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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
Day 4 of my 7-Day Fasting Challenge is winding down, and I am a bundle of energy. I’ve been running around my house going from chore to chore for about 10 hours. I took a “quick” break for social media and 30 minutes later I start crashing.
I just moved to the next project. BAM! Energy levels come roaring back.
As for hunger, well, I’m just have no interest in food. Oh sure there were a few small rumbles, but they went a way as fast as they came. Heck, I was working in my kitchen about 5 feet from my refrigerator and I had no urge to eat.
My hunger is just gone. Sweet!
Right before bed I decided to test my ketone levels. I just had too. I used two different strips — one I got from CVS and another that was sent to me by One Health to test. I’ll do a review of One Health’s ketone strips next week. However, I say they have one immediate advantage over the ones I currently use — length! When you have to pass the sticks through a urine stream, having a long stick is awesome.
Anyway, last night the strips showed that I was excreting trace amounts of ketones. By morning the strips showed I was releasing small amounts (1.5 mmol/L). A few hours later the amount increased to “moderate” levels or 4.0 mmol/L.
Using Ketosis To Protect Cells
So I am fat burning mode and loving it. The added benefit is that ketones protect our cells from cancer. In his presentation at the 2017 Low Carb Down Under conference, Dr. Gary Fettke talks about how things like protein and fatty acids serve as building blocks for cancer (glucose is the fuel), but are not readily available. So Cancer basically poaches them from nearby cells.
That’s where ketones come in. When you are burning fat for fuel instead of glucose, the ketone bodies act to protect healthy cells. So not only does it stop cancer from stealing from healthy cells, ketones also starves cancer cells. Pretty Awesome.
Yay! Three fasting days down, just 4 more to go. And I’m feeling awesome! Day 3 was easier than Day 2 by far. My energy returned. And that ravenous feeling I had the day before disappeared.
Like Day 1, I stayed busy all day. So there were no stray thoughts about food. I was just too busy to eat. And today I was lifting lots of heavy boxes and home office equipment. I may have missed my workout on Tuesday, but I had plenty of resistance training today.
I will add that I got very hungry after I was done with all the heavy lifting. That was expected and I just rewarded myself with a tall glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. That’s the way i role on a fast!
I did have two little hiccups. The first appeared in the form of a minor headache. Since I’d had to get up twice last night to go to the bathroom, I knew I lost a little too much sodium. A nice cup of bone broth with about 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt fixed me up in about 20 minutes.
The second happened around 6:00 p.m. That’s when the husband cooked his dinner. I went up stairs, thinking of the phrase “out of sight out of mind.” Well, that doesn’t really work when it comes to smell. Wow, that was a tough one. But I prevailed.
Opps! Forgot About Measuring Burning Fat?
During an extended fast it can take between 2 to 3 days before you reach full ketosis. Ketosis is a natural state where your body is almost completely fueled by fat. Normally on Day 1 of my fast I would track my ketone levels (ketones are small fuel molecules, produced in the liver from your body fat). However with all the excitement with my mom’s unexpected hospital visit, I completely forgot to measure my ketones. Ugh!
Well better late than never. Tomorrow morning I’ll start tracking my ketone levels. I’m using the urine sticks (you basically pass the stick through your urine stream). Besides getting a reading first thing in the morning, I plan to also test my ketone levels after having my morning coffee and afternoon bone broth.
I’m just curious to see the effects both have on my fat burning.
Day 4 is coming up next and my biggest challenge is I’ll be home, working 10 feet away from my refrigerator. Here boredom is the enemy.
But between cleaning the basement, picking out a new kitchen sink, counter top as well as the color we’re painting our cabinets, I’m thinking I’ll have a pretty busy day.
Today was rough. I had no energy and just wanted to sleep. I ended up canceling the morning workout with my trainer. My gas tank was on empty. That was probably a good decision. Why?
Right on time, they Day 2 hunger pangs started at noon and seemed to never let up.
When I do extended fasts, Day 2 is always the hardest. I assume it’s because my body is basically crossing The Rubicon — switching from glucose to fat burning. I attempted 7-day fasts before and it’s always Day 2 that made me cry uncle (and eat a steak). Which is why I like to stay super busy.
For Day 2 I planned to paint the trim in my living room as a way to take my mind off the fact I’m not eating. However, that fickle finger of fate stepped in.
Instead I checked on mom and to be there for her first in-home physical therapy session. Mom’s recover is way more important than home decorating and stomach rumbling. Still, other than sitting in a chair and asking a couple of questions, I wasn’t terribly busy.
Which means my body did it’s best to break me.
I didn’t give in. Despite feeling exhausted, ravenous…and cranky.
Exhausted because I didn’t get a good nights sleep. Again, I’m assuming that’s because my body is burning up the last bits of glucose.
Ravenous because, well that’s obvious. I’m fasting.
The crankiness surprised me. When I’m hungry, apparently I get ticked off easily. It didn’t help the drive home was horrible. A 10 minute drive took well over 40 minutes. Now I hate sitting in traffic. Today I was apoplectic.
To make things worse, the angrier I got, my hunger increased proportionately. No amount of water could satisfy my stomach. I suspect that cortisol may have been raging. So I was just making myself hungrier.
Once I realized I was sabotaging my own fast, I started calming down. Sure enough, the hunger became more manageable.
I’m hoping that Day 3 will go a lot smoother than today.
I’m wrapping up day 1 of my 7-day fast. Although I started the day with a ton of energy, it’s nearly 9:00 pm and I’m exhausted. That’s how I like it.
Normally I’m much more prepared going into a fast. But my mother’s hospitalization saw that I went into the fast by the seat of my pants.
All you can do is roll with it.
This morning, no bone broth. No bullet coffee. No water (UGH!). I just left for mom’s place. Clearly I forgot about the fast. So I just sucked it up, picked up black coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts, and headed over to mom’s to help her out.
Now before you fasting purist out there say anything, I’m not doing a water fast. I’m following Dr. Jason Fung’s guides on extended fasting. However, my fall fast will be water only.
The good news was I stayed busy all day. Meaning not a lot of time to think about the food I wasn’t eating. If you want to fast successfully, keeping busy is the key. Time just flies by. Oh sure the occasional stomach growling wave hits. But when you are busy it’s easy to ride that wave. Besides, it only lasts 10 minutes at a time.
The bad news was I was so busy I forgot to drink enough water. Thankfully it didn’t lead to a headache. However, the hunger pangs hit when I got the bright idea to make her some chili for the week.
Yep. I cooked on day 1 of my extended fast.
Not too bright. But I didn’t eat one bite…not even to see if it needed seasoning.