I Started Ketosis in Less Than Two Days With This One Weird Trick

I’m sorry – I couldn’t help myself with that ‘one weird trick’ phrase that’s used as clickbait all over the Internet – but it really *was* one little thing that helped me get into ketosis.

I’ve been doing low carb to varying degrees for a dozen years now and the one thing I noticed in myself is eating enormous amounts of butter always got me into ketosis in record time. Once I’m in ketosis I can throttle back the butter – and the ketosis itself helps with carb cravings.

It’s also motivating to see the keto sticks turn a dark red. Doing this when I come home in the evening is a great motivator to keep me away from the carb-laden ‘kid chow’ that my daughters like.

The problem is *eating* enormous amounts of butter. Don’t get me wrong – I love butter, but the amounts needed to make this trick work was kinda ‘yuck’.

I used to wrap it in roast beef but I’ve grown sick of this trick.

This past week I stumbled across a way to get the amount of butter I need to do the trick – one stick per day – that I actually look forward to having. It’s also simple and takes 5 minutes.

Here’s the trick:

Ingredients:

  • The best butter I can afford. Kerry Gold Irish butter is great, but any ‘pastured’ butter will do. If you were stupid enough to try this you could probably do this with the cheapest stuff that you can find but there’s beneficial substances in the pastured butter – and since you’re going to be getting a massive blast of calories from this, shouldn’t you go upmarket if you can?
  • Chicken broth or chicken stock with sodium. Unless you are salt-sensitive (and I question if such people should go on a ketogenic diet), a ketogenic diet will deplete you of salt. I personally see nothing wrong with salt, but I’m a little nuts and you probably shouldn’t be taking my advice anyway
  • Tamari Soy Sauce. More salt. Tamari soy sauce is gluten-free and I’m experimenting with minimizing my gluten intake just for fun.

So what I do is get a large coffee mug – 16 oz. – and put a half stick of butter in it, then cover with the chicken broth and place in the microwave on high for about 3 minutes. The stick of butter won’t be completely melted, but with a bit of stirring and a minute or two and it will.

I then add the Tamari soy sauce to taste. I like salt so for me that’s at least a teaspoon if not more.

This – to me – tastes pretty darn good. It tastes like a creamy, buttery, chicken soup where the butter does not overpower the chicken and soy sauce flavor.

On day one of my upteenth time tried to restart my low carb diet I had this twice daily. I typically skip breakfast and just have coffee and cream, then have this at lunch time and right before leaving work to help me get past the dozen or so fast food places I pass on my way home that have been my downfall as of late.

To say this is ‘filling’ is an understatement.

By the evening of the second day the keto strips showed I was in full-blown ketosis – and there’s certainly a number of other physical symptoms of starting ketosis that I was feeling that backed up the strips.

My plan at the moment is to stay on a ketogenic diet for as long as I can. I’d like to do 3 months and go back to my doctor and get my bloodwork done. I might mix in intermittent fasting as well. Once your body is used to burning ketones for fuel – and this ‘keto-adaptation’ can take weeks if not months to fully adapt, fasting is way easier because you are not going to be dealing with hypoglycemia like you might coming off a high-carb diet. Your body knows how to mobilize fat as fuel and it just won’t be as much of a struggle.

I *do* feel compelled to state that this is awfully extreme and I don’t recommend ANYONE be as daredevil as I am. I think I’ve become quite the kook and super-duper low carb, high fat diets are not for everyone and have their hazards. Perhaps each post from now on should have a variation of the disclaimer you see on car commercials when you see them do high-speed maneuvers to convince guys in mid-life crisis to buy overpriced sports cars:

Professional stunt dieter – do not attempt this at home. 

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Cancer, Warburg, Seyfried, and EXTREME Low Carb Diets

I’ve made mention of a peculiar use for low carb diets other than for weight loss. You might have heard that low carb is successfully used in children for epilepsy (check out The Charlie Foundation for more info on that), but you might not have known that nascent research is being done independently and somewhat outside the normal protocols to determine if a very – and I mean VERY – low carb diet *might* work as a treatment for cancer.

