Bicycling: Effects on Fasting Blood Glucose

Ok, I’ve been bicycling for 7 days now, attempting to lower my fasting blood glucose (FBG).  Before I get into whether or not this is having the desired effect, let’s look at my history of using this particular exercise to reduce FBG.

In the Spring of 2011, a good 9 months before entering the online world of nutrition gurus, I bicycled every day for a couple weeks.  At this time my blood sugar was in the pre-diabetic range.  I was eating a standard American diet (SAD), probably not much sugar, some starches, some processed food, diet coke every day, still eating gluten.  Here were the effects at that time of bicycling and tracking calories:2011 Blood Sugar

Now, I don’t recall exactly what “tracking calories” meant – I didn’t have a blog back then so I can’t revisit those dates and see what I was doing.  Knowing me though, I was trying to stick to around a 1500 calorie diet.  As you can see from the graph above, bicycling + tracking calories was a good thing – my FBG was in the 90s within a few days and in the 80s within about a week and a half.  I was biking for about 30 minutes at a time on flat terrain, moderate intensity – just enough to sweat and breathe a little harder but not enough to be exhausted. I stopped because I got sick (I don’t remember what with) and the temperatures outside soared to over 110 degrees.  Got out of the habit and didn’t restart.  Maybe because my diet was consistently making me depressed.

Fast forward to September 2013 – my next experiment with biking.  Here’s a graph of my FBG then:

2013 blood sugar

This was a month before I began my Peat-inspired lifestyle.  Fasting blood sugar at the time was mostly in the pre-diabetic range (under 126) with occasional higher spikes.  I began a “lower-cal diet” and bicycling, and continued with that for almost 2 weeks. “Lower-cal” at that time meant shooting for 1500 net calories (after exercise).  I remember being kinda hungry – but I didn’t really spend a lot of time researching low-calorie high-nutrient high-satiety foods at that time.  About 50% of my calories were in the form of fat, 25% protein, 25% carbohydrate.  Other than that, nutrients weren’t really on the radar yet.

During that time my blood sugar stabilized around 100 (a good 15 points lower), with dips into the 90s as early as 6 days into the program.  If I had continued the trend may have continued.  I stopped because my focus at that time was weight loss, and I wasn’t losing.  My temperature and pulse were dropping, and new-found information from Ray Peat world made me think my metabolism might be suffering.  So I stopped.

Ok, so now let’s look at today.  I’ve been bicycling with NO dietary change, for 7 days now.  As in the previous exercise programs I’ve been biking for 30 minutes or so, medium intensity, flat terrain.  Let’s look at the data:

FBG May 2014

Blood sugar is….remarkably stable.  And unchanged in the last week. NO CHANGE.  It may have been unrealistic for me to aim for the 90s within two weeks, considering my baseline level is higher now, but I would hope to see at least SOME movement in the right direction.

So what’s missing?

Well, the previous two times I biked regularly I was also counting calories, shooting for around 1500 calories per day.  Over the past week I haven’t been monitoring what I eat at all.  My weight is down a pound or so and I haven’t been overeating, but I haven’t been counting anything.  I tend to eat around 2200 calories a day when not attempting to reduce, so it’s safe to say I’ve been consuming at least that much.

So it appears that for me, blood sugar management is going to involve not just regular exercise but also a reduced-calorie diet.  I don’t know if it has anything at all to do with eating low-fat….just low-energy (calorie).  I’ll have to research ways to stay full.  Hunger has always been the obstacle to me sticking to a reduced calorie diet.

I’ve started counting calories today.  Will continue on with bicycling.

Score one for conventional wisdom.

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!

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.

My Body Is A Science Experiment

…and this experiment is failing.

Today I measured my blood sugar…every hour, from 8AM till 7PM, and documented what I ate, so I could learn the effect that my new higher-carb diet is having on my endothelium.  Well, I learned.  And it isn’t good.

8:00AM – Fasting blood sugar today was 138 mg/dL.

It’s been on the rise, and these days it’s high whether or not I eat starches.  I got up twice in the middle of the night last night and had a snack, trying to avoid the Dawn Phenomenon (stress hormones causing a large release of glucose into the blood).  Didn’t work…but it was better than yesterday!  Yesterday’s fasting blood sugar was 147.  These are the highest fasting blood sugar readings I’ve ever recorded…and I’ve been recording them with some regularity for the last 20 months or so.

