My Brain is Full

Today I was doing more research on Ray Peat’s theories of nutrition and energy metabolism…and then it happened.  I could no longer absorb information. I began following links…hoping to jar the logjam free.  Then more links…and more links.  The gridlock continued…and in fact it got worse.

I’ve determined the following:  Everyone has an opinion about diet and nutrition and everybody thinks everyone else is wrong.  People with incredible credentials – Ph.D’s, neurosurgeons, rocket scientists – people with extensive experience researching neurobiology, chemistry, and nutritional sciences…and just plain super smart lay people…there are as many opinions out there as there are calories in a Big Mac.  My brain needs a break from it all.

So I think I’m going to stop trying to understand everything, and instead I’m just going to get a hobby for a little while.  Or maybe I’ll read a book.  About something else.

In the meantime I’ll keep updating my experience and results with T3.

T3 and Cravings

Well I’ve been experimenting with taking T3 (thyroid hormone) as I learn more about energy metabolism and thyroid health.  One thing I learned (as I sit writing this at 4AM) is that you shouldn’t take T3 in the evening.  It will fuck with your sleep.  Good to know!

In general I feel fine and actually better in the 3 days since I started taking T3. I’ve been splitting the little 25mcg tablet into 4 or 5 doses and experimenting with how far apart to take them.  I’ve had no hyper symptoms (except not being able to sleep, but lesson learned regarding the timing).  Day 1 I took only 1/6 of a tablet – about 4mcg.  I felt fine, no overt effect.  Day 2 I took two doses of about 6mcg each, felt fine.  Day 3 (yesterday) I took the entire pill spread out across the day in 4 doses. Felt good.  I’ve been forgetting to take my usual caffeine pill, so apparently there’s a little boost in energy.  I think I’ll continue along taking the equivalent of one 25mcg pill split up into small doses every 3 hours or so.  I’m also going to start taking my temperature throughout the day.  Temperature and heart rate can apparently be used to gauge dips in metabolism efficiency.

A few weeks ago I was at my parents’ house.  My mom (the forever-dieter) confessed to me that she had eaten an entire jar of peanut butter than we left over at her place.  I said to her, “Well Mom, maybe your body needed it.”  Most of her adult life she’s repeatedly (without success) pursued low-cal, low-fat dieting as the key to health and happiness.  Similarly, I finally got her to give up her trans-fat laden margarine for a margarine that doesn’t contain trans fats (butter would not even be considered…it’s a dietary evil in that house).  A couple weeks later she said she had to go back to the original margarine because the other one tasted so good she just kept eating too much of it.

Again, Mom…maybe your body needed it.

It was easy for me to see this when we were talking about her, but when it’s my behavior I’m analyzing all of my judgments get in the way about what I should/shouldn’t be doing or eating.  It’s an interesting idea though…maybe if you just give in to every craving your body will work through it and come out better on the other end.

Yesterday I was craving cheese melted on bread. We have gluten-free bread in the house, but I’ve been considering bread (starch, carbs) the devil for so long that I don’t even consider it as an option.  So I ate the cheese.  10 minutes later…still thinking about cheese and bread.  Ate more cheese.  Finally after about 4 different snacks, all trying to substitute for what I really wanted, I just had the damn cheese and bread.  Seriously.  These kind of mind games make one obsessed with food, eating, dieting, and the self-flagellation that comes from creating dietary rules that then must be followed.

I’m considering just following every instinct, completely independent of dogma and diet guidelines, and just listening to my body for a few weeks.  While I’m at it maybe I’ll put the scale in the garage.

Conclusion: CW Doesn’t Work For Me

Well, after about 11 days of exercising every day and maintaining what should be a calorie deficit I have essentially lost no weight.  I did get as low as 200.4 (a net loss of 2.6 pounds) on October 1st, but then I regained a pound and I’ve been stuck at 201.5 for the last 4 days. My calorie intake over that time averaged 1769 calories per day, and I recorded EVERYTHING.  If I was unsure about the calorie count of a food I rounded up.  I did 30 minutes of cardio (biking) on 10 out of these 11 days.  My heart rate (measured via monitor with a chest strap) during those sessions stayed between 130 and 140, which is 73%-79% of my maximum heart rate (60%-80% is generally considered an appropriate zone for aerobic fitness conditioning and health).

The only positive effect seems to have been on my blood sugar, and for that reason I may end up keeping up the biking.  I’m going to stop counting calories though.

New plan.  Based on my Thyroid labs a few months back I decided to experiment with thyroid hormone, and I ordered some T3.  My T3 and T4 were both within range but on the low end.  I could have either tried T3 or Natural Dessicated Thyroid (NDT), but decided to go the T3 route to start.  I received the T3 yesterday, and am going to start this today.  Just took my first very small fraction of a pill – about 4 mcg. I’m going to see how it affects me on this dose for now and increase very gradually to avoid hyperthyroid symptoms.

The timing of this is interesting.  Within 11 days of diet and exercise my resting heart rate dropped 12 points (from the low 80s to the high 60s).  I know that a lower heart rate is generally associated with good physical condition, but it is also a sign of low thyroid.  It’s hard for me to believe my cardiovascular health improved that much in 11 days…the more obvious reason for the drop is a change in thyroid function. See this article for some of the ways hypothyroidism can affect heart function.

