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I Suck at Low Carb Dieting – Week 6

Posted Apr 01 2012 8:34am

You can find the previous week’s posts  here , if you’re interested.

Sunday, March 25, 2012 – 202.2

It was rainy in the Northeast US, and I was sore. I especially felt it in my shoulders where I focus my weight exercise, and also in the legs, probably because I’ve walked a lot more in the past week.

As I had ran out of heavy cream, morning coffee was with 2 tablespoons of butter (don’t knock it until you try it). I quickly guzzled down a pot of java while finishing up last week’s installment of this 12-week…what: lesson in futility? Saga? Misadventure? Call it what you will, but after that it was a trip to Wal-Mart to stock up on keto sticks and Atkins Shakes.

This turned into an interesting day, from an experimental standpoint, because of pad Thai. We had made some – actually, Trader Joe’s did – I just warmed it up for the kids, but it proved too spicy for them. So I ate it – the entire thing. This was after a day of high calories, exercise,  and low carb – nothing much different in the way of diet than the past week, except I was hungry.

A period of WTF set in after that, and I made short work of half a croissant and some dried strawberries, and dutifully noted this in my LoseIt! app, which I have come to hate less.

I also thought this an ideal time to give myself a home-made ‘glucose intolerance test’. I had just consumed what I had estimated was about 100 grams of carbs. How would my body react? I had finished up at 7pm. Before bed I got in 2 measurements:

  • 15 minutes after: 125
  • 45 minutes after: 113

Total calories for the day: 3,748. Fat: 263g, Net carbs: 160g, Protein: 172g (62/20/18%)

Monday, March 26, 2012 – 204.4

Weight aside, a big part of this 12-week made-up self-imposed program is health. So it’s interesting to note that my fasting blood glucose when I awoke this morning at 4:30am was 146. Right or wrong, if I were to have gotten a blood test by my doctor with that measurement, I would be called a full-blown diabetic.

It’s more complicated than that, however. It’s a snapshot on a particular day, from a person with a metabolism pretty much fine-tuned to not take in a lot of fast absorbing carbs, who just happened to do so. It also appears that a lot of times my morning glucose goes up regardless of carbs eaten (it was 132 last week during a period of ketosis) – that ‘dawn effect’ my reader, John, let me know about.

I also don’t have much in the way of a current period of regular high-carb intake to compare this to. It could be a matter that my body is not ‘carb acclimated’ and would handle this better if it got a regular intake of carbs. I also recall instances last year when I was measuring blood glucose regularly and would have a blowout – and the next morning the blood glucose would plunge - 20 points down from normal.

So as I mentioned, this is an awfully complicated process. It isn’t just high-carb intake = high blood sugar. There’s a complicated interrelationship that I think is highly personal, and it’s hard to come to many clear conclusions, except to say: I’m probably better off on a low carb diet than I am on a high carb diet.

For today, as an example, I woke up with the blood glucose at 146. In an hour it had gone to 128, an hour after that 101. 2 hours later, eating nothing but 1 ounce of roast beef and 1 tablespoon of butter, it was 132. By mid morning, after an Atkins shake, it had gone down to 116. For some reason, there seems to be a weak correlation between fasting and blood glucose.

My wife invited me to lunch at Maggiano’s , a pretty decent Italian chain restaurant. I had:

  • 2 jumbo mushroom caps stuffed with spinach and topped with seasoned breadcrumbs, served in a garlic white wine sauce
  • Balsamic-glazed salmon baked on cedar paper with spinach mixed with sun-dried tomatoes

As both my wife and I were suffering from a bad case of the Mondays, this was a great way to battle it, though not exactly the easiest thing to put into my calorie-counting app as Maggiano’s do not list their calorie count. Obviously there was sugar and starch in this lunch, but I was hoping not that much.

What seemed unusual was that this relatively small meal was so filling that I didn’t eat until 8:30 when I finally pulled the roast garlic chicken I prepped over the weekend out of the convection oven. I also had some pork rinds, some butter, some cooked garlic cloves, and some Trader Joe’s wasabi almonds – and dutifully noted these in my LoseIt! app to the best of my ability.

I also noted that I was in ketosis in the evening, which I can’t for the life of me explain since I had maybe 100 grams of carbs at a single serving yesterday. Had my body been so carb-depleted after 6 solid days of ketosis that it doesn’t want to switch back? This is pure speculation, of course. I don’t think there’s much research in these sorts of things out there. Ketosis, while probably more common in prehistory, is not all that common today, and it’s treated more as a curiosity by most researchers outside of the low carb community and doctors who treat epilepsy with it.

