Fat, Dumb & Happy Day 12 & 13

March 21, 2014 – 219.6

What was different than yesterday? Little. Same hectic day. Maybe more tension. Didn’t eat all day. Went out mid afternoon for coffee and to clear my head a bit. Dunkin Donuts had a power outage and I had to make due with Starbucks – not a huge fan of their coffee but I compensate by adding cinnamon & nutmeg, which I like a lot. No nutmeg though – they were out of it.

At home, had my roast beef and cheese with mayonnaise and had some wine before bed. I also had a few small pieces of watermelon and a big mug of almond milk.

March 22, 2014 – 219.2

I have to work this weekend.

My weight is *slowly* creeping downward. Today is the lowest weight during this go at ketosis and the lowest weight in a month. It seems to be inching down somewhat slower than is usual but bodies do not like to change their weight downward.

At this point, however, I feel OK, have few cravings, mood seems to be less volatile, mind is clear and productive and I don’t feel particularly deprived. It’s really not a bad place to be.

I’ve been keeping tabs on the news in between everything else and there’s been a few articles worth noting – I might sprinkle future posts with brief mentions.

News: Woman treats brain tumor with low carb diet

It has been said that ‘sugar feeds cancer’. Cancer cells apparently don’t thrive in people on a ketogenic environment because cancer cells are carb addicts.

As this particular woman is the director of operations at a biochemistry research firm, I can only assume that she has the smarts to make an informed decision when she decided to forego normal cancer treatments for this approach.

Ditching traditional cancer treatments is a game of ‘You Bet Your Life’. Steve Jobs tried this and lost. I’m sure this was a tough personal decision and I wish her the best.

Here’s the link: http://www.examiner.com/article/woman-battles-deadly-brain-cancer-without-chemo-using-low-carb-ketogenic-diet

(If anyone can explain to me why Examiner.com is almost always the source of pro low-carb news in my news feed, let me know.)

11am

I had made my kids eggs and toast for breakfast and thought: why not have a breakfast yourself? If I was at work I probably could had done a day 3 of not eating all day but I’m still not sure it’s necessarily good for you.

I made myself 3 eggs in lots of butter and grated cheese over the top. They were lightly cooked. I play the odds, betting that the extra $ I pay for top-notch eggs makes the odds greater that I will get salmonella.

Way before former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg instituted nanny-state laws like regulating the size of sodas, my great state of New Jersey was in the vanguard of this trend and in 1992 banned ‘runny eggs’ being sold in restaurants. New Jersey is a nice state that gets a bad rap because parts of the state have some curious pecadillos. It’s a complex place – the same state has one of the richest counties in the country – and one of the worst cities. Organic farmers dot the bucolic central region. The Jersey Shore suffers from multiple personality disorder: we have a hippy-dippy nude beach (I think the only one on the east coast), uptight law & order beaches that are quiet because no radios or food is allowed like Spring Lake (also known as the ‘Irish Riviera’ because of the enclave of Irish that inhabit the area), and then we have what the word thinks of as the ‘Jersey Shore’ – Seaside Heights – tawdry, tacky, and tasteless.

But for our legislators to broadcast to the country their laser focus on fixing problems that don’t need fixing instead of focusing on the problems that actually matter and making ‘runny eggs’ illegal made New Jersey a laughing-stock at the time. The law was quickly repealed and whoever came up with that waste of taxpayer dollars probably wore a fake beard and sunglasses so as not to be recognized.

Here’s the story: (http://photos.nj.com/star-ledger/2013/04/eehdiner.html)

4 pm

Worked, did some errands and was hungry. I’ve drank surprisingly little coffee in comparison to most days and I’m tired. Looking for something to eat I found a polish kielbasa in the meat drawer. I cooked it up and ate maybe 8 or 9 ounces with mustard.

Then I looked at the label: ‘Use by December 29, 2013’.

Will I be in trouble?

It tasted fine. I’ll guess we’ll find out.

9pm

A somewhat troubling day from the diet standpoint – and it isn’t done yet. The kielbasa has produced no ill effects so far, but I’ve had a powerful thirst – no doubt from the salt. The kielbasa had no nitrates and proudly proclaims only 5 ingredients – all ones you don’t need a chemistry degree to understand.

I drank a LOT of water and almond milk. I don’t like to overdo it on the almond milk but I would say I did. My younger daughter came back from a friend’s house around 6 and was hungry. My wife and older daughter had taken a day trip and nothing was prepared for dinner. I asked the kid what she wanted:

“Pizza.”

I thought to myself: “You’re up to this.”

I bought her three slices: plain, pepperoni, mushroom.

The kid did the usual: pulled off a lot of the cheese and toppings.

At the risk of drawing the wrong conclusion, the kielbasa was a bad idea. I’ve had this unquenchable thirst after other meals – and this usually signals for some reason my eating everything in sight and gaining 5 pounds at least. Kielbasa goes on my ‘Bad Foods’ list. Not a great loss if I’m wrong and some other thing caused this. I eat this maybe three times a year, tops.

There were more than a few times I wanted to snatch one of the kid’s slices. She ate slow and kept the box open. I’d close it so I didn’t have to look at it.

Then my wife and daughter came home with leftovers from Legal Seafood.

As this is the best seafood restaurant ever, all this was a bit much for me. I did have a taste of their fried cod – excellent – and some of their fried calamari – also excellent. I did NOT have the french fries, any pizza, nor the bread rolls.

I did have their tartar sauce that might have contained some sugar as well as a bit of their coleslaw.

Considering my day of living really low carb, the small amount of carbs shouldn’t put me out of ketosis.

I ate my chocolate before bed and also had wine. I do not have my glucose meter to determine if this works long-term as a blood glucose control or was just a fluke that after this combo the other day when my blood sugar was normal in the AM without meds, but I should have it in a few days.

Fat, Dumb & Happy Day 11 – No Bonking

March 20, 2014 – 220.8

 On this particular day, I ate nothing until after 8pm. Cream in my coffee was the only thing I had.

This wasn’t intentional. It was a combination of busyness, lack of appetite, and stupidity.

