‘The Magic Pill’ – A Documentary

 

On April 2, 2018 I started a very strict ketogenic diet. The main reason was not to lose weight.

It was to prevent what seemed to be the onset of diabetes.

Mom, Dad, Sis, and Bro all got it – my siblings got in their 40s. I didn’t, maybe because I’ve been trying at least to maintain a low carb diet since the early 2000s, but at the beginning of my 50s that number began to climb toward a fasting number of 125 – the definition of diabetes. I began taking metformin and got the number to go down.

That was a few years ago.

Fast-forward to 2018.

While never having diabetes, I spent my own money monitoring it. I began finding that fasting number beginning to come close to 125 – and sometimes leaping into the 140s. i would measure throughout the day and many times it remained elevated.

Because of my family history this set off alarm bells.

On April 2 I began a strict keto diet and have maintained it since. I’m down about 13 pounds, which is a nice side effect, but it wasn’t the focus this time.

Within 2 weeks my blood glucose went down between 20 and 40 points. At certain parts of the day it even goes into the low 80s.

I stopped the metformin about a week ago – and my blood glucose is fine – still touching the 80s during the day.

I eat mainly pastured butter and fatty meat, and zero carbs except for green leafy vegetables and stuff like asparagus, pickles, kimchee, sauerkraut, celery, cabbage – the very low carb veggies.

What has exasperated me in some of the chatter in Vegan circles is an absolutism in their chosen path – like there’s no other way to good health. Being a Vegan is *a* path – and a path with heart – but it’s not the only path. I am not here to say ‘I’m right and they’re wrong’ – I don’t see this as a zero-sum game. And you might notice so far my trademarked snark absent. I do that as sport, though sometime people do get hurt – which is never my intention. I’m being serious here.

What I have envied in the Vegan approach is a spiritual aspect – keto / Atkins – whatever you call it – has always been a Yin without the Yang to me. I’ve buried my nose in the science and found it plausible enough – and my personal experience corroborating it – that I have a scientific belief – but I found it spiritually empty and so my journey to become a ‘Cranky Buddha’ did not fit with my diet.

Now I feel I’ve found the Yang in ‘The Magic Pill’. The documentary shows people experimenting with a keto diet of whole foods and eliminating insulin to treat their Diabetes, eliminating chronic asthma, lessening the symptoms of Autism in 2 children, dramatically reducing epileptic seizures in one child, and appearing to lessen symptoms of early dementia in one woman.

But that’s not the point. I knew these were outcomes reported on a ketogenic diet that are being investigated.

Where I found my Yang was in the last half-hour. In there it shows how we have perverted our natures and ourselves through agriculture – and it does so elegantly.

We have paid the price in chronic health conditions almost unseen before the 20th Century because we have worked against the natural order of nature.

I’m not quite there yet myself, but I believe I an heading in the right direction – and this documentary lights the way in that it frames the keto experience as a natural expression of our humanness. The science behind Keto is attempting to catch up with what Humankind has known for tens of thousands of generations – except for the most recent where we have lost our way.

If you’re a Vegan, I still encourage you to watch. Maybe afterward you can check out the Facebook group ‘Vegan Keto Made Simple’. You won’t find a nicer group of folks on Facebook – I guarantee you.

For you folks either on a low carb / keto diet or doing your research, you shouldn’t miss it either.

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Keto Dining at McDonald’s

Is it right to call the consumption of food at McDonald’s ‘dining’? Is it right to even MENTION the ‘M-Word’ in case some of you are triggered? Might this post be seen as encouraging eating there?

The answers are: no, yes, maybe – but not intentionally.

Let’s face it: if you are traveling, or for some other reason are unable to get your hands on some real food, and your only option is a local McDonald’s – because, let’s face it, there always *is* a local McDonald’s – then knowing there are keto options might just save your bacon (get it?).

Remember though hacking McDonald’s will be hard because the staff – God bless their souls – are not usually accustomed to truly oddball orders. Yes – it is oddball, and yes – you are an oddball for being on a keto diet. Get over it.

So at this point you might be asking yourself: ‘well, how am I supposed to know what to order?’.

Glad you asked.

McDonald’s – in their quest to market ‘America’s Favorite Crap Food(R)’ to everyone regardless of their preferences, has put together a nifty nutrition information gizmo on their website.

You can check it out here: https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/about-our-food/nutrition-calculator.html.

So for instance, let’s take the Big Mac. 540 calories, 28 grams of fat, 46 grams of carbs, and 25 grams of protein. 46 grams of carbs?!? Ugh. No way.

However, using the tool to remove the 3 buns that make up a Big Mac and it’s an entirely different meal: 330 calories, 25 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs, and 18 grams of protein.

That can work. Now the problem is: how do they serve this? with a little thinking, they could place the cheese between the patties, but structurally, it might just fall apart. Best to ask for the ingredients in a salad bowl and ask for utensils.

