Should you be drinking your calories?

Water. Soda. Alcohol. Juice. Coffee. Tea. Smoothies. Bone Broth???

We drink a lot of stuff. Heck – I’ve even heard that Canadians like to chug syrup.

The problem is, that list above (not a complete list by the way), has some real calorie bombs on it.

And yes, pure maple syrup is a huge calorie bomb. Don’t chug maple syrup.

Unfortunately, a majority of the population doesn’t realize that their bulging waistline and/or other chronic metabolic issues are being caused by the liquidy goodness they dump down their gullets. When you boil it down to a nutrient level, sometimes that gulp you just took is the equivalent of a bite of something else.

Before we dive into the calories you should consider drinking moderately (or not at all), lets really quick cover the liquids you can/should drink in abundance.

 

Drink as much as you’d like:

Water – drink as much as you’d like. BUT, don’t over hydrate.  This is one of those things where you should just listen to your body. If you feel like you are choking down water, then you probably should stop drinking water for a little bit. For a treat, you should try unsweetened and sugarless sparkling water. As long as the ingredients are water and natural flavor, and there are zero grams of carbs in it, you have a good product. Sparkling water is a nice and fun beverage to sip/enjoy if tap water is too boring for you. I love sparkling water – I’m a fan of both Ozarka and La Croix (current news issues notwithstanding).

Herbal tea – drink as much as you’d like. I keep a nice variety of herbal teas in my desk and at home, and enjoy several different types over the course of the day.

Decaf coffee – if that is your thing, enjoy as much as you’d like. I’d say to shoot for decaf made via the Swiss Water method. After learning about the chemical processes used for decaffing coffee, I was very turned off at the prospect. The Swiss water method seems very c-l-e-a-n.

Regular coffee and caffeinated tea – as long as you don’t over-caffeinate (people’s tolerances vary), and as long as you don’t add a bunch of sugary crap to flavor your coffee, you can be pretty liberal in your consumption.

Bone Broth – this is starting to get a lot of attention as shelf-stable versions of bone broth become accessible. Previously, you had to make your own bone broth via stove top or crock pot, bag or jar it, and thaw/prep to consume. Really hardcore nutrition people didn’t bat an eye at the process. More time-crunched people just didn’t have the ability to go through the requisite steps. BUT, now that the stuff can be bought shelf-stable, more people are exposing themselves to it. There are a myriad of health benefits to consuming bone broth (not just chicken by the way). I’ll let Dr. Axe explain this one. If you don’t trust him, do a Google search for “bone broth benefits.” I personally love the stuff. I’m partial to chicken. I warm it up and sip it like coffee, or I use it as a base in my homemade chicken soup. The stuff really is incredible.

 

Exercise restraint:

Alcohol – ever hear the saying that alcohol is empty calories? That is because there is no nutritive value to alcohol. For those that aren’t familiar, alcohol and carbon-dioxide are the by products by yeast eating fermentable sugar chains during the fermentation process. From a metabolism standpoint, the problem with alcohol is that your body uses it for energy FIRST. All other sources (fat, glycogen, etc) are put aside so the body can work on metabolizing alcohol. This is such a wasted process for your body. If you over consume alcoholic beverages, you could be busting your waistline by either the calories in the alcoholic drink itself (beer, mixed drinks, etc all have additional sugar in them), or just from the simple act of having your body focus on the alcohol for fuel rather than other stuff that will ultimately get stored as fat. This post isn’t meant to advocate or demonize alcohol – that is a personal decision each person must make for themselves. The point of this passage is to say that if you do consume alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation, and if you have a larger nutrition plan where you are monitoring calories, be sure to include that glass of beer or glass of wine in your calculations. That extra 150 calories a night will add up over time if you aren’t taking it into account.

Me personally, I am a homebrewer of beer. Its a fun hobby, and I like to think I’ve learned how to enjoy such spirits responsibly. I do prescribe to the belief that a few drinks a week can reap some health benefits. Again – I’m not pushing this as a recommendation or lifestyle – I’m just saying to check out the information and make your own informed decision. Here is an article from Heathline that talks about benefits and risks. As you’ll see, this is a complex topic.