8:45 AM – Breakfast: 5 grapes, milk with honey mixed in, 8oz of orange juice.  About 10 minutes later I realized there wasn’t much protein or fat there and I had 2 eggs scrambled in coconut oil. Here’s the breakdown of my breakfast:

  • Calories: 536
  • Protein: 22g (18% of calories)
  • Carbohydrate: 76g (54% of calories)
  • Fat: 17g (29% of calories)

9:45 AM – 1 hour after eating

  • Blood sugar: 295

WHAT?!?!

Holy Schnikeys!  I’ve never seen a number like that on my meter.  That’s like…really fucking high!  I washed my hands – cuz maybe there was a drizzle of honey stuck on my finger or something – and then tested again…still fucking high.

  • I felt fine, a little low energy.
  • Temp and pulse were good – 98.7 and 87, respectively.

10:45 AM – 2 hours after eating

  • Blood sugar: 186

Ok, now this is where I started to get worried.  It’s one thing to clobber my body with a bunch of simple sugars and have my 1-hour post-prandial reading be high (…or really fucking high…) but the 2-hour reading shouldn’t be over 140, even by pretty conservative standards.

Uh…hm.  I guess maybe I’m diabetic?

Well, there are ways to determine this for sure.  What a doctor will typically do, given my fasting blood sugar reading and my post-prandial sugar levels, is order a Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT).  This involves the patient ingesting 60 grams of easily-digestible carbohydrates and then measuring blood sugar every hour for the next 3 hours.  I had this done when I was pregnant at 28 weeks (and I failed…hello gestational diabetes).  Well, I don’t need no stinking doctor…I can measure out 60 grams of carbs and see what my body does for the next 3 hours.  And I’m going to do this tomorrow.  So stay tuned.

Ok, back to my freak out.

OMG OMG OMG…diabetic?  Like for reals diabetic?  Without the “pre-” in front of it?

Anyway, on with my day.

At this point I was questioning everything.  Maybe Ray Peat is brilliant but doesn’t really know shit about impaired blood sugar management?

11:45 AM – 3 hours after breakfast

  • Blood sugar: 112 (whew…at least I’m prolly not gonna die TODAY.)
  • Temp: 98.8
  • Pulse: 86
  • Blood pressure: 141/89
  • Felt ok, no hunger, low energy

12:00 Noon – Ate lunch.  Decided to do another test.  My body didn’t like simple sugars much so how about complex carbs?  Ate a really big meal of the following:  7oz boiled potatoes, 3 T. butter, 3 T. sour cream, an egg, and some cheese.  The meal was 52% fat, 39% carbohydrate, and 9% protein.  And a lot of calories.

1:00 PM – 1 hour after eating

  • Blood sugar: 94

Wha?  What the hell is that?  I’m diabetic dammit!  Where’s my 3-figure blood sugar reading?  Are potatoes some kind of miracle food that lowers blood sugar?

  • Temp and pulse remained steady at 98.6 and 88.
  • Felt ok, no hunger, a little lethargic.

2:00 PM – 2 hours after eating

  • Blood sugar: 133.

My notes next to this reading in my notebook say, “Weird.”

I guess it’s not that weird though…the huge amount of fat I put on the potato slowed the absorption of the sugar into my system.  Didn’t hit at one hour, it hit at 2 hours.  But even that hit is pretty mild.

3:00 PM – 3 hours after eating

  • Blood sugar: 125
  • Temp/pulse: 98.6/88
  • Hunger – 0

4:00 PM – 4 hours after eating

  • Blood sugar: 113
  • Temp/pulse: 98.8/84
  • Hunger – 0

5:00 PM – 5 hours after eating

  • Blood sugar: 102
  • Temp/pulse: 98.8/85
  • Hunger – 1

So summary up to this point:  Eating simple sugars gives me the blood sugar of a diabetic.  Eating potatoes with lots of fat keeps me satiated for 5 hours and doesn’t have much impact on blood sugar.  Not what I would have expected!  And then….

5:45 PM – Ate dinner.  More potatoes (4 oz), 1 T coconut oil, 1 T sour cream, and an egg.  The meal was 61% fat, 11% protein, and 27% carbohydrate.

6:45 PM – 1 hour after eating

  • Blood sugar: 161

Huh…well, maybe I needed to really douse those potatoes in fat the way I did at lunch to suppress the rise in blood sugar?  Whatever.  So confusing.  No fun when your experiments aren’t replicated.

