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.

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!

A Day In the Life of My Physiology

Today I kept track of everything I ate, when I ate it, how I felt physically, and my temps/pulses so I could identify patterns.  I’ve learned a few things.  But first, the data:

6:00 AM Wake up:

  • Temp: 97.9 deg F
  • Pulse: 76
  • Breakfast: 2 oz cheese, 8 oz orange juice, 1 Tbs coconut sugar (mixed into the juice)

7:15 AM – 1 hour later:

  • Temp: 97.9
  • Pulse: 75

So, unchanged.  In an interview I heard last week, Ray Peat said temps/pulse unchanged after eating breakfast indicates too much protein/not enough carbohydrate to get the thyroid going.  Ok, then.  I wasn’t hungry at this point but I then ate the following:

7:15 AM – More breakfast – 8 oz skim milk with 1 Tbs coconut sugar added

8:10 AM – 1 hour later:

  • Temp: 98.1
  • Pulse: 80

Well, I guess that helped a little…temp is still a little low for me.  So….

8:15 AM – More breakfast – 1 Tbs honey

9:00 AM (45 mins later):

  • Temp: 99
  • Pulse: 80

Ok, that’s more like it.  But geez.  That means my total breakfast was 566 calories, 23g protein, 80g carbs, 19g fat.  Lesson learned: in order to wake up my thyroid for the day I need 3-4 times as much carbohydrate as protein.  Now all of this would be great…those are reasonable calorie and macronutrient totals for a meal…except then….

…then I started getting hungry.

Up till this point I wasn’t particularly hungry but I was eating to raise my temperature (and in the process shut off stress hormones – primarily cortisol – from overnight.)

At 9:45 my hunger shot up to a 4 (out of 5 – my own personal Likert scale).  So I ate 4 oz orange juice and 1/2 ounce of cheese.

At 10:10 AM (a half hour later):

  • Temp: 98.6
  • Pulse: 74
  • Hunger = 2

Pulse/temp were dropping a bit.

I was getting tired of being hungry so I ate some sausage.  Meat always kills my hunger.  But then I realized, Oh Nos! If I eat too much protein and not enough carb my temp will drop further and stress hormones will turn on!

…so I ate 2 tsp of coconut sugar.

At 10:45 I felt exhausted.  And still hungry.  Ate grapes and cheese.  Took supplements and some caffeine.

11:30 AM:  Still hungry.  Ate homemade blueberry gelatin.  (protein + sugar + nutrients…perhaps the perfect food?)

12:00 Noon – Still hungry.  Tired of being hungry.  Ate eggs and didn’t even bother adding a carbohydrate.  I just wanted the hunger to end.

1:00 PM:  Hunger much better now (probably from the eggs squashing it like a bug).

  • Temp: 98.6
  • Pulse:88

Fine…whatever.  Let’s just think about something else now, ok?

1:45 PM:

  • Temp: 98.9
  • Pulse: 87
  • Hunger: 0

2:00 PM – laid down for a nap with my daughter.

2:40 PM: Woke up with a startle, heart pounding hard.  (<– classic sign of adrenaline turning on.  Not enough sugar in body.)

  • Temp: 98.0
  • Pulse: 90

Got up and ate grapes, honey, milk, and a little cheese

3:40 PM

  • Temp: 99.4
  • Pulse: 94

Wow!  My body really liked that grape/milk/honey/cheese combo.  An hour after eating it I was all toasty warm in our 66 degree home.  I felt great too.

For the rest of the afternoon I felt pretty good.  Finished the day off with liver for dinner and some chocolate.  Today’s macronutrient breakdown was as follows:

  • Calories: 2355
  • Protein: 131g (24%)
  • Carbs: 240g (39%)
  • Fat: 99g (37%)

What did I learn today?

1.  My body doesn’t know what the hell to do with sugar.  Concensus among Peatarians is that you have to give your body time – months or even years – to fix what’s broken.  Can I be patient?  Yes.  Will I change anything in the meantime to keep from making myself absolutely insane?  Yes.  Modifications in the meantime will be as follows:

  • No more white sugar or coconut sugar for a while.  There are nutrients in fruit that support the metabolism in ways plain sugar just doesn’t.  So I’ll stick to juice, whole fruit, and some honey for carbohydrates.
  • I’ll increase dairy, which is a more complete food in itself.  That way I don’t have to spend a lot of energy trying to match the perfect amount of carbohydrate with the perfect amount of protein.  I think I’ll also increase milk and decrease cheese.  Too many calories in cheese.