Now let’s stop here for an important warning: if you have cancer, this most likely *isn’t* something for you. First off, for many cancers, traditional treatments do, in fact, work if treated early. It also isn’t a treatment that you can try on your own along with a standard course of treatment. Many of them are incompatible with a low carb diet. It also has only been tested in mouse models – and for only certain types of cancers. You’d need professional guidance if you wanted to see if this was right for you.

There’s also this: the theory as to why it might work contradicts decades of research.

Hear a quacking sound? Cancer has been called the ‘Emperor of all maladies‘ and had attracted charlatans willing to turn a profit on other people’s tragedy, peddling false hope and leaving their families penniless. This one is somewhat different, however, and we’ll get to that in a moment, but first you must meet Otto Warburg, but to meet Mr. Warburg we need to go back 90 years and also revisit out high school biology class for a little refresher. I promise I won’t get too ‘sciencey’ and I apologize beforehand to those readers who know this stuff way better than I ever will. Forgive me my simplistic explanations – but please call me out if I state something patently incorrect. I don’t want to misinform.

Most of the cells that make up this container we call you and I contain mitochondria. There’s a hundred fascinating things about these parts of the cell – you can only get them from your mother, for instance, and they have their very own DNA that is completely different from yours – but lets focus on the what they do for you. Mitochondria are considered the ‘powerplants’ of your cells and create the energy the cell needs to survive. They do a bunch of other things, but one of the important parts for our discussion is the energy production.

Otto Warburg was a researcher who, in 1924, noticed that the mitochondria in cancer cells didn’t properly respire – as in ‘breathe’. Yes – cells breathe, which is why *we* breathe – to get the oxygen the cells need to properly respire.

But cancer cells didn’t respire properly – instead, it appeared that they took a different approach that only allowed them to feed only on glucose.

Now, just because a cancer cell’s eating habits are different doesn’t quite explain why they’re cancer cells (at least that I know), but it does point out a cancer cell’s Achille’s heel: they’re sugar addicts.

As sometimes happens in science, some guys in lab coats scratched their beards, mumbled something about this being ‘interesting’ – and then it was mostly forgotten except perhaps as trivia while science marched forward with cancer treatments using surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Cancer treatments did get better, but now we’ve reached a point where new treatments might only add months to a patient’s life.

Then along comes Thomas Seyfried who writes a textbook named Cancer as a Metabolic Disease which challenges many of the standard notions about the treatment of cancer and recommends an extremely low carb diet instead of chemo – and gets himself into a mess of trouble – at least from a career standpoint.

Dr. Seyfried is a legitimate researcher who comes out with a book that overturns 50 years of thinking on cancer. This is going to attract two things: crackpots and the label of ‘quack’ from his peers.

I simply do not have the skill-set to judge his work as I am not an oncologist, but he had laid out a legitimate attempt to create a new way of thinking about and treating cancer and no one can deny that a low carb diet might be a heckuva lot better treatment for cancer – if it works – than chemo and radiation. Simply put: normal brain cells can live on ketones – cancer cells can’t, so a super-duper low carb ketogenic diet starves the cancer cells while normal cells survive.

Here’s Thomas Seyfried discussing his theory. Pretty sciency, though it allows you to gauge the man:

He doesn’t come off as a quack – more frustrated than anything.

His last answer in the Q&A is his most damning: if the standard of care raises blood glucose, then it leads to the ‘demise of the patient’.

“Oh.” Says the oncology community. “We’ve been doing this all wrong for 50 years? My bad – let’s fix that right away.”

You can see how his theory is a ‘turd in a punchbowl’ for anyone in the medical community invested in the current standard of care.

Here’s an example from one of his naysayers. It’s a well-reasoned criticism and well worth slogging through to help to begin to understand the point of view of the medical community.

