Low Carb Fail And A Good Day

Funny story.

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

anhedonia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next time:  Resistant Starch – 1 month update!

I Am a Robot

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

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

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

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

It’s fairly amazing.

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

I now accept that I have no free will.

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.

Ray Peat Is Awesome

I have been wanting to write this post for 2 days but my daughter has been sick…and when she’s sick she’s not sleeping and then I’m not sleeping.  So I’ve been out of my routine.  But still really excited to write this post.

The things I’m learning are CRAZY.  I mean CRAZY.  Everything I thought I knew about nutrition was undone when I went low carb.  I learned that saturated fat was good (not bad!) and that high cholesterol does not mean I’m statin-deficient.  I learned that people and companies and even entire governments lie and the lies continue on and on and on for decades until an entire nation is fat and blaming their mother for their fatness. I learned that calories in/out is not how you get fat or thin.  I learned that I shouldn’t feel ashamed of my body because I didn’t have the right information to help myself get healthy.  It wasn’t that I “lacked motivation,” was “sabotaging” myself, or was doing any of those other things popular psychology makes us think about ourselves when we’re overweight.

I lived pretty happily eating low carb/Paleo for a while.  About 6 months, actually.  And then it stopped being easy and it stopped working.  I started having cravings and finding it impossible to stick to for any stretch of time.  I gained 20 pounds and have been unable to lose them.  I didn’t blame the diet though, I blamed myself for coping poorly with a very stressful situation.  Well, I was wrong.  A low-carb diet just isn’t good long term.  It comes with a very high metabolic price tag.

And NOW, well, now I’m learning that there are even MORE misconceptions about health and nutrition.  Here are some of the Low-Carb/Paleo rules that I’ve recently learned are simply not true:

  1. Sugar is bad.
  2. Dairy is bad.
  3. Fructose is bad.
  4. A ketogenic diet rocks.

Sugar gets a bad rep because it eats up nutrients really quickly (raises your metabolism) and if you don’t have a nutrient-rich diet you’re going to have problems (like, acne, cavities, heart palpitations).  Dairy is a great source of macronutrients and micronutrients and also raises the metabolism. Fructose is an excellent (and low-glycemic) source of carbohydrate and when eaten as fruit or juice it comes with an array of important nutrients.  A ketogenic diet may work for losing weight (it didn’t for me, but it does for some folks)…but over time it results in suppression of the thyroid making a loss almost impossible to maintain and remain healthy.

So what causes people to gain weight and become unhealthy?  Dr. Peat says the answer is stress hormones.  When you don’t give your body the basic nutrition it needs (e.g., depriving it of what it needs to make glucose for energy) it adapts to keep you alive by raising stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline, and others, which effectively slow down the metabolism to cope. Other types of stress also raise stress hormones – emotional stress, allergies, exposure to cold (yeah, I said it).

But here’s probably the coolest thing I’ve learned lately.  Those following Ray Peat’s wisdom gauge their metabolic health in part by measuring their temperatures and heart rates (HR) throughout the day. By doing this I’ve learned something very interesting.  When I eat something that causes physiological stress my temperature drops over the next hour – usually a degree or so.  Typically that is paired with an increase in HR and an unpleasant mood change/fatigue. I’m learning that these are classic signs that stress hormones have increased in my system…and that as long as stress hormones run the show I’m going to remain overweight and unhealthy.

I tested pork chops – major temp drop and heart rate increase, plus my throat and eyes became itchy and my nose ran.  It actually caused a histamine response (which increases inflammation!).  Having never had that reaction from pork before I asked my friends on the Ray Peat Facebook page what was going on.  The answer I got was this: when you start eating a non-inflammatory diet and then introduce something crappy, you’ll be much more sensitive to it.   Huh…really?  So what else is my body hating on?