Juice – most people think that a glass of juice is a healthy part of their day. Its marketed as part of a balanced breakfast. Marketing materials can’t say, “100% real fruit juice” loud enough on their packaging. Parents pump their kids full of juice thinking they are providing vitamins and minerals and giving their kid everything he/she needs to win the day. The problem is that juice is loaded with sugar. Check out this blurb from the linked Healthline.com article…

soda and juice comparision

From a metabolic standpoint, apple juice has nearly as much sugar per serving as a can of Coke. That flood of sugar into the bloodstream kicks off an insulin response. The pancreas doesn’t care where the sugar came from (soda or juice) – it just sends a flood of insulin to clear out the sugar. Here is the big takeaway on juice – yes, it contains vitamins and minerals and nutrients. But – PLEASE USE CAUTION AND RESTRAINT when consuming. You can not drink a ton of the stuff without consequences. You need to monitor and restrict your servings. The better option to get the vitamins/minerals out of fruit is to actually eat the fruit. That way, you are getting the fiber that comes with the natural fruit package, and that helps blunt the insulin response.

Smoothies – smoothies are a more calorie dense version of juice, but are even sneakier in how they can injure your ability to manage your weight. Here are the nutrition facts for a Pumpkin Harvest Smoothie from the Jamba Juice website…

jamba juice smoothie.JPG

The SMALL portion has 44 grams of sugar. That is more than the can of Coke from our above juice example. Yes, there is protein, and fiber, and some other nutritional goodies. But that is 44 grams of sugar. Go ahead – have one for breakfast every day. Here is your pancreas after awhile…

sad pancreas

I’m not trying to demonize smoothies. Like juice, they do provide exposure to some nutritional goodies. I’m saying USE RESTRAINT. Don’t chug a large smoothie every morning and think you are winning the weight management fight. Aim for smoothies that have more veggies that fruit, and try to get that total sugar count down. Maybe some power greens, a scoop of protein powder, some nut butter, a half a banana, and half a cup of berries. It tastes good, and its much lower in sugar than the Jamba Juice version. Again, and I’ll keep saying it – the name of the game is to NOT DRINK SUGAR!

 

Probably Best to Avoid All Together:

SODA – I’ll be honest – I have no qualms whatsoever with demonizing soda. Soda is a demon and should go away. People should stop drinking regular soda, diet soda, and any other soda type derivatives. I’ll let Google take this one…

Me: “Google – is soda healthy?”

Google:

soda unhealthy.JPG

I swear I didn’t plan it this way. The first SENTENCE in the pinned response is, “…the sugar and acids in soda are a disaster for dental health…” Then, look down at the first hit under the People also Ask section. The last sentence in that abstract is, “…regular consumption of sugary drinks is linked to numerous health problems including diabetes, heart disease, asthma, COPD, and obesity…”

The movie, “That Sugar Film” introduced me to what are called Mountain Dew Teeth. This is really sad. I almost didn’t want to include this in the post, but, if it convinces one person to not let their kid drink soda, then its worth it. Do a Google search for “Mountain Dew Teeth” and prepare to have your heart broken.

mountain dew teeth

One could argue that I can safely list soda under the same area where I talked about juice, alcohol, and smoothies. Anything is good in moderation – right?

Maybe?

I’d respectfully disagree. I’d argue that a product which can lead to “Mountain Dew Teeth” should get kicked off the bridge. At least with those other beverages, you can find a benefit to the controlled consumption of the item. I’d argue that there is nothing redeeming about soda, and any small fraction of nutritional value it might have is completely dwarfed by how bad it is holistically. I’m taking a firm position that soda is the devil, and should be avoided at all costs. The really sad thing is the fallacy surrounding diet soda. It might actually be more dangerous than regular soda depending on the artificial sweetener used. People guzzle diet soda because they think they can have their cake and eat it too. More and more research is coming out to show that just isn’t so.

 

Final Thoughts:

I used to drink soda. Don’t get me wrong. It does taste sweet, so I get it. And that fizz makes it refreshing. When I started striving for a healthier lifestyle, soda was the first thing I kicked off the bridge. For many years, I drank juice and made smoothies thinking I was hacking the nutritional system. In retrospect, consuming those items may have contributed to the slow creep that happened to my waistline in my late 20’s. I’ll also bet that it played a role in me not losing weight when I did extreme workout programs. At the end of the day, sugar is sugar. The body doesn’t care if its juice or soda. Insulin gets released. Glucose gets shuttled out of the blood to the muscles and what is left gets stored in fat cells. End of story. The way to keep your weight in check (or lose if that is your goal) is to dial in your sugar consumption. That doesn’t mean just food – it means looking at the seemingly innocuous calories you find in the stuff you drink every day. Cut that stuff back, and you’ll make some pretty nice strides towards you goals.

