The Starch Solution – Day 10

I’ve been feeling overall really good.  Eating this way – low fat starch, fruit, and veggies – is way easier than I expected, and I actually love what I get to eat. I don’t even miss the fat at this point.  I did eat at someone’s house yesterday and brought a dish – a 3-bean salad – so I’d definitely have something there I could eat. I’m pretty determined to stick to this.  I have a ton of energy and my husband tells me my mood is better.

This is the second time I’ve been on a low-fat diet to kick my blood sugar’s ass.  I did this last year – it wasn’t a plant-based diet at that time, and I was eating a lot of dry chicken breast, white rice, and fruit.  I felt a lot hungrier then than i do now. I probably could have added more starches then but I wasn’t in the habit of thinking that way.  It would be an interesting experiment – eating a low fat vegan diet and then adding in lean meat to see the effect on health markers.  Who knows…maybe I’ll even do that.

My fasting blood sugar has dropped to under 120 every day.  Post-prandial blood sugar is still over 200 sometimes – higher when I eat bread or tortillas, and lower when I eat simple whole grains or legumes.  Weight is down a couple pounds, and I’m not counting anything – calories, grams – nothing.  I eat until I’m satisfied.

I did take a step backward one day this week after I ate a banana.  I have a history of not tolerating bananas well – maybe because of the histamine in bananas? – and I was hoping that had passed since the last time I had one a year ago.  Nope, still made me feel terrible – angry and tired, like my brain was inflamed.  No more bananas.  It took about 36 hours after eating it before I felt good again.

Daily Snapshot

I suppose it’s necessary to have a where-the-hell-am-I-now post, for the sake of comparison.  Oh and by the way, I’ve decided to curse a lot more in 2018.  Hope that doesn’t offend, but it if it does, too fucking bad.

Current weight: 210.8

Current fasting blood sugar: 164

2-hr postprandial blood sugar – don’t know, I just woke up.

Blood pressure: 141/90, heartbeats per minute: 82

What I’m eating:  Low fat, lowish carb, generally low-histamine, not counting calories and eating to satiety.  The lowish carb is not to induce a state of ketosis – it’s to keep my blood sugar under fucking 300.  I would like to increase carbs as my blood sugar drops over time.  Example: For breakfast I just ate 2 eggs fried in chicken broth (no additional fat), a bunch of random veggies (onions, garlic, brussels sprouts, mushrooms), a couple tablespoons of kidney beans.  For lunch I’ll probably have something similar, but maybe chicken breast instead of eggs.  I’ll be keeping fat around 30-40 grams a day on average, but not planning on counting anything at this point.

Exercise: Walking on a treadmill or eliptical during my lunch break, yoga in the AM for 10-15 minutes.

That’s it for now.  Gotta do yoga.  Learn to de-stress.

High Carb Low Fat – Day 6

Fasting blood sugar this morning: 135.

Well, hm…

This morning I had a message waiting for me from a friend who read yesterdays blog post, in which I commented that I was having hot flashes since increasing my thrice-daily dose of niacinamide from 100mg to 250mg.  She informed me that niacinamide shouldn’t cause a “flushing” response and that what I was experiencing was likely a stress response.  Niacinamide inhibits the release of free fatty acids from the cells, allowing the body to gradually detoxify itself of stored polyunsaturated fats. Ray Peat says this is a good thing.  Well, if there are fewer fatty acids released into the bloodstream, you need enough fuel in the form of food (specifically, sugar) or the body turns on stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) to break down proteins/muscle for fuel.  In other words, if you’re going to take large doses of niacinamide, you better be eating a lot of sugar – and you probably need to be able to store it well to be used throughout the day.  I guess my 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein wasn’t enough.

This explains my still-high fasting blood sugar, despite eating low fat for 5 days now.  Stress hormones are turning on and staying high overnight because my body is out of fuel.

Well, I got this information this morning, and set about to eat lots and lots of sugar today to see if I could turn off the hot-flash stress response.  But today, despite eating 100 grams of sugar more than usual, I continued to have the hot flashes.  So maybe my body isn’t storing glucose effectively yet.  Maybe my current physiological state can’t handle that much niacinamide without invoking a stress response.  So tomorrow it’s back to 100mg 3x a day.  I felt fine on that dose.  I predict my fasting blood sugar will be under 120 again within 2 days.