The authors of “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable“, Stephen D. Phinney and Jeff Volek (http://amzn.com/0983490708) discuss ‘bonking’ in the context of athletes, bring up an interesting aspect of living ketogenic low carb.

‘Bonking’ or ‘hitting the wall’ as some long-distance runners call it, is when in an endurance event you run out of glycogens in your body to fuel your 26-mile run or whatever long-duration athletic event. You literally run out of gas and can’t go any farther. This is why there’s all these people lining the marathon route giving the runners Gatorade – and in this context, Gatorade makes perfect sense – you need the glucose as well as the minerals for both energy and to maintain electrolyte balance.

But people who are keto-adapted, having switched over to burning ketones for a month to six weeks have created a body perfectly adapted to running on ketones. You can only store  very small amount of glycogen in your muscles and liver, but you store WAY more fat – and being keto-adapted means your body knows how to efficiently turn that fat into ketones and use it.

Their assertion is that keto-adapted long-distance runners never ‘bonk’ because they realistically will never run out of fuel.

While I’ll let others debate if this is true, it might explain my experience not eating: I was so busy that I forgot to eat. Since ketosis is an appetite suppressant, I wasn’t hungry, and because my body is adapting to living mostly on ketones, there was an abundant fuel supply throughout the day – my own body fat.

While not running a marathon (except metaphorically), I had more than enough energy, my head was clear, and I didn’t experience the shakiness or other symptoms that glycogen-fueled mortals would experience in the same situation.

It’s kind of a neat trick, eh? But – from a weight loss perspective – a dumb one.

I think the whole simplistic ‘eat less and you’ll lose weight’ is a neat, simple and wrong approach.

You have to eat *enough*. Not too much and not too little.

While I don’t believe this harmed me in any way, it might have slowed down weight loss because if the body enters starvation mode it can become very miserly about expending energy.

I don’t think this happened to me. I was energetic all day, then came home and spent 2 hours cleaning the kitchen, still wasn’t tired, and went to bed later than usual.

I did have more Kerry Gold Irish Swiss cheese with roast beef and mayo in the evening, as well as wine and chocolate. Other than cream and coconut oil in my coffee, that was my total eats for the day.

As I occasionally do, a reminder: please remember I’m not giving advice – I’m reporting.

Fat, Dumb, & Happy Day 10 – Carb Ennui

March 19, 2014 – 221.2

Down 2 pounds. Still in ketosis. Drank wine and ate chocolate – but no peppers and tomatoes. Maybe it’s a fair trade.

Another interesting tidbit: my blood glucose went from 132 to 95 without meds (I keep forgetting to take them).

Let’s think about this one for a second.  I’ve been in ketosis every day since day 2. That means the total amount of carbs is so low that my body must convert fat into ketones as fuel. Despite this pretty low level of carbs, my blood glucose spiked to 132. It usually stays in the 110s, so 132 is high. This was not only after my nightshade soup, but also after a day where I had ketchup, mustard, raw milk cheese, and Lindt dark chocolate.

Then yesterday I have only roast beef, cheese, cream, Lindt dark chocolate – and wine.

And the number – without medication – plunges nearly 30 points to high-normal – what I was a decade ago.

A quick search on the Internet came up with this headline:  “Compounds found in chocolate, red wine may lower Type 2 diabetes risk”.

(http://www.cbsnews.com/news/compounds-found-in-chocolate-red-wine-may-lower-type-2-diabetes-risk/)

OK – I’m still suspicious of nutrition studies – especially ones from a major news outlet, condensed and twisted to get more pageviews. But what if instead of using this sort of thing to make decisions on what to do, you notice an effect from your own experimentation and find information that seems to explain the phenomenon?

Does a glass of red wine and 4 squares of Lindt dark chocolate before bed control my glucose levels? Or was this a fluke of some sort?

This sounds like a fun experiment, doesn’t it?

It would look something like this: continue to eat ketogenic low carb as I am, avoiding the nightshade family of vegetables, then in the evening have 1 or 2 glasses of wine and the dark chocolate. Track fasting blood glucose and see what happens.

I am not going to try to back this up with research to solidify my position or try to ‘prove’ anything from the current body of science. Instead, I’m going to try to prove it on my own body.

4pm

Stuck in meetings, I didn’t get a chance to eat until a short while ago, so I’ve been fasting since having some cream around 5am. When I went to the kitchen at work there were leftover sandwiches from some guests who came in and had a working lunch. I had a roast beef and cheese sandwich and a ham and cheese sandwich – throwing away the bread and tomato and hoping no one would come in and see me. I also had the tuna salad off another half sandwich as well as a dozen black olives.

7:30pm

I’m really tired, but I’m going to chalk this one up to work-stress. A lot of brainwork and a major launch next week where I’m a big part of the success or failure could mean I might be ‘free to pursue new opportunities’ Really Soon.

OK – maybe hyperbole. But it is a project that could get people fired if things go very wrong. I am lucky to have worked with a bunch of very smart and very hard-working, decent folks and we’ve tried to think of every little detail, but right now I keep running through all the details trying to uncover just one more thing to check, one more thing to test. It’s like a program running constantly in the background. Whether I am consciously thinking about it or not – I’m thinking about it. Brushing my teeth, I come up with things to add to my checklist. While driving I tell Siri – the somewhat intelligent voice-controlled feature on my iPhone – to remind me to check X and double-check Y.

I’m – ahem – *experimenting* with the wine and chocolate to control blood glucose – but ran out of the damn test strips! No fear – I can still perform the wine & chocolate part until I get more strips – science marches on.

As to ketosis, it’s beginning to feel as boring as being a weatherman in Arizona. Today, dry and sunny. tomorrow, dry and sunny. Morning – in ketosis. This evening – in ketosis. Yesterday – ketosis. The day before: ketosis.

How about from this point on I just report if I’m NOT in ketosis.

As mentioned, non-events are hard to notice because they don’t exist. Non-events, however, can be just as important as events.

The sun did not blow up today – that’s pretty important – I have that project to launch.