Total calories for the day: 3,140.  Fat: 263g, Net carbs: 26g, Protein: 166g (74/6/21%)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 – 204.2

Light ketosis yesterday am. Heavy ketosis yesterday pm. No ketosis on this morning. Curious. Were the ketones leftovers? Did the ketogenic process need time to ‘wind down’? Had lots of cream in my coffee – double the normal amount. In work I had butter in my coffee and an Atkins shake. I had close to 700 calories before 9am.

Believe it or not – I was full for a while, then got a bit peckish early afternoon and had a yogurt and 5 ounces of roast beef and 6 tablespoons of butter. I took my blood glucose throughout the day and it was remarkable in that it was more or less the same as previous days: it starts out high, and meanders down and then up then down again, seemingly unresponsive to what I eat, though it tends to rise when I don’t eat.

I pushed a big project out the door at work today. It had been hanging around a long time, and I was anxious for closure, but afterward, I felt a bit sad. I’ve seen this before on projects: it’s a postpartum depression of sorts. It might be diet-related – might not – it’s cold in the Northeast and the weather impacts my mood as well.

Went home and exercised, then took my blood glucose right after: 85. The lowest it’s been since I started measuring this year.

I also tested for ketosis – and I’m back – the pad Thai carbs apparently flushed from my system.

Dinner was 2 hot dogs and caesar dressing, and some green beans sautéed in olive oil.

I got the kids pizza, but abstained.

Sometimes it’s hard to notice non-events, but I’ve noticed that I haven’t been as tired in the evenings.

Total calories for the day: 2858.  Fat: 262g, Net carbs: 20g, Protein: 103g (81/4/14%)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 – 203.2

In ketosis and morning fasting blood glucose is 118. Oddly hungry in the morning. You would think that the calorie intake would reduce the hunger, but paradoxically, the hunger is high today. I indulged myself by stopping at ShopRite, a Northeast grocery chain, for some of their bologna. This is a comfort food of mine going back to my childhood. I figured some wouldn’t hurt, and I asked for the nutrition count. As the deli guy read it to me and I didn’t have anything to write on nor a photographic memory, I only recall it was 5 grams of carbs a serving – a bit high. I wrote ShopRite directly for the nutrition info, but they warned on the site not to hold your breath for an answer, so I used the numbers for Boar’s Head Bologna but bumped up the carbs to 5 grams as a placeholder until ShopRite gets back to me – if ever.

It was yummy. I had it for breakfast. Perhaps a bit much, on top of my cream and melted butter in my coffee. I checked my blood sugar a little while later and the number read 241. Woah. Let’s make sure that’s not a mistake. I stabbed myself twice more – it was more like 125. That particular strip was a bit wonky.

Let me also note that once the 100 strips I bought are gone – I’m done for a while. I’ve gotten some good data on my blood glucose throughout the day and I see no need to continue this much further. My fingertips are getting like pincushions and the strips cost me $50 bucks.

I was – not surprisingly – rather full for most of the day, but by mid-afternoon had gotten hungry again, and had my Atkins shake. A bit later I had some of the cheese I bought along with the bologna, and eating it out of the package it came in I ended up eating 7 ounces – as well as the remainder of the bologna. And I was still kinda hungry.

I also was not in the greatest of moods – again. Mood is a tough thing. It can be situational, chemical, or both. How the Hell are you supposed to tell? Especially when mood impairs judgement? I always try to detach from the mood, understanding that it is not ‘me’, and that on previous days I’ve had more or less the exact same problems yet felt much happier, and that moods pass.

Being in a crappy mood is still crappy when you do this, but it tends not to spiral out of control as much as it would if I thought differently.

Perhaps it was this crappy mood that prompted me to buy a FitBit . The Fitbit is a 21st century pedometer of sorts that connects to the Internet to help the measurement-obsessed add even more data to their lives. As I am actually trying to exercise regularly (pinch me – am I actually saying that?), I thought that it might be an interesting feedback mechanism.

It certainly is interesting from an industrial design standpoint. It is clip-shaped and you can wear it on or in a pocket – woman can clip it to their bra. It (somehow) measures steps, and also contains an altimeter so it can tell you how many flights of stairs you walked up in a day. It also calculates your BMR (I guess – they don’t go into a lot of detail on how it works) and provides you with how many calories you’ve burned so far during the day. It’s motion detector also feeds this ‘activity’ back into the calorie number and is supposed to do the math for you on how many extra calories you can consume as calculated by this gadget.

