Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Into the ketogenic fire...

Now that I've spent the past few weeks easing into the Bulletproof diet, it is time to head into the ketogenic fire. As a diabetic I suspect I will have an easier time replacing glucose with fat as my primary fuel source. Why? My body doesn't do a very good job removing excess glucose from my blood stream anyway, so my belief is that I probably won't have issues with "brain fog" (essentially when the brain does not have enough glucose to function properly).  
Adapting to being in ketosis is the toughest part because of the fatigue that comes along side it--assuming you're not replacing the water and electrolytes that are inevitably lost when you cut carbohydrate consumption. 
During my last carb cut I went into "keto flu" without even realizing it. Only after a fairly rigorous search of the Bulletproof forums did I find that keto flu even existed. So this time around I'm going to be getting my potassium from raw blackstrap molasses, avocados and a potassium supplement.  All of which are excellent sources of potassium. Sodium is easy to replace with pink Himalayan salt. Calcium and magnesium will require supplements for now, though bone broth will help with the latter.
A note about bone broth: my god, I hate the taste of it. But it's got collagen protein and is apparently a favourite of the BP diet.

I've shared a YouTube video that deals with ketosis (see above).

If you're not familiar with Ketosis, WebMD explains it:
Ketosis is a normal metabolic process, something your body does to keep working. When it doesn't have enough carbohydrates from food for your cells to burn for energy, it burns fat instead. As part of this process, it makes ketones.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The EPIC junk food run: McDonald's and Easy Cheese

What good is any diet if it doesn't have a cheat day built in? It's hard to say, but since going Bulletproof I haven't felt a need to cheat on my diet... and yet, I decided to drive south into the United States of America for an EPIC junk food run! My main goal was to secure American McDonald's for my lovely partner who cannot eat at Canadian McDonald's because of allergy restrictions.

Montana.  After crossing from Saskatchewan into Montana I quickly realized that I no longer had phone service! Luckily the border guard gave me maps of Montana and North Dakota after a search of my car and examination of my credentials confirmed that in fact I really was going to kill a Saturday going on an international junk food run. The border guard strongly advised me to cross into North Dakota where I would have better junk food options.  So after filling the tank in Scobey, Montana, I literally pointed the car east and drove... and drove... and drove...

and I drove some more, and then passed through a few small towns before reaching ND.
What: McDonald's
Where: Williston, North Dakota

America. The land of all day McDonald's breakfast. It was bliss to have my first Big Breakfast in several years.  Though truth be told, aside from the biscuit and hash brown, I wasn't too impressed.  I accomplished my first task when I grabbed some American hamburgers for the entire family.

What: Easy Cheese
Where: Albertson's in Williston

Now this just falls into the category of totally unnecessary. I picked up a "can" of this cheese as well as some bacon Ritz crackers and enjoyed a meal of bad bad bad food.  For dessert I had two Reece's and one Snickers candy bars.  I washed them down with a can of Diet Pepsi!

After that, however, I could eat no more. My body, which had put up with too much, wanted actual electrolytes like potassium and calcium, not the mysterious ooze that is Easy Cheese.

So, I grabbed a few more cans for the kids--they loved it, as well as some halloween candy and Tupperware for the excess McDonald's food.

The trip home was long and foggy. I was met with near disbelief when I spoke to the border guard upon re-entering Canada. I'm a very transparent person, so I knew my car would be searched once again after telling them I was on a junk food run.  After the search one guard smiled and said "You must really love your wife."

Driving back to Saskatoon in the dense fog was the toughest part.  In Regina I had a Gu gel... and let me tell you, Gu is useful even when you're not running.

