Low Carb Fail And A Good Day

Funny story.

Remember a couple days ago I wrote that I was going to do a lower-carb version of a Ray Peat diet so I could stop gaining weight?  Well I tried that yesterday.  Around 11:00AM I found myself not wanting to do anything and feeling like this:

anhedonia

That’s not me, by the way, but I literally had that look on my face and I was staring into space.  I said to myself, “Self, this is stupid. I can’t live like this.”  And then I went to get myself a big glass of orange juice.

Within 15 minutes I was tidying up the house, doing the dishes, chatting with my daughter.  ((Sigh))….I’m officially a sugar burner now.  Those days of being a fat burner are long gone.  I would never be able to tolerate the transition from energetic sugar-burner to adrenaline-driven low carber again.  So that experiment was a fail.

Anyway, today I felt really great all day.  Minimal hunger for some reason – or, at least hunger only at mealtimes.  So let’s analyze the day.

Woke up at 7:30AM – Weight still 209.4 (boo), fasting blood sugar: 122 (meh), temp/pulse: 98.6/85 (yeah!).  My morning temperature and pulse has gradually climbed from 96.9/68 to where it is now – maybe even a little on the warm side for first thing in the morning.  I’m currently taking 1/4 of a Cynoplus tablet and have been following a Ray Peat inspired diet for about 3 months.  I’m really happy with that.

On the other hand I took my blood pressure today, and it was 154/90, despite liberal use of the salt shaker, and blood sugar is also still high, despite elimination of most of my dietary PUFA.  So no miracle there by following Dr. Peat’s advice.  I’ll continue anyway, because I know salt and avoiding PUFAs are beneficial in many ways. I was hoping they would solve these problems though.  Maybe I just need to give it time.

Anyway, back to my day. It wasn’t an ideal day diet-wise – I just ate what we had in the house. We’re low on groceries. Need to shop, but it’s like 40 degrees below 0.  Brr.  Don’t wanna go out.

  • Breakfast: 3 eggs cooked in coconut oil, 8oz orange juice mixed with selzer water.
  • Snack: More OJ and selzer water, and a raw carrot.
  • Lunch: 3 slices of ham dipped in sour cream.
  • Snack: 1-2 oz. gouda cheese, orange juice
  • Snack: 1-2 oz. dark chocolate, orange juice
  • Dinner: Stew made from beef shank (made in crock pot).  I skipped the potatoes.
  • Snack: 1/2 of an apple, orange juice, cheese

Hm….so what was different about today that I felt really good?  I did avoid starches completely…and I ate more protein/fat in the morning than usual.  Other than that, not too unusual.

Oh well, I’ll try to do the same tomorrow.

Next time:  Resistant Starch – 1 month update!

Two Steps Back

I’ve been struggling a bit eating Peat style.  I think this would be a great way of eating if weight loss isn’t a goal.  The food is delicious and makes me feel great.  Only problem is I’ve been gaining weight.  I’m now up to 209.4 – almost 8 pounds over my previous unacceptable weight prior to learning about Dr. Peat.

It has to stop.  I simply cannot continue to gain weight.  My clothes don’t fit.  I avoid mirrors.  I’m discouraged.  I’ve tried to count calories, and I find it impossible to stay on a low-calorie diet while eating sugar.  There’s one woman on my Ray Peat Facebook group who has been losing weight, and she has generously shared her eating plan with us.  I’ve tried to follow it, and I just can’t.  I feel too hungry.  I guess my body is just not healthy enough yet to metabolize sugar effectively.  I think a lot of the sugar I’m eating is being wasted, my liver not effective at storing glycogen.

I’m considering doing a lower-carbohydrate version of Peat’s principles for a couple of months (and yes, I realize “a lower carb Peat plan” is an oxymoron) – just long enough to get some of the weight off.  I think my low-carb diet didn’t result in weight loss before because I was eating too much meat and no dairy. Also I was eating lots of PUFAs in daily consumption of dark-meat chicken and conventional eggs.  Now that I see how damaging those things are, of course I would continue to avoid them.

I don’t know all the answers.  I just need to do something else. I can’t continue to gain weight.

I Heart Intuitive Eating

Stopping measuring everything was the best thing I’ve done for myself in months.

Beginning 2 days ago, I only measure the basics upon rising – fasting blood sugar, temp/pulse, and weight – and then no more measuring for the rest of the day.  The purpose is for me to start making decisions about what and how much to eat based upon how I feel, not based on how many grams of protein I need to get in or how many calories I have left before I feel really bad about myself.  Since I stopped measuring everything my ability to interpret body’s signals is becoming very clear.

