Losing It

Excess body fat, that is.

Down 10.5 pounds as of this morning, since I started following Weight Watchers (WW) online program 3 weeks ago.  Truth be told, I have signed up for WW in the past but was unable to stick with the plan because I couldn’t tolerate any fruits and vegetables…and without produce this plan is near impossible.  What I like about it is that it’s really 100% positive – there’s no shaming or punishment for missteps.  There’s also no need to count calories or grams – I just put the food eaten into the online tracker and everything is assigned a points value based on nutrient composition. You can eat anything at all and still be “on plan” as long as you can work it into your points.  I have 30 points a day to “spend” however I want.  Fruits and vegetables are nearly all 0 points, so there’s never a need to be hungry.  Just eat.  There are also an extra 45 points per week to spend on anything at any time – so if I eat something that isn’t awesome there’s a forgiving points cushion there to catch me.

To give me more incentive to exercise I have also joined StepBet.  From their website:

StepBet is a fitness game that motivates you to be more active. Players “bet” on themselves to meet their personalized step goals during every week of the game, and win money if they do. The cash prize, accountability, and community support help you become more active while having fun!

If you hit your personalized step goals for the entire game, you split the pot with the other winners. That means you get your bet back plus a profit.

So I have 6 weeks of walking ahead of me with $40 on the line.  My Fitbit will report back to StepBet folks.

I also signed up for a DietBet (same company).  I’ve bet $100 that I’ll be down to 199.6 pounds by March 4th.  I’m within 2 pounds of that now, so I’m pretty sure I’ll make it.

Here’s what I ate yesterday:

today

I’d like to be clear once again that until I started taking Culturelle Probiotics, which dramatically altered my gut flora, I was unable to eat whole fruits or vegetables, starches, or fibers without becoming incapacitated with depression.  Now that my gut is working normally (maybe even optimally) I can eat these things and stick to a diet plan like WW.  Weight loss may come down to a certain macronutrient balance or even Calories-In-Calories-Out (CICO) – I don’t know for sure – but I do know that if you can’t tolerate healthy foods it’s much more difficult to make a long term change.

I think the probiotics also reduced systemic inflammation, causing hormonal changes (e.g., reduced cortisol) that are now allowing body fat to be released.  I spent months and months eating low-carb (even no-carb at times) and not understanding why other people I knew were able to lose eating that way while I didn’t.  I think my body was inflamed due to gut dysbiosis, putting me in a constant state of stress and making weight loss impossible.  It’s also possible I was just eating too much, but I was listening to hunger cues and never eating past that.

So…bottom line…maybe weight loss is as simple as CICO – but until my body was able to tolerate healthy low-calorie foods, a CICO approach wasn’t possible for me.  If you’re having trouble losing weight, I strongly recommend taking a good look at what may be going on in the gut.

High Carb Low Fat – Day 7

Fasting blood sugar this morning: 125.  Heading in the right direction.

Hot flashes – almost gone.  Had 1 early this morning, and one about 5 minutes ago.  I completely skipped the niacinamide today in order for my body to stop doing whatever weird thing it was doing. I was feeling achy yesterday and today, as well as fatigued and a little irritable earlier today – around 7:00PM all of that stuff went away.  I’m wondering if the problem may not have been the niacinamide itself but some extra ingredient in the tablet. I did go ahead and buy pure niacinamide powder and received that in the mail yesterday…but over the past week I’ve been taking these tablets because I already had them. The ingredient list on the bottle states that it also contains “cellulose, stearic acid, silica, and magnesium stearate.”  I’m suspicious because niacinamide has a very short half-life, like it can be measured in minutes (about 45).  250mg was not a particularly big dose, even 3x a day.  I just don’t think the niacinamide itself would have continued to be problematic all the way into today.  Oh well…I’ll be increasing slowly to see if the hot flashes and other symptoms return. Starting tomorrow I’ll be using pure niacinamide powder – no weird ingredients.

Macros and nutrition today:

crononutrients

I really felt like I needed more fat today, so I did have a little more than I’m shooting for these days.  Fat was 27% of calories.  Calcium to phosphorus ratio wasn’t awesome today – I was about 600mg of calcium short of a 1:1 ratio.  Carb to protein ratio was not quite 2:1 – I was short about 30g of carbohydrate.  I could probably just go drink some juice…but that’s getting silly.

Liver for dinner tonight.  I have to say, soaking liver in milk makes it so much better.  I got out of the habit of doing that for a while and liver was starting to really bother me – the smell, the taste, plus sometimes I’d feel nauseated after eating it.  Then a few weeks ago I started soaking it in milk for a few hours while it thawed in the refrigerator, and then rinsing the liver before cooking it.  No more icky smell and the taste is milder.  Today I actually ate it raw.  Just easier that way sometimes.  Washed it down with a cold glass of milk.