The non-event was at my late lunch with the sandwiches. I only noticed it hours later: as I stripped each sandwich of it’s bread and threw it in the trash, I didn’t care. I didn’t even see the bread as food – it was merely a container that held the meat and cheese I wanted. The thought of eating it was as foreign to me at the time as considering eating the sandwich bag a sandwich came in.

I’m beginning to notice the same with the goodies around the house. The apple pie doesn’t call to me, nor all the other various and sundry items in the house. Aside from the suspected solanine-induced grazing the other day, I’m just not pining for carbs in general and my favorite carbs – bread – in specific.

Even writing this caused me to fantasize about a fresh, hot baguette – but the fantasy wasn’t all that compelling. It might be described as ‘carb ennui’.

I hold no illusions that this will continue forever, but I’ll take what I can get in the moment.

Evening eats were the last of the Kerry Gold Irish swiss cheese wrapped in a few small grass-fed burgers and a few eggs and cheese.

Both I had with ketchup.

Remember that the ‘toxin is in the dose’? I’m hoping my suspected sensitivity to nightshades was because I simply ate too much of the stuff and a small amount of ketchup – a few tablespoons – might not cause the same effect.

It didn’t. Again, this is all speculative at this point, but the ketchup didn’t start the same cascade of hunger like I had the sunday night and Monday afternoon after having the soup.

Nor did the wine and chocolate.

Before bed I had a big glass of almond milk and then slept fine.

Fat, Dumb & Happy Day 9

March 18, 2014 – 223.2

Feel much better today. Still in ketosis. I’m thinking perhaps the ‘healthy veggies’ in my soup were perhaps not so healthy. I’ve come to distrust almost all general health and nutrition advice  – and the more emphatic the announcements the more I distrust them – and feel very on-my-own to sort things out.

On my way to work I picked up more roast beef and Kerry Gold swiss cheese. The woman at the deli counter said about the cheese: “Good, isn’t it? I can only order it around St. Patrick’s Day.” How did she know I liked it? Perhaps my walking up and asking for that particular brand without hesitation showed her that I had it before and knew what I was buying.

“You mean you can’t order it after?”

“No – but I can still order it now – maybe I’ll buy another case before it’s unavailable – you’re not the only one who likes it.”

“If you buy it, I’ll keep coming back to get more.” I smiled.

As this is my new favorite cheese – I mean it.

5:30pm

All I ate today was the Kerry Gold Irish Swiss cheese and roast beef – and I feel a hell of a lot better than yesterday. I might have been able to eat more after the 2 servings I had, but I wasn’t obsessed with eating like the past two days – it’s a world of a difference.

Can I really have a food allergy? I’ve always thought of myself as someone who didn’t have allergies to *anything*.

(Well, maybe you can say I’m ‘allergic’ to carbs.)

If I keep experimenting and find this reaction to these vegetables consistently happens…well, that sucks. I love tomatoes and tomato products. I love the spice of peppers. I like artichokes but they aren’t a ‘core food’ – if you told me I could never have one again, I could deal with it.

Tomatoes and peppers, however, leave me somewhat mortified – though as I once heard from a toxicologist: ‘the toxin is in the dose’.

Perhaps I can still have these in limited quantities and not have problems – and not make myself ‘Solanine Soup’ again. Another experiment.

8:30pm

Dinner was more of the roast beef and Kerry Gold Cheese – this time with mayonnaise. I also had a Fage yogurt with some sucralose, and some wine and dark chocolate. I have been blaming wine for carb-fests for years – was it really the culprit? Or something else in my diet? I had the wine, the carbs all around me were left untouched, and I went to bed the regular hour without any noticeable hunger.

Maybe it’s more complicated than I thought.

Fat, Dumb, & Happy: Day 8 – Solanine

Monday, March 17, 2014 – 225.8

6am

Nice jump in the scale. I attribute it to a lot of bulk and water from yesterday’s meal, as well as less fat overall. I’m not concerned. I think I’ve shown my actual weight, minus the water I am retaining, is maybe 219. If the scale does not follow a smooth path downward I won’t be worried – you need to give your body time to adapt to the new regime. The scale is a handy tool when it doesn’t become an emotional rollercoaster that dictates your mood for the day.

What jazzes me is the ketones. Both yesterday and today they are running dark – great. Every day in ketosis means another day of my body adapting to it – and another day where I did not given in to carbs. You can’t fake this test, and while imprecise, it does tell you you’re in the zone.

While I might have been better off to switch to roast beef and butter, I want to finish off that great soup I made yesterday. It’s not bad to add some variety of quality vegetables into the mix also – even if the number on the scale doesn’t show what you’d like it to show.

This isn’t entirely about the scale. If it was, I could go on the ‘Walter White Blue Meth’ diet and be slim and trim in no time – but *how you get thin* is important.

8pm – 223.0

Today was the worst I’ve felt so far. Extremely tired, sore knees, achy legs, couldn’t wake up no matter how much coffee I drank, head not clear. It was a struggle to get through the day. And I was way more hungry than last week. I had more of the soup for lunch and *again* it did not satisfy but left me hungry. For the first time since I started this I was fantasizing about going out and getting a sandwich.

Instead I hit the bag of macadamia nuts hard. I even found my last Atkins bar left over from a business trip in November hidden in my bag and ate that.

Let’s pull back a moment and try to analyze the situation.

First, I’m going to assume for analysis that psychology is irrelevant. I’m not saying it isn’t – I’m assuming it isn’t and see where it takes me.

The crock pot of beef and veggies was very tasty – but more so than any meal I’ve had so far, I was hungry after it – 3 bowls worth in fact.

What’s with that?

A few things come to mind.

– it was the least fatty meal I’ve e had in a week. While low carb for the vast majority of humanity, it probably had, per bowl, maybe 10 grams net carbs. It was also the most fiber I had in a week. Sounds great – right? Low carb, high fiber – where’s the problem? The hunger afterward was the problem.

So what was it about the soup? I had 2 ingredients in large quantity: artichoke hearts and tomatoes. Of lesser quantity were the sweet peppers and 1/2 onion at most for the entire pot.