For the Sausage McMuffin with Cheese – my fave – the numbers are even better when you skip the muffin. 340 calories, 29 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbs, and 16 grams of protein. If you can get them to put the cheese between the egg and the sausage patty, you can probably eat it out of the wrapper without too much fuss.

The Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddles® also fare well without the bun. 180 calories, 12 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbs, and 14 grams of protein. This might be another one to eat in a bowl, however.

If you want to avoid the complication of asking for modifications – and I understand that patiently explaining to the counter staff that to properly assemby your Egg McMuffin without the muffin you want your slice of cheese *between* the egg and the sausage, then put on the wrapper while people are behind you impatiently watch this scene unfold, the Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad does not seem all that bad. 320 calories, 19 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbs, and 42 grams of protein. A bit high on the protein and also on the carbs, but some of us could manage it.

Oddly enough, the chicken and salads seem more of a problem than the burgers. Just too much protein from the chicken.

Again, I’m not saying you should be eating this stuff as part of a diet to promote overall health, but if you’re stuck in a food desert and McDonald’s is the only choice, it is not impossible to maintain your keto diet without starving to death.

I’m not even going to venture into the drinks. I am of the belief that it’s a toss-up as to whether you’ll actually get diet soda when you order one or if they’ll mix it up with the sugared variety. Black coffee with a little half-and-half or a bottle of water is all I’d be comfortable with – but play around with the nutrition gizmo and maybe you’ll find a hidden gem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: A Jawbone fitness tracker for a dirt-cheap price UPDATE

UPDATE 05/27/18: While my tracker still works at tracking steps, it now tells me that it ‘Can’t connect to the network.’ I think that’s because they liquidated the company last week and they pulled the plug on the server and the Jawbone.com site has apparently been taken down. The app is still in the IOS App Store (who knows for how long), but I’m not sure that you would be able to set up a new device – so I *DON’T* recommend buying it anymore. The device is useless without the app, so I’d say the party’s over…

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 7.16.14 AM

Years ago I had what I think was the original FitBit. I tracked your steps, told the time, and claimed it could track how many stairs you climbed. It also needed to be changed frequently and was a pain in the ass to sync to the app. It cost $99.

Then it got lost.

The FitBit One was the replacement. It was slicker in design – but I could never get the damn thing to work reliably. It cost $99.

In total, that was $200 I would never see again.

Fast forward to April, 2018. I wanted a cheap clip-on fitness tracker to just count steps. Instead, everything is now on a wrist band – which I didn’t want as I hate wearing anything on my wrists and can’t even wear a watch – and tells the time, tracks heartbeats, tracks sleep, etc.

I didn’t want all that – I just wanted to track steps, but I couldn’t find anything that simple. There also seemed to be only 2 options: buy a well-known brand for $100 and up, or buy a no-name brand with crappy reviews. Clip-ons were almost impossible to find.

I did a lot of looking and, almost hiding on Amazon was this Jawbone clip-on tracker ranging in price from about $9.00 to $15.00, depending on how ugly a color you are willing to tolerate.

I got one. I have been very impressed.

It has a battery that they say does not need replacing for 6 months – so no hassle charging it all the time. It syncs with the iPhone app pretty flawlessly. It has a whole bunch of features I don’t use – like sleep tracking – that don’t get in the way if you don’t want to use them, though if I do choose to use them someday they seem well-designed.

I believe these are discontinued models. While I think it’s a great design, it probably just couldn’t be found among all the other models – or maybe clips are so like 10 minutes ago.

My primary worry is that the device will outlast that app. If it is really a discontinued model, will they keep the app updated? Balance that question with: is it worth the risk at $9 bucks?

You make that decision for yourself.

Please note: I bought and paid for this thing myself. Nobody asked me to write this. I don’t get any money for this. Buy it – don’t buy it – no skin off my nose.

Here’s a link: http://a.co/inCFnhw

 

 

 

Keto is the Bitcoin of Diets

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For all you folks who do not spend their lives reading charts, a little explanation. This chart is from Google Trends, a tool that lets you see how often search terms are entered into Google. You can also compare one search term to another.

Now what the above chart shows is that the term ‘low carb’ (in blue) has been chugging along and has been steadily been gaining interest. It’s a far cry from the obscurity after the ‘Atkins Craze’ of 2003 popped and people moved on to the next trendy diet.

An interesting thing to note: see those little spikes in interest regularly spaced on the blue line? That happens every January when people decide to go on a diet as a New Year’s resolution.

Now take a look at ‘keto’ (blue line). Back when I started this blog, nobody would have known what Keto meant.

Well, things have changed. Look at that spike – keto is the Bitcoin of diets right now. It used to be called ‘Atkins Induction’ but after Atkins died the term was dropped because it seemed too harsh. Atkins himself recommended a diet of 20 grams of carbs or less, moderate protein, and high fat only for the first two weeks – then you were supposed to begin adding more carbs back in.