Guaranteed.

 

What are your thoughts about sugary drinks? Have you made a decision to try and limit the amount of liquid calories you consume? If so, please let us know in the comments. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” and share. Thank you.

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Breaking Keto – Coda

My wife held on for two more weeks (following my June 1 post), and then decided that she wanted to move on. That means she moved on in mid-June. I tip my hat to her.

In the end, it wasn’t because she wasn’t feeling good. Quite the contrary, she kept saying how awesome she felt. Her concern was about her milk supply for our newborn (can you still call him a newborn at 6 months)? #daddyfail

She “felt” like her supply was going down. This was a result of less yield during pumping, and feeling that his feedings might not be as robust as they were prior. I did as much research as the internet would allow me to, and found some articles on the topic. As it turns out, there is a lot of opinion (A LOT), and not a ton of science. This isn’t an area that has been studied a ton (yet). But, I did find two studies that concluded a milk SUPPLY didn’t fluctuate, increase, or decrease based on the macro breakdown (holding calorie consumption constant). The study did show that a high fat, low carb diet did yield higher fat content in the milk. So, the conclusion drawn from those two studies is that supply doesn’t really care about macros.

Good.

But, when we looked at what she was eating, she was grossly under-consuming calories. THAT CAN affect milk supply. We chatted, and she was having a tough time stuffing her face with enough fat to meet the calorie requirements. She just wasn’t that hungry, and, since she was restricting dairy and eggs (baby food allergens – kid is fight eczema right now), there weren’t a ton of options. Put it this way – I offered her some pork belly, and she didn’t find it appetizing. So, rather than stress about something she need not stress about, she called it quits and we went out to a lovely dinner together.

If you’ve read my Nickelback post, you know how that dinner went.

Okay – there is a sentence I never thought I’d type.

Afterthoughts…

Wife – within a day or two of being off keto, she commented about how she feels less energy than she did while in ketosis. She didn’t melt into a blob on the couch; rather, she could just feel a subtle difference in her overall “state” and her mental acuity. It is something she would certainly consider doing again later on when kid rearing is behind her. She is happily enjoying her fruit, and doesn’t really worry when her carbs are between 100 g and 150 g per day. And she shouldn’t. That is a decent maintenance range.

Me – my own experience has made me a student of the process. I was very interested in learning why I crashed the way that I did when I continued doing HIIT workouts and other strenuous workouts while still adapting. I thought my prior experience had me primed to quickly adapt, but it didn’t happen. I now know how important it is to measure empirically, and give your body a chance to flip the switch. There is a huge difference between having ketones in your blood, and having your various mitochondria knowing how to use ketones for energy. That is the switch that needs a few weeks to happen. It inspired me to read/research even more. Found some good books…

I did learn in my reading that (even in ketosis) you could consider some carb intake prior to a HIIT workout or other workout that will push you to an anaerobic threshold. The reason being is that when you hit an anaerobic threshold, your muscles NEED glycogen to function. If you aren’t properly adapted, this is when you feel like you are ready to pass out. There is no glycogen for your muscles to grab, and they haven’t properly learned how to use ketones yet.

Once you are adapted, your have more metabolic flexibility to not fall out of ketosis due to the carb intake. Some people anecdotally say that they feel fine doing HIIT after being fully adapted (but admit that its hell when you aren’t), and some people see the value in some carbs before the HIIT session. It really will come down to your own ability and preference. HOWEVER, the one thing everyone agrees on – give HIIT a rest while you are adapting. Keep exercise in an aerobic place during the adaption phase.

I’ll probably do this again next year. My goal is to get to the other side, and rock some nice workouts with blood ketone levels over 1 mmol/L! Oh, and not feel like passing out 🙂

 

Do you currently, or have you ever followed a ketogenic-style diet? If so, what were your experiences? Please comment below. If you like this post, please be sure to like and share! Thank you.

Breaking Keto – Week 3 recap

The wife and I decided to cycle into a Ketogenic state for at least the next 21 days. For the background of the “experiment,” please check out the original page here.

If you don’t know what the Ketogenic Diet is, check out this link from Dr. James Mercola. 

keto meme nph

Test strip results (we use the ones from smackfat purchased on Amazon):

  • Wife – she switched to the blood test
    • This is a good idea as she keto-adapts more and more. The deeper she goes, the less “waste” happens, and the smaller of a reading will show up on the pee-strips. The blood meter will give her actual number data to help guide her as she continues.

