Keto: 2 Month Review and a New Plan

My Keto 2 month anniversary came and went 5 or 6 days ago.  It was without fanfare.  I’m fairly confident I was sticking to a high fat, low carb diet that should have been ketogenic.  Unfortunately, my Ketonix meter indicated I was producing only “small traces of ketones” every day.   I tried lots of different food combinations and timing exercise differently, but wasn’t able to get up to “moderate” ketone production, according to the meter.  I tried to not eat till later in the day.  I tried to eat 90% fat.  I went days at a time eating only egg yolks, oil, and olives, with a little meat here and there just to hush my hunger.  No dice.  Only “small traces of ketones”.  This resulted in very slow weight loss, and in the last few weeks, increasingly poor sleep.

I started getting tired of oily egg yolks, olives, and avocados.  I could have lived with it if I was losing body fat, pounds, or feeling better….I guess I was feeling ok most days, but it was tiresome eating weird food – and not too much of it – and not seeing much progress.  I only lost a few pounds in 2 months.

So a few days ago I started eating some carbs at night, and sleep improved right away.  The very first carbohydrate meal I ate involved about 3/4 cup of rice noodles.  Unfortunately the next day – Depression.  It’s as if I hadn’t JUST spent the last 2 months eating absolutely nothing starchy.  First time I have it again, the depression is back.  Poisoned again by endotoxin (aka lipopolysaccharides, aka LPS).

So I got to thinking about this.

For years now, whenever I eat lots of fiber or starch my monster of a gut pathogen dumps all over the place, screwing up my ability to think, reason, and get through the evening without yelling at someone.  It makes me depressed, irritable, tired, hopeless, and mean.  A while ago – I don’t know when – maybe after my 2nd round of antimicrobials last year that made no difference – I came to accept that this intruder was always going to be with me and I just had to work around it.  Never eat starch, and if I did, follow it with lots of activated charcoal.  I said to myself, I’ll just never eat raw fiber – I’ll accept that vegetables must be well cooked.  Say good bye to salads, apples, and most other things that normal people eat when they try to eat a nutrient-dense diet.  (Side note: I have no idea why I’m able to eat avocados. They have lots of soluble fiber in them.  Must not be what my pet pathogen likes to eat.)  I’d already said good bye to dairy, sugar, starch, polyunsaturated fats, most processed food, nightshades.  Not much left, but I was willing to do it.

But not if I’m getting no results.

Anyway, I’ve decided to refocus.  Stop worrying about weight loss (I took the scale out of my house, in fact), stop worrying about what I can and can’t eat.   My singular focus right now is on eradicating this endotoxin-producing gram-negative madness from my gut.  I think my gut is keeping me inflamed, hence my inability to lose weight.  Sure, it’s possible insulin is still playing a role (and I haven’t tested it again since 1 month into keto when my level was 20), but really…I just can’t believe that with exercise and LCHF it’s not come down to an acceptable level by now.

I saw some progress in my attempts to slay The Beast with my Great Garlic Experiment in 2014.  I was able to eat starches for a while afterward, without depression.  I think that it’s susceptible to the antimicrobial properties of garlic.  I’ve decided to do the garlic thing again.  In the meantime I’m learning everything I can about LPS, how to kill it, how to neutralize the inflammation it creates. There’s really no good how-to manual on this.  Nourish Balance Thrive had me take probiotics with lots of fibers.  Maybe that works for most people, but for me that turned out to be a very bad idea.

I’m going to kill this bitch.  Pubmed is going to help me.

Two Steps Back

I wish I could get a re-do on the last week.

On Friday I had a couple glasses of wine.  It’s been months – October, specifically – since I’ve had alcohol in any form.  For the record, I love drinking – wine, beer, vodka – it lessens my social anxiety and makes life feel fun for a little while.  I never feel good the next day though, and I haven’t been willing to feel like shit voluntarily when there are so many things helping me to feel like shit that I can’t seem to control.  So I’ve made it a rare occurrence over the last couple of years.  Anyway, had some wine, and with that my judgement became predictably impaired enough that I ate some cheese.  I know, on a ketogenic diet that’s really not much of a misstep, but I’ve been trying to go dairy free (and was succeeding in that effort until this point).

So great…had some wine and some cheese.  Took an aspirin and a big glass of water and went to bed.

