While I had a nice long break from blogging, for a good reason which I will get into in a little bit, I was doing my second n=1 experiment for the year. What is n=1? It is a term that seems to be floating around the biohacking community used to explain that this is an experiment of 1 (myself), and so is NOT a scientific study, but a personal review, experience, lesson, etc. So, I am my own experiment and I can only speak for myself. Here is my current experiment.
After 1 year of not-so-strict paleo, I successfully cut out grains, junk food, juice, refined sugar from my daily diet. You can read the full post about it HERE. While I feel better, stronger, and healthier than I EVER have before, I was still struggling with burning fat and getting rid of hunger and cravings. After some research, I was inspired to do a cyclical ketogenic diet with a weekly evening carb re-feed (“On the evening of the 7th day enjoy some of your favorite carb-rich treats, providing you with a necessary insulin spike that revs metabolism.”) Simple, right? Haha. Here I go! …me feeling good after a workout….
Done with one month and I plan on trying this another month with some tweaks.
Here is the break down of my experience for the past month.
WHAT DO I EAT?
To put it simply – meat, veggies, lots of FAT. It gets more complicated if you are trying to eat paleo, whole, non-gmo… which I am. So this means, sticking to leaner meats when I am not sure about how good the source is, but getting fatty cuts of meat when I can (obviously that would be the better choice). Veggies that are low in carbs like leafy greens. I use MyFitnessPal.com to help visualize my carbs for the day. BUT MOST IMPORTANT? FAT!!!!!! Fat is the main part of everyday, it takes up about 60+% of my calories. Besides meat, butter, and eggs, other great sources are: avocado, coconut oil/milk/butter, nuts and seeds.
Breakfast: Light version of BulletProof coffee (Coffee + butter) and a hard-boiled egg (if hungry)
Lunch: Meat and veggies (ex: sausage and asparagus cooked in butter OR hard boiled eggs on a salad)
Snack: mixed nuts and sunflower seeds OR slices of uncured salami!
Dinner: Grass-fed steak with roasted cauliflower (covered in butter, of course)
What are the Pros and Cons that I felt this month?
-I AM NOT HUNGRY! HOLY COW! Seriously, this is a HUGE one for me. I have always been the type of person who fought hunger and tried to surpress it by yelling at myself. I would eat a good-sized meal and be hungry two hours later, have a snack, still hungry… when WASN’T I hungry? So frustrating. Anyway, within the first week of reaching ketosis, my hunger was no more. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Obviously, you have to get hungry some times throughout the day, but it just feels so much more normal now (whereas before, I felt like a crazed animal with a bottomless pit for a stomach)
-Cravings? Gone. I can easily pass up those sweets, that pizza, etc. because I know I am going to have an AMAZING fatty fat meal that will be delicious and satisfying. Sometimes I dream of donuts, but that is what CarbNite is for right? On my CarbNite re-feed, I found that sweets were tasting too sweet… Interesting.
-Energy boost! After the first week of adapting, my energy feels great. I don’t crash in the afternoon, I get through workouts feeling empowered and still have enough energy for my drive home! I would have to say this is the most energy that I have had in a long long time.
-No stomach aches. At least it is easier to tell what gives me a stomach ache if I do eat a problem food. But most foods that I am eating right now settle well. This is another BIG step in the right direction. I’m lactose intolerant, so I’m used to stomach aches all the time. But not just from dairy, so I know there are things out there I am still sensitive to like wine, beer, gluten. Being on a keto diet, I don’t have to worry about those things. Even a slice of cheese here and there no longer cause me pain. I think my gut is in a healthier place :)
-The first week of lowering my carbs this much was one of the worst weeks of this year for me. I don’t want to turn anyone off to trying a low-carb diet or reaching ketosis, but I want you to be prepared for the worst while your body adapts during this first week. I’ve heard of “keto-flu”, but I didn’t know much. People claimed to feel tired and nauseous, like you have a flu. It was like that plus more. For the first week, even thinking about food made me feel like throwing up. I had days where my calories were so low, not getting over 1000 calories. Also, my menstrual cycle re-started. So I pretty much had two periods that month. GREAT. So I felt all the flu symptoms, plus cramping and emotions from my cycle. I just wanted to cry – I know that saying this may make me sound like a wimp here, but when I was researching other woman’s experiences with ketosis, there wasn’t much information. Especially on menstruation. I did find some explanations about how sex hormones are stored in fat and since you are now burning fat, your body has a “party”. – That is not a scientific explanation, but it makes me feel better. Sigh.