How *I* got exposed to this was because a friend’s relative was diagnosed with a glioblastoma – a type of brain cancer that is pretty much a death sentence. I was reminded of the article I had read about a woman who was treating her brain tumor with a ketogenic diet and was even keeping a blog about it. I provided the link and my friend and their family, after a lot of research, decided on a doctor-supervised ketogenic diet.

It’s too soon to tell at this point if this was the right approach, but given what I’ve read about glioblastomas, there’s not much to lose.

Doing my own research I came across a website that offered a complete diet book for cancer patients trying a ketogenic diet, bought a copy and read it from cover to cover.

book-cover-med

I’ve read plenty of other books on ketogenic diets, but this one comes not from the weight loss community but out of the childhood epilepsy community where the stakes are higher. We’re not talking about fitting in that cute little dress but preventing debilitating seizures in small children – or not dying from cancer.

This is the most extreme low carb diet I’ve ever seen – because most diets try to make it comfortable for the patient. While this book bends over backwards to do the same, its primary goal is to manage a threatening disease.

I thought it would be interesting to try this approach – what the heck – and did it for a few weeks over the summer.

Even though I am an old hand at ketosis, this was hard. I felt like passing out one hot summer day walking a nearby downtown, which I summed up to dehydration: you don’t store *any* water weight on this diet so it probably made dehydration a huge possibility. I felt much better after a bottle of water and a salad.

I didn’t keep up with it but I consider the book an excellent reference for anyone interested in what an ‘extreme’ low carb diet looks like. I have to admit that my own diet is in tatters as I write this but if/when I get up the gumption to start again I am going to use this book as a guide – perhaps not going as ‘full-on’ as a cancer patient might, but rather as a target I can afford to miss, given that even coming near to this protocol will still be a very adequate ketogenic diet.

The April Fool Day 2: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – 223.4

Day 2: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – 223.4

Small 2 lb. drop. Given I felt I ate a lot the night before I was slightly surprised.

38.5 pound to go to reach my September 1 goal of 185.

The morning was my typical coffee and cream as well as coconut oil and cream a bit later.

My first meal of the day (aside from caffeine and pure fat) was some of the lovely Applegate American cheese and a mini brie. I also ate fruit – an avocado.

I’m feeling that ‘weird’ feeling that means the onset of ketosis. It shouldn’t be hard – I haven’t been exactly binging on carbs for a good part of the previous month. My carb intake might have been higher than I’d have liked bit it was probably less than half of the average person’s already.

As is usual during the ketosis conversion, my head is clear and I feel OK – just weird.

If I was in ketosis, though, it was only light ketosis. Not what I expected.

I finished up that tiny bit of chicken / bacon / sour cream combo from the night before, then made a tuna salad with scallions. I put in what amounted to 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise but it seemed a bit dry, so I tried adding a bit of sour cream – my thinking here is the sour cream is a better choice than another 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise – and perhaps it will add the creaminess without eliminating the flavor notes of the mayonnaise. I also added about 4 shakes of Worcestershire sauce.

It came out good. I’ve come to find that Worcestershire sauce works well for more than a steak.

I ate this on pork rinds and left it unfinished – again, trying to get into the habit of not eating to the container. I washed this down with the ‘comfort food’ flavor of almond milk sweetened with EZ-Sweetz.

I went to bed early as the wife was studying there and my younger daughter was doing her homework in bed with her. My wife was watching some concert on Youtube – I don’t share the same musical tastes as my wife usually. As of late I’ve been listening to Caravan Palace (I love the cartoon on this one):

She was watching Chris Botti with the Boston Pops. I usually tune out whatever she’s listening to, but this particular concert was unique: a symphony orchestra backing up a jazz ensemble, with appearnaces by Yoyo Mah, Sting, Steven Tyler, and John Mayer, among others. That’s not your usual lineup. The music was eclectic and unexpected – and the musicians truly looked like they were enjoying themselves.

I had no idea who Chris Botti was before this – I want to check him out further after seeing the concert.

