Bicycling: Effects on Fasting Blood Glucose

Ok, I’ve been bicycling for 7 days now, attempting to lower my fasting blood glucose (FBG).  Before I get into whether or not this is having the desired effect, let’s look at my history of using this particular exercise to reduce FBG.

In the Spring of 2011, a good 9 months before entering the online world of nutrition gurus, I bicycled every day for a couple weeks.  At this time my blood sugar was in the pre-diabetic range.  I was eating a standard American diet (SAD), probably not much sugar, some starches, some processed food, diet coke every day, still eating gluten.  Here were the effects at that time of bicycling and tracking calories:2011 Blood Sugar

Now, I don’t recall exactly what “tracking calories” meant – I didn’t have a blog back then so I can’t revisit those dates and see what I was doing.  Knowing me though, I was trying to stick to around a 1500 calorie diet.  As you can see from the graph above, bicycling + tracking calories was a good thing – my FBG was in the 90s within a few days and in the 80s within about a week and a half.  I was biking for about 30 minutes at a time on flat terrain, moderate intensity – just enough to sweat and breathe a little harder but not enough to be exhausted. I stopped because I got sick (I don’t remember what with) and the temperatures outside soared to over 110 degrees.  Got out of the habit and didn’t restart.  Maybe because my diet was consistently making me depressed.

Fast forward to September 2013 – my next experiment with biking.  Here’s a graph of my FBG then:

2013 blood sugar

This was a month before I began my Peat-inspired lifestyle.  Fasting blood sugar at the time was mostly in the pre-diabetic range (under 126) with occasional higher spikes.  I began a “lower-cal diet” and bicycling, and continued with that for almost 2 weeks. “Lower-cal” at that time meant shooting for 1500 net calories (after exercise).  I remember being kinda hungry – but I didn’t really spend a lot of time researching low-calorie high-nutrient high-satiety foods at that time.  About 50% of my calories were in the form of fat, 25% protein, 25% carbohydrate.  Other than that, nutrients weren’t really on the radar yet.

During that time my blood sugar stabilized around 100 (a good 15 points lower), with dips into the 90s as early as 6 days into the program.  If I had continued the trend may have continued.  I stopped because my focus at that time was weight loss, and I wasn’t losing.  My temperature and pulse were dropping, and new-found information from Ray Peat world made me think my metabolism might be suffering.  So I stopped.

Ok, so now let’s look at today.  I’ve been bicycling with NO dietary change, for 7 days now.  As in the previous exercise programs I’ve been biking for 30 minutes or so, medium intensity, flat terrain.  Let’s look at the data:

FBG May 2014

Blood sugar is….remarkably stable.  And unchanged in the last week. NO CHANGE.  It may have been unrealistic for me to aim for the 90s within two weeks, considering my baseline level is higher now, but I would hope to see at least SOME movement in the right direction.

So what’s missing?

Well, the previous two times I biked regularly I was also counting calories, shooting for around 1500 calories per day.  Over the past week I haven’t been monitoring what I eat at all.  My weight is down a pound or so and I haven’t been overeating, but I haven’t been counting anything.  I tend to eat around 2200 calories a day when not attempting to reduce, so it’s safe to say I’ve been consuming at least that much.

So it appears that for me, blood sugar management is going to involve not just regular exercise but also a reduced-calorie diet.  I don’t know if it has anything at all to do with eating low-fat….just low-energy (calorie).  I’ll have to research ways to stay full.  Hunger has always been the obstacle to me sticking to a reduced calorie diet.

I’ve started counting calories today.  Will continue on with bicycling.

Score one for conventional wisdom.