Till tomorrow.

Update: I woke up at 12:30AM hungry, so I added 1/2 cup of orange juice and 1oz cheese to the above totals. It might make sense for me to post these the following day, to ensure all food consumed is accounted for.  But really….by the next day I don’t want to think about what I ate yesterday.

High Carb Low Fat – Day 5

Fasting blood sugar this morning was 128 – not as low as I’d like to see.  Maybe 55g of fat a day (my average the last few days) is too much to make a difference with blood sugar?  Last time I attempted to reduce fasting blood sugar by cutting fat (with success) I was averaging a little lower – like 48g.  That’s not a big difference…hard to say. Without eating starches it’s difficult to keep fat low.  I have to eat frequently because the stuff I’m eating just seems to burn up quickly, leaving me hungry otherwise.  All in the name of science.  I’ll just continue for now.

Here was my diet and macros today:

crono

Did ok…maybe too much white sugar rather than fruit…Carbs to protein was 2:1.  Calcium to phosphorus was a little short of 1:1 (1724mg to 2048mg).  I seem to consistently fall short 300mg.  Fat was 21.6% of total calories.  One question I seem to get a lot is how come I’m not eating more vegetables?  My answer to that is why would I?  I like veggies if they’re bathed in butter and cheese…otherwise not so much.  And nutritionally it’s not hard to get the nutrients in vegetables from other sources.  As an example, here is the nutritional breakdown of what I ate today:

nutrients

See all those orange bars that are completely filled up?  Those are nutrients that I have consumed enough of today.  Less than 5 grams of PUFA (usually I shoot for even less than that).  All amino acids.  I fell short with folate (only had 92%), iron (lower iron is a good thing), manganese (I’m not actually sure where you get manganese), and potassium (only 92%).  And to be fair, I am supplementing several of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, K, and E).  I’m not that worried about it though because I eat liver once a week and stock up on all of these things.  So…why eat veggies unless you really like them?  I guess they might fill me up a little…but fruit actually fills me up just as well and keeps my energy level high too.

It’s no accident that the foods I’m eating are high in nutrition. That’s why Ray Peat recommends them.  My diet is by no means a perfect Peat diet – he probably wouldn’t be in favor of chicken or ham (both animals are fed soy and corn and are therefore relatively high in PUFA) but I do eat the lowest fat organic versions of these items.  I’m not sure how he’d feel about the 3 Musketeers bar.  I was out flying kites with my daughter and that’s all there was to eat nearby.  Again with needing to plan better.  Still, could have been much worse.

I increased niacinamide to 250mg 3x a day yesterday, and since yesterday I’ve been having hot flashes.  I’m familiar with the feeling – I had them when I was taking fertility drugs to get pregnant, and again after quitting the Wiley Protocol, when my estrogen levels dropped.  I wonder if its having some effect on my estrogen?  Then again, this is niacin – even in the form that doesn’t cause a “flushing” reaction, I suppose it could be warming me up. I’ve been putting on and taking off my sweater about 10 times a day.  We’ll see if it continues.  It’s not completely unpleasant…just something I’m noticing.

Overall I feel great.

Update: I got hungry before bed and ate more after posting this.  I won’t be obsessive and update all of my new totals, but I will say my new carb:protein ratio is now a little better than 2:1, my calcium:phosphorous ratio is slightly improved, total calories is 2367, and 22% of calories came from fat.

High Carb Low Fat – Day 4

Well, it took a few days, but my fasting blood sugar was again down below 120 this morning.  The scale is down a few pounds too, but too soon to tell if that’s a trend – those pounds come back every time I eat starches and go away every time I stop.

You know, it’s really hard to eat low fat. I was so darn happy to be able to eat gobs of fat when following a Paleo diet, and then when following a Kruse diet, and then when following a Nutritional Ketosis diet, and then when just eating whatever the hell I wanted.  No wonder everyone hates that stupid food pyramid, with that teeny tiny box at the top with a teeny tiny stick of butter sitting in it.  Well, that and the fact that it doesn’t work because of all the poisons taking up the biggest section.  But I digress.

Here’s my stuff for today:

crono

Carb to protein ratio – 2:1

Calcium to Phosphorus ratio: almost 1:1 (1964mg cal to 2195mg phos)

Fat: 21.7% of calories today.

 

Plan of Attack

I’m very much back on track now…inspired by my last set of not-so-hot labs.

