Surprise 3 Day Fast! Should I Shoot For 7 Days?

Water, bone broth, hot tea and coffee are my drinks of choice during this surprise fast!

A few days ago, my husband suggested we do a three day fast. Fasting is easier when both of us are on the same schedule. I agreed, and our 72-hour fast starts started last night at 8:00 p.m. However, when my husband suggested the extended fast, my first thought was: “Why would we stop after getting over the hardest part?”

I’ve done a few 7-day fasts, following Dr. Jason Fung’s fasting protocol. I drank water, coffee with cream, herbal tea, and bone broth during those seven days. Every time the second day was always the hardest when it came to hunger. But the hunger always subsided the next day.

What Happens During a Fast?
In Jason Fung’s The Complete Guide to Fasting, he outlines what happens to our bodies as we begin an extended fast.

Stage 1: Feeding – We eat, and our blood sugar level goes up. The pancreas releases insulin to move glucose into cells to maintain blood sugar levels; Excess glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen or converted to fat.

Stage 2: Postabsorptive Phase – Six to 24 hours after your fast begins, your blood sugar and insulin start falling. At this point the liver taps into our glycogen stores to release glucose. We have enough glycogen to last 24-36 hours.

Stage 3: Gluconeogenesis – 24-48 hours after fasting starts, our bodies have run out of glycogen. Your liver begins gluconeogenesis, the process of creating new glucose from amino acids. This is the time where I find myself getting irritable, hungry and feel like I’m freezing.

Stage 4: Ketosis – 24-72 hours after fasting starts, your body switches to its secondary energy source (ketones, baby!). Lipolysis, the breakdown of fat for energy starts due to low insulin. Triglycerides are broken down into glycerol and three fatty acids. The glycerol takes the place of the amino acids for gluconeogenesis. And our bodies use the fatty acids as fuel, creating ketone bodies: you are now a fat burning machine.

Stage 5: Protein Conservation – Five days after starting a fast, muscle and lean tissue is maintained by high levels of growth hormones. Our metabolism is mostly powered by ketones and fatty acids. Blood sugar levels are stable due to gluconeogenesis (using glycerol). Adrenaline levels rise to help with fat burning and releasing glycogen.

These five stages describe how humans survived before our on-demand lifestyle. For most of human history, people experienced times of plenty and not-so-plenty. That’s why our bodies come equipped with a second gas tank – to survive those lean times.

I’m not advocating starvation. I am advocating the benefits of flipping the switch and running my body off that second gas tank. The beauty is that the ketogenic diet and fasting do just that. No starvation required.

7 Days or Bust!
Based on these stages, my husband and I will reach ketosis on the very day we end our fast.

D’oh!

I’m committed to the 72-hour fast, but if I feel great during that last day, I’ll let my husband know that I intend to keep going. If he wants to stop, that’s fine. I’ve done extensive fasts while he made his own food. I have my techniques to avoid any smells from the kitchen or being in the same room while he eats.

It’s been a while since I fasted for seven days. I used to do them twice a year and I wanted to get back to that schedule this year, including a water-only fast in the fall.

Today seems like the perfect opportunity.


February Challenge: Giving Up Alcohol For Ketosis

Starting today I’m giving up alcohol for a month. The one item in my diet that is really holding me back from reaching ketosis is wine. I do love the nectar of the gods, but if I’m trying to get healthy, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. The good news is the husband is joining me on my little prohibition challenge. We’ve noticed during the lock down we’re drinking more than normal and we’re not happy about it.

Considering the big rise in alcohol sales during the lock downs, I’d say we’re not the only ones.

Plus, we don’t like the results – morning brain fog, poor sleep, increase in cravings, weight gain, and zapped energy levels.  Who needs that?

Isn’t Alcohol Allowed On Ketogenic Diet?
Yes, you can drink while on a ketogenic diet. But your body focuses on getting rid of alcohol first because it is treated like a poison (which, it is). That means you burn off alcohol before you go back to burning fat. Why? Your liver is what converts fat into ketones. But if you drink alcohol, your body had to metabolize the booze. Your liver stops the fat conversion and focuses on the alcohol.