Conclusion: CW Doesn’t Work For Me

Well, after about 11 days of exercising every day and maintaining what should be a calorie deficit I have essentially lost no weight.  I did get as low as 200.4 (a net loss of 2.6 pounds) on October 1st, but then I regained a pound and I’ve been stuck at 201.5 for the last 4 days. My calorie intake over that time averaged 1769 calories per day, and I recorded EVERYTHING.  If I was unsure about the calorie count of a food I rounded up.  I did 30 minutes of cardio (biking) on 10 out of these 11 days.  My heart rate (measured via monitor with a chest strap) during those sessions stayed between 130 and 140, which is 73%-79% of my maximum heart rate (60%-80% is generally considered an appropriate zone for aerobic fitness conditioning and health).

The only positive effect seems to have been on my blood sugar, and for that reason I may end up keeping up the biking.  I’m going to stop counting calories though.

New plan.  Based on my Thyroid labs a few months back I decided to experiment with thyroid hormone, and I ordered some T3.  My T3 and T4 were both within range but on the low end.  I could have either tried T3 or Natural Dessicated Thyroid (NDT), but decided to go the T3 route to start.  I received the T3 yesterday, and am going to start this today.  Just took my first very small fraction of a pill – about 4 mcg. I’m going to see how it affects me on this dose for now and increase very gradually to avoid hyperthyroid symptoms.

The timing of this is interesting.  Within 11 days of diet and exercise my resting heart rate dropped 12 points (from the low 80s to the high 60s).  I know that a lower heart rate is generally associated with good physical condition, but it is also a sign of low thyroid.  It’s hard for me to believe my cardiovascular health improved that much in 11 days…the more obvious reason for the drop is a change in thyroid function. See this article for some of the ways hypothyroidism can affect heart function.

Yesterday I felt depressed and lethargic and craved sugar all day (very unusual for me…I can generally take or leave sugar).  And this morning for the first time I checked my basal body temperature.  It was 96.9 – pretty low.  These things too can indicate hypothyroidism, which can be exacerbated by diet, exercise, or other forms of stress the body endures.  I’ve been reading Ray Peat’s blog (with translation into practical steps thanks to Danny Roddy).  Peat focuses extensively on thyroid health, from what I gather so far.  I have a lot to learn and a lot to read but it’s a direction that may prove helpful.

I do know this: when I lived in California almost no one around me was fat.  No one I knew there exercised or ate a particularly healthful diet – but no one was fat.  Here in Wisconsin everyone is fat.  There’s something different about the environment – maybe a lack of iodine in the local soil? – that has a massive effect on the health of the population.

And I can’t forget…my own sister had her thyroid removed after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s.

So for now I’m busy learning.  And trying T3.

Conventional Wisdom – Day 3

Progress:

  • Weight today: 200.8
  • Weight loss so far: 2.2 lbs

Yesterdays diet:

  • Net calorie intake (after exercise): 1774
  • Protein 29% (150g)
  • Carbs 25% (132g)
  • Fat 46% (107g)

Today’s bike ride:

  • Time: 35:39 minutes
  • Distance: 5.37 miles
  • Avg speed: 9.03 mph
  • Calories burned: 345

Scene from the ride:

IMG_3433

I’m going to keep sharing these pictures from my ride, even if they’re a little dull some (ok, most) days.  Looking for something interesting to share keeps me busy on my ride…and it keeps me looking for the beautiful and unusual in things.

The song I ended on today:

The Last Crayon

It appears there will be a change of plans.

Nothing unusual for me, I know…I’m always starting and stopping things.  New reason this time though!  In my last post I commented that I had the Magnesium RBC test done to find out exactly how much work there was to be done using Good Ol’ Maggy-nesium in my quest for health, and specifically for lowered systemic inflammation.  Well I got the results today.  Here they are:

Magnesium: 6.4 (ref range 4.2 – 6.8)

Right now I’m in the high-normal range. My sporadic supplementation and possibly the juicing I’ve done the last few weeks has been enough. I don’t need to lay it on thick for 30 days after all… so I won’t.  I did learn a lesson from all this though.  Test first, then formulate a treatment plan.  As a behavior analyst I should have known better.  Fortunately Amazon let me cancel my order of fancy magnesium with B6 built in for better absorption and my order of concentrated mineral drops. Thanks for being understanding of my fickle nature, Amazon.

