High Carb Low Fat – Day 6

Fasting blood sugar this morning: 135.

Well, hm…

This morning I had a message waiting for me from a friend who read yesterdays blog post, in which I commented that I was having hot flashes since increasing my thrice-daily dose of niacinamide from 100mg to 250mg.  She informed me that niacinamide shouldn’t cause a “flushing” response and that what I was experiencing was likely a stress response.  Niacinamide inhibits the release of free fatty acids from the cells, allowing the body to gradually detoxify itself of stored polyunsaturated fats. Ray Peat says this is a good thing.  Well, if there are fewer fatty acids released into the bloodstream, you need enough fuel in the form of food (specifically, sugar) or the body turns on stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) to break down proteins/muscle for fuel.  In other words, if you’re going to take large doses of niacinamide, you better be eating a lot of sugar – and you probably need to be able to store it well to be used throughout the day.  I guess my 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein wasn’t enough.

This explains my still-high fasting blood sugar, despite eating low fat for 5 days now.  Stress hormones are turning on and staying high overnight because my body is out of fuel.

Well, I got this information this morning, and set about to eat lots and lots of sugar today to see if I could turn off the hot-flash stress response.  But today, despite eating 100 grams of sugar more than usual, I continued to have the hot flashes.  So maybe my body isn’t storing glucose effectively yet.  Maybe my current physiological state can’t handle that much niacinamide without invoking a stress response.  So tomorrow it’s back to 100mg 3x a day.  I felt fine on that dose.  I predict my fasting blood sugar will be under 120 again within 2 days.

Here were my macros today:

crono

And my nutrient breakdown:

nutrients

The nutrients look a whole lot like they did yesterday.  Actually, that’s how they look just about every day.  Almost enough folate and potassium, short on manganese, and everything else looking good.  I checked into sources of manganese – looks like spinach is a good source.  Other than that, there’s nuts, fish, and a bunch of other things that are high in PUFAs.  I’ll make spinach tomorrow.

Sugar: Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

I’m really struggling to eat Peat-ish and remain low fat.

I’ve given up starches because they were making me feel depressed.

I’ve given up eating lots of meat because it’s high in phosphorous.

I’ve given up alcohol because it made me depressed.

And now I’m reducing fat.

I’m trying to determine whether it’s all fat (not just PUFA) that blocks cells from using available glucose, keeping blood sugar high.  My blood sugar has come down over the past week of lower-fat eating, but I’ve also completely given up starches at the same time.  I’m trying to avoid changing more than one thing at a time, but the starches had to go.  They were really messing with my mood.  In the past when I gave up starches but kept fat intake (and sugar intake) high my fasting blood sugar would reduce from really high (140-150) down to the 120s, and that’s what it’s done again this week.  I’d like to continue my low-fat eating for a while and see if it improves further.

Now about that…You know what’s left when you give up starches, most meat, and fat?

Sugar. Currently 200-250g of it.  And maybe some vegetables, and some lean meat. Just a whole lotta sugary sweet stuff – fruit and fruit juice, milk, honey-sweetened coffee, marshmallows.  Anything to keep me from being hungry and also not add to the dietary fat total. If I have a couple ounces of cheese and 2 eggs per day I’ve about maxed out my allowed fat intake.

I don’t even really like sweet stuff.  I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, and now my diet is centered around it.  Day to day I’m feeling pretty good, but I fear this is unsustainable because I just don’t really like it.  I’m coming to dread my next sugary coffee/milk/orange juice.  I know low-fat cheese is an option, but even that has 4g of fat per ounce.   I’ve identified one brand that doesn’t have much in the way of unwanted fillers.

Anyway, my weight is down a pound this week…I guess that’s good, and I hope it continues.

I’ve been tracking what I eat on Cronometer.  I don’t know what my baseline (maintenance) number of calories of fat grams is – I haven’t tracked that – but considering how I feel when I restrict calories/fat, I suspect I was maintaining my current weight on 2500-3000 calories per day and over 95-100g fat. A few weeks ago I was trying very hard to lower overall calories without making an effort to reduce fat, and I was averaging 1807 calories and 83g of fat per day.  Hunger was (and still is) preventing me from going lower.  This past week I averaged 1966 calories per day and 58g fat per day, and it was a struggle for the above mentioned reasons. The totals for the last 2 days of the week skewed the average because I was starting to tire of all the sweet food. I think I’ll try to stay under 50g of fat per day – that would be challenging but maybe not unrealistic.

Otherwise, I’m meeting all of my micronutrient goals, and my phosphorous/calcium ratio is about 1:1.  It’s really just a matter of being bored with the taste of sweet.