One drink, won’t necessarily kick you out of ketosis. But it certainly slows it down. Frankly, I like my liver busy on converting fat to ketones, something it wants to do when you eat keto. Why tax it anymore than needed?

A 28 30-Day Challenge
I didn’t pick February to do this challenge because it is the shortest month of the year. Since there are only 28 days this month, and I like doing 30-day challenges, I’m extending this challenge to March 2nd.

And I’m seriously considering extending this challenge beyond the 30 days.


Upgrading My Fasting Routine

A great book for those of you interested in learning about the benefits of and ins and outs of fasting.

I never really stopped intermittent fasting. I’ve done IF for the last 7 years. I settled into an 8-hour eating window and 16 hours of fasting. The problem is that over the last few years the hubby and I just did a lot of damage in that 8-hour window. Although I’m still trying to figure out which direction to take my diet – low carb, keto, carnivore or P:E – I’ve decided I want to push myself on the fasting front.

After a morning binge of Dr. Jason Fung videos, I dusted off the good doctor’s The Complete Guide to Fasting.  I have to say: I love the grids of his fasting protocols. Visually, it’s a great way to show what a 24-, 36- or 42-hour fasting routine looks like.

This week I’m starting the 24-hour fasting protocol. I’m still doing the 16 fasting and 8 hour eating window, but every other day I’m only eating dinner. Today is a fasting day. That means my last meal was last night’s dinner, which I finished eating at 7:00 p.m. My first meal today will start at 7:00 p.m. – 24 hours later.

The only thing I’m allowing myself is water, herbal tea, and one coffee with 1 tbsp. of cream during my fasting hours. Now, I know that some of you are asking: How can you have cream on a fast? Good question! And I have two answers for you.

First, I’m following Jason Fung’s liquid guidelines. That cream is adding so little to my total caloric intake – 50g – it’s too little to matter. Second, my ultimate goal is to eliminate coffee from my diet. I’m drinking one cup a day. That’s down from five cups! I expect to be coffee free within a week or two.

Fasting Isn’t Starvation
There are real benefits if fasting is done right. Clearly, fasting can help with weight loss by helping me get into ketosis. But if I don’t eat right, I’ll stop burning fat.

Fasting is so much more powerful than fat loss. I’m combining fasting with my diet to help boost my energy levels, banish brain fog, reduce inflammation, and improve both leptin and insulin resistance. Once I’ve removed coffee from the diet, fasting will help stimulate autophagy – the body’s process for cleaning out damaged cells and regenerating healthier cells.

I’m finding the 24-hour fast easy to slide into after doing IF for years.  In fact, Jason Fung uses the 36- or 42-hour fasting protocol with his patients for better results. My plan is to move to 36-hour fasting 3 times a week in February before moving to the 42-hour protocol in March.

Of course, life happens. Family get-togethers, dinner with friends, special occasions… Heck, my birthday is this week – on a fasting day no less! Fasting doesn’t mean I become a hermit. I can still enjoy my life. In fact, it makes sense to fast after a feast.

Disclaimer: Fasting isn’t for everyone. There are people who shouldn’t even try fasting, including children, pregnant women and people with eating disorders.  If you are thinking about trying a fast, check in with your doctor first, especially if you are taking any medications. I’m not a doctor and this article is just to let you know what I am trying in regard to my health. It is not medical advice.


The Long, Horrible Goodbye

I’m receiving a lot of emails from readers and viewers sending me well wishes and asking if I’m okay. I sincerely appreciate all your positive thoughts. I want to assure you, I am fine although I’ve definitely gained back weight (more on that in a different post).

I’ve mentioned this before, but yes, we will be making videos again. We’re thinking as soon as spring of 2021. We’ve had few detours the last couple of years – some awesome, some challenging and one that is truly horrible.

On a positive note, my husband took on a huge project – he wrote 4 books – over the last 16 months. When he wasn’t working his real job he devoted all his spare time to writing – so he couldn’t man the camera in our kitchen. I am incredibly proud of him.

As for the horrible, for more than 2 years my attention started shifting from making cooking videos to my mom. Something was very wrong and earlier this year we got an official diagnosis — Lewy Body dementia.

I noticed early signs back in 2015 — anxiety, depression, and lack of sleep. But I attributed it to dad passing away. She also tended to shuffle her feet when she walked, which she blamed on her arthritis. Then there were unexplained bouts of vertigo.

