Low Fat/High Carb Day 9

On day 9 now of high carbohydrate (white rice, white sugar, whole fruit), moderate protein (low fat meats, oxtail broth daily), low fat (just what’s in the meat).  So far I’ve lost an inch on my waist, my energy is good, and my fasting blood sugars are under 110.  Take a look:

FBG

Interesting, isn’t it?  But the media says sugar is causing my diabetes!!!!!!!!

Oh well.  I’m learning that nothing anyone says has anything to do with me at all.  Sort of a metaphor for life, really.

I’m having a lab draw this week to look at lipids and HbA1C.  I guess we’ll see how this is affecting my triglycerides.  Last time I ate a lot of sugar over a long period of time my triglycerides reached 500, but I was also eating a lot of cheese and other fat and had a net positive energy balance (i.e., eating =/> my body needed for survival, as evidenced by weight gain).  Labs right now won’t tell me much after only a week and half, but hopefully it will be an indicator of whether or not I’m on the right path.

My family situation is causing me stress, of course.  This is the first time I’ve felt serious emotional stress that is not CAUSED by endotoxin in about 18 months.  My friends at Nourish Balance Thrive always recommended the Headspace for stress management.  I’m going to start using it.  I have historically had a really hard time with meditation.  I’ve participated in lots of meditation groups, classes and even retreats, and always the actual sitting and trying to control my mind was really difficult.  Probably an indicator that it’s something I need to work on.

Seeking Euphoria

I wrote to Ray Peat tonight.  I’ve hesitated bothering him with my health problems, but who knows – maybe he likes to be bothered.  I took a chance.

What’s been on my mind is that I felt really good earlier this year when I was eating fruit/juice/sugar throughout the day, as well as following the other Peat-recommendations. I knew what it was like to feel happy for the first time in my life…or at least since I was a little kid.  I’ve seen Peat quoted as saying,

The production of euphoria has been mentioned as a side effect, but I think euphoria is simply an indication of a good physiological state.

At the time a few months ago I didn’t think of it in those terms….I just knew that’s what happiness felt like.  No depression.  No anxiety.  No body image insecurity.  No negative self talk.  I would be driving in my car, and just be enjoying the day.  It was great.

Well, I got freaked out by my labs at the end of April, including triglycerides over 500, and cholesterol over 300, certainly related to consuming sugar.  I started looking for alternatives.  I tried the Perfect Health Diet, I’ve tried eating only protein/fat/vegetables/dairy, I’ve recently added starches back in my diet…my labs have improved and I feel fine I guess…but I still don’t have that HAPPY feeling.  So I wrote to Peat tonight to tell him about my problem with triglycerides and cholesterol, because I’m motivated to eat fruit/juice/sugar again – I think that’s what made the difference last Spring.  Thankfully, he wrote back already.  Here’s his answer:

High cholesterol compensates for low thyroid, keeping your pregnenolone, progesterone, and DHEA up. Sugar allows you to dispose of free fatty acids by turning them into triglycerides for storage. Free fatty acids activate stress hormones, which in turn cause the synthesis of fatty acids, even from the breakdown of amino acids, derived from protein by the action of cortisol. When cholesterol is that high, it’s almost always because of low thyroid activity, and stored PUFA are probably the commonest cause of that. I think free fatty acids, and their degree of unsaturation, would be the most meaningful blood lipids to test, but it’s easier to test for cholesterol and triglycerides.

Sounds like I’m an unsaturated mess.  I think what he’s saying is that I’ve probably got so much stored unsaturated fat from years of eating CRAP, and when these free fatty acids  are released they activate stress hormones, which then causes more fatty acids to be released in a vicious cycle.  Sugar stops this cycle by increasing triglycerides.  So the fact that trigs are high is a sign there’s something wrong – my body is literally swimming in PUFAs – but the trigs are high because they’re trying to protect me from them.  The happy feeling then might be the lowering of stress hormones.  Of course, thyroid function is also impaired by the sea of PUFAs inside me, which doesn’t help.

So I definitely had some intestinal dysbiosis, causing inflammation which was probably increasing cortisol…also due to a CRAP diet for so many years – I mean, how many decades did I eat pasta 328 times a week?? – and all of my stored PUFAs are also causing stress hormones to be released…that’s a lot of stress hormones.