I’m reading Do you Believe in Magic? (http://amzn.com/0062222961) which details nicely my concerns with supplements and how we have come to a place where entirely unregulated pills can make whatever wild claims they want and get away with it. As with most things I read in this area, the book is not without its own biases, but the information is interesting.

For example:

On October 10, 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that women who took supplemental multivitamins died at rates higher than those who didn’t . Two days later, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that men who took vitamin E had an increased risk of prostate cancer. “It’s been a tough week for vitamins,” said Carrie Gann of ABC News.

These findings weren’t new . Seven previous studies had already shown that vitamins increased the risk of cancer and heart disease and shortened lives. Still, in 2012, more than half of all Americans took some form of vitamin supplements.

Offit M.D., Paul A. (2013-06-18). Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine (Kindle Locations 613-616). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I have a funny feeling that some of you are feeling a distancing from me as I quote the above. Most people love their vitamins and herbal supplements.

My choice in music might also distance you. When I add details like this that don’t jibe with your preferences it prevents you from projecting things onto me that, since I typically leave them out, you can be free to assume.

“Let’s see – this guy listens to Chris Botti and Caravan Palace – and he thinks supplements are dangerous – I’m outta here!”

Oh well – unlike most bloggers, I’m not trying to get the most hits – this is an experiment in authenticity in a world of posers and I want to see where that takes me.

The concert completed with the book as I stopped to watch some amazing performances.

In bed, reading and watching the concert, I finished off the evening with a few squares of the Lindt 85% Dark Chocolate and a Fage Yogurt with EZ-Sweetz. I was up a bit later than usual reading after the concert was over, then quickly fell asleep.

Another giant rabbit-shaped sugar cookie appeared on my bed stand – my younger daughter snacking on it as she did her homework between Mom and Dad. I almost reach for it a number of times when going for my iPhone.

Sugar cookies are following me.

Low Carb FAQ

[UPDATE: I am busy with a number of things and thought I might leave this post in place for a while, updating occasionally with new questions. Let’s see how this goes]

A lot of people get to this site through search engines, and I can see what these folks entered into the search bar to find me. A lot of these form questions, and I thought I could save you the miserable experience of reading through my site and instead provide a short FAQ of my answers to popular questions.

Please note I said my answers – not the answer. I am no expert. Consider me just some schlub answering your question and not any authority on the subject. Do your own research: I might be a loony.

At present they are in no particular order – and will probably stay that way. I’ll put the most recent at the top so the readers who keep tabs on me don’t have to dig.

Continue reading “Low Carb FAQ”

What is ‘Nutritional Ketosis’ (Without the Gobbeldygook)

I’ve used the term ‘nutritional ketosis’ in a few posts but I haven’t taken the time to explain it – as if everyone’s a nutrition nerd like I am and knows what the heck I am talking about.

I could get all ‘sciency’ on you, but I’d rather not. Most people aren’t all that interested in the sciency details – and I would just be lifting from a book that has become a bit of a bible to me in my current approach to low carb:

The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable by
Stephen D. Phinney and Jeff S. Volek

I’ve read the book twice and it is well-highlighted in my Kindle. Recommended for all you nutrition nerds, but many of you aren’t nutrition nerds and don’t want to read a book written by two doctors written for other doctors. It isn’t a breezy read.

Instead, why don’t I give you the explanation I give myself – dope that I am. For goodness’ sake – check this out for yourself if you have even the slightest curiosity. I give no promises for accuracy. You have been warned.

Continue reading “What is ‘Nutritional Ketosis’ (Without the Gobbeldygook)”

Atkins Induction Day 9 – Actual Atkins Induction

I can usually feel it coming on – but not this time. I suppose I’ve gone in and out of ketosis so many times recently  that, like an athlete, I have been conditioned to do this to the point I don’t even notice it anymore.

If you are new to this – you’ll notice.

