Am I eating me?
July 24, 2011 9:14 AM   Subscribe

I have a question about the master cleanse. After 11 days, am I eating me? There is a delicate question inside.

I just started pooing again after 11 days on the master cleanse. Am I now processing human body fat/muscle?

It's a starvation diet that lets you mistake your body's desperate survival mode for a "boost in energy". I'm only on it because I wanted to prove it wasn't difficult to do. It wasn't. Unfortunately a side effect is that now, like Westerners in India, I've become fascinated by my bowel movements and want to discuss them with everybody.

I spent 11 days not eating.

I did the salt water flush on days 4, 5 and 6. I stopped when I read what it was doing to me. By the time I stopped, there wasn't much coming out anymore. Barely anything. Just brownish liquid.

I haven't done a #2 since stopping the flush, and today is day 12. The last few of days I've been drinking laxative teas without producing anything.

Today, I did two of them. Soft and mushy, light brown, perhaps enough to half-fill a coffee mug.

I can see three possibilities for where it came from:

1) a steak I ate 5 years ago
2) remnants of lemon bits the strainer didn't catch, perhaps comething extracted from about 10 bottles of maple syrup, and cayenne pepper, which flavoured the drinks.
3) My own body's fat and muscle.

I'm fascinated by the idea that not only am I burning my body's fat reserves, but I'm also re-digesting that fat. Other people seem to have lost about 5lbs in the time that I've been doing it for, so I might have done as well (I'm not weighing myself).

So, am I eating me and pooing me out?
posted by omnigut to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It's probably gut bacteria, which makes up the bulk of stool anyway. Congratulations! You've killed all your gut flora. Make sure you take a bunch of probiotics when you start eating again.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:16 AM on July 24, 2011 [13 favorites]

Best answer: When your body breaks itself down for energy, it doesn't actually come out via your digestive tract (most of the breakdown products, you pee out).

When not eating, you have three main sources of feces - dead RBCs, bile salts, and intestinal mucous. Those don't add up to a lot, though.

Any chance you've started sleep-eating?
posted by pla at 9:22 AM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

It is wrong to believe that feces only contain bits of things you've eaten. Up to half of the dry mass is gut flora (dead bacteria) and a significant portion is other metabolic waste such as dead red blood cells which only live a few months before dying and being partially recycled. This is what gives them their brown color, BTW.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:31 AM on July 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Yes, you are. Another source of stool bulk that people have forgotten to mention is the intestinal mucosa. It's sloughed off frequently, and turned over frequently; that's why chemo makes people nauseous and causes vomiting and diarrhea: it's destroying the rapidly-turning over cells in your body: cancer, GI tract, and hair follicles.

(The brown color is from stercobilinogen, from a breakdown product of hemoglobin, which gets altered by gut flora; you haven't "killed all your gut flora.")
posted by gramcracker at 10:17 AM on July 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Resless_nomad, I know, it was a silly idea. Thankfully bacteria have dominion over the earth, and there are plenty more to be drunk. I'm already on the probiotics, in anticipation of next week's hormonal GM steak.

Pla, you mean dead red blood cells? Intestinal mucous? blrghh. I don't think I've been sleep eating, but that would make me massively happy if i was! Go brain!

Rhomboid, thanks for the stats. 50% of my solid waste is made tiny bacteria? That means every time I go to the bathroom another civilisation becomes extinct?

Okay, next question: if I'm not relieving myself of my own fat, then perhaps my fat is currently being turned into new blood cells, new intestinal mucous, new food for my stomach fauna (I like to think of them as animals) and so on?
posted by omnigut at 10:22 AM on July 24, 2011

Your fat is being metabolized to give your body the energy it needs for walking around and getting through the day... and whatever else it needs energy for . But it is not being moved into your digestive tract. So yes for building body cells, no for providing free floating food for the bacteria.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:27 AM on July 24, 2011

Response by poster: gramcracker, thank you very, very much for the word "sloughed". My new favourite verb. Also, thanks for bringing back to life the little ones in my gut. So, my body fat is also going into making my hair, and anything else that's regenerating?
posted by omnigut at 10:27 AM on July 24, 2011

omnigut, during a starvation diet, your body is unable to use glucose (sugar) as an energy source because the stores run out within a few days. After the glucose runs out, you start burning fat instead as an energy source. Your fat is being broken down into pieces (namely ketones) that can be used by your body for energy, that energy can be used to do different things in your body, like keeping your brain functioning and keeping your muscles working.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:29 AM on July 24, 2011

Body fat, maybe - if I recall the master cleanse has you drinking a bunch of sugar water, yes? That's going to be the first thing used for energy. But since you're not getting any protein, your body will be catabolizing muscle to get the amino acids it needs to do its normal business. (This is why starvation diets are not a good idea for weight loss - you lose some fat, yeah, but you lose muscle too, and the lost muscle makes it more likely that you'll put more fat on when you go back to normal eating patterns.)
posted by restless_nomad at 10:29 AM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay, final question: if I'd continued on this diet until I died, however long that would have gone on for, when would I stop pooing? And if I wasn't taking in any calories, would that answer be the same?

I know this question is a little heavy, please excuse me.
posted by omnigut at 10:30 AM on July 24, 2011

Best answer: 1) a steak I ate 5 years ago

No. The "meat sits in your colon" thing is a lie propagated by the scam-saturated colonic industry with ample assistance from ignorant, politically-motivated vegans. Those things that colonic scammers hold up in the ads and claim are composed of impacted feces are actually formerly healthy pieces of intestinal lining that have been irritated by the colonic to the point that the body sloughs them off.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:32 AM on July 24, 2011 [19 favorites]

Best answer: What you are doing is pooping out the starved dying remains of a major organ in your body (Entropy is a bitch) as well as oxidized hemoglobin (hence the brown), the rapidly replaced lining of your small and large intestines, and all the random metabolic products you can't break down.