Maybe how I feel right now – this sort of neutral, unemotional, functional-but-not-particularly-happy feeling I’ve had for the last 2 weeks – is how it feels when depression is gone but stress hormones are still high.  It’s better than depression…but I want the HAPPY back.  I guess I’m getting greedy.

I’m going to give niacinamide and aspirin another go.  Last time I tried them I got discouraged because the day I started taking them I started also having hot flashes.  Completely unrelated, I now realize.  Given what Peat says about FFAs causing my high triglycerides, it makes sense to use them.

If what Peat says is true, I’m likely to have FUBAR labs for the next 4 years or so, as long as it takes to detoxify all the stored PUFA in my body, while maintaining a low PUFA diet. I should probably stop trying to treat lab results, and just trust the process a little.  I’m not going to go crazy with sugar.  Just enough, to start…maybe I’ll try to focus on having distinct meals that are well balanced with protein/fat/carb, rather than winging it and grazing all day, chasing my blood sugar through ups and downs.  After a couple weeks of niacinamide/aspirin I may try to supplement thyroid hormone again.

Stream of Consciousness

After eating starches for a few days – some potatoes one day, a cup of brown rice pasta another day, and some homemade gluten-free bread another day, I spent the last 4 or 5 days being depressed, irritable, and tired.  I turned off the starch spigot 2 days ago, and last night I finally started to feel better.  Still have a short fuse though.

My body is sick.

I started feeling sick around December 2012 (here’s a random post from around that time, but there are many like it), when I was in the midst of a very stressful time in my life and was trying to maintain my health on a low-carb diet.  I now realize that that was just stupid.  The human body needs carbohydrates for fuel – especially when it’s stressed, as stress devours nutrients.  Low carb folks don’t realize this, however, because they do fine – great, even – for 6 months or a year, they lose weight, it’s all very rewarding.  And then at some point it catches up.  They’re cold all the time, they stop sleeping well, they become tired and their bodies stop fighting infections well.  I lurk over at Jack Kruse’s site sometimes and of the 5 or 10 long term followers still hanging out in the forums there, most are having worsening health problems.  They refuse to question the good doctor though.  They believe him when he says it’s their “zip code” that’s the problem (all of the EMF, you know), and several of them are planning out of state moves – uprooting their kids, quitting their jobs.  Because Jack Kruse said to!  They’re ignoring all information to the contrary, blaming themselves for their health problems rather than blaming the TERRIBLE ADVICE THEY’RE GETTING.

EAT SOME CARBS, DAMMIT!

It’s easy to sit and judge from outside, but I know I’ve fallen into the same trap.  I’ve gotten caught up in what someone is saying and I stop listening to the messages my body is sending.  I followed the low-carb path out of habit long after it stopped feeling good.

I was feeling great on a Peat-inspired high-carbohydrate (high-sugar) diet for a few months.  I felt happy – free of depression and anxiety for the first time…ever.  It was great.  I thought anxious was my personality.  Nope.  It wasn’t.  I know that now because I’ve seen what it’s like to not have it.  The last time I felt that way was about 2 weeks ago.  I remember watching my daughter play and having that feeling – that great feeling of “there’s nothing wrong.”  Even my bad body image takes a break during these periods of time, which last only a few hours. I look back my diet log in Cronometer and around then I was eating a high sugar, moderately low-fat diet at the time, no starches.

Well, that’s great, except my diabetes is probably causing endothelial damage as we speak…and of course then there’s the rising triglycerides/cholesterol (read: impending heart disease).

I’m on a merry go round of silly dietary stuff. I’m pretty tired of tracking what I eat. It would be worth the effort if I was seeing some improvement, but…I’m not. I’m tired of looking around and seeing nothing I can eat that isn’t in some way making me more sick (except milk….hm….all-milk diet?).  I’m avoiding going to the doctor because I think what’s next for me is 2-3 prescription medications, none of which I want to take, because it feels like I’m giving up.  I broke my body (somehow) – I should be able to fix it!  I’m intelligent and determined!

But also tired of running into brick walls.

I’ve decided to start another resistant starch experiment.  I ordered – and received – the 3 probiotic products (scroll a bit to see the “Frequently Bought Together” section) recommended by RN over at Free The Animal.  I may use Dr. BG’s 7 step fix-your-gut protocol. I don’t know if I’ll be using potato starch or not.  Pros: It’s still in my kitchen cabinet and it’s easy and tasteless.  Cons: Possible organ failure related to long-term use.  I’m at the point now where I’m willing to roll the dice on this one.  Or, maybe I’ll find a resistant starch that has a smaller granule size, thus side-stepping the organ death thing.  Don’t know.  I’m not going to do anything though, until I get my gut critters analyzed.  A year ago I ordered a sample kit from the American Gut Project, out of curiosity.  Then I moved 3 times within about 6 months and never got around to using it.  Only problem is, now I can’t find the sample kit. Guess I have some house cleaning to do today.