I ignored that advice back then and instead tried to stay in ‘Atkins Induction’ indefinitely.

I was ‘keto’ before ‘keto’ even existed.

Today, keto is everywhere. People who’ve only learned about the diet a year ago prop themselves up as experts, start Facebook pages, and build businesses around this diet. I got nothing against free enterprise, but it seems to me some of these folks are going off half-cocked. There’s one guy who advocates eating nothing but bacon for 30 days. Compared to him, this blog expands your choices to meat in general – and water.

The bacon guy is trying to build a nice little business off of this – you can join his special insider program for about $100. I bet he’s doing OK – it’s pretty easy to separate desperate obese people from their money.

I don’t want to imply anything bad about the guy. He seems sincere, came up with a trick that worked for him, and figures he can make a buck off of it. It also seems to work for a bunch of people – so who am I to nay say? Nothing wrong there.

The only problem I would have – and a big reason I have never tried to sell anything nor claim that I am right about anything (read my disclaimer here) – is that I wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending *any* diet to *anybody* because I ain’t no doctor.

Anyway, ‘keto’ – like Bitcoin – is in a bubble. I have spent a lot of time in the past year on these Keto Facebook pages and there’s a lot of hopeful folks who stream in, asking the same questions asked the day before, unwilling to read the pinned posts, who just want a magic bullet. These people don’t want to do the work – they just want to lose weight fast. I don’t blame them, but as more and more people stream in, try the diet without doing their homework, get bad advice from people on the page as ignorant as they are, they will give up, tell their friend that keto doesn’t work – and the bubble will pop and we’ll be on to the next diet fad. This happened in 2003 with Atkins – and has been happening with great regularity for over a century.

The thing is: I believe keto works for a lot of people. I think, like most diets, it can be hard. I think you need to do your homework, and be able to tease out the good information from all the bad information out there.

I will even go so far as to say that there is probably a lot of bad information on this blog. I’ve been writing for 11 years and my thinking on the diet has changed.

If I plan to start posting regularly, I think I also need to go back and either edit old posts or delete them entirely.

So moving forward I’ll be ‘The keto blog with the low carb name’.

Hey – AT&T stands for ‘American Telephone and Telegraph’ – and a telegraph hasn’t been sent in the US since 2006.

Beef and Bacon Keto Chili Recipe

A quick update for the old gang: I’ve been away because, well, I had nothing to write about. On April 2nd, however, I went full-bore into a strict ketogenic diet. I’ve written a whole lot about that, but it’s not ready for publishing yet – but how about a recipe?

I’ve been deep into ketosis and have been very strict for the past 2 weeks. I use the weekends to cook and wanted to have a goto meal for the week so I thought: why not chili?

In the past I have not watched my carbs as closely as I am now, and it has paid off: a 10 lb. loss in 2 weeks, a 20-40 point drop in blood glucose levels, and ketones as measured by a blood testing meter averaging between 2-3 mmol/ml.

So unlike in the past where I might have gone apeshit with onions and other higher carb vegetables, this chili measures nutrients down to every damn spice.

So here’s the ingredients and the numbers:

Ingredient Calories Fat Net Carbs Protein
2 lbs. 80/20 ground beef 2272 179 0 152
5 Tbsp bacon fat 570 60 0 0
7 slices bacon 308 25 1 20
1 medium onion 46 0 3 1
1 can Trader Joes Chiles 40 0 8 0
1 14.5 oz can Trader Joes Fire roasted organic tomatoes with green chiles 87 0 14 4
1 large green bell pepper 48 0 8 2
2 tbsp chili powder 42 2 2 2
2 tsp ground cumin 16 1 2 1
2 tsp garlic powder 18 0 4 1
Salt 0 0 0 0
Pepper 14 0 1 1
Total for the entire pot 3461 267 43 184
Total Per Portion (1/10) 346 27 4 18

It was a pain in the ass to pull these numbers together – especially as different sources give different nutrient counts for the same thing, but I think this is about as accurate as I’m going to be able to get it.

The instructions are simple:

  1. Melt the bacon fat in the bottom of a pot
  2. Set the burner to high and add ground beef, black pepper, and some salt (add to taste later)
  3. Let it cook on high while you deal with cutting the vegetables and bacon, stirring occasionally
  4. Dice the bacon and toss in the pot
  5. Cut the onion and toss in the and give it a stir
  6. Do the same for the pepper
  7. Toss in the can of chilis and tomatoes
  8. Add the remaining spices

Now set it to a low simmer and let cook for 2 hours to let the flavors meld.

The verdict: pretty darn good. I’ll be eating this all week. I found it very flavorful by itself, but I’m sure with a little shredded cheese on the top – and maybe a dollop of sour cream – I’d be in some serious flavor territory.