Blood test kit results (I bought the Keto-Mojo meter on Amazon):

  • Brad – after my workout on Sunday, my ketones started trending down, and bottomed out at 0.1 mmol/l on Thursday. I wasn’t happy, and decided to stop (more on that shortly).

 

  • Wife – getting great results. Not only did she measure 1.7 mmol/l yesterday, she also registered a non-fasting blood sugar reading in the mid 70’s. NON-FASTING.

 

Basically, the wife is rocking it, and I’m no longer playing the ketosis game. 

 

If you checked out the link, you now know that the high-level road map looks like this:

  1. Absent glucose in the blood, the body breaks down fat into fatty acids and glycerol.
  2. To meet the energy needs of the brain, the fatty acids and glycerol go into the liver, and convert to sugar (glucose) and ketones.
    1. Yes, you read that correctly – your LIVER can synthesize its own glucose

 

Food log notes:

  • Wife – lots of salads, nuts, fatty cuts of meat, oils in her dressings, and avocados. She thought she might be slipping in her ketones due to some extra strawberries she ate over the weekend, so she quickly course corrected, and registered her awesome numbers yesterday. She has been doing great at keeping dairy out of the mix. More on that in a second.

 

  • Brad – I’m kind of at a loss. This was a pretty rotten week, and the only thing I can figure for my inability to sustain my ketone levels was dairy. I relied on dairy way too much as a source of fat. Between cheese and heavy cream, I might have underestimated how many carbohydrates I was really taking in. On Sunday and into Monday, my ketone levels were hovering around that 0.6 mmol/l mark. But, since Monday, the trend went down. The funny thing is I committed to eating more fat, but I guess when I ratcheted up the dairy, that ruined things. Next time, I’ll be doing minimum dairy.

 

General notes:

  • Wife – can’t say it enough – she is killing it. Her numbers are great, but, the more important thing is that she feels amazing. Her energy levels are WAY up. Most of the reading that I’ve done says that she is about to experience some really great results in the coming weeks if she keeps up this momentum. Great job lady – Love you!

 

  • Brad –  I’m done. Putting aside the discouraging numbers, I felt bad this entire week. I never bounced back from the energy deficit I created from my workout on Sunday. I clearly goofed on a few fronts here in week three that sabotaged the experience. First, I overestimated how keto adapted I was, and continued to go crazy hard with my workouts. That turned out to be a disaster. I had a very bad workout on Sunday that left me grossly fatigued and light-headed. I had to stop. I’m attributing some to potential overtraining (I’ve taken a break this week), but I’ll also attribute that acute reaction (light-headed) to an overall energy vacuum. I had two things counting against me in the energy bank – lowered glycogen (a result of carb restricting), and not enough ketones to help synthesize the energy that I needed. By doing HIIT workouts and really creating an energy NEED, my body just couldn’t do it, so it wanted to shut down. For me, the lesson learned is – STOP DOING HARD WORKOUTS WHILE YOU ARE STILL KETO ADAPTING. Give yourself a chance to switch energy systems. I foolishly thought I was switched over, but clearly my ketone levels felt otherwise. Second, I overestimated how dialed in on my macros I was, and probably let too much dairy screw up the works. The lesson and action plan are pretty simple here – next time I try a keto cycle, the only dairy I’ll use will be my butter in the butter coffee. No whipped heavy cream snacks, and no cheese unless I can see that my ketones are sustained and high. In reality, I probably should have been more proactive when I wasn’t budging above the 0.6 mmol/l mark. My numbers should have been much higher a couple of weeks in.

 

A final thought on my experience:

  • Even though my experience didn’t meet my expectations this go around, I know I can learn from the failure. This isn’t the “diet’s” fault. The ketogenic diet isn’t a flawed diet. It is a diet that requires deliberate behavior and willpower (especially early on). I still really believe in the mechanisms and science behind it. During this entire week of feeling like garbage, I spent a lot of time reading up on different people’s experiences and challenges (mostly to try and troubleshoot my own). There are a bunch of great blogs and podcasts out there full of information (both scientific and anecdotal). All of that information just reaffirmed for me that this can work and will work when implemented properly. My complications were related to my own lack of execution. I’ll own that and make sure I have a better action plan the next time I experiment. For now, I’ll go back to my pre-keto plan of keeping carbs in the 100g-150g range. This has been a great maintenance range for me leading up to this point. And, that even allows for a beer or two. Cheers to that! I might even name the next beer that I brew “Keto Fail Ale.” If you can’t make fun of yourself, what’s the point?