What else…oh, the hot flashes stopped a couple days ago.  Don’t know why they started.  Don’t know why they stopped.

/stream of consciousness.

Results and Changes

Had a lipid panel done today, about 2 weeks after my last one.  Over the past week I did the following:

  • Aimed for a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio.  I found this difficult because I don’t particularly like sweet food, so I fell short some days.
  • Aimed for a 1:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio, because Ray Peat says.
  • Ate no starchy foods, getting all of my carbohydrates from sugar (fruit, honey, juice, and white sugar)
  • Maintained a lower-fat diet (averaged 59g fat/day or about 24% of total calories, on average).
  • Took niacinamide and aspirin 3x a day
  • Doubled thyroid supplement (Cynoplus, a combination T3/T4) from a very small dose -1/4 tablet (7.5mcg T3 / 30mcg T4) to two 1/4 tablets per day.

The results of today’s lipid panel:

  • Total Cholesterol: 316 (first time ever above 300).  Shouldn’t increased thyroid supplement decrease cholesterol?
  • Triglycerides: 495 (a 3% improvement. I’m not impressed.)
  • HDL Cholesterol: 30 (lowest ever)
  • LDL Cholesterol: Couldn’t be computed because Trigs were so high (this was the case last time too).

So, not great.

Here’s a handy chart showing my lipid panels over the last 2 years, along with brief notes about my diet during that time:

lipid panels

So you don’t have to turn your monitor on it’s side, here are the notes that correspond with the different testing dates:

3/27/2012 – Low Carb/Leptin Reset

11/14/2012 – Low Carb + Stress (Moved to a new state, started a new and very stressful job, was doing the Wiley Protocol and supplementing estrogen + progesterone).

6/19/2013 – Low Carb, without following any particular plan.  When I ate carbs they were in the form of starches from potatoes and rice, some vegetables, no fruit.

12/30/13 – Ray Peat, low sugar – around a 1:2 carb:protein ratio.  I was fiddling around with eating fruit, juice, and sugar but I was scared by the effect it was having on my blood sugar.  It was about this time I realized I was diabetic and was afraid of eating more carbohydrates.

4/19/14 – Ray Peat, high sugar – 2:1 carb:protein ratio – I decided to jump in with both feet and start eating more carbohydrates. When this test was done I was eating high fat (90-120g/day), high sugar (over 200g/day, some of which were starches), moderate protein (about 110-120g/day).  Pressure under my left ribcage was making me concerned that something might be wrong.

5/2/14 – Ray Peat – high sugar (2:1 carb:protein), low fat (around 25% of calories), taking niacinamide/aspirin/increased thyroid to address scary lab results.

According to this, my body (well, at least my lipid panel) responds best to a low carbohydrate diet, with minimized environmental stress.  I can tell you I didn’t feel great eating low carb after a while – I felt tired all the time, irritable.  But maybe that was because I wasn’t getting enough nutrition – I wasn’t tracking my food back then – vitamins/minerals were pretty much off the radar for me. I wasn’t eating liver or taking progesterone then.

Of course, other things were worse then.  My BUN/Creatinine ratio for example, got worse the longer I was on low carb, and improved since then.

BUN

Maybe eating too much meat is stressful on the kidneys after all?

Let’s look at thyroid:

thyroid

Seems sort of unrelated to sugar intake, actually, and more related to environmental stress. When I had the labs drawn in 12/2013 I was experimenting with resistant starch.  I think that was stressful on my body – I know it was stressful on my emotional state. So that may account for the increase in TSH last December.  I know TSH isn’t the ideal measure for thyroid function, according to many people…but Peat seems to think it’s a decent gross measure, so good enough.

And of great importance to me is my blood sugar.  Let’s see the data:

blood sugar

This is a crazy graph, right?  There was definitely an increase in fasting blood sugar when I started following Peat and adding carbohydrates to my diet, but that’s to be expected.  Anyone can have “well managed diabetes” with a low carb diet.  I wanted to actually FIX my diabetes, so I was experimenting with adding carbs back in to see what it would take to do that.  From the graph it looks like the best things I did for my blood sugar were bicycle for 30 minutes a day and eat a low-fat diet.