You are under the supervision of a medical professional right? RIGHT? Starvation is an extremely complicated science, this is roughly what you are fucking with. The byproducts of starvation, like ketone bodies, are also extremely toxic. Additionally fat is not just for storage of energy but also just about everything fat soluble that your body needs, and doesn't, both of which can really fuck with you if you start catabolizing fat to fast, while also being a central part of regulating your metabolism.

On preview, you would continue pooping until you died, please don't do that.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:38 AM on July 24, 2011 [7 favorites]

whoops meant to link this in "a major organ in your body"
posted by Blasdelb at 10:39 AM on July 24, 2011

Response by poster: treehorn+bunny — the "master" cleanse includes a lot of maple syrup. Despite being delicious (perhaps the only reason why this diet is popular), I assume it's also helping replenish my sugar reserves. However, I'm taking in fewer calories than recommended by doctors, and exercising more than normal. So I guess the difference is made up by fat turning to ketones.

Restless_nomad, yes, maple syrup. Too bad about the muscle thing. Does this mean the exercising I've been doing has had the opposite effect to the one desired, instead making me eat more muscle mass than normal instead of creating more?

Evening, Inspector. So...the body removes parts of the colon which have become over-irritated, bits that then turn black and pop out? Thankfully I never got to that stage.

By the way, as my poo is brown I've decided to test whether my stomach is healthy or not. I've decided to order a minestrone soup, which will slough off the spoon and into my mouth in a second. I can't wait to chew again!
posted by omnigut at 11:01 AM on July 24, 2011

Response by poster: Blasdelb, thanks for the enthusiastic response. You'll be glad to hear that the soup was quite delicious (I left the potatoes in the bowl, and skipped the bread...better wait a day or two I think). So, not to worry; my little friends should be happier soon!
posted by omnigut at 11:04 AM on July 24, 2011

Yes, if you've been exercising you've been hastening the muscle loss. In order to build new muscle you need to eat protein. May I suggest taking a basic biology or biochemistry class at some point? It sounds like you really don't have a firm grasp on the fundamentals here.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:09 AM on July 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm just go by my gut feeling
posted by omnigut at 11:13 AM on July 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: *going*
posted by omnigut at 11:14 AM on July 24, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the replies, this was an excellent discussion.

Haiku rhymes with poo -
Title says it all really.
Degenerate poems
posted by omnigut at 11:23 AM on July 24, 2011

"I'm just go by my gut feeling"

This is a very very bad idea. Right now you are putting your body through a hell of a lot of stress it is not built to handle, there are so many subtle and random little things that can incapacitate and kill you that it is not even funny. You are wandering blind through something very very dangerous.

Your diet way beyond the Internet's ability to adequately help you. Please call a registered dietician* for an appointment to discuss your progress so far and healthy ways to either continue or leave this diet. These folks look like they can provide you with an appropriate referral. Do you have roommates, family, co-workers, or other people around you who know about your diet and could render aid and call for help if you lose consciousness?

There are so many BIG CONCERNS that you are not aware of, which a registered dietician would be. For example, laxatives on an empty stomach can cause a chemical dependency on laxatives to poop at all.

*Nutritionist is to Dietician as Toothologist is to Dentist, Dietitian is the protected term that you need licensing and actual knowledge for just like Dentist is. You wouldn't go to someone who described themselves as a Toothologist to get your molars removed would you?
posted by Blasdelb at 11:53 AM on July 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

Um, I think OP meant the gut remark as a joke. No?
posted by Paris Elk at 11:55 AM on July 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

Please explain 'sugar reserves'
posted by asockpuppet at 1:03 PM on July 24, 2011

OP, a starvation diet of maple syrup sounds extremely outlandish. But I'm glad you seem to be having so much fun with it, although I would echo the concerns of others that you should probably be more careful when playing with major functions of your body.

asockpuppet, the 'sugar reserves' of your body are in glycogen.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:11 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth: Dead Red Blood Cells are not normally excreted in the colon. They are only found in the intestinal system if there is abnormal bleeding into the GI system.

The brown color in stool is caused by bile and other chemicals excreted by the liver. Some of which are products of the breakdown of red blood cells.

Let' keep it clean, people.

Also, eponysterical.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:11 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

SLC Mom, you do know that your link is to a prom dress, right?
posted by jtfowl0 at 1:39 PM on July 24, 2011 [23 favorites]

Response by poster: Maybe SLC Mom is suggesting clothing with a quicker exit strategy?

Thank you for your concerns everyone. I don't know anything, but I'm not convinced I've been dancing with death. I certainly feel fine. I am curious as to exactly how my death could come about. Perhaps that information would be useful for other people about to do the master cleanse who might find this page in a web search.

For an update — I had a falafel kebab last night. Lovely. My teeth hurt (from all the maple syrup), but my reaction to eating it I believe was equivalent to that first hug after a long stint in prison. And last night I went to the toilet quite naturally (and without laxative tea, yesterday) and frequently (about four times).

Today I will be eating vegetables and fruit. Tomorrow I don't know, but I won't be worrying as much.
posted by omnigut at 1:21 AM on July 25, 2011

I am curious as to exactly how my death could come about.

People are welcome to email the OP about this, but this isn't a referendum on master cleansing, nor should it be.
posted by jessamyn at 5:45 AM on July 25, 2011

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