Sunday, May 7, 2017

The KETO flu

Day 2 - I feel like crap!  I'm sluggish and tired.  Good thing it's Sunday.  I'm heavily dependent on the kids to let the dogs out and bring me another La Croix.  This sucks.  But I'm ready for it.  I'm not giving up.  This time, I'm toughing out the worst of it because I know it will get better.  My meals have been delish!

*skipped breakfast (intermittent fasting post to follow)
Lunch- 3 fried eggs (in butter), fried kale (in butter), cheddar cheese, salsa and 1/2 avocado
Snack- peanut butter smoothie with chia seeds, almond milk, PB, vanilla, and stevia
Dinner - sausages, fried cabbage and 1/2 avocado

Getting my fats in!  Need to be satiated.  I'm going to make this a permanent lifestyle change!

Let's go KETO!

In my journey to wellness, I have decided to finally go back to a keto (a.k.a. low carb) diet.  Why did I abandon it in the first place?  Good question!  Truthfully, I'm not really sure.  After my 2nd baby in 2009, I had my hands full with a newborn and a toddler.  I did manage to lose about 15-20 lbs of the baby weight. But then, I hit a major plateau.  No amount of dieting and exercise would break it.  It was breaking me, mentally and physically.  I even tried an egg fast for a week, but to no avail.  Obviously, I had some other issues going on (like dieting too soon after giving birth and probably some sort of adrenal fatigue due to not allowing my body to fully recuperate after 2 kids and just the stress of managing two kids under 3 years old).  I was tired, moody, and unmotivated.  At that time, I was reading Matt Stone's blog.  He recommended a full 180 degree flip of whatever strict dieting regime you are slaving yourself to.  He believed dieting made you fatter (and he is right, to some extent).  All this rang true with me.  I just needed a break (not just from dieting, but life in general).  So, I did.  And I gained all the baby weight back and stayed that way for 7 years!  The first few years were wonderful.  I didn't worry about what I ate or needing to plan my meals or worry about parties/get-togethers and all the goodies I was going to pass up.  Those were the golden years!  Every time I thought about going back to low-carb, I stuck out my tongue and wretched.  I even blamed it as the CAUSE to my inability to lose weight.  I was convinced it harmed my body, irreparably.  I thought it caused my hypothyroid symptoms (even though test results never showed hypothyroidism, not even close).  Most commonly, documented cases of thyroid issues and ketosis occur in those with diabetic ketoacidosis, which is NOT the same thing as diet-induced ketosis.
However, I DID test positive for high cortisol levels, the stress hormone, indicating adrenal imbalance. Hormones work in harmony with other hormones.  An imbalance of one hormone can disrupt them all.  High cortisol may have dampened my thyroid function, probably not the ketogenic diet.  Really, what I needed were ways to reduce and manage my stress.  Eating cake when a kid is screaming blood murder because he has an ear infection definitely helped soothe my stress.

I can't believe I'm here again!

Sometimes life gets in the way and BAM, you are right back where you started.  A couple major changes since my last post in 2008:  I had another baby!  That "baby" is now 7 years old and I still shouldn't be carrying around this excess baby weight, right?  This brings me to major change number 2: I have PCOS. For those who aren't familiar, that means: polycystic ovarian syndrome.  A very painful condition where cysts grow on your ovaries but also can be accompanied by insulin resistance, hormonal imbalance, abnormal hair growth, acne, infertility, and irregular menstrual cycles.  Fun, right!?!

While I wouldn't change my kids for the world, having babies can really throw a wrench in your body mechanics.

The biggest hurtle preventing weight loss with PCOS is the insulin resistance (and consequently, the resulting hormonal imbalance that follows, because after all, insulin IS a hormone).  So, what's the solution?  Possibly, a ketogenic diet.  A low-carb (or ketogenic) diet may significantly improve weight, testosterone, ovarian function, and fasting insulin levels in women with PCOS. I have been on a variation of a low-carb diet for my entire twenties and into my early thirties.  While PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility, I did not have any fertility issues with either of my children.  We were pleasantly surprised to find we conceived on our very first try, twice.  In both instances, I can attest that I was on some form of low-carb for many months prior to conception.  It's interesting that I develop PCOS symptoms when I have abandoned a low-carb lifestyle for many years.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Study: Low-carb beats low-fat diets!

Whoo-hoo! A new study just came out about how low-carb diets not only helped people lose weight (almost twice as much weight as the low-fat group), but it also improves cholesterol levels (increasing HDL, the "good" cholesterol, thus favorably improving cholesterol/HDL ratio) and triglycerides. Click here for the CNN article.

In addition, this study is published in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine (click here for the article). This is a huge journal that has a rigorous peer-review process that helps weed out the high-school-science-fair-poster-presentations (of which the media loves to report on) and the scientifically valid research studies.

While this study is not without its flaws (researchers slowly increased the carb level in the low-carb group from Atkins appropriate 20 gram to 120 grams which is hardly considered low-carb), it does show a dramatic improvement in HDL and triglyceride levels in the low-carb group which the media can't ignore.

Yeah for steak!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Berry Banana Gelato

Gelato is just a creamier, lower fat verison of ice cream. It is extremely simple to make (click on picture above for recipe). It's just like making a milkshake and then adding it to your ice cream maker. No tempering egg mixtures or constantly stirring over a hot stove for half an hour.

If you don't mind the additional carbs, trying making just the Banana Gelato. Simply omit the berries and add 3 more bananas to the recipe. The bananas make the final product nicely thick and very creamy. Then top with the Chocolate "Magic Shell" Ice Cream Topping for a chocolate dipped banana flavor.
Oh, so good!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Kick cardio to the curb!

