Leaving Camp Peat

It seems several people I’ve met in Ray Peat land have digestive disorders that they didn’t have when they started eating Peat’s recommended low-fiber high-sugar diet. And please, if I hear one more time that Ray Peat doesn’t recommend any diet in particular….Yes He Does.  He recommends a high carbohydrate, low fiber diet that keeps phosphorus low and calcium high.  He recommends dairy, fruit, and orange juice.  He recommends keeping meat intake on the lower side but is not opposed to meat consumption.  He recommends eating sugar when fruit is not available.  Does he recommend the exact same foods in the exact same proportions for everyone?  Well no – but neither does Paleo or Low Carb or Low Fat or the other big Ways of Eating.

I notice a lot of the Peatarians are worried they might have SIBO, though few are willing to test and find out for sure.  There seems to be a mistrust of testing among the Peat crowd.  Maybe they figure they can’t trust modern medicine so why bother with the testing made available by modern medicine.  This is one area in which we disagree.

If it can’t be expressed in figures, it’s not science, it’s opinion.

– Lazarus Long

I was one of them, waited about a year before testing, found out I didn’t have SIBO.  I have something though – and after much trial and error with diet, probiotics, antibiotics, and prebiotics – I’ve come to the conclusion that the dysbiosis in my gut wasn’t caused by following a Peat diet, but it may have been made worse by it.

In the health world everybody seems to have grabbed part of the elephant and is certain their part is the truth, the entirety of the story:

For example, low carb helps some people for some period of time so some people decide low carb is the way to go.  In a subset of those people they remain low carb forever, and it never disagrees with them.  Maybe they have just the right combination of genetics and the stars aligned just perfectly on the day they were born, and now low carb makes them feel awesome forever.  I’d put many of our low carb gurus in this category – not all of them – but many of them.  And then some of them do better on low carb or Paleo than on anything else they’ve tried, so they’re still waving the low-carb flag even when it doesn’t seem to work anymore, as evidenced by fatigue, hair loss, and other thyroid problems.  It’s the same thing with our high carb or vegan gurus – I’m looking at you, Durianrider – great that you’ve found what works for you, but really – stop trying to make everyone else eat 40 bananas a day.

Isn’t it possible, everyone, that what works for you doesn’t work for me?  And it’s not just that I’m doing it wrong or I’m not committed enough or didn’t yet read that latest study on rats getting itty bitty microbiome transplants?

Anyway, I’ve gotten off track a little.

I appreciate what I’ve learned from Ray Peat but I find his followers to be unwilling to discuss alternatives when Ray’s recommendations don’t work. Similarly, I appreciate what I’ve learned along the way about Low Carb and Paleo, but those aren’t really working for me either.  I’m going to stop looking for a guru at this point and continue to experiment and find my own way.

I’m on Day 4 of Alt Shift right now.  It’s basically a schedule of macronutrient cycling but I haven’t seen one just like it before and people are having good results.  I’m not counting calories but I am following the general guidelines of the program.  A lot of the women following it and speaking up on the Facebook group are having trouble getting in enough food and they’re “stuffed all the time”.  Geez, that’s never been my problem.  I’m amazed I don’t gain weight at an alarming rate with the amount of food I need to eat to avoid hunger. Even when in the process of losing almost 20 pounds last Spring I’m sure I was eating about 2500 calories a day.

It’s really not about the calories.  FOR ME, anyway.

And on that note, I’ll /end this aimless rant.