About a year later, I noticed she became more agitated and restless towards the evening but it completely escaped me that she was sundowning.

Then everything changed in 2018 after mom broke her hip and leg from two falls. I remember a warning the orthopedic surgeon gave me after mom’s hip replacement. She said that about 30% die within a year of surgery because an underlying health issue accelerates.

Well, my mom’s dementia hit the gas pedal. For weeks after her first surgery, everyone – doctors, nurses, physical therapists – were telling me that her hallucinations were due to the anesthesia and the elderly take longer to recover. Then there was the extreme emotional swings, paranoia, memory loss, confusion, depression, and the lack of sleep. My sense is those symptoms were present before the surgery. It’s just that she was living with me after her release from the skilled nursing facility. Mom couldn’t hide anything from me.

It was her primary doctor who told us she had dementia and sent us to a neurologist to see if they could determine the type of dementia. Some you can treat with medication. Unfortunately, Lewy Body isn’t one of them.

The last few years have been hard as mom disappears. This is the woman who loved reading, going to school, and studying all things science. She started college when I was 5 years old, graduated medical school when I was 12 and practiced medicine for 30 years. Now she can’t care for herself. All I can do is watch as her mind unravels.

They call dementia the long goodbye. It is, and it’s horrible.


Just Accept It & Move On

Well it’s day 5 of our keto-carnivore challenge and I can honestly say yesterday was the low point. Coming off of a very bad day at the office, the husband ordered gluten free pizza. And yes, I had some.

Talk about textbook emotional eating. It doesn’t take much for us to decide we need to “blow off steam” by eating out or bringing home a bottle of wine. After a couple of glasses, you do dumb things…like order gluten free pizza.

Oh, and it wasn’t very good pizza either!

I was upset with both of us last night as I went to bed. My last thought before drifting off: “Well, Day 1 just starts tomorrow.”

This morning the frustration is gone, replaced with resolve.

Day 1 of our reset was September 21, not September 25. We messed up. Badly. We’ll do better at the next meal.

Accept it and move on.

The only change we’re making to our keto carnivore challenge is no alcohol of any kind allowed. Period.


Keto Carnivore…Our Way

IMG_3528-300x300The one thing about eating low carb, both blessing and a curse, is that everyone has an opinion on how to do it. I love how you can go into any online community and get help with nearly every challenge or issue.

On the other hand, I hate when I hear, “you’re doing it wrong.” There is only one way to eat low carb, don’t cha know? And the people who believe that are the first ones who to let you know loudly and proudly.

Well. I hate to break it to the don’t-cha-know crowd: there is more than one-way to keto.

  1. We’re not the same – someone with IBD is going to keto differently than someone eating for athletic performance.
  2. Our diets change as we change. As we age, our bodies have different needs when it comes to nutrition.

I tried going back and doing my tried-and-true low carb style – the one that helped me shed all that weight. This time around, though, it didn’t work. I felt tired and hungry. My joints—already hurting—seemed to hurt a little more. Was I perfect? No, because I’m human. But something was different this time around, and I think that “something” is me.

Now, I love to do 30-day challenges. Why? I like to stretch myself and see what does and doesn’t work for me. It’s almost like test-driving a car to see if I really wanted to buy it. Also, frankly, it’s just fun to shake things up and experiment.

Today, the hubby and I are officially keto-carnivore for 30 days.

What is keto-carnivore?

We all grew up with the food pyramid, where grains, breads, and cereals made up the foundation of the “Standard American Diet” (SAD in deed). Then fruits (2-4 servings) and vegetables (3-5 servings), followed by low fat dairy and lean meats, and fats were used sparingly.

With the keto-carnivore food pyramid, red meat (beef, deer, bison, lamb) is the staple, followed by fish. Pork and poultry are limited. Dairy (cheese, creams, butter) and fats like avocado (oil and fruit) coconut oil, and olive oil are used sparingly. Eggs are also part of the pyramid and we group them with red meat.

There’s one big caveat to our keto-carnivore challenge:

My Garden

BigOne

Yep, that’s 1.5 pounds of heirloom tomato you’re looking at.