(Please note that after the first week, I felt so much better! I would say it was worth it!)
-Stress. Changing your diet is a stressor. This is why I took a break from the blog, I needed to clear up my schedule and focus on work/life. If you are stressed out, I would not recommend doing this until your stress levels have come down. Please focus on being happy and stress-free!
-Need for discipline. Carbs are a hard thing to get rid of, in fact, they are in almost everything you eat -besides animal products. Cutting down on carbs was a process for me. Some people can go “cold turkey”, but that is just not for me. Whatever does work for you, be patient and know that it takes time and patience to stop bad habits and create good ones.
-Still no sign on abs. Well that’s extreme, but what I mean is none of my measurements have changed. Inches in my hips, thighs, waist are all the same. Jeans fit the same. Weight is the same too (which I don’t care about). People have suggested that maybe if you aren’t seeing progress, you are going too crazy on your “carbnites”. I am going to make some tweaks for next month to see if it will help!
Here is a sample of my food journal. I highlighted the carb column in blue and fiber column in orange so it’s easier to look at. Net Carbs is what we want to look at, which is Carbs-Fiber=Net Carbs. Typically, a ketogenic diet has you in the range of 20-30 net carbs per day – but it should also be based on the percentages of your total calories, so my goal was to be at or below 10% carbs, 60-75% fat, and 15-30% protein. Below you can see my net carbs is 35-13 = 22.
You can see if you have reached ketosis with Ketosticks. They are about $15 at the local pharmacy. Some people say they aren’t reliable 100% of the time once you are keto-adapted, but I love seeing the test strip turn pink! Maybe I’m weird, but I think it’s fun. Haha :P Here is what testing with Ketosticks look like:
TWEAKS I’M MAKING FOR THIS MONTH (September)
-No alcohol. This has been a huge issue for me. I’ve cut way back over the year, but I still think it is effecting my goals. It gives me headaches, stomach aches, leaves me tired and emotional. Plus I regret buying it for my precious dollar bills… and empty calories. If I had the willpower to stop buying and eating my beloved sugary cereals (cinnamon toast crunch is a tasty devil), I can muster up the willpower to stop drinking alcohol!
-Standing Desk! I created my own DIY standing desk at work with cheap drawers and a tablecloth. So now I am not sitting for over 12 hours a day. I should have really done this sooner!
-Cleaner carbnite. When I re-feed with carbs, I will stick to whole foods like potato, rice, “paleo treats”, and try to stay mostly gluten-free as much as I can. (Previously my carbnites would include cookies, ice cream, and lots of alcohol). I also am concerned that I am eating too much in general on my CarbNites, so maybe keeping that in mind.
-More veggies and be more picky about meat sources. I have found that on my days when I eat more veggies, I feel better. Makes sense, but I have to keep carbs in mind – so the key is sticking to the low-carb greens. I’ve found spinach, broccoli, asparagus to be my favorite options. Why less protein? Well in general, less animal products. Good, clean animal products are not always easy to find. I buy grass-fed/organic/non-gmo/etc. when I can. When eating lower-quality animal products, the toxins mostly hang out in the fat, so when you aren’t sure if it’s good quality or not, order lean. When you know it’s some good-eating, order that fat!
-More effective workouts. Previously, I was doing a little too much running and not enough weights, so I am switching my priorities. I am now doing sprint intervals and strength/resistance training 3 times per week. And a light workout on weekends just to keep active. This could mean walking, biking, some body resistance, etc.
THAT’S A WRAP!
I will post some new reviews about my second month experimenting with ketosis and CarbNite at the end of this month!
Here at TheHealthyBeast.com, all of my recipes use whole foods full of nutrients and many of them are low-carb! Like some of my favorites:
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You know I’m still cooking up some new ideas all the time :)
Thanks for reading and please feel free to ask questions, make suggestions, or comments below.