Alt Shift – Day 1

I have been struggling to maintain life eating a ketogenic paleo diet.  I just can’t seem to avoid carbs – I’ll go a few days or a week and then no matter how much food I consume I’m unable to stop thinking about carbs until 10 minutes after I’ve finally given in to eating them.  Keto just isn’t for me.  I’m on board with the “whole foods” idea, which is what paleo is essentially, but over the last few months I’ve been gradually gaining weight.  I gain 3 and lose 2, gain 2 and lose 1.  Currently I’m up to 196 – an 8 pound gain from my most recent low of 188 a few months ago.  I’m not sure if the sugar cravings are due in some way to the probiotics I’m taking, or if low carb is just not sustainable for me.  I’m of the opinion that most diets and eating protocols fall apart after a while – but the initial benefits keep the myth going that it’s healthful or helpful for weight loss, and by the time you can no longer sustain it you’re blaming yourself.  “Oh, I must be a weak person to not be able to eat only meat and vegetables for every meal for the rest of my life.”  I’m sure eating meat and vegetables…only…forever…is good and sustainable for some people.  I’m just not one of them.

I’m trying something new, starting today, that I learned about from Jimmy Moore’s podcast.  It’s called Alt Shift, and basically it’s a systematic process of cycling the way you eat so your nutrient needs are met but your body doesn’t have a chance to adapt to it.  I’m not going to share the fine details of the plan because I want the author to be able to earn a living.  There is a book to read and also a Facebook group of people using the program for those who just want to get a sense of it.  I will say it involves eating high carb for a period of time, alternating with eating low carb.  Given everything I’ve learned about my own conditions – gut dysbiosis, diabetes, obesity – and filtering through the paradigms I’m familiar with – Paleo, Ray Peat, low carb, low fat – I can say that this program makes biochemical sense.  I know that what I’m doing now – white knuckling low carb while my hair falls out and I slowly regain what I lost – isn’t working for me.

On the plus side, my carb cravings have driven me to eating a wider variety of sugars and starches without any noted bloating or mood problems.  Well, teeny weeny mood problems but they pass quickly, and could actually be related to working too damn much.  There has been no crying at work, so I know things are getting better in my gut.  Blood sugar control is good but not great lately.  I guess that’s what happens when you eat M&Ms and goldfish crackers for lunch.  Yes, this is me 7 months into low carb.  Desperately eating vending machine food – after my carefully crafted 800 calorie high protein, high fat paleo-friendly salad – in order for me to forget about sugar and get on with my day.  I’m looking forward to the Alt Shift schedule of cycling in carbs so I can get away from this ridiculous pattern.

Black Cohosh For the Win

I cut my dose of Black Cohosh in half for 2 weeks and then tried to discontinue it.  However, after 3 days without any I started having hot flashes again.  So I put it back  Conclusion: Black Cohosh is the factor that is treating my hot flashes.  I originally started with 40mg 2x a day, and then tapered to 1x a day.  Right now I’m back up to 2x a day to restabilize, and then will probably go to 1x a day again.

Still taking turmeric and VSL3 probiotics, and I’m able to eat more starches now.  I can’t eat them at every meal, every day, but I can eat them once or even twice a day without my mood falling apart.  I have not tried resistant starches, and probably won’t anytime soon.  The things I’ve experimented with are corn tortillas, white bread, white rice – basically the stuff that doesn’t have a ton of fiber. My coaches at Nourish Balance Thrive have encouraged me to follow a Paleo diet, but I find it very hard to stick with.  If someone else was preparing meals for me it might be possible but carrying multiple salads with me wherever I go is difficult day to day.  I’m working too much right now, and I’m addressing that problem, but for now I really need to eat foods that keep me full a little longer and require less time in the kitchen.  Hunger continues to be a problem.

In other news, my sex drive completely sucks.  I’m not sure what to do about it but it’s a problem. I’m still taking supplemental hormones – pregnenolone and DHEA – and the Black Cohosh is probably raising my estrogen a little.  Still, nothing.


Things have gotten better.  Mood and energy are good, weight is slowly dropping again.  Sleep and blood sugar control are good.  Is it because of the high-dose probiotics?  Is it because of the turmeric?  No idea.  Going to continue both for now.