For example, I can now recognize two distinct kinds of hunger – hunger for sugar and hunger for a meal.  The hunger for sugar feels like a slight twinge of irritability or fatigue along with a need to eat something which I feel most in my mouth or head.  Hunger for a meal is a deeper feeling, kind of hard to explain, but it makes me feel hollow – like I really need to fill myself up.  I’m still learning to tell the difference in the moment, but when in doubt I have a few ounces of orange juice and if I’m still hungry 10 minutes later I eat something more substantial.

Also what’s great is I am learning how to control my energy levels.  If I eat too much meat I feel tired.  I now know that’s because eating protein out of proportion with sugar raises cortisol and lowers thyroid function.  Also, there’s lots of phosphorous and tryptophan in meat – a precursor to serotonin, which increases my nemesis, estrogen.  A few days ago I ate like 8 or 9 ounces of meat at once (I was worried about it spoiling and didn’t want to waste it.  Sometimes I’m such a tight wad) and within an hour I needed a nap.  When I woke up I felt all estrogen-y – sore breasts, irritable.  It’s clear to me why eating all that meat on paleo/low-carb gave me such a flat affect and made me tired.  Since then I’m becoming vigilant about having fruit or orange juice first – before protein – and only having 2-3oz of meat at a time.  If I do this my energy is high and my mood is good.  Dairy and gelatin are sources of protein that don’t make me tired.  And by the way, dairy no longer gives me asthma.  That’s over.

I’m going to continue on this way for a while – I know I probably won’t lose much weight eating whatever I want and when I want without counting calories, but right now my objective is to learn what my body needs.  Maybe after a couple weeks I’ll count something again.

Stress Hormone Overnight Test

Just a quick note – I ate some sugar along with protein and fat (and a glass of wine) last night before bed and this morning my fasting blood sugar was 108!  That’s the lowest it’s been in a long time.  Plus, this morning I felt hungry when I woke up, but I don’t feel hungry all morning long despite eating, as I typically do.  Amazing!

Analysis Paralysis

Yesterday I was in the car for 4 hours, and in that time I listened to 3 or 4 podcasts featuring Ray Peat.  I think I understand now why I’m having trouble with hunger in the mornings but less so in the late afternoon and evenings.  I start each day in a state of metabolic stress.

Here’s how it works:  A healthy person can store enough glycogen in their liver to get through the night (8 hours) without running out.  I’m not healthy.  What happens overnight is I run out of glycogen (which the body uses to maintain a healthy blood sugar level).  The body’s first reaction to running out is to increase adrenaline, which “squeezes the last bit of glycogen out of the liver,” according to Peat.  That same adrenaline will sometimes wake you up in the middle of the night.  If you don’t eat when this happens the body’s next step is to increase cortisol.  Cortisol is the guy that turns protein into glucose for the body to use (gluconeogenesis).  Protein, meaning muscle.  Hmmmm…so you don’t eat enough sugar, and your body raises cortisol to turn your muscle tissue into sugar.  The appetite is suppressed (which is why I used to love low-carbing), but the thyroid is also suppressed in order to reduce the number of calories required to live. Our bodies are remarkable at shutting down important processes to keep us alive.  All about the big picture.  Anyway, yadda yadda yadda, now I have a lot of cortisol-induced abdominal fat and sub-optimal thyroid function.

Another thing I learned is that it’s the lowering of stress hormones that makes you feel tired after eating a high-carbohydrate meal when your body has been depleted of glycogen.  I’ve always wondered about that.  So you’re cruising along on the adrenaline/cortisol high of low-carb and suddenly you decide to have some orange juice or some rice…or you supplement thyroid hormone.  In an hour you’re exhausted.  Yeah, that’s because finally your body is able to rest and put the stress hormones away because you finally fed it what it needs.  So your true fatigue shows up – the fatigue resulting from pushing yourself, staying up too late, waking up too early, running on adrenaline all day long.  Suddenly you feel all of it.

So it seems I wake up with my body all saturated with cortisol from having no glycogen stores overnight.  I’m going to focus on a pure Peat-friendly diet (no starches, which I’ve been eating sporadically) and I’m going to stop measuring my blood sugar throughout the day (with the exception of fasting blood sugar in the morning).  I’m going to listen only to hunger cues.  I think all the testing and micromanaging of my blood sugar, pulse, temperature, calories, macronutrients, and weight is interfering with me actually learning to feel what I need to be healthy.  Also, I’m going to eat some fruit and/or sugar before bed and see what that does to my fasting sugar levels and my hunger the following morning.