Yesterday I felt depressed and lethargic and craved sugar all day (very unusual for me…I can generally take or leave sugar).  And this morning for the first time I checked my basal body temperature.  It was 96.9 – pretty low.  These things too can indicate hypothyroidism, which can be exacerbated by diet, exercise, or other forms of stress the body endures.  I’ve been reading Ray Peat’s blog (with translation into practical steps thanks to Danny Roddy).  Peat focuses extensively on thyroid health, from what I gather so far.  I have a lot to learn and a lot to read but it’s a direction that may prove helpful.

I do know this: when I lived in California almost no one around me was fat.  No one I knew there exercised or ate a particularly healthful diet – but no one was fat.  Here in Wisconsin everyone is fat.  There’s something different about the environment – maybe a lack of iodine in the local soil? – that has a massive effect on the health of the population.

And I can’t forget…my own sister had her thyroid removed after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s.

So for now I’m busy learning.  And trying T3.

CW – Week 1 in Review

Well, I’ve been following Conventional Wisdom – “eat less and exercise more” for 1 week now.  Let’s review my progress.

Weight

  • Starting weight: 203 lbs.
  • Today’s weight:  200.4 lbs.
  • Weight change this week: – 2.6 lbs
  • Overall weight change: – 2.6 lbs

Analysis:  I’m not impressed by this.  The first 3 pounds or so always comes off easily – I think it’s water weight.

I was aiming for 1500 net calories per day (after exercise is factored in).  According to my Lose It app, on which I track calories/nutrients, this week I ate at total of 1425 calories over that.  So even if I would have been perfect in my calorie intake, 1425 calories represents less than half a pound of body fat (if you believe the calories in/calories out theory of fat gain/loss).  So best case scenario I would have been down another half pound.

As far as macronutrient breakdown, I’m really just eating whatever I want (but no gluten/wheat).  I have not been making much of an effort to eat more produce, so that’s something I’ll be working on this week.  Here’s the macronutrient breakdown for the past week:

  • Fat calories – 57% (751g)
  • Carb calories – 28% (827g)
  • Protein calories – 34% (1008g)

Ok, so I guess this isn’t exactly conventional wisdom, which says a low-fat diet is recommended for losing weight.  Maybe I should try a low-fat diet for a week and see how that goes?  For now I’m going to do another week just eating what I want to see if it’s possible to lose weight eating lower-calorie and fairly high fat.

Blood Sugar

Ok, but now here’s some good news.  Check out my fasting blood glucose this week (the far right side of the graph):

bg

Fasting blood glucose (average) during the week prior to starting bicycling/no boozing and then during the past week:

Before (avg): 118

After (avg): 105

Hm…on average, that’s a 13 point drop in fasting blood sugar in 1 week of exercising and not drinking alcohol.  Pretty cool!  Even if it doesn’t result in weight loss it seems important to exercise for blood sugar management.  I don’t know if all types of exercise will have this effect.  Yoga didn’t (see “DDP Yoga” on graph).

And interestingly…eating NO carbs (or only like 2% of calories from carb) didn’t result in this kind of improvement in blood sugar (see period of “Nutritional Ketosis” on graph).  This suggests that something OTHER than macronutrient intake has a dramatic effect on blood sugar and/or insulin levels.

Things I’m learning:

1. Eating carbs prevents hypoglycemia.  I had all but given up drinking coffee (which I love) and turned to caffeine pills because of the hypoglycemia that followed coffee drinking.  I learned from Ray Peat that adding sugar/carbs to coffee (and meals, for that matter) prevents that blood sugar drop (which my mind interprets as hunger).  It works!  If I put sugar in my coffee I don’t get ravenously hungry after drinking coffee.  How nice.  And as you can see (graph, above) my blood sugar is not suffering from this sugar-in-coffee experiment.  Maybe sugar in small amounts isn’t the devil after all.

That being said…

2. I feel better if I DON’T have a lot of carbs for breakfast.  I can eat a 500 calorie breakfast of all protein/fat and I feel satisfied for 4-5 hours. If I eat carbs I get hungry within 2 hours.

2.  Juicing isn’t my problem.  I have been continuing to drink vegetable and fruit juice over the past week and my fasting blood sugar has been dropping.  Either fresh-squeezed juice doesn’t affect blood sugar much or exercise reverses a LOT of problems.

3. I don’t need to kill myself with exercise to get benefit.  I’m riding on flat terrain and not pushing myself very hard at all.  10 mph on a bicycle isn’t very fast.  For 30 minutes or so.

4.  I need to prepare more if I expect to eat more veggies.  Still laziness prevails. If I don’t have vegetables washed and cut and ready to eat I just won’t eat them.  I’ll work on that this week.  I think this is why I’ve been eating more overall calories than planned – I’m not filling up on produce as planned.

5.  Nobody has all the answers for everybody.   Everyone is different.  What works for one person doesn’t work for another.  I was listening to Jimmy Moore‘s podcasts yesterday on a long road trip.  Jimmy insists that people just need to give up the carbs and their blood sugars will drop.  Hm…then how come he takes Glycosolve for his blood sugar?  I actually really love and appreciate Jimmy Moore, and he’s usually the first to say you have to find what works for you. However, among the low-carb community there seems to be this idea that this strategy will work the same way for everyone.  Low-carb clearly wasn’t enough for me.  He interviewed Sarah Fragoso on one of the podcasts I listened to yesterday…and she stated that people with a high CRP (C-Reactive Protein) pretty much always have some massive health problem like rheumatoid arthritis or cancer.  I sure hope she’s wrong.  Anyway, bottom line is you DO have to find what works for you.  Give up looking for a guru.  Experiment.

Ok, that’s enough reflecting for one week.  I’m going to continue this plan for now and see where it gets me.