Onward.

Stress Hormone Overnight Test

Just a quick note – I ate some sugar along with protein and fat (and a glass of wine) last night before bed and this morning my fasting blood sugar was 108!  That’s the lowest it’s been in a long time.  Plus, this morning I felt hungry when I woke up, but I don’t feel hungry all morning long despite eating, as I typically do.  Amazing!

Score 3 for Ray Peat

Yesterday I decided to do some blood glucose (BG) testing while drinking orange juice.  I’ve been turned off from OJ because I tested my BG after drinking it in the morning and it was high – like in the 170s.  I tested again in smaller quantities, but I always felt really hungry after drinking just a little so what’s the point?  Well, I’ve since learned that the hunger you feel when you eat fruit is your true hunger.  Low carb dieting raises stress hormones, which reduce appetite.  No wonder people lose weight on low carb – their cortisol is suppressing their drive to eat.  Until 6 months later when they (might) realize their thyroid doesn’t work anymore.  Anyway, hunger means there are no stress hormones running around, so eat, dummy.  One problem with this though – I have been hesitant to keep eating juice or fruit because I didn’t want my blood sugar to be high all day. What a conundrum!

Well, I decided to turn to science to get some answers.  I drank 12 oz of orange juice at breakfast and then 3-4 oz every hour.  Here were my readings:

  • Fasting blood sugar: 127; Temp/pulse 98.1/79
  • 9:00AM – 172
  • 10:00AM –  139
  • 11:00AM – 115 (temp/pulse was 98.6/79)
  • 12:00 – 115
  • 1:00 – 74 (after 30 minutes mild/moderate exercise)
  • 2:00 – 97
  • 3:00 – 106

Huh.  So for some reason there’s a big spike at first but then blood sugar is low all day.  Weird!  I did it again today to see if the results would replicate.  Had breakfast with about 10oz juice.  Here’s what I got:

  • Fasting – 124; temp/pulse 98.0/85
  • 9:00AM – 119 (tested at 1 hour and 20 minutes after breakfast)
  • 10:00AM – 106 (temp/pulse 98.8/75)
  • 12:00 – 101
  • 1:00 – 107
  • 2:00 – 112

At that point I stopped testing every hour.  Good enough!  I did take one more test though, after 30 minutes of stationary biking.  Blood sugar was 72, similar to the previous day after biking.  I thought it was weird that I didn’t feel hungry at all with blood sugar that low.  Then I remembered…About 10 years ago I used to do martial arts (Aikido).  I would train hard for an hour and a half, and leave the dojo feeling really good, but not hungry.  Then about an hour later I would become ravenously hungry.  Now I understand why!  The workout was causing a stress response – cortisol and/or adrenaline were suppressing my appetite.  After relaxing for an hour or so the stress hormones would lower and my true hunger would be revealed.  This is why Peat (and others) are opposed to exercise – it raises stress hormones.  I guess I knew this intellectually, but it makes a lot of sense now having experienced a complete lack of hunger after exercising, while my blood sugar is getting very low.  Interesting.  I’ve been doing 30 minutes of biking and 15 minutes of yoga per day for the last week.  Maybe instead I’ll do 30 minutes of yoga and 15 minutes of weight lifting.  Less continuous stress.

The other thing on my mind has to do with progesterone.  Ray Peat did an interview that was aired last week, in which he answered lots of questions that had been submitted by listeners.  Well, prior to the interview I submitted a question.  My question appeared in the second hour of the interview, and was as follows:

I’ve recently started taking Progest-E, and it has helped my cyclical mood symptoms very much.  I’ve been taking it days 14-28 of my cycle.  I hate to stop taking it because I have PMS (moodiness) the day after I stop.   Would there be any harm in just continuing to take it non-stop for a while, even if it means I miss a period or two?

Dr. Peat’s answer:

I’ve known quite a few women who took it every day and kept cycling without any problem.  But what they should be aware of is that if you take a little bit extra just before the expected time of ovulation it will trigger early ovulation, and then if you stop taking it or take less it will bring on an early menstruation.  So if you’re going to take it every day, it has to be every day the same amount.

If you’ll remember I really REALLY didn’t want to stop taking my Progest E after day 28 last month. In fact, I kept taking it and taking it and finally stopped against my will to have a period.  Then I started up again on Day 4 of my cycle – a full 10 days before I was supposed to start up – because the symptoms of high estrogen were unbearable.  I was depressed, bitchy, and puffed up.  It sucked.  So I started my progesterone early.  Well, surprise surprise…my period came 10 days early.  And it’s very possible I dosed a little too high before ovulation.  That Ray Peat.  He sure does know some stuff.