Update:  Wow…this chick said it way better than I ever could.

I Am a Robot

Huh…I guess I lied about that whole needing a break from blogging thing.  Oh well…I’m sure that’s neither the first nor the last time I’ll do that.  So damn moody.

And speaking of moody, I’ve been learning that I’m a complete and utter robot, and that so much of the discomfort I feel in life comes down to two things – not having enough sugar in my diet and not having enough progesterone in my body.  For long periods of time I’ve been an irritable, tired person — increasingly over the past 2 years, but I’ve had serious bouts before that.  It wasn’t until I learned of the joys of consuming simple sugars that the fatigue started to dissipate, after many months of low-carb.  And it wasn’t till I tried progesterone supplementation (specifically Progest E) that I realized I’m not a jerk.  The estrogen in me is a jerk.  Or maybe the prolactin.  Hard to say – I think they’re in cahoots.

Now, when I get hungry/tired/cold, I drink orange juice or eat sweet fruit, and within 10 minutes I’m satisfied, alert, and warm.  (Juice does the trick faster.)

When I find myself being a bitch, thinking Ray Peat is an idiot, or hating something about my life, I take 6 drops of Progest E and within 20 minutes I’m calm, nice, and happy.  And a much better mom/wife.

It’s fairly amazing.

So next time I’m on here complaining about something, just tell me to go drink some juice and hit the progesterone.

I now accept that I have no free will.

A Break

I haven’t felt much like writing lately.  It’s not that I don’t have things to say, it’s just that the rest of my life is stepping up in importance.  I’m still here, and will be posting again.  My posts might be a bit shorter, and I might be relying on bullet points in lieu of skillful narrative.  It’s just time to take a step back into the rest of my priorities.  For now.

Till next time.

Score 3 for Ray Peat

Yesterday I decided to do some blood glucose (BG) testing while drinking orange juice.  I’ve been turned off from OJ because I tested my BG after drinking it in the morning and it was high – like in the 170s.  I tested again in smaller quantities, but I always felt really hungry after drinking just a little so what’s the point?  Well, I’ve since learned that the hunger you feel when you eat fruit is your true hunger.  Low carb dieting raises stress hormones, which reduce appetite.  No wonder people lose weight on low carb – their cortisol is suppressing their drive to eat.  Until 6 months later when they (might) realize their thyroid doesn’t work anymore.  Anyway, hunger means there are no stress hormones running around, so eat, dummy.  One problem with this though – I have been hesitant to keep eating juice or fruit because I didn’t want my blood sugar to be high all day. What a conundrum!

Well, I decided to turn to science to get some answers.  I drank 12 oz of orange juice at breakfast and then 3-4 oz every hour.  Here were my readings:

  • Fasting blood sugar: 127; Temp/pulse 98.1/79
  • 9:00AM – 172
  • 10:00AM –  139
  • 11:00AM – 115 (temp/pulse was 98.6/79)
  • 12:00 – 115
  • 1:00 – 74 (after 30 minutes mild/moderate exercise)
  • 2:00 – 97
  • 3:00 – 106

Huh.  So for some reason there’s a big spike at first but then blood sugar is low all day.  Weird!  I did it again today to see if the results would replicate.  Had breakfast with about 10oz juice.  Here’s what I got:

  • Fasting – 124; temp/pulse 98.0/85
  • 9:00AM – 119 (tested at 1 hour and 20 minutes after breakfast)
  • 10:00AM – 106 (temp/pulse 98.8/75)
  • 12:00 – 101
  • 1:00 – 107
  • 2:00 – 112

At that point I stopped testing every hour.  Good enough!  I did take one more test though, after 30 minutes of stationary biking.  Blood sugar was 72, similar to the previous day after biking.  I thought it was weird that I didn’t feel hungry at all with blood sugar that low.  Then I remembered…About 10 years ago I used to do martial arts (Aikido).  I would train hard for an hour and a half, and leave the dojo feeling really good, but not hungry.  Then about an hour later I would become ravenously hungry.  Now I understand why!  The workout was causing a stress response – cortisol and/or adrenaline were suppressing my appetite.  After relaxing for an hour or so the stress hormones would lower and my true hunger would be revealed.  This is why Peat (and others) are opposed to exercise – it raises stress hormones.  I guess I knew this intellectually, but it makes a lot of sense now having experienced a complete lack of hunger after exercising, while my blood sugar is getting very low.  Interesting.  I’ve been doing 30 minutes of biking and 15 minutes of yoga per day for the last week.  Maybe instead I’ll do 30 minutes of yoga and 15 minutes of weight lifting.  Less continuous stress.