 

Are we still going:

  • Wife – oh yes!
  • Brad – nope.

 

Do you currently, or have you ever followed a ketogenic-style diet? If so, what were your experiences? Please comment below. If you like this post, please be sure to like and share! Thank you.

What is a Carbohydrate?

I’ve gotta watch my carbs.

I’m cycling my carbs.

I only eat good carbs.

Low carb diet.

Are carbs good for you?

Are carbs bad for you?

Is <insert food> a carb? 

Carbcarbcarbcarbcarbcarbcarbcarbcarb…..AHHHH!

 

People that work professionally in nutrition, and even people that dabble in nutrition as a hobby can have a tendency to take their own vocabulary for granted. Words such as “macronutrient” and “carbohydrate” mean something to us because we write and talk in those terms daily. But, to a casual observer, or to a person that doesn’t really dive that deep into nutrition science, those terms may have no meaning, or at the very best, a blurred meaning.

When trying to share knowledge, it is important to try and strip away the jargon, and speak in a vocabulary that has meaning for both people. So, in other words, if you want to have a discussion with a person about why they should be trying to monitor their carbohydrate intake, you better take a moment and calibrate. DOES THE PERSON KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN BY THE WORD CARBOHYDRATE?

 

What exactly is a carbohydrate?

From a nutrition standpoint, a carbohydrate is one of three “macronutrients” that the body uses for energy. The three macronutrients are:

  • Fat
  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates

 

From a more technical standpoint…

carb definition

thanks Dictionary.com

 

So, for the most part, a carbohydrate is one of potentially many compounds in the food we eat. Therefore, it’s more accurate to say something HAS carbs rather than saying it IS A CARB (even though this has become all the rage over the years). Your dietary strategy should center around eating foods that HAVE good (beneficial) carbs. If you are a Primal, Paleo, Atkins, or Keto style eater, your dietary strategy focuses on minimizing foods that HAVE carbs.

Carbohydrates are classified by their chemical structure:

complex carbs

  • Monosaccharides (simple sugar)
    • These are the simplest of the sugars from a chemical standpoint (glucose, fructose, galactose)
      • Glucose is the sugar in your blood
  • Disaccharides (simple sugar)
    • These are two carbohydrates linked together that will eventually break down into monosaccharides (sucrose, lactose, maltose)
      • Lactose is the sugar found in milk
  • Polysaccharides
    • These are MANY monosaccharides linked together. They are also known as complex carbohydrates.
      • These are your starch and fiber
        • Fiber is good for you, and something you need in your diet
          • Fiber (for the most part) isn’t a factor in terms of impacting your blood sugar. Soluble fiber combines with water to create a “gel” that helps move things along in your digestion. Insoluble fiber just adds bulk to your stools so you can pass them. Neither is digested, and just goes to the colon.
  • Oligosaccharides
    • These are special guys that fall somewhere between mono and disaccharides. They are made up of anywhere between 3 and 10 monosaccharides.
      • They are special because nearly 90% of an oligosaccharide escapes digestion – it just goes right into the colon and acts as a prebiotic. In a nutshell, prebiotics are GREAT for your gut biome because they feed your gut bacteria.

As you can see, “carbohydrates” is a pretty big terminology and covers a lot. To blanketly say that all carbohydrates are bad and completely demonize them is irresponsible. As with anything in health and nutrition, you want to isolate what is good/beneficial, and use that for your overall plan. For me personally, I aim to consume the absolute minimum in terms of the simple sugars, but do make sure I incorporate fiber (as a polysaccharide) and oligosaccharides for their prebiotic properties.

 

Okay – I know stuff HAS carbs in it – now what?

First – don’t fall into the trap of thinking that “carb” and “sugar” are interchangeable terms. They are not. Sugar is a subset of carb.

Next, become a food label reader. That is how you are going to answer a majority of your food/carb questions. If you don’t have access to the food label, assume it has carbs in it if the food item has sugar, has fiber, has starch, or, in general, came from a grain of some type. But, if you do have access to the nutrition facts label, take a good hard look.