I told my husband about this.  He’s been supportive of me doing whatever testing I want to do, but also has advocated to just start getting more exercise and see where that gets me.  I’ve resisted this, partly because I’m lazy, but also BECAUSE I REALLY DON’T WANT IT TO BE TRUE THAT FATNESS IS CAUSED BY EATING TOO MUCH AND NOT MOVING ENOUGH.  I HATE BEING HUNGRY.  Oh sorry…was I yelling?  Anyway, I told him that my Mag levels were already high.  His response:

“Huh. Well, it’s like you’ve used all the crayons in the cup except one.”

Yeah, thanks, honey.  Spoken like the daddy of a 3 year old.

So now what?  Is it possible that I’m just a fat person who needs to eat less and exercise more?  I have tried to cut calories and haven’t been successful.  There are two factors that I blame for this.  First, I have been reticent to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, mostly because I’m lazy and they’re sticky.  Well, fruit is anyway.  I’m going to have to get over being lazy and cook some vegetables.  And maybe I’ll keep a roll of wet wipes near me at all times to deal with the sticky fruit.  Also, I’ve been trying to count calories while being ketogentic – low carb, low sugar.  It’s hard to feel satisfied on 1500 calories of protein and fat, in my opinion.  It just doesn’t take up much room in the stomach.  So I’ll be eating lots of salads, whole fruit, and lots and lots of delightfully filling vegetables.  Yummy.

The other factor that has interfered with weight loss through restricting calories is alcohol.  I like wine a lot.  It makes me feel giggly, and not much else does.  I’m sort of a serious type.  I’ve recently discovered there is a body of research that implicates alcohol consumption (specifically “binge drinking” which I’ve been guilty of…defined for a woman as more than 3 drinks in one sitting) as being related to metabolic syndrome (which I seem to have).  Lighter drinking (1 drink per day for women, up to 2 for men) can actually have health benefits, however.  But I digress.  I’m quitting the boozing for a little while, to see if my health improves.  I don’t need the calories and my liver/hypothalamus would probably appreciate it.

So new plan…1500 calories per day, no wine.  Some kind of exercise for at least 20 minutes every day.

That is all.

 

“There’s a lot wrong with you.”

Well, I have to tell you…Having a consult with Dr. Kruse was the best thing I could have done right now.  I feel overwhelmed by the whole thing…mostly because of the things I learned about myself and my family, and the implications this has for going forward.  I keep trying to remember this is about putting one foot in front of the other, and that regrets are pointless.  But it doesn’t matter.  I feel how I feel and I guess I just have to let that be ok.  Stupid emotions.  Whatever.  Probably hormones.

So here’s what happened.

Dr. K. called at the appointed time (a few minutes early actually) and launched right into it.  Let me tell you, he pulls no punches.  He is very blunt and I’m sure also aware of the time constraints of the call – no time for subtleties or small talk.  One of my favorite quotes from the conversation:  “There’s a lot wrong with you.”  The man barely stopped for a breath the entire half hour.  It was exactly as I had hoped.  I took notes the whole time, unable to get my Skype recording software to work.

In a nutshell, my biggest problem appears to be my hormones…specifically my progesterone/estrogen (Pg/E2) ratio, which is, and I quote, “horrible.”

“You want to know what your problem is?  Why you can’t lose weight? That’s it. Done.”

He reviewed my family history – specifically the health problems my mother and grandmother have had – and my labs, and said that there’s a link between all three of us – we all have low progesterone.  That accounts for my grandmother’s cancer, my mothers current health problems, and my current health problems.  He said that everything in my labs and family history adds up to that, and nothing contradicts it.  If I don’t change something he says I’m setting myself up for breast cancer or ovarian cancer (which my grandmother died from).

Cancer?  But I was worried about heart disease!  Cancer never really crossed my mind.  Isn’t that funny?  You know…in the ironic sense?

