30 Days of Ketogenic Diet

I completed 30 days on a ketogenic diet today.  I was tempted to keep going, since I was unable to stay in optimal ketosis (above 1mmol/l), even after gaining some insight about how to do it, as I posted earlier.

These are my numbers for the entire period.  I averaged 37g net carbs for the entire four weeks (first graph) and 25g net carbs in the last two weeks (second graph).
keto1 keto2As I mentioned before, my body seemed to be resistant to making/utilizing ketones.  It is remarkedly efficient at using protein to make glucose.  I had thought that if I stayed under 100g net carbs plus protein I would be fine, but after analyzing my data I found that, for me, optimal ketosis is achieved when I keep the protein and carbs under 80g.  In the end this was just to much effort.

Another deciding factor in stopping the diet was an interesting affect on my heart that I noticed during the 30 days.  My family history includes high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, both of which I have declined to do.  However, my heart does have a tendency to have an irregular heartbeat.

After about a week I started having persistent irregular (and annoying) heart beats.  At first I attributed this to increased consumption of fish. High levels of mercury can lead to irregularities in heart beat, and fish are known to be contaminated with mercury.  I have had a problem with my heart once before when I suddenly started eating more fish.  However, in this instance, I stopped the fish, started eating more cilantro (which chelates mercury) and did not notice any improvement.

As it turns out irregularities in heart rhythm are associated with ketogenic diets.  Many people find electrolyte supplementation to be useful.  Electrolytes did not help me.

The hormone that stimulates the body to make more glucose from protein and the by-products of fat metabolism is adrenaline.  It would make sense that adrenaline is elevated during times where carbohydrate intake is limited.  And adrenaline would indeed make the heart more reactive.  I had thought that eventually the body would become used to using ketones as fuel (keto-adaptation) and then adrenaline would be reduced.  I did not reach the point where that occurred.

Other symptoms I experienced that indicated my adrenaline was pumped up, were an increase in heart rate and orthostatic hypotension. Orthostatic hypotension is a sudden drop in blood pressure when going from lying down to standing.  It is experienced as a head rush or dizziness.  I was having this occur frequently during the ketogenic diet, however I do not remember when exactly it started and suspect it predated the diet.

The increase in heart rate occurred more dramatically.  About a month before I started the ketogenic diet I purchased a heart monitor.  My typical afternoon resting heart rate was about 61-63 bpm.  Last week, it clocked in at 73 bpm. Today it was 67 bpm.  I decided to test the resting rate, since about two days after reaching the optimal ketosis (around the two week mark) my heart rate jumped up about 10 bpm during my usual rowing session.  I thought perhaps I was exerting more effort or the meter was wrong, but after the jump it remained high during subsequent sessions and I validated the heart rate with a second meter.

Elevated heart rate is associated with decreased health.  So I decided the ketogenic diet might not be best suited to my body.  I am curious to see what happens after a week of higher carbohydrates…


The Perfect Food Plan

For years I’ve asked myself whatharvest from november 2014 phoenix arizona would be the perfect diet for me.  (I’ll clarify, right off the bat, that when I speak of “diet” I am referring to the sum total of the foods one eats, not some caloric restriction food plan.)  I’ve have spent years tweaking my food and have found that the way I eat has evolved as I’ve watched how I feel and how my body reacts when eating certain ways.  While I have reasons for all the food choices I make, I also know that each individual is different and needs a different food plan.  Anyone that advocates a one size fits all diet is bound to catch people short.

My most important goal in eating is optimizing my physical health and avoiding lethargy, upset stomach, and headaches.  I know other people choose diets based on spiritual reasons (vegan or vegetarian) or simply on taste or convenience.   Some people, when they don’t feel good, use drugs (coffee, tea, chocolate, ibuprofen) to make themselves feel better.  This actually doesn’t work very well and long term their health just deteriorates.  I prefer to ensure good health with good diet.

When I was a teenager I had headaches daily.  This was in part due to stress.  However, my way of eating contributed to it strongly.  Finally, in my mid twenties I found the perfect food.  It made me not have headaches and I always had energy.  For about a year 75-85% of my diet was nothing but blue corn flakes, soy milk and raisins. I felt great! I eventually, outgrew the plan and that food combo, unfortunately, doesn’t suit me anymore.

These days I’ve settled on a plan that is omnivorous in order to maximize my feeling of well-being, but still I think their may be a change needed.  I don’t always feel great after every meal and I have a lot of cravings.  The cravings are stress induced in part, but I think there may also be a physiological component.   Since I read about the tooth decay diet I’ve been considering changing my food plan.  To protect teeth a diet that limits grains and focuses on vegetables, dairy, and meat is recommended.  (When I say meat, I mean the flesh of animals that swim, fly, and/or walk.)

Food plans are another thing that must be designed based on inner direction.  I get information about food choices from outside sources, but the final word is my own inner experience.  A quick analysis of what I’ve been eating for the past year reveals that I consistently choose meals that are 48% carbohydrate, 14% protein, and 35% fat.  I was surprised to learn how low in protein my diet was.  I always feel like I am eating a lot of protein.  I also thought I was higher on the fats and lower on the carbohydrates.

A typical day looks like this:

Breakfast:  1 cup rice with 1/2 T coconut of flaxseed oil.  A bowl of homemade lentil soup or chili con carne.  1/4 pound raw carrots.

Lunch: Salad:  4 ounces of Kale or other dark greens, 2 ounces of feta cheese, apple or handful of raisins, 1 avocado.  maybe 1 ounce corn chips

Next Meal:  3 ounces figs, 2- 3 ounces sliced cheese

Dinner:  2 slices homemade banana custard rice bread with 2 cups yogurt.

My breakfast was always the same and the rest of the day could vary more.  My goal would be to balance some protein with whatever I was having at each meal.  That’s why I thought I was eating so much protein.

I think my reservations with increasing protein is that I ultimately would like to not have to contribute to the killing of animals or the slavery of animals (milk production).  And while I’m on the topic, milk production can only be possible if a animal has a baby and those babies find themselves transformed into meat at some point.  So, to me, eating dairy may be less ethical than just eating meat.  And this is from someone that has raised and slaughtered animals and kept a few milk goats.  Although, my milk goats were pygmies and their babies were sold as pets and not food.  But I digress,

Anyway, I am a curious sort of person and after reading the tooth decay diet I tried reducing my carbohydrate intake.  This worked for a couple of days then it slipped back up.  Yesterday I started a more concentrated effort.  My plan is to increase my protein to 21%, my fat to 52% and keep the carbohydrates at 27%, roughly.

In my looking around at diets on the web I stumbled onto Dr. Mercola’s nutritional typing and his nutrition plan for beginners, intermediate, advanced souls.  His information seems to be pretty good and at least worthy of contemplation.  The free nutrition typing test he offers relies mainly on self-reported reactions to food and meals.  This is exactly how one needs to be evaluating a plan designed for optimal wellness.  He groups people into three categories: protein types, carbohydrate types and mixed types (which of course is me).  The protein people do best with 40% protein, 30% carb and 30% fat (but that can vary -see his site).  The carbohydrate people (about 15% of the population) are happier with 60% carbs, 15% fat, and 25% protein.  And the mixed people are somewhere in between.  (Mixed types get to use trial and error to figure out the optimal plan.)

What I noticed is that in all instances the protein was higher than what I was eating and substantially higher than the recommended daily allowances.  I’m curious if the change will reduce my cravings.  So far I’m having less trouble with cravings.  Perhaps I’ve outgrown my “perfect” breakfast of beans and rice.  It worked for many years.  More will be revealed.  I welcome your thoughts.