My short term goals are as follows:

Maintain a higher-carb, lower-fat diet in order to reverse my type 2 diabetes and reverse my abysmal lipid panel.  Rationale:

  • Lower fat to address high blood sugar (<20% of total calories, or in the neighborhood of 40-50g/day).  My dabbling in low-fat eating in the past month or two suggests that Ray Peat may be on to something when he talks about the Randle Cycle.  He says glucose oxidation is impaired by a high fat diet and/or fatty acids in the blood stream.
  • Higher carb in order to reduce stress hormones (namely, cortisol) (>250g carbohydrate) – Nearly all in the form of simple sugars – no starches, as those make me depressed, with the goal of eating at least a 2:1 carbohydrate:protein ratio.
  • High calcium intake (nonfat dairy, most likely), low phosphate intake (less meat).  I’m going to shoot for a 1:1 calcium:phosphate ratio.
  • I’m not going to make any effort to restrict calories.  That’s stressful and no fun.

Change my supplement routine to include the following:

  • Aspirin 100mg 3x/day
  • Niacinamide 100mg 3x/day
  • Vitamin K2 1mg 3x/day
  • Cynoplus (T3/T4 combo) increased from 1/4 tab daily to 1/4 tab 2x a day.  I may increase further in a few weeks, but that’s it for now.

The aspirin reduces inflammation.  Niacinamide inhibits the release of free fatty acids into the blood, and vitamin k2 ensures that blood clots normally despite the aspirin, and that calcium goes into the bones rather than the soft tissues.  Cynomel provides thyroid hormone that I don’t seem to be making enough of (evidence: total cholesterol of almost 300).  I’ll continue to take Vit D (5000 IU), Vitamin A (2500 IU), and Magnesium Glycinate.

Knowing that I have a tendency toward poor planning and then eating whatever’s available, I’m going to create some accountability for myself with this blog.  I’m going to post a screenshot of what I enter into Cronometer every day.  Here’s today:

Crono1

This will make it difficult for me to rationalize eating things that don’t support my goals.  Also it’ll force me to take a critical look at what I’m eating each day so I can learn from it and do better.  Today, still too much meat…instead of chicken breast I should have had more dairy or something with gelatin in it.  At the time I just wanted to stop feeling hungry – a big dose of meat does that well.  Time to learn new strategies.

Macro % today:

  • Protein: 30.9%
  • Carbs: 50.4%
  • Fat: 18.6%

More to report 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.

Transition

My body isn’t happy today.  It started yesterday after I ate brown rice pasta.  Yes, I know it’s not Peat-ish.  I’m not a robot.

I’m doing the best I can to transition from a diet of almost no carbs to one in which I’m eating 200-300g of carbohydrate a day, including lots of things that haven’t crossed my lips for years (milk, orange juice, sugar).  I have never had a huge sweet tooth, and now most of my diet is sweet.  I’m not complaining – if this could cause positive changes in my health the change would be worth it.  Ok, well I guess I’m complaining a little…because I feel depressed.

Peat recommends eating salt:

One of the things that happen when there isn’t enough sodium in the diet is that more aldosterone is synthesized. Aldosterone causes less sodium to be lost in the urine and sweat, but it achieves that at the expense of the increased loss of potassium, magnesium, and probably calcium. The loss of potassium leads to vasoconstriction, which contributes to heart and kidney failure and high blood pressure. The loss of magnesium contributes to vasoconstriction, inflammation, and bone loss. Magnesium deficiency is extremely common, but a little extra salt in the diet makes it easier to retain the magnesium in our foods.

I have always tried to limit my salt intake because it immediately makes me retain water, which has to do with a high level of aldosterone.  Peatarians recommend adding salt to foods and beverages (no problem for me, because I LOVE salt), and gradually aldosterone levels drop and retained fluid is released.  I’m looking forward to that happening because right now I’m a bloated mess.  I don’t like feeling like this.

I’ve also become VERY sensitive to what I eat (as evidenced by the brown rice pasta yesterday…and I don’t have that much.  I started feeling depressed within an hour of eating it, and it has continued into today.).

Today I ate an almost completely Peat-friendly diet.  I’ve been entering everything into Cronometer so I can see how this diet stacks up nutritionally.  Check it out:

diet

What I ate today:  Milk, OJ, cheese, bone broth, eggs, shrimp, grapes, chocolate, and a little chicken.  As you can see it’s a pretty nutrient-dense diet.  The only things lacking are Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Chromium, and Magnanese. I think most of what’s lacking is in liver which I have 1-2 times a week now, and I’ll be supplementing Vitamins K and E.

Hoping tomorrow feels better.