Hahahaha….ah yes…we laugh to keep from crying…

I think the best way to relay the rest of what I learned from this call is a list.  I’m not feeling creative enough to make it narrative.  So here we go:

  • My increasingly severe PMS and irregular periods indicate I’m probably closer to menopause than I think.
  • My infertility and labs indicate I may have PCOS, and he was surprised I hadn’t been diagnosed with it while trying to get pregnant.  (I know absolutely nothing about PCOS, so I can’t even comment on this right now.)
  • My family pattern is low progesterone – my grandmother, mother, and I all share it, and almost certainly my daughter will too.  The fact that I had her late in life increases that probability, as older eggs are lower in progesterone.  I have the opportunity to fix this in her and stop the family pattern by getting her off dairy and off grains.  He said if she’s low in Vitamin D that would be an indicator that her body isn’t making enough progesterone.  Dietary changes implemented before age 6 could help or even fix this epigenetic problem in her – the earlier the better.  (I’m not sure exactly why age 6 is the threshold – I assume it has to do with a certain degree of brain development being completed by then.)
  • I need to find an anti-aging doctor or a functional medicine practitioner who will be willing to prescribe Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) even though I’m not yet menopausal.
  • My having had gestational diabetes while pregnant increases my child’s risk of becoming diabetic 60%.
  • I’m probably hypothyroid.
  • I probably have stage 3 or 4 adrenal fatigue.  But – thankfully – “Your adrenal isn’t completely dead.”  All right!!
  • The order of awfulness in my health is as follows:
    • 1.  my Pg/E2 ratio
    • 2.  My adrenal fatigue / “cortisol issue”
    • 3.  My thyroid function
  • I shouldn’t drink alcohol at all.  It will cause a problem with my brain that increases my risk of breast cancer.  Maybe someday I could have some alcohol, “But not right now.”
  • I should use supplements for liver support: NAC, Milk thistle, Reseveratrol, Coconut Oil, Tumeric, CoQ10 Ubiquinol.  He liked that I’m taking Calcium D-Glucarate for the management of my estrogen (which is high).
  • I should be taking more Vitamin C.
  • I have too much artificial light in my life – he knew this by my high AM cortisol level, compared with the other cortisol levels throughout the day, which are all low-normal.
  • I should stop drinking so much water and drink green tea instead, which will help with the hormonal imbalance.
  • My daughter and I should both have genetic testing done.  (I’m not sure exactly what information this would yield…there was just not a lot of time for questions and this is one of them I didn’t ask).
  • I should watch his webinar on hormone replacement therapy (recorded just last weekend.  I wanted to see it but I was traveling while it was taking place).
  • My prognosis is good if I keep my diet clean (no grains, no dairy, no alcohol) and get BHRT.  My daughter’s prognosis is also good if I change her diet.  “You control her epigenetics.”

I talked all this over with my husband and he’s on board with doing everything necessary to fix this problem.  We were in the car while discussing it and made a stop to buy additional supplements (Vitamin C, Resveratrol, CoQ10 Ubiquinol, Milk Thistle, and Tumeric) and green tea.  I joined as a paying member of Kruse’s site so I can watch a recording of the webinar on BHRT (haven’t been able to access it yet…a technical glitch that I hope is resolved soon.)  After I watch the webinar, which he says contains info for finding a doctor, I’ll get busy finding a doctor.  I live 2 hours from Chicago so I hope there’s someone within that radius that can help me.

David and I talked about getting our little one off dairy.  We’re going to do it gradually, and be sure we have plenty of preferred food that is nutritionally equivalent to milk/cheese.  I need to research this.  All I know for sure is that our last experiment with getting her off dairy went so poorly…I need to be mindful about this and be sure she’s eating enough high-quality food as we taper off the milk.