2.  I have almost no idea how to decrease calories (in order to lose weight) without causing stress hormones to increase and undermine my efforts.  When I’m hungry, I’m going to eat.  If I don’t eat, adrenaline will increase and I’ll stay fat.  I just need to keep fiddling with this and find a way to eat in which I’m not so hungry.  Maybe more protein in the morning and less carb?  Maybe a big-ass breakfast (BAB) that’s 50% carb, 25% protein and 25% fat?  Dunno.  Maybe be patient and let my body heal.

3.  This chick is pretty amazing.  Emma Sgourakis is a Peat-expert in Australia, and I love this article she wrote about sugars.  I’ll need to read it several times, but it made some things very understandable.  Must read more of her blog.

So anyway… all this data: Will I do this every day?

No.

But I might do it again.

Updates and Psychological Challenges

I had an ultrasound yesterday as a preventative measure to detect ovarian cancer.  In order to get the test covered by insurance, my PCP had to write on the form that she “couldn’t find” my ovaries during my pelvic exam last week, making an ultrasound necessary.  This tells me that my insurance would rather pay to treat cancer than pay to prevent it.  Health care is not best served by Capitalism.  Anyway…had the ultrasound.  Don’t have results yet.  I don’t expect anything to be wrong, but you know…Dr. K. said I was at high risk, and typically ovarian cancer is well advanced by the time it’s detected.

Got some blue-blocker glasses to wear at night.  It’s so not a big deal…not sure why I waited this long.  I used them last night.  Slept well, but then I usually do.

About every other day or so my appetite is really low these days…like I can go 8 hours between breakfast and lunch.  Some days though I’m still getting hungry at (or before) regular meal times.  Yesterday I was starving and it was still an hour or so before lunch.  Ate all the kid-snacks I happened to have in my purse, which are all Paleo-friendly but higher in carbs than I typically eat.  Oh well.  It’s hard to plan snacks on the go when one doesn’t eat any snack foods.   I suppose I could bring meat and vegetables for a snack.  Not. Convenient.

Yesterday I was a little weepy toward the end of the day.  Maybe some of this estrogen is actually soaking through my skin the way it’s supposed to.  Weepy = too much estrogen.  Bitchy = not enough estrogen.  Interesting.  I’m not a jerk after all!  When I look back on my life I realize I may have never been depressed at all.  Just weepy and bitchy…which are symptoms of depression, of course…but also symptoms of screwed up hormones.  I remember as far back as age 14 being depressed.  I was terribly lonely much of my life.  Hard to separate out the emotional effects of loneliness vs. depression vs. hormone junk.  What I do know is that it was never managed well.

I read this a couple days ago:

Tension is who you think you should be.  Relaxation is who you are. – Chinese Proverb

It was actually on Dr. K’s Facebook wall.  It got me thinking, and indeed the times in my daily life that I feel tense are times that I think I need to hide who I really am in favor of who I think I should be.  I’m going to challenge this tendency to hide out, using physiological tension and relaxation as a guide.  If I find myself feeling tense, I’m going to ask myself in what way I’m not being true to myself in that moment.  And then I’m going to fix it.

I suspect a lot of my cortisol issue is related to this…to feeling like I have to be something I’m not every time I step out of the house.  To feeling like there’s something wrong with me that has to be covered up.  I find it exhausting.  I’ve felt that way ever since I was 14 and felt truly alone for the first time.  Fortunately I feel I can be myself at home, with my husband and little girl.  I just need to generalize this to the greater world.

A new challenge.

Hope

So what’s been going on the last two days?