I tested beef – just regular supermarket beef – not grass-fed.  Yes…a temperature drop and my throat got itchy.  I tested table sugar, coconut sugar, orange juice, milk, cheese – all of these brought my temperature up and increased heart rate somewhat – indicating an increase in metabolism (good!).  Brown rice pasta =  temp drop, increase in HR = stress hormones (plus I felt tired).  I tested candy corn, which I thought would be a thumbs up because it’s mostly sugar, but it made me feel like killing someone, plus my temp dropped and heart was racing.  Stress hormones.  I tested chocolate with soy lecithin in it – temp and HR stayed the same, so maybe a mildly poor reaction, as I would expect a temp increase from the sugar.

Well, I’m done experimenting for now.  All of the things Ray Peat says to eat have caused a positive reaction, and all the things he says to avoid (grains, additives, industrial meats) caused a poor reaction.  I think the man knows what he’s talking about.  When I just eat dairy (milk, cheese), orange juice, eggs, sugar, and salt I feel awesome!  My energy level is high and I feel happy and peaceful.  (There’s certainly more to it than just those few foods – I’ll get into protein sources in another post.)

I’ve just started tracking what I eat so I’ll give a macronutrient breakdown in a future post as well.

Orange Juice: The Good, The Bad, the Disguised Grapefruit

Not all orange juice is created equally.

Well, that’s not completely true – I suppose all OJ is “created” equally, to the extent that it’s “created” in the first place, but industry really mucks it all up.  Ray Peat recommends drinking lots of milk and orange juice (ideally 2 quarts of milk and 1 quart of OJ daily). He states the following:

A daily diet that includes two quarts of milk and a quart of orange juice provides enough fructose and other sugars for general resistance to stress, but larger amounts of fruit juice, honey, or other sugars can protect against increased stress, and can reverse some of the established degenerative conditions.

I haven’t talked much about Peat’s theories on nutrition and health, but suffice it to say the conclusions that he’s drawn (including the one above) are all directed toward increasing metabolism and decreasing physiological and metabolic stress.  I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this at some point, but I’m still learning and don’t want to get it wrong.

Anyway, it sure would be nice to be able to just waltz on into the local megalomart and buy a half gallon of Tropicana and call it a day, wouldn’t it?  Plunk down $3 and be good for at a few days?  Doesn’t work like that.  I don’t know if this happens to everyone but over the last 2 weeks I was having serious digestive problems every time I would drink commercial OJ.  I did some research and found out that the OJ industry uses all kinds of additives and enzymes to get the juice to look and taste the way it does.  In some, an enzyme is added to juice to dissolve the pulp, thus producing “pulp free” OJ. Also, if the juice is from concentrate it’s probably got fluoridated water added to it. This list has been helpful for discerning exactly what I’m drinking.

So I was getting discouraged – every kind I tried gave me problems – even the Trader Joe’s Organic Pulp-Free Not From Concentrate juice, which the above list indicates does not include flavor packs, enzymes, or other ickys.  The only OJ I’ve been able to ingest without problems has been fresh-squeezed.  A couple of experiments I haven’t tried yet are buying juice that’s sold in glass – maybe it’s something in the paper/plastic container that causing me problems?  Another tip from a Ray Peat Facebook fan group was to add baking soda to reduce the acidity.  Hm…maybe.  Anyway, I haven’t tried those things yet.

So I’ve been squeezing fresh oranges…which isn’t cheap.  At the local store it costs $5-6 for a bag of 10 oranges, which yields about 2 quarts of OJ.  That’s 2 days worth for one person, but my husband drinks it too…so if each of us drank a quart a day (which he probably won’t do…at least not at first), that’s a $180/month beverage habit!  I need to just get over that though, because I’ll be eating a lot less of other things (like meat).  Still trying to get past my low-carb/epi-paleo brainwashing that says sugar – and especially FRUCTOSE is the devil’s work.  I’ll take some time.

A tip from me to you…don’t try to buy cheap oranges at Aldi thinking you’ll be getting a great deal, at $4 a bag.  I juiced two bags of Aldi oranges into one big bowl today.  Got it partitioned out into pint-sized Ball jars…and then drank some.  It tasted terrible…like grapefruit.  At least some of those “oranges” were NOT oranges (although they were orange).  Had to dump the whole thing.  Lesson learned.

There’s truly no way to skimp on your health.