More news: after about 10 days of probiotics my gut is still messed up.  I tried taking two teaspoons of potato starch today (far less than the 4 Tbs many people are downing at one time) and still…not good. Gut mad at me.  I don’t know what it will take to fix what is wrong, but I’ll continue with the probiotics for now.

And the orange juice…3-4 oz an hour.

Oh one more thing – suddenly my body is ok with cheese.  I have completely stopped eating fatty chicken and most eggs, cutting my PUFA intake to almost nothing.  Could that be why my asthma isn’t kicking my ass right now?  I had like 4-5 oz of cheese today…and no problems.

Ok, blood sugar…progesterone…and PUFA.   I can’t deny it any more.  All the crap he says is coming true for me.

I think Ray Peat is right.

Resistant Starch and Oranges

There’s been a lot of discussion about Resistant Starch (RS) in the Paleo world lately, most of which has taken place over at Free the Animal.  I haven’t read all of the posts, threads, and comments relating to this topic, but I’ve read enough to pique my interest.  RS is basically the isolated starch from potatoes and other foods that is resistant to digestion in the body – it behaves in the body like a fiber rather than a typical starch.

Many people seem to be having very good results with supplementing with RS (mostly, in the form of potato starch), and there is research backing the anecdotal results.  Most commonly, folks are lowering their fasting blood glucose and are increasing their body’s ability to tolerate other carbohydrates without causing a big spike in blood sugar.  Well, that sounds exactly like what I need, right?  Other benefits I’ve read about include lowering cholesterol and improving markers of thyroid function (specifically, increasing body temperature).  Additionally, when you eat it, it passes undigested (resistant!) into the large intestine where favorable bacteria have a field day and crowd out pathogenic (bad) bacteria. Lastly, it reportedly regulates bowel function – if you’re constipated it gets things moving.  If you’ve got loose stools (or even parasites, according to one report) it firms things up.  Last advantage – it’s dirt cheap (like $3 a pound) and widely available.  I got a bag at the store across the street.  The only negative side effect people seem to be posting is extra gas, but most folks indicate that resolves after a couple of weeks.

Well, my husband and I both decided to give RS a try.  He’s insulin resistant, and I’m certainly having blood sugar management problems of my own, so we’re most interested in finding a way to improve in this area.  Before starting we got a baseline of our body’s ability to tolerate carbohydrates.  About a week ago, first thing in the morning, we each ate an 11 oz. baked potato with nothing on it but salt.   Then every 15 minutes for the next 3 hours we took blood sugar readings.  Here are our baseline results:

Potato Baseline

Mine is in the blue – as you can see my blood sugar was over 200 for well over an hour, topping out at 255, and took a long time to recover.  Sorry, body, but that’s kind of diabetic.  David’s was better but still got fairly high (189 at the one hour mark), but he was back to normal after an hour or so.  So here’s our plan:  Start supplementing with potato starch, give it a month or 6 weeks (research seems to indicate it takes 4 weeks for your body to respond fully to supplementation), and then do the test again.

We also had lab testing done this week, including fasting insulin and the “Comprehensive Wellness Profile” offered by Direct Labs, my favorite place to order labs without a doctor censoring me.  I should have my results this week – I’ll post when I get them.  We’re going to get another set done in 6-8 weeks after supplementing with RS.  Additionally, we’re testing fasting blood sugar every day.

So let me tell you briefly, and with as little TMI as possible, about my own experience so far taking potato starch.  I decided to simply stir it into a quarter cup of water or so – some people mix it into yogurt or kefir to get extra gut-health benefit.  The recommended dose is 4 tablespoons a day.  Research indicates more is not better, and less than 1 Tbs has little or no value.  I started with a teaspoon a day, to see how my digestive system was going to respond. The teaspoon test went fine…increased it to 2, and then 3 teaspoons over the next two days.  All of that went well.  Then I decided to try a tablespoon.  Well, that didn’t go well.  It felt like there was a war in my intestines for about 24 hours (and perhaps there actually was).  It was painful and I was in the bathroom a lot the next day.  So I started again, smaller.  3 teaspoons a day.  Now I’m up to 4 doses a day of 1.25 teaspoons each.  No problems.  My husband has had no problems other than a little gas – and he’s already up to 4 tablespoons a day.   From my reading, my response is unusual – almost no one is reporting serious GI upset, but it was really bad for a day there.  I wonder if the more unhealthy your gut is to start, the more “cleaning house” needs to be done.  Maybe that distress meant I’ve gotten rid of some bad guys hanging out in my gut.

