‘AT 53 WEIGH­ING 82KG, I FEEL AMAZ­ING and fit­ter than I was in my 30s!’

Angus Boxshal­lSmith went from carbo-load­ing for bike races to in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing, which gave him far bet­ter re­sults all round!

LOSE IT! - - Inspiration - BY: JAMIE DAY

‘Ihave al­ways been an ac­tive guy. Though rugby was my main pas­sion, I em­braced all things out­doors: moun­tain bik­ing, swim­ming, kite­board­ing – you name it, I loved it. But af­ter a pretty se­ri­ous car ac­ci­dent, I stopped ex­er­cis­ing for roughly four years, got stuck into work and fam­ily, and be­fore I knew it, the num­ber on the scale had shot up. Just shy of 100kg, the only sport I played was golf, and without fail, I would end off the 18 holes with sev­eral rounds of beer with the guys.

I reached a point where I felt too em­bar­rassed to take off my shirt. But the low­est point was when I went div­ing in Mozam­bique. Our boat lost us on a dive and we had to swim back to shore. I hon­estly ques­tioned whether I could make it back – I was that un­fit. When I did even­tu­ally clam­ber onto the shore, I made a pact with my­self to get back into shape.

At 38, I picked up cy­cling, and ab­so­lutely loved it! The weight grad­u­ally de­clined 1kg at a time, but it plateaued af­ter about an 8kg loss, and I couldn’t get rid of the bulge around my stom­ach. Though I was heav­ier than my ideal weight, I was ar­guably the fittest I’d ever been and I en­tered big races like the Epic and Joburg2C. Be­ing nat­u­rally com­pet­i­tive, I was al­ways look­ing for the edge, and my cy­cling bud­dies told me that if I wanted to avoid “crash­ing”, I needed to load up with car­bo­hy­drates be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter a big ride.

‘I wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily los­ing ki­los – although that came later – but the inches were dis­ap­pear­ing from my waist.’

So I did. Car­ry­ing an ex­tra 12kg, and train­ing 20–25 hours a week, I re­plen­ished with car­bo­hy­drates. But still, I was al­ways hun­gry! I felt like I needed to eat all the time.

When­ever I took a few days’ break from the bike to re­cover, I packed all the weight I had lost right back on. It was in­cred­i­bly de­mo­ti­vat­ing. Then three years ago, some­one men­tioned that I should con­sider banting.

I was never in­ter­ested in di­et­ing to lose weight, but I was in­trigued. I did a lot of my own re­search and af­ter read­ing Tim Noakes’s book, the big rev­e­la­tion for me was that I needed to elim­i­nate sugar and carbs com­pletely. Be­ing an all-or-noth­ing type, I started banting in full force. Soon I no­ticed I had started to trim down. I wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily los­ing ki­los – although that came later – but the inches were dis­ap­pear­ing from my waist. I dropped from a size 38 trousers to a size 32 ef­fort­lessly. Af­ter see­ing the speedy re­sults, my wife Alex and I de­cided to try to be­come fat-adapted. We knew it would be hard work, but we are both very de­ter­mined.

Af­ter over­com­ing the ini­tial carb-flu pe­riod, I be­gan to no­tice ex­cep­tional changes other than weight loss. I ex­pe­ri­enced the usual ben­e­fits: re­duced hunger, no feel­ings of bloat­ing, and no af­ter­noon slump. But there are two things that have re­ally ce­mented this as a way of life for me.

Firstly, my dad was a type 2 di­a­betic and suf­fered from both high blood pres­sure and high choles­terol. I too suf­fered from high blood pres­sure and high choles­terol, and the way I was go­ing with sugar, I was sure to end up with the same life­style dis­ease he had. What was even scarier was that three years pre-banting, at age 47, my eye­sight had started to de­cline rapidly. I needed read­ing glasses and quickly went from 0.5 lenses to 1’s, then 1.5’s and even­tu­ally 2’s! But, af­ter three months of banting, all of these symp­toms dis­ap­peared. I didn’t need glasses to read any more, my blood pres­sure was down and all my other mark­ers were in the right place.

The sec­ond thing is the en­ergy. Both my wife and I find that our en­ergy lev­els are amaz­ing. We car­ried on with sport through­out the whole process, and as we be­came fat-adapted, we found our en­ergy lev­els were sus­tained through­out the day – even dur­ing and af­ter ex­er­cise. Pre­vi­ously when I used to do big races, I had to con­sume carbs all the way through; now, I can fast for 16 hours be­fore a race, com­plete it on just wa­ter, and feel amaz­ing.