Somehow I feel as if I’ve been given a religious item from a religion I don’t believe in. This is 21st century calories-in-calories-out-BMR-exercise=calories burned – at least from what I’ve seen so far.

I have 29 days to return it.

It has an endearing ‘personality’ for an object. When you pick it up, it addresses you by name somewhat randomly, which gives it more personality than a typical machine. Picking it up this morning, it said on its tiny screen (it’s no bigger than my thumb) “IM READY LCC”.

It does have many limitations – like not displaying ” DONT DO IT LCC” when I ate 2 slices of leftover pizza from the day before, then continued on, not cheating exactly, but taking in way more food than necessary, with caesar salad, peppers and eggs, and more wasabi almonds. The FitBit should have warned me.

The numbers below are my best guess estimate.

Total calories for the day: 3975.  Fat: 289g, Net carbs: 138g, Protein: 167g (67/16/17%)

Thursday, March 29, 2012 – 205.0

Blood glucose 114 – lower than the previous day when I didn’t  have carbs. Again, the relationship here is not simple. Not particularly thrilled at the 2 pound weight gain – I am trying to lose weight here – but still curious as to how I can eat so much and gain so little. I’ve eaten half the calories and gained more.

Dave Brown left a comment that eating a lot of calories can lead to weight loss through 2 vehicles that might work in tandem: a change in gut bacteria that essentially bumps up the metabolism. He left a link as well and I have to read it.

We also need to take into account that, looking at my fluctuations, they can be entirely explained away by water retention. I have hovered around 205 with higher carbs and lower carbs – high calories and low calories.

Perhaps this is what my body wants to weight. Perhaps I should just up the exercise and accept this number. I’ve had 2 people tell me ‘how skinny’ I look, and my wife has started calling me ‘scrawny’. I’m only a few pounds away from obese in the BMI however. I don’t want to go too low – my target of 185 is still overweight by the BMI – it’s just less overweight than I am now.

Regardless, I am halfway through this experiment and I’d like to finish it. Sometimes the results you get from something are not what you expected, but what you needed.

Isn’t that a Rolling Stones song?

Anyway, the blood glucose seemed lower for the entire day. Butter and not cream in the AM? Or did the carbs from the previous day have some impact? Tough to say – correlation does not mean causation, or put another way: there might not be any relationship with anything I’m measuring.

Feeling a bit depressed – I ate less during the day. I didn’t starve – I just ate less. Roast beef, butter, yogurt, and a shake. Blood glucose stayed in the 90s except for when I ate – then it only went up to 108 at its highest.

I also walked around with the Fitbit on. Kinda neat. It supposedly counts footsteps, but what it really seems to be counting is its own ‘activity units’. That’s fine. If I get a baseline using this number, then I can compare days to see differences in activity. Might be useful. we’ll see. We’ll also see if the novelty wears off and it becomes just another ‘thing’.

Feeling especially tired today, and had to skip exercise to take my older daughter to one of her afterschool classes. My wife usually does it, but couldn’t – which was fine – I had already decided to blow off the exercise for the day.

Unfortunately, I was real hungry, and her class being near a grocery store, I knew what I was going to do. This was no ‘alien hand syndrome’ – this was premeditated. I got myself an Italian hero and ate that, then went home and had some toast and butter.

I dutifully notes this in my calorie-counting LoseIt! app, but – how the Hell do I enter an Italian hero? It’s a local thing – and you might not even know what I’m talking about. It is a sandwich on a long Italian or French bread, or a baguette with Italian deli ingredients like provolone cheese, Genoa salami, some ham, lettuce, onion, olive oil & vinegar. In some places it’s called a hoagie, in others a grinder.

I used as a replacement the Subway chain ‘Italian Sandwich’ – the numbers for that are as good as any, I suppose.

Tired as I mentioned, I went to bed early.

I noticed my carbs seemed awfully high – 415 grams. How could this be? Well, the calorie-counting app LoseIt! lies! For the bread I had I used the bar code reader to input it. It came up with bread and I didn’t look at the numbers. When I took as second look, it came up with 360 grams of carbs for 2 slices.

Calorie counting sucks.