Anyway, this post is getting long.  Here are a couple really good links on Resistant Starch supplementation and benefits:

On another topic, I’ve again embraced Ray Peat’s dietary wisdom.  On a whim I decided to try eating whole oranges with protein, having had a hard time with hunger and blood sugar regulation when I drank juice.  The whole oranges keep me satisfied a little longer (I get hungry after 2 hours instead of 1), but I can tolerate that.  Also, my blood sugar is under 130 an hour later.  I’m not sure if it’s the resistant starch having an effect or if it’s eating the fiber of the orange that slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream, but it any case I’m going to keep doing it.  I have so much more energy eating fruit than I do when I eat starchy foods or skip carbs altogether.  So I’m going to keep it up.  Also going to get some lights (like this with this) in the next day or two…cuz Ray Peat said to:

Light, especially the red light which penetrates easily into tissues, activates the formation of new cells as well as their differentiation. It affects energy production, increasing the formation of mitochondria, and the activity of the DNA methyltransferase enzymes. Red light accelerates wound healing, and improves the quality of the scar, reducing the amount of fibrosis. The daily cycling between darkness and light is probably an important factor in regulating the birth and differentiation of cells.

My many N=1 experiments are going to be very confounded: lights, reducing PUFAs, Resistant Starch, eating fruit sugar again, etc etc…all of it is going to leave me wondering what’s working and what isn’t.  Fortunately, my husband is ONLY changing one thing –  the addition of RS – so we’ll have a good idea of how well it works in a month or so.

Happy New Year, and thanks for reading!

Reconsidering Options

I really wanted Ray Peat’s work to be The Answer for me. I think Peat’s work benefits some people greatly – in fact, it may be the most brilliant nutrition and health advice ever.  But when it comes to deciding what I should put in MY mouth at mealtime, I don’t think it’s for me.  Here’s my analysis:

The Pros:

Progesterone – I had given up on sex hormone supplementation after my disastrous encounter with the Wiley Protocol.  I blamed progesterone for the fact that I gained 20 pounds, had heart palpitations, and became so fatigued that I could barely get out of bed.  At the time I concluded that progesterone was the culprit because I found a website on which a bunch of lay people decided it was so.  I was so fatigued and depressed I would have believed anyone.  Recently I’ve started supplementing with Progest E, the progesterone supplement developed by Ray Peat himself.  I find Progest E alone – without the estrogen that Wiley had me taking – to be wonderful, balancing, and soothing.  I imagine I’ll take it for the rest of my life.  Estrogen, not so much.

Liver – I’ve gone on and on about how eating liver once a week has made my skin look great.  This week I tried eating all 4 oz raw, washing it down with milk.  I thought it was a lot easier than trying to eat it cooked.  I’m considering just having an ounce or so raw every day or two.

Shellfish, bone broth, raw carrot, coffee, aspirin, vitamin K2 – all of these things I don’t mind taking or using and will continue to do so, just because the promise of better health is worth the effort.  I also love the smell of broth cooking in the crock pot.

The Cons:

Sugar – Yesterday I tried all kinds of things.  I tried a teaspoon of granulated fructose with breakfast and tested my blood sugar after – it was up 25 points at one hour and up 35 points at 2 hours. That part was ok, but also I felt hungry soon after, despite eating a 300 calorie meal.  So I ate ANOTHER 300 calorie meal and paired it with the smallest wedge of an orange ever.  It was a clementine orange – small as a baby’s fist, and I ate one small section of it.  An hour later my blood sugar had dropped 50 points and I was hungry again.  I then ate several hundred calories of protein/fat along with a very small amount of sugar (cuz Ray Peat said to), and within 45 minutes I was hungry.  Now, keep in mind, a pure protein/fat breakfast – without any sugar – normally keeps me satisfied for hours.

I thought about eating for 5 hours straight.

This is what pisses me off about those who say people get fat because of “food reward and palatability” (translation: fatties get fat because they eat too much cuz food is so damn tasty).  I HATE BEING HUNGRY AND WANT NOTHING MORE THAN TO JUST BE DONE EATING ALREADY.  IF I DIDN’T GET HORRIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE I’D BE CONTENT TO NOT EAT AT ALL.

So at that point I was fed up (not literally) so I got fed up (literally).  I ate a huge meal that would keep me satisfied for the rest of the day – it included all kinds of terrible things, including mayonnaise (PUFAs!), bread (gluten!  starches!), and industrial meat (inhumane! hormones! antibiotics! PUFAs!).  Some might call it a binge.  It was less food than I used to eat back in my binge-eating days, but I guess it was a binge.  And FINALLY, I was done being hungry.  That meal lasted through the rest of the day, all night, and well into today.  I didn’t get hungry again till 1:00PM – almost 22 hours later.  It was wonderful.