When I notice it, it feels like a heaviness. It doesn’t conjure up any particular emotions, nor scramble my brain – in fact, my mind feels clearer when I am ketogenic. I do get a mild headache sometimes, though nothing that I can’t ignore.

For those of you new to this, ketosis, (what used to be called ‘induction’ by the Atkins folks though I believe they’ve retreated from calling it that as the name sounds somewhat harsh), is the product of eating so few carbs that your body cuts over to its backup fuel system and you burn fat and begin excreting ketones in your urine as a byproduct.

I am 5 pounds down from a week ago, but no accolades: I’m apt to screw up and this might be temporary.

I was in ketosis last night as well as this morning. I am 208.6 – a terrible number because it means that I’m not the 193 I briefly got down to in the fall, but a wonderful number because according to the stupid BMI scale I am no longer ‘obese’ but just overweight.

“Obese’ is such an ugly word. In comparison ‘Chlamydia’ sounds like a beautiful girl’s name and ‘Syphilis’, the name of a Roman general.

I’ve found myself as of late focusing on one thing: the percentage of fat. I like seeing it in the 70% range or over when I do my calorie and nutrient count. To do this is not an easy feat, I’ve found. You need to be mostly carnivore. It doesn’t leave much room for veggies, and this doesn’t concern me because, hey, who came up with this ‘balanced diet’ shit in the first place?

Perhaps the notion of ‘balance’ is in the eye of the beholder?

For the most of humanity, people ate whatever the fuck was available, or died of starvation. These people didn’t know what a vitamin was and didn’t care. Even today, one culture might argue that the other’s is unbalanced. A Hindu or Buddhist vegetarian diet seems unbalanced to me – there’s no meat. Some cultures think ‘a day without rice is like a day without sunshine’.

And through all these cultures and their different ways of eating, the lifespan mentioned in the Bible – ‘threescore and ten’ pretty much held until the advent of modern medicine that has proven quite well at adding years to life but the quality of those years? Not so much. I see it in my own Dad: kept alive by a spectrum of medications, his heart beats while his mind is gone from Alzheimer’s – or maybe the medications. He doesn’t recognize anybody, and talking to him is like listening to a series of short recordings of my old Dad – the one I want to remember – randomly played back. He’s reduced to a series of disconnected sound-bites – a human Furby.

Hell – I’ll take my threescore and ten and be happy eating my meat and butter and die at 70, to the great pleasure of the people who prognosticate that my diet will kill me, rather than end up like that.

For me, a day without butter is like a day without sunshine’. I am also still taking Carlson’s ‘lemony’ cod liver oil. I have my suspicions about this stuff, but that I’ll leave for another post, except to say that I wrote to them last week asking just how the stuff was produced and never got a reply.

I set what I believe is a reasonable goal for Saturday – get to 205 pounds again. It’s possible, but there’s no guarantee even if I stay in ketosis.

While I hope I get there, it’s OK if I don’t. The reason?

I actually feel better when I am in ketosis. Fewer mood swings, my mind is clear, I have more energy. Regardless of my weight, it’s all good.

Atkins Induction: How Does It Feel at Day 30?

On September 2, 2012, I was 207.6. This morning, October 10, 2012, I am 193.0 – 14.6 lbs down in 39 days.

Today, if I haven’t messed up in my counting, I have been on a strict ketogenic-type low carb diet – pretty much a long-term Atkins Induction for 30 days straight and am less than 10 pounds away from my target weight of 185, which is when my wife starts to complain that I look too thin.

I am on day 30. I haven’t been in ketosis this long for a long, long, time.

I have proven conclusively something that I thought I could do but had no proof: that after another 9 years older, I could have the same kind of results I had on Atkins the first go-round.

There’s a notion in the low carb community about ‘The Golden Shot’ – that low carb only works once, and if you lose it and gained it back, you can’t repeat it.

In actuality, it seems you can do this – it just takes a little longer. But what I am finding is that I don’t care about how long it takes because  the diet is making me, in general, feel better. Continue reading “Atkins Induction: How Does It Feel at Day 30?”