Other than avocadoes, I’m not buying fruit or veggies, but I am growing them. We don’t want to waste them. Most of the plants we’re growing are low carb, so yes, we will incorporate them into our diet. If we grow them, we’re eating them.

As luck would have it, yesterday we had a big harvest.

  • Peppers – green bell, chili and ghost
  • Tomatoes – Yellow pear, plum, and some big-ass heirloom yellow tomatoes including a 1-½ pounder.

We normally eat 2 meals a day. To handle our little bounty, I’m limiting our veg intake to the first meal of the day. Dinner is meat only.

Now, hot peppers are not what I would consider “low carb,” so I’m using them in dishes that spread the carb count across multiple servings. I’m talking beef chili and spicy pulled pork barbacoa – dishes that will last us days. They can also be used in marinades where not all of the carbs will be absorbed (but I still count them anyway).

The key is we’re staying below 20g of total carbs daily when we have any vegetable. I fully expect that by Wednesday of next week we’ll be strictly meat only…until the next little harvest.

The nice thing about this challenge is it pretty much ends around when I expect the first frost to hit. If we’re happy with the results, and I see a noticeable change in how I feel, we may decide to go full-time keto-carnivore.

Wish us luck!


Summer of Hip Therapy & Bad Eating

We’ve been so busy this spring and summer. It looks like fall and winter are shaping up to be just as, if not more, hectic. Obviously posting and making cooking videos have taken a back seat. But my cameraman/editor husband and I are fine. We’re just super busy.

This spring we made the decision to put a hold on making new videos. A big work project landed on my husband’s lap that demanded all of his time spent on filming and editing our videos. The project’s end date was late August…but here we are in September and it is still rolling along. Now it’s looking like the end date is closer to November/December.

As for me, the one word to describe the past 8 months is “frustration.” My unstable hip dominates everything I do.  For months on end sitting, standing, stretching, walking or rolling over in bed caused intense pain. It’s been difficult to do basic things like cooking, cleaning, walking to the mailbox, or grocery shopping. I found if I sat for more than 30 minutes I wouldn’t be able to walk more than a foot or two without risk of falling.

No matter the amount of physical therapy or stretching “3 times a day,” it just felt like my hip muscles were getting pulled into a tighter ball instead of lengthening.  I know my orthopedic doctor warned me it would take about 18 months to stabilize the hip. But patience with one’s self goes out the window when you’re use to physically doing what you want when you want.

Rather than being patient with myself and having that laser-focus on my health, self-pity won out this summer. So rather than focusing my time on getting healthy I went back to my old bad eating habits.

To say my carb count “crept up” is putting it mildly. There were days (most) I ate like the old 300+ lbs. me, and days where I was strictly keto (far too few).

So this summer I added a lot more weight…and didn’t care. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself.  I knew what I was doing was wrong and frankly, stupid. But as they say, you need to hit bottom before you turn your life around.

It wasn’t until August that my hip started really responding to therapy. I became more mobile and flexible. The pain isn’t constant. For now it feels like I’m over a hump. My trainer recently cleared me for biking and interval running. That’s huge!

And sure enough, around the same time that mental funk started lifting too. I’m starting to eat out less, cutting back on alcohol, and making better food choices.  In September I decided to do another keto reset (for the zillionth time…but whose really counting) with a 30-day challenge.

Since I’m on a video hiatus, I decided to go back to where it all began for me…this blog. I’ll try to do 1-2 posts a week. The posts will focus on my reset — the successes and failures.

 

 


February Food Challenge: Ketogenic Paleo…With A Twist

The carnivore challenge is wrapping up this week for my husband, but I stopped it for myself a little more than a week ago. I enjoyed carnivore, but my hip pain took a lot of my enthusiasm out of it. I honestly believe that you need to seriously work out while doing carnivore — something I can’t do right now. Anyway, I’ve already begun my next food challenge: a keto version of Paleo’s autoimmune protocol (AIP).

Back in December I started reading Robb Wolf’s Wired to Eat: Turn Off Your Cravings, Rewire Your Appetite for Weight Loss, and Determine the Foods That Work for You.

While some of the concepts are not necessarily new to me, I loved that he explains the science behind food, cravings, and appetite in easy to understand terms. I’ll have a full review of the book next week. Needless to say, it has me all fired up.