Didn’t get to check my blood sugar at the 2 hour mark because I was putting my little girl to bed, but I checked about a half hour later.  it was 125.

Overall summary:  Simple sugars make me diabetic.  Potatoes aren’t magical after all.  Fat is magical but only in extremely large quantities.  Interestingly, the potatoes and massive quantities of fat were so satisfying I ate about 500 calories less today than yesterday, with no hunger.

Going Forward:  It’s time to get serious about managing my blood sugar.  I’m going to do the homemade GTT tomorrow, just to get a baseline, and then after that I’m going to be limiting carbohydrates to about 15g per meal. I’ll also be exercising most days – probably a combination of light cardio (e.g., walking) and lifting weights.  I’ll continue eating Peat-friendly foods, and I’ll continue tracking my temps and pulses.  If they suffer or if I start feeling depressed most days I’ll think about adding T3.

On a side note: One thing is for sure….No matter what, I’m going to keep eating liver.  My skin looks amazing!  Love that Vitamin A.  Old acne scars have even disappeared.

Will report the results of my Glucose Tolerance Test.

Today I’m thankful to have the time, the means, and the intellect to be able to experiment like this and interpret the results.  I’m a very fortunate person indeed.

Tomorrow is my favorite holiday.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Updates and Things Learned

Ok, a few updates first…

1.  Had Vitamin D testing done.  Back a couple years ago Jack Kruse told me that I’d know for sure if my daughter was going to have hormonal problems (like myself and my mother) by testing her vitamin D level to see if it was low.  So I bought an at-home test from zrtlab.com.  Didn’t realize I needed 12 friggen drops of blood though, and I could never bring myself to administer the test with her itty bitty finger.  So I finally decided to use it on myself.  My vitamin D level is currently 67, after about 5-6 months of supplementing 10,000 IU about 4 days a week.

2.  Acute health problems are better now.  Finally, after several consecutive colds, I’m almost all better.  It’s been over 3 weeks.  Its been difficult to evaluate all the Ray Peat inspired interventions when I’ve been feeling like crap for other reasons.

3.  High blood pressureAs I mentioned in previous posts, my blood pressure has been particularly troublesome lately.  It’s been going higher and higher – yesterday at one point it was 160/106.  Holy Schnikeys!  It has increased since following Ray Peat’s recommendations to add salt to everything, in an effort to cause a hormonal change that would result in lower BP.  Unfortunately, this has not been my experience. I think what’s going on is unrelated to the salt, however, and is instead related to consuming so much liquid.  Today I didn’t add salt to anything, and the first half of the day I didn’t drink a ton of milk/OJ/coffee – instead I ate cheese, and a little OJ, and no coffee.  Well, my BP was down to a more respectable 136/88 without medication this afternoon.  Then before dinner I drank 16oz of milk and had a small meal…and I was REALLY full.  Now my BP is up to 159/98.   I tried to add magnesium: oral supplements, magnesium oil, epsom salt baths….Sometimes BP was a little lower afterward, but usually it went even higher.  So my conclusion….I’m DONE with all of the following, until further notice:  adding salt to beverages, drinking meals, supplementing with magnesium.  I’ll continue to salt food to taste, but that’s it.

In other news, I’m still a little in love with Dr. Ray Peat.  I listened to 2 of his interviews yesterday (this one and this one) and the man is brilliant.

Some things I’ve learned are important (for me, anyway) when following Peat’s nutritional advice:

  • My meals must be balanced.  They have to include carbs, protein, and fat for best results.
  • For me, meals should be small – a couple ounces of protein/fat and 2-3 times as much sugar/carbs.
  • Meals must be frequent – like, every 2-3 hours.
  • For me, starches are out.  I don’t feel good when I eat them – my mood changes and my metabolism lowers.
  • It’s amazing what you can learn if you take your temperature and pulse before and after meals. (More info on this below.)
  • I’ve learned that regardless of what I eat before bed I make stress hormones the second half of the night.  Peat says that it can take some time for the liver to adjust and be able to store enough glycogen to sleep 8 hours without stress hormones kicking in.
  • I’ve noticed throughout my day that when the stress hormones are about to kick in I get slightly more irritable, I feel colder, and I stop wanting to talk to people.  What’s cool is since I’ve been eating sugar I am MUCH more interested in talking to people and playing for long periods of time with my little girl.

