So I’m back from the wilds of Iceland and Scotland and did a lot of holiday eating and carbohydrate loading accidentally!
Seriously, if you’ve ever thought you may like to visit Iceland one day, please do yourself a favour and do it.
It is totally like another planet with variations in landscape that are mind-blowing. You can drive 5km and see green rolling hills with waterfalls, trees and mountains, then jet black bare volcanic dirt as far as the eye can see. Then the jet black dirt has rocks on it, then the rocks have tufts of grass, then it’s these round rocks with fluorescent green thick moss all over them. But the strange part is – it’s one or the other – there is never a mixture. Really bizarre. And ice lagoons, and the black beach with chunks of ice on it and of course the aurora – just wow!
Holiday eating and carbohydrate loading
I have a policy while I’m on holiday – to relax my normally structured eating habits. When you’re in a strange place, the focus is adventure. The aim is to fuel the mountain hikes and keep going, not stress about eating only fruit, protein and the right fats. Or go hungry for hours on end, just because you couldn’t find any of ‘your’ food in the outback of Grundarfjordur. (Yes it’s a real place and it was one of our favourites in Iceland.)
Luckily I don’t actually have any specific allergies and can do this. I have just been interested in nutrition for a long time, followed different ways of eating and left things out of my diet, in the quest to feel great and optimise my health. (As misguided as my past endeavours may have proven to be for me… which I will explain a bit further down.)
So this holiday eating and carbohydrate loading saw me chomping down 2-minute noodles, a KFC chicken burger, and partaking in a number of hotel buffet breakfasts, complete with bran flakes cereal, toast and jam, croissants and pastries etc; some of which I haven’t eaten for years. I often left the breakfast feeling a little overfull, which I would never normally do – particularly relevant for what I’m about to explain.
So here is the kicker – with all the ‘wrong’ food I was eating while away, and too much at times, I actually lost weight! Part of it can be explained by an increase in activity – hiking up a few mountains – but I didn’t do this every day though.
It seems I was accidentally Rrarfing! This is a concept by Matt Stone of ‘Eat for Heat’ fame which stands for Restorative Rest and Active Re-feeding. It aims to restore the metabolism and body temperature, which has been ruined by prolonged dieting and excessive exercise.
Hordes of people – ex keto and low carbers (me), ex vegans, ex paleo peeps, chronic exercisers, and just those who have eaten insufficient calories for years – who actually ruined their health instead of improving it, are all now looking for answers. Many have found themselves following the theories of Dr Ray Peat.
Rrarfing aims to ensure there are enough calories and rest, to support what the body needs to do. This will stop it switching to starvation mode and shooting cortisol around the body trying to convert muscles and organs into fuel.
In survival mode, the body lowers the metabolism to conserve energy and your fat stores – the opposite of what we want for a long-term lean and healthy body.
And the best type of food to achieve this? Adequate carbohydrates!
Chocolate croissant anyone?
It’s actually sufficient calories across all macros that’s important, but for an ex Keto person like me, carbohydrates were particularly important. Apparently it’s important to eat to complete fullness – not overeat necessarily, but a few extra mouthfuls just for good measure.
So when I returned from our adventure, I was about 3kgs lighter and measured my waking temperature first morning back and it was 36.7C (98F)!
I have never had that temperature first thing in the morning, ever. It’s what it’s supposed to be.
When I left, I couldn’t budge 36.1C (96.9F) waking temp for months. (This was better than my start point of 35.2C (95.4F), but I couldn’t seem to break through, until now!)
So the buffet breakfasts were my accidental Rrarfing, because there is no way I would have carbohydrate loaded myself like that at home.
So now the trick is just to incorporate some of that into my eating plan to keep on the temperature improvement path. Very exciting! (Just maybe finding a gut friendly real sourdough bread and perhaps not chocolate croissants as they are full of PUFAs too. Read more on why you may want to keep away from PUFAs here.)
Always learning and happy to be home!
Update 2021 – since writing this post I have totally worked out my diet and exercise based on Ray Peat guidelines for a fast metabolism and optimal health. You can get the blueprint too from these two books I have written – One Ten Toned – the exercise plan and the Zen Beach Diet – the eating plan.