How fired up? I signed up for Wolf’s 45-Day Keto Master Class and am currently reading his The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet.

Originally, I’d planned to try Wolf’s 30-day reset as my January 30-Day Challenge. Wolf spends a lot of real estate in his book on gut health and IBS. His 30-day reset sounded perfect for my long-suffering husband. I also hoped the reset could help me rediscover my keto mojo.

But alas, the husband suggested we do Carnivore first, and I was so happy about his enthusiasm that I decided to wait a month and do carnivore instead.

With my hip pain and subsequent arthritis diagnosis, inflammation is my new enemy. I feel the AIP approach is just what I need.

Our Macros For This Challenge
I used a combo of the the KetoGains and Dr. Ted Naimen’s calculators to determine our macros for this challenge. We’re upping our protein and lowering our fat intake. We learned from the carnivore challenge that protein keeps us satiated way longer than fat. If you’re curious, this Robb Wolf video explains why I’ve been feeling hungry and snacking way too much (hint: not enough protein in my diet).

As for reducing our dietary fat, we want to burn our own fat rather than the dietary fat we eat. While most keto folks live by the 70% fat, 20% protein and 5% carb numbers, it just isn’t working for us.

Our dietary fat is coming from lean meats, offal, seafood, the healthy fats we use for cooking (just enough prevent food from sticking), and dressings.

So, no more extra pads of butter on meat. My hubby’s really bummed about that (lol).

Screen Shot 2019-01-31 at 3.18.25 PM

Looking at the numbers, I’m sure you’re asking “Why is John eating 40g of carbs? What about ketosis?”

Remember: this challenge is about eating for health, not chasing a number. In John’s case, eliminating his IBS symptoms and healing his gut is of primary importance. The expected weight loss is a nice side benefit.

Food List: What We Can & Can’t Eat
Because we’re focused on foods targeting autoimmunity and inflammation, our menu seems restrictive (and it is), but I’m confident I can still make awesomely tasty meals.

Screen Shot 2019-01-31 at 3.21.08 PM

Foods to Avoid List – Coffee & Chocolate Make the List

  • Nightshades – Tomatoes, potatoes, sweet & hot peppers, tomatillos, goji berries, and eggplants; spices from peppers (paprika, cayenne, red pepper, chili, black pepper, etc.). Also pimentos are verboten. So careful when eating olives. This is not an all-inclusive list.
  • Nut & Seeds – Includes all nut butters, flours and oils; coffee (!!!), cocoa (no chocolate!) and seed-based spices such as: allspice, anise seed, all peppers, caraway, cardamom, cayenne, celery seed, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, coriander seeds, curry, cumin seeds, dill seed, fennel seed, mustard seed, nutmeg, paprika, poppy seed, sesame seed, all peppercorns, star anise, vanilla bean.
  • NSAIDs – These are anti-inflammatory meds, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), diclofenac, diflunisal, etodolac, and maproxen (Aleve). It’s not a complete list so check you’re medicine cabinet.

Foods OK To Eat List – The Specifics

  • Lean Meats – It isn’t necessary to eat grass-fed, pasture raised, organic meats, but when budget allows, it is our first choice.
  • Fish & Shellfish – Wild-caught is preferred, but if budget only allows farmed, that’s OK. Our goal is 2-3 times per week.
  • Vegetables & Fruit
    • Colorful vegetables & fruit (red, purple, blue, yellow, orange, white – the more color the better!)
    • Leafy Greens
    • Cruciferous Vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, etc.)
    • Root Vegetables (carrots, beets, celeriac, parsnips, radishes, ginger, turnips, and swedes)
    • Edible fungi (mushrooms!)
    • Because my husband has a larger daily carb allowance, he can have up to 2 servings of fruit each day. As I am doing the ketogenic version, I can have fruit, but I need to stay within my daily carb allowance. Also, fruit fructose needs to stay below 20g.

Next Steps
February 1st is tomorrow, so I’m finalizing the first week menu this afternoon and hitting the grocery store tonight. We also need a plan to deal with Sunday’s Super Bowl party we’re attending. Yikes!!

This means I’m going simple for the first week menu: A giant salad for lunch, some protein and cooked veggies for dinner.