The Good (I’m really excited about the Good):

  • I found a physician’s assistant (PA) that does BHRT using the Wiley Protocol.  Her office is about 2 hours away from me  The best part about it is that she’s covered under my insurance!  I didn’t expect that.  Maybe this won’t be as expensive as I thought it would be.  The other awesome part is that I have an appointment scheduled for Tuesday.  I don’t know yet if she has a problem doing BHRT for someone who is still menstruating (Dr. K thought this might be an obstacle for me).  I do have an email in to her so I hope to hear back before I make the trek over there.  I’m glad I put a hold on the CT – if new labs are ordered I want them to be real…not swimming with estrogen from detox.  In fact, I may not have stopped soon enough.
  • Stressors are gradually exiting my life. We just got rid of a car I didn’t like (it was a gas hog) and bought a used Prius.  Yeah!  Sell house – check.  Sell car – check.  Find more time in the day to get things done – check.  Start doing yoga – hm…maybe today.  Get consulting work done – er…avoid.
  • My food journal has been really helpful.  The most useful part is the checking in an hour or two after eating to see how I’m feeling.  I didn’t used to do that, and now I’m identifying patterns I might have missed before.  Examples:  Dairy = GI issues, I’m tired after most meals, regardless of the quality of food (hello, adrenal fatigue), and green tea makes me hungry.  Hm.  Very interesting.
  • Got the Hormones webinar working over at Dr. Kruse’s site.  It’s really pretty chock full of information.  Haven’t had time to listen to the whole thing yet.  Maybe today during Baby’s nap.

The Bad

  • My blood sugar started climbing again as soon as I stopped doing CT.  It’s now over 100 again.
  • I’ve really started paying attention to the ways in which I’ve come to accommodate adrenal fatigue.  I just take a caffeine pill every day…as if that’s normal.  IT’S NOT NORMAL TO NEED STIMULANTS IN ORDER TO FUNCTION.  Oh sorry…didn’t mean to yell.  Sometimes I have to yell at myself because I can be…well…a little avoidant.  Also, the hypoglycemia that I’ve been battling for the last few years – another symptom of adrenal fatigue.  I used to just eat my way through it and now I’m trying very hard not to snack.  I think the CT may really help with this, in the long term, and I’m looking forward to getting back to it.  I also need to learn to manage stress…first of all by staying away from stressors, and secondly by dealing with it better when it’s unavoidable.  Currently I do neither.
  • I started chugging green tea (as Dr. Kruse recommended to me)…but I started feeling hungry all the time.  Like, 2-3 hours after my BAB I’m getting hungry.  I don’t  understand it.  I had the same experience when I was drinking coffee…and I’m pretty sure it was high quality coffee.  Nobody else I know gets hungry from drinking coffee and drinking tea.  Why do I?  I don’t know.  I asked Dr. Kruse on his forum why this might be and the answer was “stimulates cortisol.”  Hm…well, caffeine pills don’t do this to me, so it’s not the caffeine.  I don’t know…but I know I don’t like it.  Avoid.  I’ll probably go back to drinking water and take yet another supplement in the form of green tea extract.  What the hell…what’s one more pill.
  • Still having a weird reaction to putting a hold on CT.  Hot flashes and sweating mostly, but also crying about things I don’t normally cry about.  It is 100 degrees here so I don’t know how much that’s contributing…but my temperature regulation definitely appears to be off.  It’s like my body is saying, “I’m ready to go!  Where’s the water!”

Time to go and enjoy the 5 more minutes of me-time before Baby wakes up.

I’m really excited about Tuesday!  I hope the PA will work with 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.

Cold Bath #4

No time to write today, but a quick update.  Got the big tub set up in the basement, and it was fabulous!  Much roomier.  Had a 20 min bath last night, water started at 57 deg F, and was 61 a the end.  I was able to submerge to include upper back and arms (but kept hands out).  Felt good.

Blood sugar is back up again…could be released toxins I suppose, causing inflammation.  Haven’t had mood problems (or just a wee little one yesterday, but I was also hungry) since adding Progesterone a week ago.  My hunger increased yesterday – I could only go 4 hours instead of 6 after breakfast, without eating.

Have to go to work.  Wish I had a couple more hours in the day.

 

CT – Day 2

Just finished my second CT session.  I again used the Cryo Cuff that I mentioned in my last post.  I did three 6-minute exposures to cold, as follows:

Starting:

  • Face: 95 degrees F
  • Cuff: 46 degrees F

After 6  minutes:

  • Face: 64 degrees F
  • Cuff: 48 degrees F

After another 6 minutes:

  • Face: 64 degrees F
  • Cuff: 54 degrees F

After another 6 minutes:

  • Face: 67 degrees F
  • Cuff: 60 degrees F

So it doesn’t really look like I’ll be able to get my skin temp low enough using this fun contraption, although as I mentioned I do like that I can breath while doing the CT and I don’t have to get all wet.  Tomorrow I’ll do actual face dunks.