Was it the high fiber, the overall higher carb count or one of the ingredients that got me?

I’m going to give the stuff I ate and drank afterward a free pass at present. I’m also going to remove the onion because of the small quantity.

I’m going to focus on the artichokes, peppers and tomatoes.

I did a little research as I lay in bed, ready to hit the sack right after I came home. Before that, still ravenously hungry and talking myself out of stopping at one of the half-dozen fast-food joints on my way home by reminding myself I’d ruin the ketosis, I made 4 eggs with a lot of butter and cheese and ate that for dinner. This was after eating lunch, the Atkins bar and a half bag of macadamias so it wasn’t like I needed to eat more.

This meal – nothing but fat and protein – satisfied.

The research came up with this: solanine. It’s a toxic compound found in some plants that supposedly exist to prevent insects and animals from eating them. They are found in nightshade plants as well as a few other plant types.

Here’s some examples of plants containing solanine: tomatoes, peppers and artichokes.

What are some of the symptoms?

From one website:

An enzyme present in the body called Cholinesterase originates in the brain where its responsible for flexibility of muscle movement. Solanine, present in nightshades, is a powerful inhibitor of cholinesterase. In other words, its presence can interfere with muscle function – the cause of stiffness experienced after consuming nightshades. All people are not sensitive to nightshades in the same degree. Research has proved that when an inflammatory condition exists, consuming nightshades is like adding “fuel to the fire”. That said, there is no scientific evidence that for those not afflicted with inflammation that nightshades will cause it.

http://haydeninstitute.com/additional-resources/additional-resources-diet-and-nutrition/inflammatory-foods-nightshades

I also found some evidence, though much less, that solanine might cause hunger in sensitive individuals, but so little it seems tenuous at best. I’ll be the first to say that it’s a bit of a reach to say there’s a cause and effect here without lots of testing – but it’s a worthy hypothesis to pursue. What if I avoid plants with solanine and notice this doesn’t happen again? Outside of a slightly more restrictive approach – what do I have to lose?

From the same link above, here’s a list of the offending foods:

Nightshades – Avoid in order to decrease inflammation:

  • Potatoes, all varieties (sweet potatoes and yams are NOT nightshades. Beware of potato starch used in many seasonings and as a thickening agent)

  • Peppers (red, green, yellow, orange, jalapeno, chili, cayenne, pimento)

  • Tomatoes, all varieties (including Tomatillos)

  • Paprika

  • Eggplant

  Foods that contain solanine although not directly in the nightshade family:

  • Blueberries & Huckleberries

  • Okra

  • Artichokes

  Other Substances to Avoid:

  • Homeopathic remedies containing Belladonna (known as deadly nightshade)

  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications containing potato starch as a filler (especially prevalent in sleeping and muscle relaxing medications)

  • Edible flowers: petunia, chalice vine, day jasmine, angel and devil’s trumpets.

  • Atropine and Scopolamine, used in sleeping pills

  • Topical medications for pain and inflammation containing capsicum (in cayenne pepper)

What’s relevant to me from that list is three of the items from my crockpot meal, as well as eggplant, blueberries and paprika. I’ve had okra and liked it, but I don’t eat it. I don’t take homeopathic remedies, nor do I eat flowers. I *have* used capsicum, but maybe once every few years, so I can avoid that.

So I’ll proceed from here under the assumption that I am sensitive to these compounds and see what happens – at least for a while. This sucks, of course, because I like these foods – and they are low carb.

But if I *do* find a stronger cause and effect link by experimenting along these lines, avoiding these foods might be worth it

Fat, Dumb, and Happy Day 5

Friday, March 14, 2014 – 1:30pm

I seem to be suffering from an excess of energy. Yes – excess. When you’re feeling sluggish most of the time it becomes the norm, but I’m feeling my energy increase and it is making me antsy as I sit behind a desk and stare at a computer all day.

For the unabashedly slothful, energy can be a nuisance.

I needed to take a walk to clear my head a bit, then came back and had another lettuce wrap. Having run out of the roast beef, I broke 2 small hamburgers in half, covered in low carb ketchup, and wrapped that in the swiss cheese. It was good, though the burgers were cold and not everybody is into that.

Did I mention I eat weird stuff?

I eat weird stuff.

I’ve been loathe to track my eating from the perspective of calories, carbs, protein, fat, and the percentages, net carb counts and the like. I mean – what’s the point? I’m in ketosis, I’m eating a small group of low carb-friendly foods, and losing weight: any extra tracking would be an unnecessary burden.

Instead, what I have been doing is tracking just *what* I eat. I keep a simple spreadsheet and if I eat a food, whatever the quantity, I just put an ‘X’ in the field. I also track my weight, if I’m in ketosis, and what my fasting blood glucose is if I remember to test it.

Here’s a screenshot if the above description makes no sense to you (entirely possible as I wrote it):

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 2.07.00 PM

When you’re not in the mood for obsessive tracking, this at least gives you a reasonable big picture of what you’re eating. While a bit light on the usual specifics, it does easily show the good, the bad, and the ugly. Also, since quantities are merely an ‘X’, a bite of bread still shows up as a new line – for me, this is some oddball incentive to avoid cheating: I’d have to list it.

Out of all the 24 eaten items above, four are somewhat bothersome:

  1. Mayonnaise

  2. Sucralose

  3. Almond milk

  4. Low carb ketchup

While all of these are low carb, each *does* have problems in my estimation.

Mayonnaise – I get a canola-based mayonnaise where the oil is expeller pressed (Whole Foods store brand). This means the oil isn’t heated to extract it – it’s squeezed out. That’s way better than the usual soybean oils used, which are usually extracted using a petroleum product hexane and possibly high temperatures. This process denatures the fat molecules and possibly contaminates the stuff with petroleum byproducts. Nasty stuff that I like to avoid.

Still, this mayo isn’t ‘good’, in my estimation, it just isn’t as bad as most of them. Canola oil is higher in omega-3 fats than most seed oils, but I believe you should try to avoid ALL seed oils. Other than a few very expensive oils, most seed oils are filled with omega-6, which, while necessary for health, the typical american gets way too much of. (By the way, olives are technically a ‘fruit’, so olive oil is NOT a seed oil, is somewhat unique because it is a quality source of monounsaturated fats which most believe are good for you, and is on my list of oils that are just fine).