Holy crap!  Just like my conventional doctor told me!  Exercise and eat a low fat diet!

hahaha

It does seem my current supplements are confounding things.  The graph shows that eating a low-fat high sugar diet results in lower fasting blood sugar…but not if I add niacinamide, aspirin, and increase thyroid.  Hm…interesting.  If I was a patient person, and if I really loved sweet food, I’d probably just eliminate the supplements I’m taking and go back to high-sugar/low fat for a while to see if that trend continues.

I’m neither patient nor in love with sugar.

And considering that I’m STILL having hot flashes – even while sitting right here, right now, I’m going to stop taking niacinamide, aspirin, and thyroid.  One of them is bothering me.  Later on I may try to add them in one at a time and see what I can tolerate.

So to sum up: It looks like the best thing for my lipids is low-carb.  The best thing for my BUN/Creatinine is low meat.  The best thing for my thyroid is low-stress.  The best thing for my blood sugar is low fat and bicycling 30min a day on flat terrain.  The best thing for my enjoyment of life – to not have to eat so much sugar.  I really don’t look forward to it.

So what kind of diet is low-carb, low-meat, low-fat, and lower-sugar?  Maybe one with dairy (mostly low-fat), some lean meat, lots of vegetables, some fruit (when I feel like it).  Plus avoid stress and get exercise.

I still love Ray Peat – he gave me progesterone, Vitamin E, red lights, liver, vitamin K, dairy, raw carrots, and taught me that estrogen, PUFAs and serotonin are bad guys.  I’m continuing on with much of what he has to say.  Just less sugar.  More vegetables.  More exercise.

I might as well retire the blog.  I have nothing original to say anymore.

So there it is.  That’s my new plan.

Train Wreck

Fasting blood sugar this morning: 143.  Not awesome.

Weight steady for 6 days straight at exactly 207.5.

Still having hot flashes.  Is it possible it’s completely unrelated to the niacinamide/aspirin regimen I just started?  How could that be when the hot flashes started right after I started taking these supplements 3x a day?  Well, to be accurate they started 3 days after I started taking them, exactly when I increased the niacinamide to 250mg 3x/day from 100mg 3x/day.  They’re annoying now.  I can’t seem to correlate them to anything.  They happen in the middle of the night, right before eating, right after eating protein, right after eating sugar, an hour after eating sugar…If this was a stress response related to not enough sugar I think it would be prevented by eating it, right?

I’m starting to feel discouraged.

I started the niacinamide to address my ridiculously high triglyceride level.  However, various sources around the web say that niacin (NOT the non-flushing niacinamide) is more effective for this.  And apparently both niacin and niacinamide can cause higher blood sugar in diabetics (yup, got that too).  I feel like I’m completely fucked!  I mean, I’m trying to fix one thing and it’s making the other thing worse…and I’m not even sure it can possibly help the first thing, plus weird hot flashes.  WTF IS GOING ON WITH ME?

I haven’t even told you the best part yet.  For the last few months I’ve been feeling a sort of pressure under my left ribcage.  It had recently been turning into discomfort, and a little bit of pain throughout my upper torso. Research on the web suggested in might be an enlarged spleen, which can signal that other organs (like the liver) are having some kind of problem. That’s why I got labs done a couple weeks ago, including a complete blood count (CBC) – to look for elevated liver enzymes or other indicators that some organ might be struggling or fighting an infection or something.  After seeing those triglyceride numbers I was motivated to stop with the starches (again) and started eating a low fat diet – because hell, I’ve tried everything else, right?  (Well, and also because Ray Peat suggested it might be a key to lowering my blood sugar.)  Well, since I’ve been eating lower fat the pressure under my ribcage has gotten better – it’s not gone, but I’d say 75% improved, and the pain is gone.

I consulted Dr. Google again today, and it turns out high triglycerides can cause inflammation of the pancreas.  Definitely when trigs are SUPER high, like over 1000 mg/dL, but who knows – maybe when lower but still high (like me)?  Symptoms of pancreatitis: pain/pressure in upper abdomen, radiating to the back, as well as other things like nausea (which I didn’t have).  Holy crap – so now my pancreas is about to explode?  Recovery from mild pancreatitis involves a low-fat diet (maybe that’s why mine is helping?) and medication to reduce triglycerides.  Oh, and stop eating sugar and fat.