Negotiating the Perfect Diet

I’ve been trying some different foods lately to see what I can and cannot tolerate these days.  Interesting results lately.  I’ve learned that I can’t eat nightshades.  It’s not just a suspicion anymore…I really can’t.  I added in some tomatoes on Saturday and about 1/4 cup of potatoes yesterday.  All weekend I’ve had achyness – especially in my back and shoulders (same reaction I had to them before) – and my sleep has fallen apart.  So, no more nightshades.

I find I can eat some carbohydrates if I want to, and my fasting blood sugar stays low. Because of the probiotics?  or the turmeric?  Don’t know.  I need to stop it with the carbs though because my weight is climbing rapidly.  I’ve gained about 5 pounds in 2 weeks.  I guess I’ll stop that experiment now.

I’m tolerating the VSL3 probiotic just fine, and will continue that for now, with some of the Primal Defense thrown in here and there.

I think the best way for me to reach my goals right now, including mood stabilization, weight loss, and increased energy, is to start eating lots more vegetables – some well cooked, some (greens) raw.  I still need to avoid the highest fiber stuff.  Starches and sugars are again off the menu.   Sort of an autoimmune paleo diet.  With eggs.

And this is just how it’s going to be for a while.

Sugar Good, Starch Bad

Mood is better now since I’ve stopped eating resistant starch again.  I’ve been experimenting with my diet lately – not so much for the sake of long-term health, but rather because I want to know what I can and cannot eat and still keep my mood intact. Also I’m just tired of eating well and feeling like crap anyway so the last few days I’ve varied my diet a bit to see what happens.  I seem to feel fine eating sugar.  I seem to not feel fine eating resistant starch.  Plain rice and white bread, fine.  Cooked and cooled rice – not fine.  Am I advocating sugar and white bread for overall health and wellbeing?  Not necessarily, but for me I don’t see a change in mood eating these things.  I guess they don’t feed whatever killjoy is living in my gut causing me problems.

My blood sugar has stayed low even though I’ve eaten carbs and dairy all week….however my weight is up a few pounds.  Water retention, maybe?  Don’t know.

I’ve started taking VSL3 probiotic, which has over 100 billion CFU per capsule.  I think I’ll just take one a day for a while and see how it goes.

Continuing to take turmeric paste – either mixed into food or just washed down like a supplement, 2-3 times per day.  Hot flashes are still gone.  I’m cutting my dose of black cohosh in half this week to see if they stay gone.  I still don’t know exactly what made them go away, so I’ll taper off the things I added and see at what point they resurface. Otherwise I’m continuing on with my supplement regimen from Nourish Balance Thrive, minus the antimicrobials.


Well, things turned to shit in the last couple of days.  Too much resistant starch, probably, and I became irritable and depressed, like so many times before.  I had about 3 tablespoons of cooked and cooled rice per day for a couple days – 1 TBS with each meal – and that put me over the edge.  I’ve been more depressed than this, so it could be worse, but I was really hoping the good Elixa bugs would crowd out this gram negative monster in my gut.  So far, not crowding.  That mother is alive and well.

I received my VSL3 probiotic in the mail yesterday.  I’m feeling deflated at this point.  If 3 trillion probiotics in 6 days can’t make a dent I’m just not optimistic.

I guess I could just accept that I can’t eat starches.  Ever.  And that if I do choose to eat other things with fiber – say, whole fruits or vegetables – I’m just not going to feel great.  Part of what bothers me about all this is that it’s really expensive to eat nothing but meat.  I want to be able to fill up on rice like my husband, kid, and all of Asia.  I know I’m whining right now, but I don’t care.  I’m just so sick of this.

Zero carb all day every day is gross after a few months.  I really like meat and eggs and they’re simple – no waste, not much appetite, no blood sugar fluctuation, but also no calcium, too much phosphorus, high BUN/Creatinine ratio and metabolic acidosis.  I don’t really know what to do anymore.  I guess I could cut back to one teaspoon of cooked and cooled rice per day and gradually work up.  Then I’ll only feel slightly shitty every day.

I stopped with the rice today, and the tears have again dried up.  Still irritable though.