Canola is also a food never eaten by humans until maybe 40 years ago. Canola has another name – rapeseed – not a particularly marketable name – and was only used an an industrial lubricant for machines and stuff like that because it had an ingredient that would make people sick. some clever plant breeders developed a version that virtually eliminated the offending compound – and because this was done in Canada, they renamed it ‘Can’ (Canada) ‘ola’ (oil). What this means is that nobody really know what kind of long-term effects Canola might have – possibly none. We don’t know.

Problem is – I love mayo. Yeah, you can make substitutes, use sour cream or something else, but nothing beats the real thing. I have made my own mayo with olive oil, but this can be tricky and any lack of patience in the creation can cause the creamy mayo to ‘break’ and turn into a useless speckled goo which I have to throw away.

Hopefully I can get up the courage to tempt fate and try this again in the near future . My recipe worked out well – when I didn’t screw it up.

Sucralose – are artificial sweeteners bad for you? All I know is that I lost 80 pounds using sucralose and probably kept the Atkins organization afloat during their lean years after the low carb bust of 2003 by drinking enormous amounts of their shakes. Their bars can be problematic and cause stalls, but their shakes never stalled me. Keep in mind – that was almost a decade ago and they have reformulated their product since then. My weight loss response to them might be very different today – a reformulated product and a decade older.

While I personally think artificial sweeteners do have an impact on me – i think it tends to stimulate my appetite – there’s a ‘quality of life’ issue going on here – if I become utterly miserable pining for sweets I am less apt to stay on the diet. So for me, I see it as the lesser of two evils. Yes – there are people who think it impacts your gut bacteria: yet again I think this is a very personal effect and I try to find my own answer by seeing what results I get.

I have nothing to complain about at this stage of the game so will keep using it until I feel like not using it. Again, my only response to it is an increase in appetite and as I think I have not been overeating – what’s the issue?

Almond milk – I like this stuff. Heck, even my kid likes the stuff, but it is processed and I don’t know if I have any reaction to some of the ingredients – right now, given my progress, it appears not. This is also another food with omega-6 fats, though considerably lower than the calorie-packed mayonnaise. If it was the only one, perhaps it would be OK – or perhaps I can live healthy and happy with *both*. I can read the literature on this and come to an academic decision – or I can test myself and see what happens.

Low Carb Ketchup – More sucralose. Other dubious ingredients that might or might not cause mischief. Another quality of life issue. Lesser of two evils.

The Ides of March, 2014 – 219.6

It was a long week. I can’t begin to describe the level of brainwork I’ve been doing as of late – at least for *my* brain. It’s like doing heart surgery – and learning while you do so. There are also plenty of conference calls about ‘when I will be done’ – no pressure. The weekend will provide no respite – I have other things I need to brain through so I’m going to be doing a weekend of mental gymnastics.

In retrospect, my rather casual decision to start up an extreme low carb diet when I did might have been, accidentally, the best possible time to do so.

I’m under a lot of pressure but don’t ‘feel’ the pressure in a way that is in any way debilitating. I can perform without the emotions that might degrade my performance. My brain is sparkly clear and working at it’s peak capacity. Mine is not a top-quality brain by any means – but what brains I have are working at maximum efficiency.

I think I have to give a lot of credit to low carb for this. I remember first reading the Atkins book and his assertion that too many carbs can cause ‘brain fog’. When I read this I thought this the statement of a quack. When I started Atkins a decade ago I did so as a skeptic – I *never* thought it would work, and I ignored the ‘brain fog’ comment because I didn’t buy in to the whole low carb thing anyway.

And then when I started doing Atkins I suddenly understood what he meant by ‘brain fog’ – and saw the difference on only my second day doing it.

A decade ago, at 265 pounds, I would struggle through the afternoons as a powerful sleepiness would descend upon me after lunch. So do a lot of people – it’s almost considered natural. It’s hard to notice non-events sometimes, but I clearly remember this sleepiness in the afternoon disappeared on the second day of my first go at low carb.

I had tried the diet because I wanted to lose weight – never in my wildest dreams did I think it would have any psychological impact.

It did.

It can be explained easily enough by blood sugar: eat a big sandwich and a bag of chips at lunch and we insulin resistant folks ride a sugar-powered rollercoaster up the giant wooden mountain – then come tearing down again. Our blood sugar also affects our emotions: as a kid, my father’s sudden and uncharacteristic flares of extreme temper for no reason whatsoever brought him to the doctor – where it was determined that he had full blown type-II diabetes. This was after he acquired a month’s-long habit of having a big bowl of ice cream after dinner.

I remember being at the doctor’s office with him and my mom and the doctor stating with firm conviction: “Eating sugar had nothing to do with this.”

This was the late 70s – and that was the standard thinking at the time. Remember, Atkins was a nutritional apostate at the time – just another quack doctor regarded by the mainstream medical community as not unlike John Harvey Kellogg – brother of the cereal magnate – who used to remove large portions of people’s intestines and give them yogurt enemas to ‘cure’ them of ‘autointoxication’ – a popular imaginary disease from the late 1800s through the first third of the 1900s.

(I am *very* interested in the history of diets and have a bookshelf full of books on the subject though I write little about this – perhaps someday…)

Anywho, back to my main topic (if I had one).

I had mentioned previously the ‘energy problem’ – being antsy at work because of an excess of energy. This was put to good use after work as I efficiently went to Walmart and restocked my supply of pork rinds and Lindt 85% dark chocolate – two old goto foods in my low carb adventures, then hit Trader Joe’s for more of the Almond milk. Then I came home and made short work of a pile of mail that I had neglected to go through, making phone calls, questioning bills, and cleaning up a big mess of paperwork I simply could not bring myself to tackle.

When I had completed this, I was ready for whatever was going to be my dinner.