Here were my macros today:

crono

And my nutrient breakdown:

nutrients

The nutrients look a whole lot like they did yesterday.  Actually, that’s how they look just about every day.  Almost enough folate and potassium, short on manganese, and everything else looking good.  I checked into sources of manganese – looks like spinach is a good source.  Other than that, there’s nuts, fish, and a bunch of other things that are high in PUFAs.  I’ll make spinach tomorrow.

Sugar: Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

I’m really struggling to eat Peat-ish and remain low fat.

I’ve given up starches because they were making me feel depressed.

I’ve given up eating lots of meat because it’s high in phosphorous.

I’ve given up alcohol because it made me depressed.

And now I’m reducing fat.

I’m trying to determine whether it’s all fat (not just PUFA) that blocks cells from using available glucose, keeping blood sugar high.  My blood sugar has come down over the past week of lower-fat eating, but I’ve also completely given up starches at the same time.  I’m trying to avoid changing more than one thing at a time, but the starches had to go.  They were really messing with my mood.  In the past when I gave up starches but kept fat intake (and sugar intake) high my fasting blood sugar would reduce from really high (140-150) down to the 120s, and that’s what it’s done again this week.  I’d like to continue my low-fat eating for a while and see if it improves further.

Now about that…You know what’s left when you give up starches, most meat, and fat?

Sugar. Currently 200-250g of it.  And maybe some vegetables, and some lean meat. Just a whole lotta sugary sweet stuff – fruit and fruit juice, milk, honey-sweetened coffee, marshmallows.  Anything to keep me from being hungry and also not add to the dietary fat total. If I have a couple ounces of cheese and 2 eggs per day I’ve about maxed out my allowed fat intake.

I don’t even really like sweet stuff.  I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, and now my diet is centered around it.  Day to day I’m feeling pretty good, but I fear this is unsustainable because I just don’t really like it.  I’m coming to dread my next sugary coffee/milk/orange juice.  I know low-fat cheese is an option, but even that has 4g of fat per ounce.   I’ve identified one brand that doesn’t have much in the way of unwanted fillers.

Anyway, my weight is down a pound this week…I guess that’s good, and I hope it continues.

I’ve been tracking what I eat on Cronometer.  I don’t know what my baseline (maintenance) number of calories of fat grams is – I haven’t tracked that – but considering how I feel when I restrict calories/fat, I suspect I was maintaining my current weight on 2500-3000 calories per day and over 95-100g fat. A few weeks ago I was trying very hard to lower overall calories without making an effort to reduce fat, and I was averaging 1807 calories and 83g of fat per day.  Hunger was (and still is) preventing me from going lower.  This past week I averaged 1966 calories per day and 58g fat per day, and it was a struggle for the above mentioned reasons. The totals for the last 2 days of the week skewed the average because I was starting to tire of all the sweet food. I think I’ll try to stay under 50g of fat per day – that would be challenging but maybe not unrealistic.

Otherwise, I’m meeting all of my micronutrient goals, and my phosphorous/calcium ratio is about 1:1.  It’s really just a matter of being bored with the taste of sweet.

Onward.

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!

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.

Resistant Starch and Oranges

There’s been a lot of discussion about Resistant Starch (RS) in the Paleo world lately, most of which has taken place over at Free the Animal.  I haven’t read all of the posts, threads, and comments relating to this topic, but I’ve read enough to pique my interest.  RS is basically the isolated starch from potatoes and other foods that is resistant to digestion in the body – it behaves in the body like a fiber rather than a typical starch.

Many people seem to be having very good results with supplementing with RS (mostly, in the form of potato starch), and there is research backing the anecdotal results.  Most commonly, folks are lowering their fasting blood glucose and are increasing their body’s ability to tolerate other carbohydrates without causing a big spike in blood sugar.  Well, that sounds exactly like what I need, right?  Other benefits I’ve read about include lowering cholesterol and improving markers of thyroid function (specifically, increasing body temperature).  Additionally, when you eat it, it passes undigested (resistant!) into the large intestine where favorable bacteria have a field day and crowd out pathogenic (bad) bacteria. Lastly, it reportedly regulates bowel function – if you’re constipated it gets things moving.  If you’ve got loose stools (or even parasites, according to one report) it firms things up.  Last advantage – it’s dirt cheap (like $3 a pound) and widely available.  I got a bag at the store across the street.  The only negative side effect people seem to be posting is extra gas, but most folks indicate that resolves after a couple of weeks.