This is a great resource on reading food labels for carbs. The following image is courtesy of their site.

carb label.JPG

The first key to food label reading is to note the serving size. That is usually at the top. This is an important fact to know because all of the values that follow are for a single serving. So, as you can see in the example above, a single serving is 3 pieces, and that gets you 2 grams of sugar. If you were to eat 6 pieces (2 servings), you’d get 4 grams of sugar.

The next step is to understand what numbers to pay attention to, if you are trying to control your carbs. There is a terminology known as “net carbs” which basically takes the total carb count, and subtracts the dietary fiber. The reason you can “subtract” the dietary fiber is because it has little to no impact on your blood sugar. It is mostly indigestible and goes to your colon. In the above example, this food has 30g of carbs, but zero grams of dietary fiber. So, 30 minus 0 = 30. This food would have 30 grams of carbs for you to consider in your dietary plan. 

Let’s take that a step further. Of those 30 grams of carbs you are considering, 2 grams are sugar. For the purposes of nutrition fact labels, that “sugar” is your simple sugar (the mono and disaccharides we talked about earlier). I know what you are thinking, “…okay, you just told me that I need to consider 30 grams of carbs, but then you said only 2 grams are sugar….WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER 28 GRAMS???” Good question.

The remaining carbs are most likely the starch (a polysaccharide), and/or some type of sugar alcohol (minimal to no blood sugar impact) or oligosaccharide (minimal to no blood sugar impact).

This is an area where the nutrition facts label really lets you down.

The fact is that not all starches behave the same. Some end up as glucose after they break down into monosaccharides. But, there are some that are known as “resistant starches.” These guys have much less of an affect on blood sugar, and they behave like soluble fiber meaning they don’t get digested and head to the colon to feed your gut bacteria (a good thing). Since these aspects aren’t specifically called out on the label, you can’t quantify them accurately. Therefore, for the purposes of carb counting, you should stick with your “net carb” number. BUT, now that you know about resistant starches, you should Google some examples, and try to work them into your diet.

 

What role should carbohydrates play in my nutrition plan?

I won’t say “no role.”

I’ll say “some” role. How much of a “star” or “co-star” is your call.

As we said before, carbs are one of the three macronutrients that your body can use for energy. How many or how little carbs you consume is based on your nutritional plan. This is a very personal choice for you. It needs to be a decision made by you (or your doctor if you are in treatment for some type of metabolic condition). Nowadays, it almost feels like choosing a nutritional plan can be as controversial as declaring a religion or political party.

Everyone has an agenda, and everyone is going to be a zealous advocate for their nutritional choice (just like they are for their religious or political affiliation).

On this site, I promote a high fat and low carb lifestyle. Its an approach that has worked for me, and I’m very comfortable with the research that I’ve done to reinforce that decision. Please note that I said RESEARCH. I realized that what I was doing wasn’t working for me, and what the mainstream advice suggested wasn’t working for me either. That forced me to find out what other people do. To fall down the rabbit hole, if you will. I experimented. I read. I learned as much as I could. I finally settled on an approach that made sense to me, and put me in a position to achieve my goals. I am very pleased with the results to date.

I strongly encourage people to take control of their own nutrition “journey” and read some books. Read some articles. Read some blogs. Do some Google searches. Find an approach to eating that makes sense to you. Make sure it allows you to have a healthy relationship with food. Do not just take one person’s word as gospel. Try to find the counter arguments, and then, see if your approach still holds up to scrutiny. The only way that a person will convert a “diet” into a true “lifestyle” is if the approach connects with them. You can only make that connection if you do the work and learn about it. Anything else will probably be short term, temporary, and frustrating.

 

Where do you fall in the spectrum on the great carb debate? Please let us know in the comments below. If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to “like” and “share.” Thank you.

Breaking Keto – Week 2 recap

The wife and I decided to cycle into a Ketogenic state for at least the next 21 days. For the background of the “experiment,” please check out the original page here.

If you don’t know what the Ketogenic Diet is, check out this link from Dr. James Mercola. 

keto meme nph

Test strip results (we use the ones from smackfat purchased on Amazon):

  • Wife – she is in the low to moderate area.
    • Note – she tried the blood test kit that I bought, and measured in around 1+ mmol/L

Blood test kit results (I bought the Keto-Mojo meter on Amazon):

  • Brad – I was getting frustrated with the strips. I finally broke down and bought the monitor so I can get some actual numbers. I ended up hitting 0.6 mmol/L (that reading was mid-day after I just stuffed my face with food – I need to take a nice fasted reading tomorrow AM). The cool thing is – now that I have the meter, I can do some experimenting to see what foods or drinks affect ketone levels!