There was cake and pie downstairs, courtesy of my wife’s sweet tooth. I was as indifferent to them as I was indifferent to low carb fare only a few days ago and went for a few hard-boiled eggs wrapped in cheese splashed with low carb ketchup. I also had a healthy amount of peppered salami with more cheese – I wrapped these in romaine lettuce leaves and ate like a sandwich.

As I wake around 5am these days, I like to be in bed by 9:30, then read until I fall asleep – usually around 10pm or so – but I couldn’t sleep. Insomnia is not a problem I’ve suffered from for decades.

I remembered Dr. Mike Eades of Protein Power mentioning that sometimes ketones can cause insomnia, and the best cure for this? A little sugar. He stated a bit of the stuff won’t hurt and might help you get to sleep.

Sometime after 11pm I was hungry again and went downstairs. As I went down the stairs I saw one of the Lindt chocolate bars I bought. It occurred to me that I could kill 2 birds with one stone perhaps. I had 4 squares of the chocolate which is about 7 grams of carbs between the cocoa and the sugar (Great stuff, by the way. I was never a fan of dark chocolate but I’ve come to love this particular dark chocolate.)

I fell asleep within maybe 20 minutes.

When I woke this morning I was down to 219.6 – my lowest morning weight so far during this round of extreme low carb. My ketones were high – actually they aren’t usually high in the mornings – they are light for reasons that are unclear to me – it’s the afternoons when they are usually very high. It certainly shows the chocolate before bed had zero impact on ketosis.

I’ve a busy weekend ahead so I’ll stop here for now.

Fat, Dumb, and Happy: Day 4

After my usual infusion of coffee and cream as my breakfast, I didn’t eat until after 3pm – I wasn’t hungry. Yeah, I know, there’s plenty of people who say you should do this but then there’s this quote: The biggest liar is ‘they say’. I tend to use a definition of Zen as my dietary advice.

If you know anything about Zen, it has a sense of humor about itself. There are myriad stories in the literature that tell what Zen masters say when people ask: what is Zen? The answer to the question I use as my dietary advice is: “When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep.”

Whether or not this is good diet advice *or* a good answer to ‘what is Zen?’ I truly don’t know.

Anywho, I had another one of those roast beef and cheese rollups for lunch and as usually happens at the beginning in ketosis is afterward I get a feeling of heaviness. It’s not debilitating, but it is certainly noticeable. I also always notice stomach rumbling way down low – the type that usually comes before a sudden dash to the bathroom – but it almost never comes to that.

I imagine the carb-loving gut bacteria, getting notice from the stomach that a meal is coming, suddenly gets the meal it doesn’t want and riots: “We demand carbs!” They picket and protest and overturn cars and set trash cans on fire (in my overactive imagination), but all I hear is an ominous rumbling that goes away after a time. Perhaps they sign petitions that get sent to my brain via the vagus nerve that connects the digestive system to the brain that say: ‘tell him he wants pizza!’ or something like that.

Meanwhile, the other fat and protein-loving gut bacteria see their standard of living go up, buy houses, raise kids, and slowly but surely watch the carb-lovers numbers diminish. More room for *their* kids. I’m sure they don’t mind – and neither do I.

I’m interested in what’s really going on down there in the trillions of bacteria that not only digest my food but might also affect my mood. I read that 90% of us is not ‘us’, but rather the bacteria that coexist with us. One scientist I believe referred to humans as hotels for other organisms.

Your hand sanitizer is useless.

7:20pm

Just got home and took my stats – the few things I’m monitoring. Ketosis? Yep – the test strip was very dark. Weight? 219.2 – first time I cracked 220 in a month – not that I stayed there all that long at any time this year, however.

What I ate for dinner sounds odd – but I always eat odd. I’ve been really digging this drinkable plain yogurt from grass-fed cows. It won some award for taste – and I don’t doubt it a bit. I had the last out of the bottle – about a cup with 4 drops of the EZ_Sweetz. That was great, but the problem is the bottle: there’s more in there – you just can’t get it out. I add some water, more sweetener and shake. Another glass – not as thick – but just as good,

I saw 2 avocados looking a bit aged so I opened them, scooped out the contents in a bowl and hit with about 10 dashes of Tabasco sauce. This I ate on some pork rinds. After that, 2 glasses of almond milk with more sweetener.

I was thirsty – more so than usual – perhaps I lost too much water?

Not to long after the ominous rumbling in the stomach began – borborygmi for those of you who are fond of obscure words. This was upper – not lower. Nothing will come of it –  more kvetching by my digestive system that didn’t get to eat the donut lying in plain sight when I got home.

Still thirsty, I drank a few cups of water. I doubt the scale will be as low tomorrow as it is now as I imagine at the end of day 3 it is busy retooling for what it expects will be at least a while in this carb-deprived state. It held out hopes I’d stop this damn foolery earlier – now it’s buckling down for the long haul.

Also – right before bed I had 2 small grass-fed burgers with cheese and low carb ketchup. Perhaps I was hungry or perhaps this was to blunt the appearance of a fresh, crunchy baguette on the counter when my wife and kids arrived home. The eyes told the brain to send a message via the vagus nerve to the stomach about the baguette. In turn, the message was sent back: “Get us some of that!”.

Didn’t happen – this time. I even cut some for the kid.

Friday, March 14, 2014 – 221.4

As expected, the weight popped up a bit. It was expected. It’s OK. This isn’t just about the scale – it’s about how I feel – and I do feel better psychologically. There might be more to this than just the types of things psychotherapists deal in – have you happen to read ‘Grain Brain’ yet? I hope to discuss this book soon, though my haphazard approach to this narrative might mean I don’t get to it. You might want to check it out.

Fat, Dumb, and Happy: Day 3

photo (1)
A rather scary looking roast beef and cheese in romaine lettuce leaves wrapped in saran wrap

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 – 4pm

I made a ‘wrap’ for lunch. I’ve always found it a big problem replacing the utility of something between 2 pieces of bread that you can eat on the run. My solution was to use romaine lettuce leaves as a ‘wrap’, fill with roast beef, cheese & Mayo, then wrap it in saran wrap so it looked like a cucumber.

