reducing my “dairy footprint”
I have to this day retained the eating of organic free range eggs. The taste is just so much better than ordinary farmed eggs. I’ve reduced the amount of dairy in my diet. I pretty much always use vegan alternatives to cow’s milk (e.g. rice milk and oat milk). Only on rare occasions will I have cow’s milk in tea and coffee. When I have bought milk, I buy organic if the option is there. I still indulge in chocolate, ice cream, cheese every now and again. After watching a video on youtube on dairy farming my idea has been to reduce my “dairy footprint” (much like reducing one’s “carbon footprint”). Give the poor cow’s breast a rest!
If I find vegan alternatives to dairy products like Vitalite I generally do use them. However some things I have not been able to replace, like Häagen-Dazs Vanilla ice cream. Nothing compares!
Only wholesome wholegrain will do
In terms of grains, for breakfast I’ve been having bran flakes and muesli with fresh fruit, nuts and vegan milk. For bread I’ve moved to Cranks Organic Wholemeal Stoneground Bread. I can’t recommend it enough. Absolutely delicious dipped into a soft boiled organic egg. Mmmm… I also only eat wholegrain basmati rice, and pasta. My rule of thumb when choosing something to buy is: how much nutritional value does the food provide? Will I be getting vitamins and minerals as part of the deal or will it just be empty fat causing calories?
Fresh fruit and vegetables: if you were to make only one change in your diet …increase these!
Even since the end of the detox I have kept up eating a large variety of fruit and veg daily – and continue to see the benefits in my sexual health and speed of recovery from colds and flu. When I get a cold I increase the intake of fruit which does wonders for me. Much better to help the body recover by equipping it with vitamins and minerals to enable it to fight disease than to just wade out the problem with only using pain killers.
Alcohol: a switch to the richness of red wine
Since the detox, I’ve almost exclusively restricted my alcohol intake to red wine as it seems to me the healthiest alcoholic choice. It helps me digest red meat easier. But as I feel a lot dumber (mentally) since drinking it, I am thinking of quitting alcohol outright. By quitting I will certainly avoid embarrassing Facebook updates or comments via my pesky mobile phone!
My new selfish attitude to nutrition: personal long-term health outweighs moral, ethical and philosophical dilemmas
If I could conclude that being vegan is the healthiest option for me I would choose veganism as it matches my moral leanings. If I found ovo-lacto vegetarianism was the healthiest for me I would choose that. If I found pescatarianism is the healthiest I would choose that. If I found being an omnivore is the healthiest I would choose that. If I found being exclusively carnivorous was the healthiest option I would choose that. I think more experimentation on my part is necessary before coming to any final conclusions for myself. For now I choose to be an omnivore with increased use of fresh fruit and veg, the use of wholegrains rather than highly processed grained foods, twice-weekly consumption of fish (not much more due to fears of mercury poisoning), the eating of lean poultry (e.g. chicken and turkey breast), and occasional consumption of lean red meat (I prefer beef fillet steak as it’s the leanest – and most expensive!). On occasions I may also indulge in fattier meat (other parts of chicken and lamb chops for example).
Conclusions and Recommendations
It’s been a wonderful journey. The results have been so good that I am considering doing a permanent version of the detox. It won’t be as restrictive as I’ve done for the 40 day detox, but cutting out that which I know for sure provides questionable benefits (e.g. smoking and alcohol). I will definitively consider coming back to doing some form of experimental detox on a yearly basis. Next time perhaps I will experiment with raw veganism.
If you’ve never done anything like this, I do highly recommend it. It was really amazing to discover the kinds of things my body was capable of doing – e.g. super smelling sense, ability to visualise in HD etc.
I intend to continue with experimenting with different approaches to nutrition until I find something that works optimally for my body. I recommend that you do your own exploration to find out what works best for you. Our bodies are all different: what works for me, might not work you, and what works you might not work for me!
The nutritional project I have just started is the 120 Day Fat Loss Competition. There are over 40 people participating! Join us!