The other thing on my mind has to do with progesterone.  Ray Peat did an interview that was aired last week, in which he answered lots of questions that had been submitted by listeners.  Well, prior to the interview I submitted a question.  My question appeared in the second hour of the interview, and was as follows:

I’ve recently started taking Progest-E, and it has helped my cyclical mood symptoms very much.  I’ve been taking it days 14-28 of my cycle.  I hate to stop taking it because I have PMS (moodiness) the day after I stop.   Would there be any harm in just continuing to take it non-stop for a while, even if it means I miss a period or two?

Dr. Peat’s answer:

I’ve known quite a few women who took it every day and kept cycling without any problem.  But what they should be aware of is that if you take a little bit extra just before the expected time of ovulation it will trigger early ovulation, and then if you stop taking it or take less it will bring on an early menstruation.  So if you’re going to take it every day, it has to be every day the same amount.

If you’ll remember I really REALLY didn’t want to stop taking my Progest E after day 28 last month. In fact, I kept taking it and taking it and finally stopped against my will to have a period.  Then I started up again on Day 4 of my cycle – a full 10 days before I was supposed to start up – because the symptoms of high estrogen were unbearable.  I was depressed, bitchy, and puffed up.  It sucked.  So I started my progesterone early.  Well, surprise surprise…my period came 10 days early.  And it’s very possible I dosed a little too high before ovulation.  That Ray Peat.  He sure does know some stuff.

More news: after about 10 days of probiotics my gut is still messed up.  I tried taking two teaspoons of potato starch today (far less than the 4 Tbs many people are downing at one time) and still…not good. Gut mad at me.  I don’t know what it will take to fix what is wrong, but I’ll continue with the probiotics for now.

And the orange juice…3-4 oz an hour.

Oh one more thing – suddenly my body is ok with cheese.  I have completely stopped eating fatty chicken and most eggs, cutting my PUFA intake to almost nothing.  Could that be why my asthma isn’t kicking my ass right now?  I had like 4-5 oz of cheese today…and no problems.

Ok, blood sugar…progesterone…and PUFA.   I can’t deny it any more.  All the crap he says is coming true for me.

I think Ray Peat is right.

Gut Health Update

Last time I took probiotics was when I was trying to do The Plan.  The author of the book recommended a good probiotic, and I went out and got one.  I took them for 2 days, and they made me feel terrible – TMI, but I was in the bathroom a lot.  I stopped taking them but kept them in the refrigerator for the last 4 months, hoping to use them at some point because they were really expensive – like a dollar a pill or something.  I mean, they were like the Rolls Royce of probiotics.  I figured I wasn’t up to the probiotic challenge, but didn’t think about it too much.  This was after my first round of antibiotics, but oddly I didn’t connect the two.  I blamed the probiotics for being too strong.

So now, in my quest to have a fabulously functioning gut I’ve begun to take them again.  I take them with a teaspoon of potato starch, which is a prebiotic (food for bacteria).  So I send them down the hatch with a nice meal for the little guys…and now, 4 days in, no worries.  Hm.  No GI distress, no problems.  Interesting.

I’m going to continue in this manner for a full week.  At that point I’ll continue taking them but will increase the amount of potato starch again.

That’s the plan.   Till tomorrow.

Updated Labs and Gut Health

I didn’t get everything tested – just the basics, which is what I could afford right now.  Here they are, with the current results in RED.