Total calories for the day: 2,508.  Fat: 304g, Net carbs: 80g, Protein: 10g (77/11/11%)

Friday, March 30, 2012 – 204.8

My reward for the carb indulgence yesterday? Blood glucose the lowest AM reading since I started this: 97. Weight statistically unchanged, and real numbers a tiny bit lower. I’m implying causation here, but in reality I don’t have a clue if one is related to another. The highest I recorded was 109. I forgot the tester in work, so those of you bored with blood glucose readings will be spared for 2 days.

I still have the Fitbit, however, and I must admit that I find it somewhat charming. I had doubts about its ability to measure steps so I took 50 steps and looked at its display. I’ll be damned – it was only off by one. I’m still skeptical, however, and will do further tests like this.

Another positive aspect to it is: it doesn’t chirp, beep, or make any sound whatsoever. I’m tired of electronics that incorporate useless sounds – in work I hear a cacophony of them from people’s cel phones and computers. This thing is quiet – I like that.

It also sends me emails when I reach goals that it set up for me – I’d be too lazy to set these goals, so I do find it encouraging that it send me an email saying I’ve walked 10,000 steps. Jeez – I didn’t know I was so active. I took a walk at lunch, and I think it might have been partly because of this little gadget.

Eats didn’t really go to plan – I know what you’re thinking: Plan?!? I can see no discernible plan whatsoever!

Well, there *is* a plan – I just follow it so horribly that you can’t detect it.

The plan is supped to be: eat high fat, low carb, moderate protein, and I do pretty good during the day. Butter in my coffee and butter with roast beef, along with a yogurt and a can of tuna. Mood was OK .

But evening was a different matter. It seems that even with the caloric intake increased over previous weeks where I was trying caloric restriction, I was hungry. And hungry for carbs. Again, no alien hand syndrome here – this was premeditated.

I skipped exercise a second time and, at the kid’s behest, went to the store to pick up some of the store-made mac and cheese, and chicken wings. I thought to myself I’d have a taste and eat to plan after, but when I got home, my wife had taken the kids out, leaving just me and the mac.

You can guess what happened next.

After that I had some peppers and eggs – nothing wrong there – and then an old comfort food favorite: a cheese sandwich with lettuce and mayo. And them more cheese and bread an mayo to boot.

My wife, who has been abstaining from goodies because of her Ultramind diet, hid her stash of chocolate. unfortunately for both her and me, she is the worst ‘hider’ in the history of hiding, and while I ate the last KitKat, I reflected that: somebody had to do it.

I also found a few Lindt chocolate balls and had those as well.

Satisfied, I went to bed and dutifully recorded my eating – for science.

Total calories for the day: 3,175.  Fat: 229g, Net carbs: 140g, Protein: 131g (65/19/16%)

Saturday, March 31, 2012 – 206.0

The weekly summary for this week seems to show it doesn’t much matter what I eat. This week, eating pounds of butter, and consuming an average of 3,200 calories – almost doubling the amount of calories from week 2, for example, doesn’t reflect in the numbers. the 206.0 for today would not look out-of-place in a previous week where I ate 6-7,000 fewer calories!

Isn’t that kind of phenomenal? Remarkable? It certainly wasn’t compensated with additional exercise – my routine was unchanged, in fact, I skipped my pathetic 7-minute weight workout 2 days in a row.

So where did all those calories go, you people who believe that I defy physics by taking more calories in without gaining weight?

There’s an old ‘law’ of biology used by snarky and frustrated researchers that goes like this:

“Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, humidity, and other variables, the organism will do as it damn well pleases.”

I certainly appear to be that organism. Right now the formula seems to be:

Unlimited fat + controlled carbs = weight maintenance.

Notice I didn’t say ‘low carb’ – I’ve eaten bread and candy and mac & cheese. But I still averaged 60% or more calories from fat. And it appears that total calories don’t matter. My weight still hovers in a narrow range. Nor was I some blazing furnace this week, giving off a glow from all the calories I was burning. In fact, I was taking my temperature here and there the past few days – my temperature stayed in the 97 degree range, only getting to 98.4 once.

So they had to go somewhere - right? Perhaps I just excreted them? I feed my body and it only takes what it needs and tosses the rest?

Given the data, it’s plausible.

For a moment, assume my hypothesis is correct (I don’t know if it is – I might be misinterpreting the data). Flipping this a bit bring to mind some other questions I don’t have the answer to.

To be continued…

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