I took notes on Peat’s latest KMUD interview, which became available a few days ago.  It was a call-in show, but a lot of the content of the actual interview focused on Hashimoto’s, and later on the significance of temperature/pulse taking.  Disclaimer: These are not direct quotes from Ray Peat; this is me paraphrasing – and by definition that means it’s my interpretation of what RP said.  Also, I only listened once, so don’t quote me.

Here are the notes I took while listening.

Regarding Hashimoto’s:

  • Hashimoto (in Japan) became interested in this because people in Japan have a very iodine-rich diet which blocks the function of the thyroid gland, which causes an increase in TSH to overcome the blockage.  Rising TSH makes the gland work harder as the organism shows signs of decreasing thyroid function.
  • If part of the body is stressed, the immune system is called in.  What we call an autoimmune disorder is just the immune system trying to clean up a mess.
  • Measuring the “severity” of the disorder by how many antibodies are present is misguided.
  • What we really want is to get TSH down.  TSH itself causes many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, increasing inflammation.
  • T4 (Thyroxine) is the standard treatment for Hashis. This will suppress the TSH, though some people need T3 to suppress the pituitary.
  • Women have more thyroid disease than men – estrogen interferes with the liver’s ability to convert T4 to T3.  If liver isn’t converting effectively and you give them T4 to treat the hashi’s you’re going to exacerbate their hypothyroid state.
  • Therefore with women it’s likely to be better to treat with “complete hormone” (T4/T3 combo, I think he means.)

Re: Pulse/Temperature

  • Hypothyroid (which I’m going to call “hypoT”) people have low tissue metabolism – circulation to extremities can be relatively poor – therefore when taking temp also note how cold your extremities feel.   If your temp is at all low and your extremities feel cold, your metabolism is probably low.  Same if you can’t eat many calories without gaining weight.
  • Healthy people should evaporate about 2 quarts of fluid in a day.  HypoT people tend to retain water.
  • Pulse and temp of fingers/toes in a cool room are more sensitive indicators than temp alone.
  • An ideal measure of metabolic rate would be measuring O2 input and CO2 output.

Interpreting temperature/pulse:

  • High starting (basal) temperature and then temp falls after breakfast = Stress hormones overnight.  RP says he’s seen this in someone who alternated between depression and mania.  When manic, not sleeping much, her temp would fall (adrenaline).  RP suggested she take T3 to keep pulse/temp steadier throughout the day.  Within a few days she stabilized.
  • High temp and normal pulse rate = Cortisol could be high in order to get enough heat to the extremities.  If this happens, adrenaline is lower to allow heat to escape.  If temp falls after you eat, pulse will get slower still.
  • Low starting temp and it falls further after breakfast = stress hormones plus hypothyroidism.
  • Low starting temp that doesn’t change after eating = probably didn’t eat the right things.  If you get enough sugar, protein, nutrients, and if the thyroid is functioning at all the liver should start producing T3 and warm the body up.
  • Low pulse that rises after breakfast = “T3 is going up from eating some carbohydrate and increasing their general energy, their blood is circulating more.”  RP has seen this most often in women when higher estrogen is blocking thyroid.  They get cold when they get hungry.  When they eat they warm up, pulse increases.
  • High pulse that rises after breakfast = Too much protein, not enough carbs to balance it.  If you already have hypoglycemia, this makes it worse and causes a surge of adrenaline.  If you feel good when the pulse goes up, good things are happening in your body.  If it doesn’t feel good that’s from eating too much protein in relation to carbohydrate.
  • High pulse which is lower after breakfast = That’s the carbohydrate lowering the adrenaline.  Temp goes up, pulse goes down.  This is good.
  • If your temperature hasn’t stabilized by 10-11AM = In a hypothyroid person (especially woman with high estrogen and low progesterone) temp/pulse might both fall later in the morning, or adrenaline may kick in with fast pulse.
  • If temp doesn’t reach 98.6 or pulse never gets over 70 in the afternoon = probably not optimal, blood tests might show some problems – might have high TSH indicating that you’re driving endocrine system very hard.  When things are running smoothly endocrine system doesn’t have to work very hard, tissues do all the work.
  • RP says he’s worked with fat people who would wake up every hour/hour and a half.  RP got them to set alarms to wake themselves up before these wake time and eat carbs.  Within a week they were sleeping through the night and they began losing weight.  They were increasing their blood sugar.  The Dawn Phenomenon (high fasting blood sugar) is the stress hormones rising at night.
  • On average people have the greatest ability to resist stress, recuperate from injury if temp/pulse is a little above average.