In retrospect, was it worth renting an SUV and driving 1200k for a junk food run?  Financially, it was the sort of trip that would make an accountant cry. But you only live once.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Bulletproof Challenge: Day 14

Day 14 began with my body craving carbs, as apparently I had cut them a little too far.  I had a total of 33g of carbs on Day 13 and 39g on Day 12.  Even Day 11 was low, with only 209g consumed.  Despite this, and despite consuming slightly more calories now than before, my waist has shrunk noticeably. I once again fit comfortably into my size 33 khakis.
At any rate, when I woke up, I had my usual Bulletproof coffee with Upgraded Protein Bar as well as a bowl of sushi rice. Well, that really hit the spot. Some sweet potatoes at dinner ought to round things out nicely.
The real challenge on this diet isn't avoiding food so much as making sure you get enough of it.  Because this diet seems to regulate hunger hormones so well, it can be easy to deprive yourself of certain nutrients by being too rigid.  And therein lies my only real concern at the moment.
I am going to up my consumption of carbohydrates a bit... to 100g and see if that keeps my glycogen stores stocked on non-running days.
Otherwise, the transition to keto is tougher than I thought. Perhaps coincidentally, I caught a viral infection that has kept me from running. I strongly suspect that cutting my carbs too much caused this to happen, as I very rarely ever get sick.  In fairness to myself, recent weather issues have certainly contributed.  Additionally, although I had very nearly run this morning, I simply wasn't 100% sure I wanted to risk my tenuous grasp on feeling good.
Anyway, I have not run since Wednesday and that really sucks.  Of course my legs were definitely feeling the increase in workload, and the thought of taking a few days off has in fact occurred to me.

If I could change or revise my recent diet, I wouldn't have cut carbs back so much. The diet certainly doesn't call for such a drastic reduction, so I don't blame the diet.  I'm down to 184, though I suspect about .5 to 1lbs of this is lost glycogen. The smart scale readings show definite fat loss, with a modest uptick in muscle percentage (note: I have almost certainly lost some muscle as well).

I've said before, I'm already in shape. I do this diet primarily to avoid spikes in my blood sugar.

I'm trying "The Mentalist" offering from Bulletproof. So far so good.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A note about diabetes, LDL cholesterol and the Bulletproof Diet

I was perusing the Bulletproof forums the other day and came across two types of complaints about the diet. The first dealt with acid reflux and the other dealt with high cholesterol readings (specifically LDL, which is the "bad" type).  I'll deal with the latter first.

The official Bulletproof response to the cholesterol question is here.  BP says "The government of Sweden ... is recommending a diet high in saturated fat. "  What he is referring to, but does not cite, is the Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment's report on Dietary Guidelines for Obesity (English translation). To be sure, you can indeed extrapolate from this report, but I would be careful since the report states rather clearly that "(w)e have not reviewed the scientific literature for the connection between food and health in the general population."

The affirming quote from the SBU, which I believe BP refers to is:
…a greater increase in HDL cholesterol (“the good cholesterol”) without having any adverse affects on LDL cholesterol (“the bad cholesterol”). This applies to both the moderate low-carbohydrate intake of less than 40 percent of the total energy intake, as well as to the stricter low-carbohydrate diet, where carbohydrate intake is less than 20 percent of the total energy intake. In addition, the stricter low-carbohydrate diet will lead to improved glucose levels for individuals with obesity and diabetes, and to marginally decreased levels of triglycerides.”   (Source)
Unmistakably this quote, which you will find cited by numerous blogs, is the basis for the BP claim. I am not here to debunk the claim. In fact, it may well be true. The fact remains that if the convention wisdom were right, it would never change, but it does (remembers, doctors used to endorse cigarettes).  However, evaluating the effects of low-carb diets on non-diabetics is beyond the scope of my inquiries and reports.
As a diabetic, I find that when my diet is comprised of significant amounts of carbs that controlling my blood glucose levels is more difficult.  Additionally, I find it tough to maintain a stable weight, lose weight and feel good on the conventional diet.  To say nothing of the inflammation problems that I deal with eating grains and food from grain sources.
My position on the Bulletproof diet remains that it definitely works for people like myself who are 1) diabetics 2) very active (i.e. run marathons) and 3) have difficulty eating a "normal" diet.  I am sure it also works for people with other challenges and/or lifestyles. But I would not recommend this diet to anyone who functions well on a conventional diet.