In the past, Alex had re­ally strug­gled with di­ges­tive prob­lems and had tried ev­ery­thing, from a 10-day green juice fast to a three-month raw food diet. But ev­ery time she went back onto a nor­mal eat­ing plan, her prob­lems re­turned. She has al­ways eaten “healthily”. Her diet con­sisted of rye, whole grains, ab­so­lutely no wheat. Ev­ery di­eti­cian and gas­troin­testi­nal spe­cial­ist she saw said there was noth­ing wrong with her diet and that she should just for­get about her di­ges­tive is­sues. But she re­fused to ac­cept that. When I was told about banting, Alex and I de­cided to dive in to­gether, and since then her prob­lems have com­pletely dis­ap­peared! She also used to get the flu of­ten, and now she can’t re­mem­ber the last time she was sick. She is re­ally strict. Yes, we cheat a bit on G and Ts, but she will never re­turn to grains. She lim­its dairy – par­tic­u­larly cheese – but oth­er­wise, this diet is a no-brainer for her too.

We both felt amaz­ing, but we wanted to be sure we were on the right track. So af­ter three years of banting, we went to Dr Schoonbee, know­ing that he sup­ports the ke­to­genic diet, and the re­sults con­firmed that – for us – this diet just works. I feel great, I feel fit­ter than I have ever felt, and the test re­sults un­der­line that.

Be­cause the re­sults have been so re­mark­able, we are strict with what we eat, but we don’t al­low this diet to af­fect our en­joy­ment of life. We do drink wine and so­cialise, and we of­ten go out to din­ner, but we are se­lec­tive about what we have. For us it’s about bal­ance – we are 95 per­cent banting, but ev­ery now and then we ven­ture off track.

There are sev­eral things that re­ally work for Alex and me: • In­ter­mit­tent Fast­ing (IF) IF fits hand in glove with our train­ing. I fast in­ter­mit­tently ev­ery day – 16 hours fast­ing, 8 hours no fast­ing. I have my last meal in the evening, miss break­fast, and fin­ish off the fast with a high-in­ten­sity work­out – af­ter that, food just tastes amaz­ing! Ev­ery so of­ten I do a 24-hour fast. With this way of life, my clar­ity of mind and en­ergy lev­els are great.

‘I didn’t need glasses to read any more, my blood pres­sure was down and all my other mark­ers were in the right place.’

IF has a hugely pos­i­tive ef­fect on my ex­er­cise. Be­cause I am fat-adapted, and eat­ing less of­ten, my body isn’t us­ing up all my en­ergy to di­gest food. Rather, it is given the chance to go into au­tophagy. The ben­e­fits are amaz­ing: I have in­creased hu­man growth hor­mone, im­proved testos­terone lev­els, much more en­ergy, and to top it off, my crav­ing for pudding af­ter meals has dis­ap­peared.

At 53, weigh­ing 82kg, I feel amaz­ing and fit­ter than I was in my 30s. It has been an as­ton­ish­ing trans­for­ma­tion. In the past, I was ob­sessed with food and couldn’t go two hours without gorg­ing my­self; now, I am in com­plete con­trol. When I fast, I don’t feel like I am starv­ing my­self; in fact, I am never re­ally hun­gry dur­ing the 16 hours of not eat­ing, it is just part of my day.

Alex does strug­gle a bit more with the fast­ing. She does IF oc­ca­sion­ally, but if she does it for more than three con­sec­u­tive days, fin­ish­ing off with ex­er­cise, she crashes. You need to fig­ure out what works for you. Now, when she needs to give her di­ges­tion a break, she does a one-off 24-hour fast and she’s ready to go again. • Sup­port The sec­ond most im­por­tant thing is sup­port. Be­cause we took on the chal­lenge to­gether, we were eat­ing all the same foods, which com­pletely cut out temp­ta­tion. It’s a lot eas­ier to have some­one do it with you – par­tic­u­larly some­one as strict as Alex. I didn’t stand a chance! • Sim­plic­ity

The re­al­ity is: if you cheat, you bal­loon, so we don’t re­ally cheat and we eat very sim­ply. We don’t bake with al­ter­na­tive flours be­cause we be­lieve that by sim­ply re­plac­ing the “bad” stuff with the same thing, just a health­ier ver­sion, you’re al­low­ing the carb ad­dic­tion to sim­mer be­low the sur­face. In­stead, we choose to eat real food like a cut of meat with veg or salad. We do in­dulge in the odd banting ice-cream treat, though! We also only drink wa­ter, tea and cof­fee, with the ex­cep­tion of a few glasses of wine. You can’t live in wine coun­try and deny your­self a glass of this tan­talis­ing bev­er­age! We’ve also fig­ured out that we can get away with a lot less fat – now that we are fat-adapted, it’s not necessary. Peo­ple of­ten ask, “How do you guys do it? How do you re­strict your­selves so much?” but the thing is, it’s just con­di­tion­ing. Once you un­der­stand what foods to cut out and how to eat cor­rectly, it’s not that hard. You just have to want to make the change. It was chal­leng­ing in the be­gin­ning, but as you chip away at it, your body im­proves and you learn what works for you. It’s a jour­ney. As for me, I want to use my re­stored eye­sight to carry on read­ing for as long as I can without glasses. So I will never go back. This is a life­style.’

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