This worked surprisingly well for dining ‘Al Desko’ (aka eating at your desk).

Not much in the way of a headache, but the keto cutover can be bumpy as energy levels go up and down – sort of like a car backfiring, or a car with a little water in the fuel line, there’s a certain inconsistency to how you feel which I could imagine would feel scary to one doing this for the first time.

I’ve been through it at least 100 times. It’s the normal abnormal. If I continue like this, the ups and downs will diminish as my body acclimates, and there’s usually an overall energy level boost after a few days to a few weeks. Despite the physical feeling, my minds feels clearer – and I am doing a lot of brainwork. The neurons are firing like they should even if the body is balking a bit at the moment.

So the big question that looms ahead – and the reason why I am trying to chronicle this a bit more closely is: just what is going to screw me up? As I’ve probably gone into ketosis 100 times, I also went OUT of ketosis 100 times – why? Unless the 100th time’s the charm, it will happen – and I’d like to catch clearly what causes this so I can hopefully avoid it. All the goodies still surround me in the house, the work stress is still here.

In the evening I ended up at a diner with my younger daughter and had 3 eggs, bacon and a sausage. I could have eaten more but I didn’t. Home late, I went to bed after getting my younger daughter ready for bed.

March 13, 2014 – 5:30am – 220.4

Given my diet and the second day of ketosis, the one pound loss is probably indicative that I’ve lost all the water weight and the water that I’m carrying now isn’t due to carbs. Your body simply does not lose fat that quick – it is physically impossible without liposuction. It’s probably fair to say that any loss from here will be mostly fat. Studies can be found that show low carbers are less likely to lose muscle during weight loss than people on other diets. Don’t know if it’s true, nor do I know if that applies to my unique biochemistry.

That’s the problem I have with much nutrition science: it makes generalities that only *might* be true, and if true, might not apply to me because I am not a generality.

If some of you are thinking: if I did what this schmuck did, would I lose close to 9 pounds in 3 days? I have no clue.

All I know is that what I am doing has caused this weight loss. Past experience shows it will continue to slow. It will certainly stop if I eat any significant amount of carbs or start eating stuff like low carb bread and Atkins bars. I will gain if I go to The Cheesecake Factory and order a bowl of pasta.

I will make another one of my lettuce-leaf roast beef and cheese wraps and see how today goes – again watching for: what circuit do I trip that makes me screw up and cheat? If I was talking to you in person, you might try to encourage me: “Aw, don’t think like that – you’re doing fine!”. But this isn’t about positive thinking or negative thinking – it is an honest experiment in trying to identify the series of events that cause me to lose my groove – not because I want to fail, but because I want to pay close attention to how and why I fail when it happens so I can have something to work with and not give myself a vague and useless answer like: I was tired.

Everybody gets tired. If it is ‘tired’ for example, I want to be able to drill into that experience to see the exact mechanism, take it apart, and clearly note the sequence of events and feelings that led to it in the hopes that knowing more will give me clues on how to stop it from happening again – or at least lessening the time between restarts.

I feel OK. Despite the stress of work and the usual stress of an overbooked modern life, I am eating to plan, don’t particularly have cravings that drive me crazy, and am not hungry. Mind is clear, and I will go into work with a very complicated set of tasks that I know need to be done and will probably do them pretty efficiently. My mood is certainly not ‘blissed-out grinning idiot’ – I’m at turns mentally fatigued, anxious, rushing, and trying to solve puzzles with a deadline, yet the emotions I feel about these things don’t feel as extreme as a few days ago where I felt almost as if I was suffering an existential crisis.

Let’s see how *this* day goes.

Fat, Dumb, and Happy: Lost 7 pounds in 36 Hours

[I thought I might try a bit of an experiment. What if I just post what I write? It’s the editing that kills me – most of my stuff ends up on the cutting room floor, unpublished. Instead, I’m going to just post what I’ve dashed off. It’s a bit of a ramble, but let’s see if it leads anywhere interesting. It’s only a blog, you know.]

Monday, March 10, 2014 – 10am

I bought the butter and the roast beef – I went for the store-cooked on the off-chance that it might be less processed. Even something like roast beef frequently has monosodium glutamate added. They also had Kerry Gold Irish Swiss cheese and as it’s entirely possible that the Kerry Gold cheese was made from grass-fed cows I bought a pound on impulse.

I am in a very odd mood that I am challenged to explain. I’m neither happy nor sad. Somewhat ‘robotic’ is perhaps one description.

I did weigh myself before leaving the house – 228.8.

Meh. Indifferent.

I wasn’t particularly hungry until mid afternoon when I had some of the roast beef with butter. Perhaps a 1/3rd stick with maybe 2-3 ounces of roast beef. I also had salt with it. I don’t add salt as a condiment normally, but I do with roast beef.

I didn’t try the swiss cheese until I got home. I had this with a leftover grass-fed hamburger and boy, was that good. I also had a glass of vanilla unsweetened almond milk while I cooked some grass-fed beef that needed to be cooked before it went bad. I also stopped at the Whole foods and bought 2 very fatty pork bellies. These will make for very ketosis-friendly meals – one I stored in the fridge, the other I froze.

Is it a placebo effect or do I already feel a little better? I think maybe it *isn’t* a placebo effect as I *have* been doing low carb for 10+ years.

Putting weight loss aside, I feel better mentally on a low carb diet. Not as indifferent – and it’s only a day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 –  225.8

I woke before the alarm and felt OK. It was a big contrast from the day before when my back was hurting so much that I had a hard time getting out of bed.

While my diet might seem extreme so far, there’s a reason for it beyond calories and carbs: by narrowing it down so I have a better chance of leaving out the potential that a myriad of food ingredients – natural and man-made – might cause undetectable problems. By undetectable I mean undetectable by doctors – not that there aren’t symptoms.

Low carb bread, for me, is a prime example. Despite the fact the label states 5 grams of net carbs per slice, it seems like more than a slice impacts my weight loss. The same amount of carbs from other sources would not impact me the same.

Atkins bars are another example. When I’ve used them, I’ve found more than one or two a day can cause a slowing or stalling of weight loss.