I’ve decided to get another fasting lipid panel done tomorrow, to see if I’m on the right track.  Our local health department will do it for $20, and you get the results right away….so I’ll be following up on this tomorrow.  If things are NOT even a tiny bit improved after abstaining from starches, eating lower fat, and taking niacinamide and aspirin 3x a day, I’ll be seriously reconsidering the path I’m on.  I FEEL better with a Ray Peat inspired diet, but if my labs continue to suck I’m going to have to change directions.

Here’s my diet breakdown today:

crono

Carb/Protein ratio and Calcium/phosphorus ratios were short of ideal today, and fat was a little too high.

And did I mention it really pisses me off that niacinamide raises blood sugar!?

Crap.

High Carb Low Fat – Day 3

Today’s Cronometer breakdown:

crono

Seems like I always eat within about 100 calories from day to day.  Ok…so how did I do?  Carb:Protein ratio was 2:1.  Calcium:Phosphorus ratio was almost 1:1 (about 200mg shy on the calcium end, 2219mg of calcium and 2448mg of phos.)  I could supplement to make up the difference there but last time I took a calcium supplement my stomach did lots of weird things for a couple hours.  Apparently calcium carbonate is hard to digest.  I may try it again sometime, but for now I’m trying to keep these guys in balance with food. Fat…a little too high…trying to stay under about 50g.  I think I’ll need to stop with the grass fed ground beef for a little while.

I’ve decided to up my niacinamide dose from 100mg 3x a day to 250mg 3x a day, and see how that goes.  Concerned parties who shall remain nameless made an excellent case for increasing the dose, including something along the lines of, “Your labs are pretty bad. You need more drugs.”  Anyway, more niacinamide. If I tolerate this increase well I may even increase further.  Why not?  My labs seem to indicate I’m at death’s door anyway.  May as well experiment!

Plan of Attack

I’m very much back on track now…inspired by my last set of not-so-hot labs.

My short term goals are as follows:

Maintain a higher-carb, lower-fat diet in order to reverse my type 2 diabetes and reverse my abysmal lipid panel.  Rationale:

  • Lower fat to address high blood sugar (<20% of total calories, or in the neighborhood of 40-50g/day).  My dabbling in low-fat eating in the past month or two suggests that Ray Peat may be on to something when he talks about the Randle Cycle.  He says glucose oxidation is impaired by a high fat diet and/or fatty acids in the blood stream.
  • Higher carb in order to reduce stress hormones (namely, cortisol) (>250g carbohydrate) – Nearly all in the form of simple sugars – no starches, as those make me depressed, with the goal of eating at least a 2:1 carbohydrate:protein ratio.
  • High calcium intake (nonfat dairy, most likely), low phosphate intake (less meat).  I’m going to shoot for a 1:1 calcium:phosphate ratio.
  • I’m not going to make any effort to restrict calories.  That’s stressful and no fun.

Change my supplement routine to include the following:

  • Aspirin 100mg 3x/day
  • Niacinamide 100mg 3x/day
  • Vitamin K2 1mg 3x/day
  • Cynoplus (T3/T4 combo) increased from 1/4 tab daily to 1/4 tab 2x a day.  I may increase further in a few weeks, but that’s it for now.

The aspirin reduces inflammation.  Niacinamide inhibits the release of free fatty acids into the blood, and vitamin k2 ensures that blood clots normally despite the aspirin, and that calcium goes into the bones rather than the soft tissues.  Cynomel provides thyroid hormone that I don’t seem to be making enough of (evidence: total cholesterol of almost 300).  I’ll continue to take Vit D (5000 IU), Vitamin A (2500 IU), and Magnesium Glycinate.

Knowing that I have a tendency toward poor planning and then eating whatever’s available, I’m going to create some accountability for myself with this blog.  I’m going to post a screenshot of what I enter into Cronometer every day.  Here’s today:

Crono1

This will make it difficult for me to rationalize eating things that don’t support my goals.  Also it’ll force me to take a critical look at what I’m eating each day so I can learn from it and do better.  Today, still too much meat…instead of chicken breast I should have had more dairy or something with gelatin in it.  At the time I just wanted to stop feeling hungry – a big dose of meat does that well.  Time to learn new strategies.

Macro % today:

  • Protein: 30.9%
  • Carbs: 50.4%
  • Fat: 18.6%

More to report tomorrow.