As I mentioned, I didn’t ask many questions during the consult.  I didn’t go into it prepared with a list of questions as I should have, plus the experience was overwhelming and I kind of lost my head.  The one question I most regret not asking was about CT.  Is there any point in continuing these cold baths as long as my hormones are all messed up?  I know I haven’t been enjoying them as much lately, and they’re taking up a significant chunk of my free time every day – time I could be using to get my consulting work done or to do yoga or otherwise relax.  I’m thinking about putting CT on hold for a while and getting the rest of my life in order.  If I’m going to be getting testing done soon with a new doctor I’d like my body to settle down and stop detoxing (I still get weirdly-timed emotional flares, which suggest there’s still excess estrogen in my system related to doing the CT).

During the call, it seemed pointless to ask about exercise and leaky gut stuff.  Those are details I’ll get to later after tackling the massive problem of preventing cancer.

So here’s my plan:

  • Add the new supplements to my regimen. (<–done)
  • Drink loads of green tea (this one is easy!)
  • Tighten up diet (no more dairy, no alcohol, otherwise do what I’ve been doing)
  • Stop CT for now.
  • Watch webinar on BHRT.
  • Find a doctor, make appointment, go see him/her.
  • Fix hormones.

I sense a long road ahead.

But really…what else am I doing that’s more important than this?

Better

CT was a 65 degree cool bath (30 minutes) yesterday.  I didn’t have any ice to cool it down further than that.  I did buy 10 1-liter bottles that I filled with water and which are currently freezing.  I’ll see how far that gets me tonight.  There’s room in the kitchen freezer for probably 10 more, if necessary.

Food/eating is back on track again.  I’m tracking what I eat with Cronometer, which will give me a breakdown of the nutrients in my diet and let me know where I might be falling short.  It’s a little tedious to enter everything I’m eating, but I am curious about calories and macronutrient breakdown.  Yesterday’s totals were as follows:

  • 1880 Calories
  • 69%  fat
  • 30% protein
  • 1.4% carbohydrate

Yesterdays mood was good.  On a scale of 0-3, it was a 3.  I suppose I should define these numbers….I wasn’t screaming from the rooftops or anything, but I felt good all day.

Cheers.

More Plans

I’ve started Project Empty Freezer.  We’ll be eating salmon and chicken this week.

In addition to the plans outlined in the previous post, I’ll be doing the following, for at least a while, maybe longer:

  • Keeping data on my moods at the end of each day, using a 0-3 Likert-type scale (e.g., 0 = terrible mood, depressed, crying, arguing with people, while 3 = great mood, feeling high on life, that kind of thing.) I’m doing this to collect baseline data so I have some objective information when the time comes to address my hormonal problems.
  • Tracking what I eat.  I’m not going to be obsessive about this, and I’m not going to be counting calories or grams of anything.  I really just want to see what makes me feel good and what doesn’t make me feel good.

So I’ll be starting these things today, in addition to the variables I already track (fasting blood glucose, weight, and various labs periodically).

I’m happy to be home and back into my routine today.  Had a BAB of sirloin steak and eggs sauteed in coconut oil.

During travel yesterday I was doing some reading on Dr. Kruse’s forum and blog, and I’ve been reminded that I have a fat storage problem, most likely related to my hormones being out of balance. I do NOT have a character flaw that involves being a pig and eating too much.  I’m doing the best I can to address it, but it’s going to take a while to fix this.  I’m learning as I go.

Here are some things I’ve learned lately that I’ve been pondering:

1.  Colder is better.  Much more happens when you CT at temps below 60.

2.  Emotions are chunks of chemicals swimming around together.  When these chemicals have been stored in fat and are released, or when any emotional reaction strikes out of the blue, it’s again NOT a character issue.  This is your body reacting to a chunk of chemicals.  It’s important to stop adding judgment to it.

3.  I’m never going to be able to do what other people do.  The sooner I accept this the better.  I spend a certain amount of time wondering why I can’t eat what my husband eats and still feel good…why I can’t take the easier way out, just one day, and get away with it.  I just can’t.  I don’t get to eat carbs.  I feel like crap when I eat them.  End of story.

Off to work this morning.

Thank you, to those of you that stop by to read this.  You make me feel like I have partners in my quest for health.  I really appreciate you.