So here’s the quandary: there is something suspect in some foods that are low carb that impact me. Unless I were to have a battery of expensive and dubious medical tests, I can’t know what they are. So what if I ‘act as if’ these substances are in a lot of what I eat and limit my eating to a few very simple items and see what happens?

There’s no ‘believing’ involved here. I don’t know what these substances are and will probably never know, but by removing as many of them as possible I can test a simple hypothesis: are there substances in my food that affect my mood and weight loss?

Yesterday I consumed 7 items: roast beef, ground beef, swiss cheese, coffee, cream, almond milk and low carb ketchup. Aside from the last two, there’s no ingredient labels – these are minimally-processed foods.

The ingredients more than double when you add in the actual ingredients from the almond milk and low carb ketchup. Together they have about 17 different ingredients (a day of eating processed foods can run into the hundreds). I cannot know if any of these chemicals have an impact on me individually, and it will be damn tough to determine if they have a threshold level below which they are innocuous and above which they cause mischief.

What can be determined is very crude, and one is hard to measure. The first is my weight. A scale can be very accurate, but peoples’ weight varies from day to day based on how much water they retain. A low carb diet causes a rapid drop of water weight because the body needs water to handle carbs. Ditch the carbs and you ditch the water. But there are other body processes that occasionally need to store water and a daily weigh-in will sometimes show a weight gain when there actually was a fat loss – just because the human body is, well, unknowable on a chemical level.

Sure – researchers can do tests, produce papers, and make conclusions, but frequently their methods are suspect and their conclusions don’t match the data. You can’t know this unless you read all these papers, decipher the unnecessarily professorial language, analyze the data, then scrutinize their analytical methods to see if any monkey business went on to give them the numbers they were hoping for.

This whole topic could turn into a very big rant but I’ll stop here and cover the second item that I can measure, though this one is perceptual and even worse than the weight on the scale.

That is hunger.

I’ve already written about the different types of hunger: cellular (you are actually hungry), food-based (something you ate actually triggers hunger), and psychological (comfort food, social pressure, and scores of other things). I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing my own hunger and a real, honest-to-goodness symptom of what I’ll call a ‘false hunger’ is having food fantasies even though I know I have eaten an adequate amount.

I notice the difference. Hunger is still present, of course – it’s a natural and necessary reaction to not eating. It feels different, though – it’s of a different type – one that is easier to manage – at least right now.

3/11/14 – 7:30pm

My day consisted of a few tablespoons of cream in my morning coffee, then more coffee at work. Early afternoon I finally got hungry and I started to feel the familiar weirdness that I have come to associate with a ‘high’ because I know what it means.

I had brought 2 roast beef ‘sandwiches’ – a few slices of roast beef with maybe 2 tablespoons of butter, along with salt and pepper. I position the butter carefully, slide it into a sandwich bag and squish the butter with my palm. This leaves a relatively flat sandwich-like object – sans bread – that I can eat out of the bag. I had one of the two I brought. I had a bit more coffee late afternoon with some coconut oil and along with my slight headache – another good sign.

When I got home I tested for ketones. The test strip turned a dark red.

The ol’ roast beef and butter trick works again – within 36 hours I’m in ketosis.

The next things might seem outlandish or preposterous, but I promise you it is true: I weighed myself and was 221.6. I lost slightly more than 7 pounds in 36 hours.

No wonder I feel weird – can you imagine what a profound change this must be for a human body to alter a weight that quickly? Granted – I am a ‘special case’ – I’ve been doing this stuff for years. My body has a LOT of practice with running on ketones. Most assuredly it’s primarilt water weight, but my pants still enjoy the extra room and my wedding band goes on easier.

I throw in the low carb mix tape my body knows so well and it’s ready to party with little resistance.

I was hungry when I got home so I put a few ounces of roast beef and that awesome swiss cheese on a romaine lettuce leaf heart, slathered it in mayonnaise, and topped with pepper and another leaf. I had that with a cup of plain yogurt made from grass-fed milk.

This was adequate. I went to bed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 – 221.4

Woke a few minutes before the alarm. This is another curious side-effect I’ve noticed about ketogenic low carb: I seem to need less sleep and wake refreshed.

To be continued…maybe.

March 10, 2014 – Fat, Dumb, and Happy

I haven’t written as of late because I haven’t had anything of interest to say. You might find it interesting (or not) that after a splendid start of the so-called ‘2014 diet’, it petered out to an extent I haven’t seen in years. I haven’t even been *trying*, so much so that I don’t even differentiate between good foods and bad foods anymore.

There’s no ‘cheating’ when you’re not on a diet.

I also gave up the running because my knees were bothering me. I thought that I might start again after I lose some weight…I do have some bitchin’ shoes, though.

Of course the weight I put on at the end of 2013 is still with me – and I have increased since then. The highest weight was 230. I am strangely indifferent to it, though. I think it is because of work – I am involved in a very large and stressful project right now – but it could be plenty of other things. Real cause and effect can be hard to ascertain.

But I have proven yet again that low carb does work for me. I don’t do it – I get fat.

I’ve also proven that I feel better eating low carb because I feel pretty lousy at present.

I find being fed up is a good motivator – but I’m too indifferent to be fed up – or perhaps I’m fed up with my indifference? I dunno – I don’t understand myself.

Regardless, I have decided to indifferently give the ol’ diet-thing a try again.

The plan is to just do *something* – but indifference is a tough emotion to work with.

Here’s what *might* work. I have found that buying roast beef at the deli and eating it with butter is a good way to jump-start my diet. It doesn’t require much thought. It’s not a long-term solution, certainly, but perhaps it will get me started in the right direction and lead to a little more focus and a little less indifference. A few days of this can get me into ketosis, and after the weird feelings of the ketogenic cutover I usually find myself thinking clearer and having more energy.

Perhaps I’m suffering from a ‘carb fog’ – my brain working at a lower capacity because of too many crap carbs.

All I need to do is give it a couple of days. In my indifferent, ‘fat, dumb, and happy’ state – can I pull it off?

We’ll see.