Random questions from callers:

  • A caller asks about the effects of radiation re: Fukushima – Keep your metabolic rate up – this accelerates the repair process faster than the injury.  Stress creates signals from the injured cells that travel through the rest of your body.  Progesterone and thyroid are protective against radiation.  Magnesium is the element that is most closely involved in repairing radiation damage after thyroid is activated.
  • Caller asks if Valerian (for sleep) is habit forming – RP says it’s a safe thing to take but it can be habit forming.

Will update with blood pressure results while implementing my new plan.

Ups and Downs

I’m having some ups and downs with my Peat plan.

Yesterday I felt good when I woke up (well, aside from the nagging common cold that has consumed me for the past 3 weeks)…and then by bedtime my weight was up 5 pounds and my blood pressure had skyrocketed to 156/110.  I have no idea what caused that.  I didn’t eat a completely Peat-friendly diet – I ate at someone else’s home for dinner and couldn’t control what was served, but still I didn’t do too badly.  I didn’t eat as much salt yesterday as I have been for the last week or two…This is frustrating.

My weight has been wildly up and down, and there’s nothing to explain it other than water retention…due to…who knows what.  I’ve never gained and lost so much in such short periods of time.  I can go to bed and wake up 4 pounds lighter.  But then I’m 4 or 5 pounds heavier again that night.  I don’t feel good…but like I said I’ve been sick, and haven’t felt “good” for a while.

In all I’ve gained a pound or two of fat eating in accordance with Peat principles.  From what I understand that’s not unusual.  There are lots of hormonal changes that take place, particularly in the beginning, and particularly if you’re coming from a low-carb diet. Some people ride it out…a lot of people struggle and drop out.  It really is a lot to manage.  The only reason I can see to do it is that there are moments that just feel great – when I feel peaceful and alert, and it occurs to me that this is how things SHOULD feel.

Some positives though, are that my heart rate and temperature are up all the time now – my metabolism seems to have picked up.  I’m usually too warm actually, and I’ve been opening windows (which is weird in Wisconsin in November).  My waking temperature is usually about 98.0 and it usually gets up over 99 at some point in the day.  Heart rate is almost always in the 80s now, but sometimes in the 90s.

The blood pressure thing is killing me though.  I’m going to try upping magnesium to 1000mg/day plus epsom salt baths and see if that makes a difference.

Blood sugar has been in the neighborhood of 120 in the mornings.  Not great, but it was worse on low-carb.

That’s all I got today.

A Plant-Based Diet

About 6 days ago I wasn’t feeling so hot – physically or emotionally.  I was still frustrated by my most recent set of labs, in which I discovered a crazy-high hs-CRP, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol….basically everything has been going in the wrong direction for a really long time.  High blood pressure, high blood sugar, high BUN/Creatinine ratio… It’s all been a bit troubling.

For almost the last 2 years, I’ve been eating a lower-carb diet…sometimes very low.  I’ve been eating some form of meat or fish at least twice a day.  I’ve been off and on with dairy but I eat eggs almost every day.  The Paleo community says these are some of the staples of healthy living – meat, eggs, fat.  Many even advocate for a Ketogenic diet.  I did feel better when I started eating low-carb.  Not so sleepy.  More energy – not a ton, but more.

I got to thinking…If my labs have been going in the wrong direction, maybe it’s time to make a major change.  Try something else.  Something completely different.  Maybe the opposite of what I’ve been doing.

Last week I watched Forks Over Knives.  Usually movies promoting a plant-based diet are very emotional and difficult to watch, and involve footage of cows and chickens being tortured by the agriculture industry.  This one had none of that. It made a good and scientific case for giving up animal products for the benefit of your health.  It was very convincing.

Long story short…I am currently 5 days into a plant-based diet.  No meat of any kind, no dairy, no eggs.  I’m not calling it a “vegan” diet because this isn’t about veganism, per se, which has political undertones. It’s a 100% plant-based diet.  I’m giving myself 1 week to experiment with recipes and learn how to do this – and during this past week I’ve had some processed plant-based foods. Beginning Wednesday and for the next 4-5 weeks, it will be as close as I can possibly get to a whole-food plant based diet (food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives/preservatives or other artificial substances).  I’m also remaining gluten-free, which won’t be hard if I’m avoiding processed food.  Essentially, this is a high-carb, moderate-fat diet.  Lots of starches, fruits, and vegetables. Not much soy. Some folks with an M.D. after their name recommend a low-fat plant-based diet for health.  I’m not doing that.  My diet will continue to include coconut oil and olive oil.