3/27/2012 11/14/2012 9/6/2013 12/30/2013
Units Ref
Glucose 98 98 117 114 mg/dL 65-99
Hb A1C 6.4 <7.0
Uric Acid 5.9 5.2 5.4 5.4 mg/dL 2.5-7.1
BUN 19 25 18 18 mg/dL HIGH 6-24
Creatinine 0.69 0.73 0.57 0.6 mg/dL .57-1.00
eGFR 108 101 113 111 mg/dL >59
BUN/Creat Ratio 28 34 32 30 HIGH 9-23
Sodium 138 139 139 138 mmol/L 134-144
Potassium 3.8 3.8 4.5 4.1 mmol/L 3.5-5.2
Chloride 1.3 104 103 104 mmol/L 97-108
Calcium 9.3 9.2 9.4 9.2 mg/dL 8.7-10.2
CO2, Total 28 20 mmol/L 19-28
Phosphorus 3.6 4.1 4.0 3.4 mg/dL 2.5-4.5
Protein, Total 6.8 6.9 7.2 7.1 g/dL 6.0-8.5
Albumin 4.3 4.4 4.4 4.1 g/dL 3.5-5.5
Globulin, Total 2.5 2.5 2.8 3.0 g/dL 1.5-4.5
A/G Ratio 1.7 1.8 1.6 1.4 1.1-2.5
Bilirubin, Total 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.3 mg/dL 0.0-1.2
Alkaline Phosphatase, S 63 64 70 62 IU/L 25-150
LDH 142 137 137 143 IU/L 0-214
AST (SGOT) 20 14 12 15 IU/L 0-40
ALT (SGPT) 25 17 18 20 IU/L 0-32
GGT 14 14 27 20 IU/L 0-60
Iron 66 81 116 88 ug/dL 35-155
WBC 8.7 x10E3/uL 3.4-10.8
RBC 4.36 X10E6/uL 3.77-5.28
LIPIDS
Cholesterol, Total 222 297 270 274 mg/dL HIGH 100-199
Triglycerides 107 203 288 312 mg/dL HIGH 0-149
HDL Cholesterol 54 56 43 46 mg/dL >39
VLDL Cholesterol 41 58 mg/dL HIGH 5-40
LDL Cholesterol 147 200 169 166 mg/dL HIGH 0-99
T. Chol/HDL Ratio 4.1 5.3 6.3 6.0 HIGH 0.0-4.4
Estimated CHD Risk (Tot. Chol/HDL) 1.4 1.8 HIGH 0.0-1.0
OTHER
Vitamin D 34.2 67 (on 11/11/13) ng/mL 32-100
Insulin, Fasting 27.9 uIU/mL HIGH 2.6-24.9
hs-CRP 8.65 8.12 13.58 mg/L HIGH 0.00-3.00
THYROID 3/27/2012 11/14/2012 6/19/2013 12/30/2013 Units Ref.
TSH 1.7 4.01 1.55 2.92 uIU/mL 0.450-4.500
Thyroxine (T4) 4.1 8.9 7.4 6.9 ug/dL 4.5-12.0
T3 Uptake 32 25 27 24 % 24-39
Free Thyroxine Index 2.5 2.2 2.0 1.7 1.2-4.9
T4, Free (Direct) 1.04 0.97 ng/dL 0.82-1.77
Reverse T3 20.9 10.2 ng/dL 9.2-24.1
Triiodothyronine (T3) 126 120 ng/dL 71-180
Thyroid Peroxidase TPO Ab 10 8 IU/mL 0-34
Antithyroglobulin Ab <20 <20 IU/mL 0-40
Free T3 2.9 2.8 pg/mL 2.0-4.4

The first two columns (3/27/12 and 11/14/12) are when I was eating low carb with about 5% of my diet being carbohydrates for the first, and 10-15% for the second.  The third column (9/6/13) I was floundering around, trying on various diets/lifestyles.  At that time, about 20% of my diet was carbohydrate.  In November I started paying attention to Ray Peat and I increased my carbohydrate consumption to 40-50%, most in the form of simple sugars/fruit.  My blood sugars started soaring though, so a few weeks later I switched from simple sugars to starches and cut the quantity down to about 30%, while increasing protein.

So how am I doing?

Blood sugar – fasting glucose is high (but not over 126), HbA1C is not ideal, but is not in the diabetic range, and fasting insulin is high.  These factors suggest to me that I am more likely VERY insulin resistant, but not necessarily diabetic yet.  The fact that my body is still pumping out that much insulin is a good thing.  My pancreas isn’t dead yet.  I’m certainly very close to type 2 diabetes, if I’m not there yet…and I know I need to take this very seriously.

Thyroid – I was hoping eating carbs would help thyroid function.  However, if TSH is a reliable marker (and Ray Peat says it is) it looks like I did best with some carbs but not many.  Of course my triglycerides were happiest with none, but you can’t please everyone.

Lipids – OMG, I’m so about to die of a heart attack.  Triglycerides absolutely not going in the right direction…HDL was highest on low carb, LDL a bit better now than it was last winter but still not good.  I have been taking very small doses of T3 every day (6mcg), but that clearly isn’t enough to have an impact on cholesterol.  Will have to increase it.

Other – That CO2 number is terrible.  What happened there?

My ability to interpret labs is limited – please feel free to add your interpretation in the comments.

And in other news, I’ve decided my gut is completely torn up from 2 rounds of antibiotics this year, and that’s why I’m having trouble tolerating the potato starch.  I’ve decided I’m going to mix it with all kinds of junk and make it into BIONIC FIBER.  (<– Imagine I said really loud with an echo.)   I’m on day 3 of probiotics.  I’m going to fix my gut biome, dammit!  But most importantly, I have baseline data for my Resistant Starch Experiment.