 

Technically, we are both in the ketone range where (if sustained), your body should be using fat for its primary energy source. Hooray for us! If you checked out the link, you now know that the high-level road map looks like this:

  1. Absent glucose in the blood, the body breaks down fat into fatty acids and glycerol.
  2. To meet the energy needs of the brain, the fatty acids and glycerol go into the liver, and convert to sugar (glucose) and ketones.
    1. Yes, you read that correctly – your LIVER can synthesize its own glucose

 

Food log notes:

  • Wife – week 2 was a little more challenging to get her proper fat intake (since she is cutting out the dairy). Her morning coffee gets a double hit of coconut oil (since she is skipping the butter), and she will keep relying on avocados, good oils (extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil) and other animal sources for fat. She finds herself eating/prepping mostly the same stuff on a day in-day out basis, but she doesn’t mind. She’s keeping it simple. She is to the point now where she is able to control her carbs just by feel. The strips/blood test show she is still in ketosis. We just need to make sure she is getting enough fat w/o dairy. We are going to get her some coconut cream, but we need to be careful of the carbs in that. We did get some delicious bone-in pork chops at the farmers market, and cooked them in the cast-iron skillet on Saturday. Coupled with some steamed veggies (mine coated in grass-fed butter), it was a great meal. Gotta love a lifestyle where you can devour an entire bone-in chop, and know you are probably losing weight!

pork chops

  • Brad – nothing major to report here. My favorite snack is whipping up some heavy cream, and throwing a couple of frozen blueberries in it. I did slow cook a free-range whole chicken over the weekend, so we’ve been feasting off that meat for a couple of days. AND, I was able to make a couple mason jars worth of delicious bone broth. I do love me some good ol’ homemade bone broth. Great source of collagen.

 

General notes:

  • Wife – she is rocking it. She feels very good and energized, and still feels some nice sharp focus/mental clarity. She keeps saying that her clothes feel like they are fitting a lot more loose. The numbers are supporting that feeling. According to her fitness tracker, she has gained some lean muscle mass since we started (that is from her exercise class). From a body composition standpoint, she has already lost 0.6% of her body fat percentage. If you aren’t sure what I mean by that, here is a hypothetical example…
    • If a 250 lb person had 30% body fat, that would mean they have 75 lbs of fat in them.
    • If that same 250 lb person went down to 29.4% body fat, they only have 73.5 lbs on them, which means they lost 1.5 lbs of PURE FAT. That isn’t water weight, or muscle loss – that is pure fat. And yes, it is possible to lose fat, and gain muscle so it nets out at zero on the scale. THAT IS WHY I HATE USING BODY WEIGHT AS A GAUGE OF SUCCESS OR FAILURE.
  • Brad –  I do feel like my workouts have rebounded (which is nice). I do miss my beer, but, in a few weeks, I’ll start experimenting with my blood meter to see what beers affect ketones the least. My prediction is low ABV stouts and sours impact ketones and blood sugar the least. I will say that my focus and clarity are very heightened. My overall ability to crank through stuff (not just at work, but also in organizing and writing posts) is at a peak. I feel highly productive, and have for the past two weeks.

 

Are we still going:

  • Wife – oh yes!
  • Brad – oh yes!

 

Do you currently, or have you ever followed a ketogenic-style diet? If so, what were your experiences? Please comment below. If you like this post, please be sure to like and share! Thank you.

Breaking Keto – Week 1 recap

The wife and I decided to cycle into a Ketogenic state for at least the next 21 days. For the background of the “experiment,” please check out the original page here.

If you don’t know what the Ketogenic Diet is, check out this link from Dr. James Mercola. 

keto meme nph

Test strip results (we use the ones from smackfat purchased on Amazon):

  • Wife – strips are in the “moderate” to “large” color range (4-8 mmol/L). Her “colors” started changing within a day or two – she moved quickly.
  • Brad – strips are in the “small” to “moderate” color range (1.5-4 mmol/L). My colors took a while to get darker. I was getting frustrated.

Technically, we are both in the ketone range where (if sustained), your body should be using fat for its primary energy source. Hooray for us! If you checked out the link, you now know that the high-level road map looks like this:

  1. Absent glucose in the blood, the body breaks down fat into fatty acids and glycerol.
  2. To meet the energy needs of the brain, the fatty acids and glycerol go into the liver, and convert to sugar and ketones.