At the end of the 4-5 weeks I’m going to get labs done – probably just a lipid panel to start, along with hs-CRP, to see if things are going in the right direction.  Depending on how that turns out I may do more labs. If things doesn’t improve I’ll know the meat isn’t to blame, and I’ll consider targeting something else.

Time for bed.  Sleeping well again since discontinuing the T3.  Updates tomorrow.

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.

N=1 Continued, Plus Some Good Stuff

#$&*%*& computer…

Why would my computer suddenly become doggedly slow…just in the last 2 days?  Stupid automatic updates…

Oh hi!

Ok, because my computer decided it was in charge this morning, I only have 6 minutes in which to report my many emotions, successes, and failures today, in relation to the Leptin Rx, CT, and Paleo lifestyle on which this blog is based.  Oh crap…now I only have 5 minutes because I wasted a whole minute writing that sentence.

CT last night rocked –  30 minutes at 50 deg F.  I would have stayed in longer, but I didn’t have time – had to put babykins to bed, and some things I just don’t want to miss.  Yesterday as she was lying in the dark trying to sleep she told me about her day.  “Playground…sandbox…swings…fun…kids…eggs…cottage cheese…”  She makes it all worth it.  Anyway…CT.  So it felt GREAT yesterday.  Yay!  I love that!  And I needed it because the last two baths were not so fun.  Also yesterday I had a cool experience.  I wasn’t hungry at all.  All day!  I wasn’t hungry before meals but ate anyway, because if I miss a meal I don’t get another opportunity to eat for a long time.  But lunch and dinner were on the lighter side.  My BAB yesterday was 10 (yes 10) ounces of grass-fed beef (in the form of a roast), and 1 TBS coconut oil melted in hot tea.  It lasted me all day and was wonderful.

Here’s something else cool…take a look at my fasting blood glucose numbers:

This morning I was back to the 80s again.  Love that!  I hope my glucometer is accurate, but even if it’s not, the trend shows great improvement over the past few months.  Interesting how it spiked again when I started CT.  I love science!

Off to work.

More Plans

I’ve started Project Empty Freezer.  We’ll be eating salmon and chicken this week.

In addition to the plans outlined in the previous post, I’ll be doing the following, for at least a while, maybe longer:

  • Keeping data on my moods at the end of each day, using a 0-3 Likert-type scale (e.g., 0 = terrible mood, depressed, crying, arguing with people, while 3 = great mood, feeling high on life, that kind of thing.) I’m doing this to collect baseline data so I have some objective information when the time comes to address my hormonal problems.
  • Tracking what I eat.  I’m not going to be obsessive about this, and I’m not going to be counting calories or grams of anything.  I really just want to see what makes me feel good and what doesn’t make me feel good.

So I’ll be starting these things today, in addition to the variables I already track (fasting blood glucose, weight, and various labs periodically).

I’m happy to be home and back into my routine today.  Had a BAB of sirloin steak and eggs sauteed in coconut oil.

During travel yesterday I was doing some reading on Dr. Kruse’s forum and blog, and I’ve been reminded that I have a fat storage problem, most likely related to my hormones being out of balance. I do NOT have a character flaw that involves being a pig and eating too much.  I’m doing the best I can to address it, but it’s going to take a while to fix this.  I’m learning as I go.

Here are some things I’ve learned lately that I’ve been pondering:

1.  Colder is better.  Much more happens when you CT at temps below 60.

2.  Emotions are chunks of chemicals swimming around together.  When these chemicals have been stored in fat and are released, or when any emotional reaction strikes out of the blue, it’s again NOT a character issue.  This is your body reacting to a chunk of chemicals.  It’s important to stop adding judgment to it.

3.  I’m never going to be able to do what other people do.  The sooner I accept this the better.  I spend a certain amount of time wondering why I can’t eat what my husband eats and still feel good…why I can’t take the easier way out, just one day, and get away with it.  I just can’t.  I don’t get to eat carbs.  I feel like crap when I eat them.  End of story.

Off to work this morning.

Thank you, to those of you that stop by to read this.  You make me feel like I have partners in my quest for health.  I really appreciate you.