Well, my husband and I both decided to give RS a try.  He’s insulin resistant, and I’m certainly having blood sugar management problems of my own, so we’re most interested in finding a way to improve in this area.  Before starting we got a baseline of our body’s ability to tolerate carbohydrates.  About a week ago, first thing in the morning, we each ate an 11 oz. baked potato with nothing on it but salt.   Then every 15 minutes for the next 3 hours we took blood sugar readings.  Here are our baseline results:

Potato Baseline

Mine is in the blue – as you can see my blood sugar was over 200 for well over an hour, topping out at 255, and took a long time to recover.  Sorry, body, but that’s kind of diabetic.  David’s was better but still got fairly high (189 at the one hour mark), but he was back to normal after an hour or so.  So here’s our plan:  Start supplementing with potato starch, give it a month or 6 weeks (research seems to indicate it takes 4 weeks for your body to respond fully to supplementation), and then do the test again.

We also had lab testing done this week, including fasting insulin and the “Comprehensive Wellness Profile” offered by Direct Labs, my favorite place to order labs without a doctor censoring me.  I should have my results this week – I’ll post when I get them.  We’re going to get another set done in 6-8 weeks after supplementing with RS.  Additionally, we’re testing fasting blood sugar every day.

So let me tell you briefly, and with as little TMI as possible, about my own experience so far taking potato starch.  I decided to simply stir it into a quarter cup of water or so – some people mix it into yogurt or kefir to get extra gut-health benefit.  The recommended dose is 4 tablespoons a day.  Research indicates more is not better, and less than 1 Tbs has little or no value.  I started with a teaspoon a day, to see how my digestive system was going to respond. The teaspoon test went fine…increased it to 2, and then 3 teaspoons over the next two days.  All of that went well.  Then I decided to try a tablespoon.  Well, that didn’t go well.  It felt like there was a war in my intestines for about 24 hours (and perhaps there actually was).  It was painful and I was in the bathroom a lot the next day.  So I started again, smaller.  3 teaspoons a day.  Now I’m up to 4 doses a day of 1.25 teaspoons each.  No problems.  My husband has had no problems other than a little gas – and he’s already up to 4 tablespoons a day.   From my reading, my response is unusual – almost no one is reporting serious GI upset, but it was really bad for a day there.  I wonder if the more unhealthy your gut is to start, the more “cleaning house” needs to be done.  Maybe that distress meant I’ve gotten rid of some bad guys hanging out in my gut.

Anyway, this post is getting long.  Here are a couple really good links on Resistant Starch supplementation and benefits:

On another topic, I’ve again embraced Ray Peat’s dietary wisdom.  On a whim I decided to try eating whole oranges with protein, having had a hard time with hunger and blood sugar regulation when I drank juice.  The whole oranges keep me satisfied a little longer (I get hungry after 2 hours instead of 1), but I can tolerate that.  Also, my blood sugar is under 130 an hour later.  I’m not sure if it’s the resistant starch having an effect or if it’s eating the fiber of the orange that slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream, but it any case I’m going to keep doing it.  I have so much more energy eating fruit than I do when I eat starchy foods or skip carbs altogether.  So I’m going to keep it up.  Also going to get some lights (like this with this) in the next day or two…cuz Ray Peat said to:

Light, especially the red light which penetrates easily into tissues, activates the formation of new cells as well as their differentiation. It affects energy production, increasing the formation of mitochondria, and the activity of the DNA methyltransferase enzymes. Red light accelerates wound healing, and improves the quality of the scar, reducing the amount of fibrosis. The daily cycling between darkness and light is probably an important factor in regulating the birth and differentiation of cells.

My many N=1 experiments are going to be very confounded: lights, reducing PUFAs, Resistant Starch, eating fruit sugar again, etc etc…all of it is going to leave me wondering what’s working and what isn’t.  Fortunately, my husband is ONLY changing one thing –  the addition of RS – so we’ll have a good idea of how well it works in a month or so.

Happy New Year, and thanks for reading!