For Sunday I’m pulling a trick out of our carnivore diet: big-ass steaks a couple of hours before the party. There’s no way we’ll even look at the big spread of non-AIP food! However, my husband plans to drink a couple of beers. As for me, my goal is to drink a glass of wine early in the game and then stick with water…lots of water.

Easy peasy!


My husband’s carnivore video (it’s a hoot)

I sometimes forget there are people who read the blog, but who don’t necessarily subscribe to the Youtube channel, or that if they do, they don’t go there and check it all the time. Which is fine. I subscribe to something like 30 channels and don’t check them either. But I think this one, where my husband demonstrates a typical day on our 30-day carnivore challenge, was pretty good, and thought you might like it.

Enjoy 🙂


Hip Tests Are In, And…

hip

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I don’t have a stress fracture. YAY!!!! But I do have osteoarthritis in my hip, am suffering from iliotibial (IT) band syndrome and have a hamstring that is too frickin’ tight. A triple whammy!

What does it all mean? How do I get back on my feet again? Is training for a 10k completely out of the picture? Are any of these new problems related to my chronically tight calf muscles?

Physical Therapy Here I Come
The answer to the first two questions is up to me. I have to do the work, and a lot of it. Tomorrow I meet my physical therapist for a 90-minute evaluation that puts me through my paces. From there I’ll have  PT twice a week for at least six weeks (maybe longer) and daily homework that tackles the hip and my supposed chronic calf problem (more on that later).

The osteoarthritis is very mild and my doctor assured me that with physical therapy and a year to a year and a half of work, the hip pain goes away AND I put off surgery until my golden years.

Diet will be a big part in minimizing osteoarthritis. I’ve put on way too many pounds after my cancer diagnosis in 2016.  To me, that’s the trigger in this latest saga with my left leg.

As for the IT syndrome, it’s normally associated with knee pain. However it does cause a dull ache or a sharp, acute pain in the hip. The band runs along the outside of the leg. While there are lots of causes for the inflammation, my doctor things muscle tightness in my glutes and quads are leading culprits.

All I know is when he started bending my leg like a pretzel, I wanted to smack him upside the head.

Oh And About My Calf Problem
It turns out that my calf isn’t causing the pain in my Achilles tendon. Two years of stretching down the drain. Ugh!

When we discussed my chronic Achilles pain thanks to my overly tight calf muscles, the doctor quickly started stretching my foot and examining the calf, and announced “Your calf isn’t tight…it’s your hamstring.”

So I spent 2+ years not addressing the root cause of my pain. So say I’m a little annoyed is putting it mildly. But at least I’m on the right path.

Path Forward: Exercise, Nutrition & So Much More!
From what I surmised, my whole left leg is jacked up.  My doctor assured me that with PT and strength building I’ll be moving around with ease soon enough.  But it will take 12-18 months of hard work for me to feel 100% again.

I just need to exercise some caution. My inclination is to go full bore…and cause another injury. Maybe that dull, nagging pain in my hip can keep my natural tendencies in check.

As for diet, I’m reading a very interesting book, Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf (Mr. Paleo himself), and I love what I’m reading.  Although I’m eating carnivore for the rest of this month, I’m actually more excited about next month. That’s when I’m doing Wolf’s 30-Day Reset.

I just finished the book and plans for my reset began this morning. Unlike my failed keto reset, I’m feeling confident that the 30-day reset be different. My head is back in the game after being benched for 2 and 1/2 years.  It is a shame that it takes pain or a medical crisis for me to act, but hey, at least I have time to act.

I’ve had success with keto, but paleo seems to have more of the full picture — nutrition, sleep, gut biome, inflammation and movement (to name a few!).

Paleo really zeros in on overall health. Weight loss is a side benefit.  I had that attitude when I started my little low carb journey in 2012. And it worked! Now it seems like everything I’m reading about LCHF/keto all about weight loss and the blasted macros!

That doesn’t mean keto is bad at all. In fact I’m thinking of doing a keto version of paleo after the 30-Day Reset.

It’s just that you need the right mindset when changing your way of eating. My greatest success happened when I viewed my journey as a science experiment with me as the scientist and guinea pig. I was on a journey to get healthy. No pressure from the scale.

That’s what I want to get back to.