Dairy – I’ve had some sort of nasal congestion or phlegmy cough for the last…oh, about 6-7 weeks.  About the same amount of time I’ve been following Peat’s dietary recommendations.  I thought I was just getting one cold after another.  But it occurred to me today that maybe the addition of lots of dairy into my diet was causing this.  I’m going to take a break from dairy for a few days and see if my forever-cough clears up.  Then I’ll add it in again to see what happens.

So what’s next for me?   I’m fairly desperate to lose the 5-or-so pounds that I’ve gained in the last 2 months since eating carbs.   As well as the 20 pounds I gained following the  Wiley Protocol.  As well as the 40 pounds I was overweight when I started this blog.  So now, I’m going back to eating what makes me feel good – mostly low carb with small amounts of potatoes here and there.  I know low-carb isn’t ideal.  But what I’m doing now – getting fatter and hoping there’s magic in milk – isn’t doing my health any favors.  No more fruit.  No more sugar.  Maybe no more dairy.  I’m going to stay away from PUFAs as much as I can.  I’m going to exercise at least 30 minutes a day to manage my blood sugar.  I’m going to count calories again, and stay at or around 1500/day.  Finally, I’m going to continue to supplement with thyroid hormone, so my broken metabolism has a shot at making it’s own steroid hormones.

It’s possible my body will be running on cortisol till the day I die.

Right now, I’m ok with that.

That’s all.

Starches, Sugar, Diabetes, and PUFA

Every so often I get research fatigue.  It’s the head-spinning sensation that comes with reading endless contradictory information about health, diet, exercise, and nutrition.  Red meat – high in heme iron (so it’s bad!) but high in carnitine and low PUFA (so it’s good!).  Dairy – high in iodine (so it’s bad!), but high calcium to phosphorous ratio (so it’s good!). Fructose – increases triglycerides (so it’s bad!), but increases metabolism (so it’s good!) but causes weight gain (so it’s bad!) but has a lower effect on insulin (so it’s good!).  I can’t stand it anymore.

My weight has been up and down a lot – now it’s up.  I’m not feeling good anymore.  I don’t know if my feelings of well-being associated with eating Peatarian were just a month-long diabetic sugar high or if something positive was actually happening metabolically.  I’ve been experimenting with potatoes, trying to find a way to get some carbs in and also keep my blood sugar stable.  Eating 1/4 cup of boiled potatoes, along with protein and fat, keeps me from having blood-sugar swings…but also makes me feel dull and lethargic.

Today I listened to Ray Peat’s interview called Glycemia, Starch, and Sugar, in Context.  I was driving at the time (for 3 hours, through a blizzard I might add), so I couldn’t take notes, but what I took from it is the following:

  • Diabetes is caused by Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) in the diet and in the system.  Stop eating PUFAs and within a couple days you’ll be more insulin sensitive.
  • Potatoes have some unique and magical properties, but the magic is in the juice – not in the starch.  If you juice a raw potato and drink (or cook with) the juice, there are ketones (or ketone acids?) available that are very healing and can perform miracles like make insomniacs sleep and heal severe digestive problems.
  • The problem with low-carb diets is the following:  The body releases insulin to process the amino acids in proteins.  When insulin rises, the body needs to raise blood sugar to avoid hypoglycemia.  If there’s no glycogen (sugar) stored in the liver cortisol is released instead, which increases blood sugar.  Cortisol suppresses thyroid function and immune function, and lowers metabolism.
  • Starches can cause bacterial problems in the gut.
  • Fructose is misunderstood and is awesome.

There was more, of course, but listening from my own insulin-resistant context, this is what I heard.

I haven’t done a great job of getting PUFAs out of my diet.  I keep eating chicken.  I should stop doing that.  It’s worth a try, to see how much of a difference it would make for me to stop that.  I’m not even sure why I do.  (Edited to add my inner monologue after I hit “Publish”:  I know why I do.  I really like meat – I like that it keeps me from being hungry.  I hate being hungry.  And chicken is inexpensive. I can’t even believe how much money we spend on food already.  If I upgraded to higher-quality meat I’d have to get a full-time job again. Seriously. Ok, instead, I’ll work on eating less meat, more dairy, more gelatin for protein.  /moment of self-awareness)

I’m tired of thinking about it.  For now.

No more PUFA for me.