So regarding the Bulletproof Coffee experiment…It did not help me with hunger at all.  I ate the same breakfast I would have eaten without the 500+ calorie coffee, and still got really hungry 6 hours later.  I also didn’t feel terribly energetic.  Maybe because I was using crappy coffee beans.  I’m looking forward to try the official “Upgraded Coffee“.

I don’t think I’ll be counting calories after all.  I’m too busy, and frankly, I don’t feel like it.

I have a cold.

And I have to work.

Till tomorrow.

Leptin Rx: Week 4, Day 5

I feel like I have a lot to say today.  Maybe I just have a lot of energy so I’m feeling chatty.  I think it’s interesting that when I was just eating low-carb I felt tired all the time and had all kinds of cravings.  Here are the difference as I see them between my low-carb lifestyle (a la Atkins) and now:

  • Low Carb:  I ate something early in the morning but was usually hungry again by 9:30AM or so.  I don’t think I was eating enough.
  • Now: I’m eating as soon as I wake up, between 50 and 75g of protein.  I start getting hungry about 6 hours after eating breakfast. If I can’t eat right away though, it’s no big deal.  I can put off hunger for 1-2 hours by drinking water.
  • Low Carb: I was also kind of eating low fat.  I still believed animal fat was evil, so I was eating a lot of low-fat boneless skinless chicken breast.  I was worried that saturated fat caused heart disease, so I went easy on the butter too.
  • Now: I’m actually adding fat to my green tea.  It’s insanity!
  • Low Carb: No tropical oils.  Saturated fat was evil.
  • Now: I’m downing coconut oil and Nutiva’s Coconut Manna at an amazing clip.  I calculated I consume about 3 oz per day of the manna, and 2-3 Tbs a day of coconut oil.  Yay for healthy and nutritious saturated fat!
  • Low Carb: I was snacking all the time.
  • Now: No snacks. 3 meals. Period.
  • Low Carb: I was tired all the time.  I came home from work and wanted to sleep.
  • Now: I have a ton of energy.  I wish I had more waking hours to do all the things that are interesting to me right now.  I have to prioritize.
  • Low Carb: I drank cans of diet soda or coffee with sugar-free sweetener throughout the day.  I didn’t like drinking water.  I needed a lot of caffeine to stay awake and alert.
  • Now: I have 1/2 of a caffeine pill in the morning (100mg), and maybe some green tea in the afternoon.  I sometimes forget the caffeine pill and I’m fine.  I do still like caffeine though, and feel a little better if I take it.
  • Low Carb: With all the caffeine in me from the diet pop, I usually didn’t feel like going to bed until 11 or 12…and I was losing sleep all week because of it.  My mood was foul a lot of the time.
  • Now: I go to bed when I’m tired, usually around 9:30 or 10:00.  I miss the time I had to myself when I stayed up late, but I do feel better throughout the day, not being so sleep-deprived.
  • Low Carb: Lots of cheese
  • Now: About 1oz of cheese 3-4 times of week.  Otherwise no dairy.
  • Low Carb: Lots of nightshades
  • Now: Very few nightshades…maybe 1-2 oz of chopped tomatoes that show up on a salad at a restaurant 1x a week.  Dr. K. says nightshades cause a leaky gut.  I have a personal problem with the term “leaky gut.”  Why don’t they call it “leaky intestine” or “leaky colon.”  Then maybe it wouldn’t sound so “woo” like.

I do have much more energy now.  I now come home from work and have the energy to play with my daughter – for 2 hours sometimes – whereas I used to need a nap or a long break from social interaction.

Mood.  My husband and I were just talking about changes he’s seen in me since I stared eating a Paleo diet and following the Leptin Reset.  He said to me, “You have no idea how crazy you were.”  Apparently my mood swings were fairly extreme.  I don’t remember it that way, but…well, he’s probably right.  And I was taking antidepressants then.  Now I’m off of the meds and feeling positive every day.