If your body is creating an excess of ketones, they are excreted via urine – that is how the test strips work – they look for acetoacetate (one of the ketone bodies) in your pee.

 

Food log notes:

  • Wife – it took a couple of days for her to get into the practice of having enough fat. It really can be a shock for people when the first try to eat over 70% of their daily calories as fat. She started doing butter coffee which is a great way to start the day fatty and right. She’s also going to be using avocados a lot (since the net carb impact isn’t too bad). She was doing a lot of dairy, but she wants to reduce that since it might be causing some minor eczema on our son’s skin. Overall, she is doing a great job – just gotta keep the calories up and the hydration up. She had a “head start” over most people because, if I had to ballpark, she was probably only consuming about 100g-150g total carbs daily. A lot of my “sugar is evil” brainwashing was taking hold, and she was much more aware of the sugar going into her system. As a result, she didn’t go through any type of major detox or shock that others might.
    • On that note, if a person has been consuming a diet of over 150g carbs per day for the balance of their life, going strict keto out of the gate might not be advised. As Mark Sisson suggests in his book, “The Keto Reset Diet,” you might want to consider a block of time (3-4 weeks) where you live in a lower carb range (100-150g per day) and slowly adjust to better habits before going hog wild. It just makes the process easier from a mental/emotional standpoint.
  • Brad – This isn’t my first rodeo. I kept a strict journal on my first day, and when I totaled up the macros at the end of the day, I hit the percentages perfectly. That was probably a coincidence, but it showed me that I still know how to do this based on making good food choices, and only really eating when I’m hungry. I was getting frustrated that my ketone tests weren’t showing me in deeper levels of ketosis. I got to the point where I was going to fast for 24 hours just to jump start the ketone production. But, the next day, my strip darkened, and that made me happy.

BIG NOTE – if you ever consider doing something like this, especially for the first time, try to be process oriented, and not necessarily results oriented in the early stages. Everybody’s biome is different, and they all will move along at different rates. If you have an unrealistic and/or rigid expectation for the milestones you’ll hit, and you miss them, it can be very demoralizing and torpedo the whole experience. If you do this, commit to the process and the results (albeit it stubbornly) will follow along eventually. If you keep missing your targets, go back and check your macros again to make sure are getting enough fat, not too much protein, and minimal net carbs.

trust the process

General notes:

  • Wife – her keto flu went by FAST. I’m talking like 48 hours fast. As I read more about what causes the keto flu, I found a bunch of articles that talk about sodium, potassium, and other electrolyte imbalances that can cause the symptoms. When she was pregnant, she developed an affinity for Vitamin Water Zero. To this day, she still drinks one a day. The ingredients aren’t really “objectionable” so it won’t sabotage her Keto journey (sugar alcohols and/or stevia are the sweeteners). I read over the labels, and if I see one flavor sneaking in maltodextrin or some type of derivative, I steer her away. Anyway, the very unscientific conclusion I came to is that these beverages helped keep her mineral/electrolyte balance right where they needed to be, and it minimized her symptoms. The only other explanation is that she is some type of biological freak, and made the transition sans glucose very easily. That is NOT the usual story. Either way, her experience wasn’t as tough as others. The keto flu can last for a week or so sometimes.
  • Brad – no keto flu here. Woot! Since I’m usually no more than 100g or so of carbs when I’m not keto, there was not a ton of transition to happen. BUT, I did notice that my workout session yesterday (I did hypertrophy training for chest/back) was a little weaker than I anticipated. Workouts will suffer in your first couple of weeks when going strict keto, but that is short-lived, and you bounce back quickly. I’m not worried about it at all.
    • Side note – as I read more and more, I’m starting to think that I should get a blood meter and use that instead of the test strips. The measurement is more precise. AND, if you want to experiment and see if certain food/drink is reducing your ketone levels, that data would be more specific than subjective colors on pee strips.

 

Are we still going:

  • Wife – yes. She is feeling very good, and is in the phase now where she is shedding old water weight/bloat. She loves the way it feels.
  • Brad – yes. I do miss my beer thought 🙂 Oh well, I’ll crack a good cold one in a few weeks once this cycle is over. I read some articles about red wine (very dry) and keto diets. Maybe if I get the blood meter, I can have a glass and see how much it affects my ketone production.

 

Do you currently, or have you ever followed a ketogenic-style diet? If so, what were your experiences? Please comment below. If you like this post, please be sure to like and share! Thank you.