The next day my mood was terrible – no energy, fatigue, irritable, and I was having lots of sugar cravings.  I white knuckled it through most of the day but around 4:00 I ate some ice cream.  Ok, a lot of ice cream.  I still have all this stuff in my house because my kid and my husband eat a Peat-inspired diet (and both are doing really well on it, by the way).  I had no problem resisting any of this stuff for the last 6 weeks but suddenly I was unable to do so.  I’m not sure if it was an effect of the alcohol, of the dairy, or if it was a rebound effect from eating low-calorie the previous 3-4 days. I do know one thing though – this was a biologically-driven craving.  I didn’t “miss” ice cream, or sugar, for that matter. I  was feeling great until I introduced alcohol and dairy.

I have been back on track since then but hunger is high (again), I’m having trouble fasting for even a few hours at a time (again), and I’ve regained 5 out of the 6 pounds I lost (again).  So I’m feeling discouraged.  I wish this wasn’t so hard.  Needless to say I’m done with all dalliances.  I feel like my system is completely broken and anything other than perfect behavior and adherence to the plan is as bad as not trying at all.

I’m not so discouraged that I’m quitting….I’m just discouraged.  I’ll get over it.

Cutting Calories = Cold Hands

Since I’ve cut calories significantly on several days out of the last week my hands and feet have become cold, suggesting thyroid/metabolism slow down.  I’m not going to go down that road.  So instead, I’ve decided to turn to the macro percentages identified using this Keto Calculator.  Given my height, weight, and activity level (“lightly active”) my energy expenditure appears to be 1885 calories per day.

Holy crap…it says I have about 90 pounds of fat on me (including 14 lbs that are essential).

If I choose to eat 20g of carbohydrate per day and around 70g of protein per day, then 128g of fat per day would mean a 20% calorie deficit of 1512 calories per day.  Maybe I’ll try this for a week and tweak based on how it goes.

I’m going to focus more on exercise to get the insulin down.  That might mean eating more than the numbers above, depending on how I feel.

High Fat/Low Cal – An Experiment

I got discouraged by high hunger and inability to reduce protein or calories, which was resulting in very slow weight loss.  So a few days ago I tried something new.  I ate fat all day long. And guess what – I can’t say the hunger disappeared completely, but it dropped so low I was able to keep overall calorie intake very low:

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I know peanut butter is not an ideal food – I make it a little better by pouring off the peanut oil and mixing in melted coconut oil.   But the point is I’ve struggled for years with reducing calories because of hunger.  Hence, my fatness.  Once I reduce the insulin-generating foods significantly (protein and carbohydrates) I’m able to eat much less. I did this 2 days in a row and lost 4 pounds (down a total of 6 now).  Here was day 2:

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The last 2 days I’ve increased calories to over 2000 and haven’t lost any more, but haven’t gained anything back either.  I’m considering alternating 2 days of very high fat/low calorie with 2 higher-calorie days for a while.  Today is another high fat/low cal day.  All the while I’ll be continuing LCHF.

Now that I’m pretty sure it’s protein that’s been keeping me hungry I’ll be adding vegetables back into my diet.  Hey here’s a fun keto tip…Did you know that sauteed radishes taste a lot like fried red potatoes?

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I make them with a lot of butter or bacon grease (ideally from grass-fed beef bacon, if I have it), salt and garlic.  Fry them until they’re soft and some of them are browning (about 10 minutes).  I would probably cook them a little longer than the ones in the picture.

A 16-oz bag of radishes is dirt cheap ($1-2), has 72.6 calories, 3.1g protein, 15.4g of carbohydrates (7.3 of which are fiber), and 0.5g fat, and has the following micronutrients:

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Obviously the macro/calorie load shifts when you add a bunch of fat to the pan.  And that’s what makes them so delicious.   Best of all I can eat a whole bag of radishes cooked up like this without noticeable endotoxin problems (e.g., depression) and without any impact on my blood sugar.  I can’t say that for potatoes.

Hey one last thing on the topic of eating straight oil and calling it a meal.  I have been feeling great on the days I do this – focused, high energy, great mood.  I’m not sure if it’s the MCT oil itself or the reduced brain fog from having lower insulin.  I’ve been smiling for no good reason.  When you catch yourself doing that it’s a wonderful thing.