Being that I'm borderline obsessed with Dr. Mike Eades' blog, I can't help but to troll around his blog archives and related links as I anxiously await the next post. While paroozing his site one day, I found a book he co-authored with Fredrick Hahn titled The Slow Burn Fitness Revolution: The Slow Motion Exercise That Will Change Your Body in 30 Minutes a Week. I got the book at the library the following weekend and began it immediately.

After 6 months of doing low-carb, I knew I needed to implement an exercise routine somehow in my life if I really wanted to change the shape of my body. With a new baby, it was difficult to find the time and ambition to do so. Had I thought of the idea myself, doing 30 minutes of exercise a week, I would have thought it was a waste of time. The mantra: "at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week ," echoed in my brain. The idea intrigued me and I was going to give it a shot. At the very least, it was a good step in the right direction.

The premise of the book focuses on 30 minutes of weight training with heavy weights. Cardio is not really part of the plan. Which is fine with me. I'd much prefer weight training than an embarrassingly exhausting cardio kickboxing class. In essence, you are advised to lift a weight that you think might be too heavy and do that for as many reps as you can. The trick is you have to perform this exercise very SLOOOOWLY. Five seconds up, hold one, two, and five seconds down. If you are doing it right, you should only be able to do 3-5 reps until your muscles reach failure, at which point you can't lift anymore. This is part of the reason why this exercise session should only take 30 minutes. You just aren't going to do a whole lot of lifting. It's the quality not the quantity of the exercise that makes this work.

I do not believe that paleo man engaged in daily "moderate-intensity" activities. Early man did not jog for 30 minutes every day. Our bodies have not adapted to that sort of strain and shock to our joints. Our bodies were designed for moderate walking (migrating and hunting/gathering) and short intense bursts of running to catch prey or flee a predator. This is why you see so many joggers and avid exercise enthusiasts with tennis elbow, bad knees, and torn ligaments. These overuse injuries make traditional exercises dangerous if performed every day like elite athletes (you here about athlete injuries all the time).

This book takes the idea of a "less is more" approach. Intense weight training should not be performed every day and this book limits it to once a week (possibly twice a week, at the most). Thus, reducing the chance of injury by allowing the body to fully recuperate from your workout. I can hear you now, "Paleo man didn't lift weights." Your right, he didn't, other than the pushing the occasional boulder off of a cliff (okay, maybe that was just from the Bugs Bunny cartoons but you get my drift). Biologically, weight training is very similar to short intense sprints, they are both anaerobic exercises. Anaerobic activities are extremely effective and provide benefits that cardio can't.

Aerobic cardio exercise is hailed for its ability to strengthen the heart and improve circulation, but look, anaerobic sprints are now being recognized for their heart-health promoting properties as well. So now, what can cardio give you that anaerobic can't?

Here are my results: I've been following this program since the end of January in addition to the continued low-carb lifestyle. I have lost almost 15 lbs (of pure fat since low-carb diet is muscle sparing plus I've gained muscle mass so I definitely lost more than just 15 lbs of flab) and have gone down 4% in body fat. My measurements (the true test) are as follows:
Waist: 2 inches gone
Bust: 1.5 inches gone (oh well)
Hips: 3 inches gone!!!
Arms: 0.5 inches gone
Calf: 0.5 inches gone
That's a total of 7.5 inches lost in 5 1/2 months! No bad.

I am starting to see some muscle definition as the weight comes off. I have developed just as much muscle tone and strength as I've had when I've gone to the gym several times per week. This routine is just as effective. I'm loving the fact that I can put such minimal time in and reap great rewards. I'm less inclined to skip a session, although I can't say I haven't, I'm just less likely to do it now. Since it's only 30 minutes per week, I feel guilty if I don't go. I have to admit that some days I put in an extra 15 minutes that I reserve for some sprints on the elliptical machine as well as some kicks on the punching bag. Since I don't go every day, I actually look forward to my gym time so I will occasionally stay a bit longer than 30 minutes.

I'm thrilled. This routine is fast and it works. But don't be fooled, the work is hard. You will not be chatting it up on your iPhone while you casually use the leg press. You should be breathing hard, sweating, and tired when you are through.

This plan is really a great option for those who hate to exercise, don't have time or are just plan too lazy to make it to the gym. This is a no-brainer. This program is not for gym rats. It's best for those who are looking for a way to implement exercise but have a laundry list of excuses why they won't.

Homemade Mayonnaise

If you love mayonnaise and you've never made your own homemade mayonnaise, you should. The flavor is really unequivocal to any store bought varieties. It is also beneficial if you are looking to reduce the amount of polyunsaturated fats in your diet. Commercial mayonnaise is usually made with soybean oil which is high in polyunsaturated fats.

Another option made widely available as an alternative to soybean is canola oil, a monounsaturated fat. Unfortunately, the act of consuming canola oil may carry health risks (for all its purported health benefits, the FDA has banned the use of canola oil in infant formulas because of the possibility of growth retardation!) in itself so I try to refrain from it as well.

This recipe can be made with olive oil or grapeseed oil, two monounsaturated oils. However, I prefer grapeseed oil (I got mine at Trader Joe's) as it lends a neutral taste. This is just your basic recipe for mayonnaise (I like this one because you don't have any left over egg whites):

1 large egg
1 T. dijon mustard
1 cup grapeseed oil (or any oil you choose)
1 T. white vinegar (or lemon juice)
salt and pepper to taste

In a blender, combine all ingredients except oil. Blend for a few moments. With blender running, SLOWLY add oil in a fine stream until incorporated. Mixture should be smooth, thick and creamy. Keep in fridge for up to 4 days.