The specific complaint that arose on the Bulletproof forum was that some people were posting that their LDL (aka "bad") cholesterol blood numbers were rising after being on the diet.  There is nothing magical or mystical happening here. If you consume more cholesterol than you did before, you will have this result. The solution is rather simple: eat less cholesterol.  In fact, ironically, it's rather easy to stay under 300mg of dietary cholesterol per day while on the Bulletproof diet. I do it most days (though I sometimes will have eggs).
In the Bulletproof response, BP contends that LDL gets a bad rap because it is found in arterial plaque. The argument is that the presence of LDL in plaque does not prove causality, and indeed on the surface it does not. The problem is that LDL cholesterol is a necessary component of arterial plaque. You can infer, quite strongly, that if your LDL levels are low, then there's less LDL to be used for plaque. This is logic.  In other words, less LDL means less opportunity for plaque, whereas BP holds that more LDL does not mean more opportunity for plaque; and I hold that we simply do not yet know for certain if the presence of LDL is a catalyst for arterial plaque or not, even though it sure as heck plays a significant role. BP further argues that polyunsaturated fats are to blame for plaque. Even if true, this argument fails to take into account that LDL remains a necessary component for arterial plaque as well.  It's like saying that the necessary components of a fire are heat, fuel, and an oxidizing agent, but that increasing your fuel source component doesn't increase your risk of fire.

Think of how a fire works.  You need heat, fuel and an oxidizing agent (i.e. oxygen).  With atherosclerosis you need cholesterol, fatty substances, cellular waste products, calcium and fibrin (as per AHA).  Take away enough heat/fuel or oxygen and you don't have a fire. Take away enough LDL cholesterol/fatty substances etc and you don't have atherosclerosis. Period. There is no logical basis for disputation on this matter.  So I say, why take the risk?  It's easy to keep your intake of cholesterol under control on the Bulletproof diet.

The other complaint I saw come up a few times was about acid reflux. Yikes. As of now I don't know enough to respond to that one, but I have noticed it myself. Until the diet I had never experienced acid reflux.

As someone who is very active I am forced to carefully monitor and measure my carbohydrate intake to ensure that my glycogen stores are in good shape, and that I don't ingest more carbs than are absolutely necessary to run as needed.

My last note would be about the Glutathione Force supplement. I have ordered a quantity of the Bulletproof supplement, along with a bottle of the NOW FOODS version.

Again, I love the Bulletproof diet and truly appreciate the results I am seeing. But I differ with BP on the matter of cholesterol.

Here are some other interesting quotes from the Swedish study:
Those who drink a lot of coffee also have lower mortality from any cause.

In the short term advice on moderate and strict low carbohydrate diet slightly more effective, but in the longer term there is no difference.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Bulletproof Challenge: Day Nine

This morning I weighed in at 185.6 and I feel great. My body fat is decreasing while my muscle mass is increasing slightly.  The initial problem I had crashing during runs has been fixed with 1) the addition of more carbs at lunch and 2) GU and an electrolyte beverage pre-run (with 1/4 tsp of Himalayan salt).

Pictured here is the Beef Chili recipe from the Bulletproof Cookbook--though it looks more like hash. The taste was phenomenal and I vacuumed up 1,000 calories of it at lunch(!).  My slight variation on the recipe includes grass fed ground beef, butternut squash, grated sweet potatoes and bacon--everything is organic. I have leftovers!

My blood sugar remains in check, so I'm satisfied with how the diet is going.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Odds and Ends

In light of two recent runs where fatigue was an issue--particularly on a 7k last week--there's a BP podcast addressing fatigue.


Mini Bulletproof Diet Update: When I stepped on the scales this morning it was fairly obvious that my body has stored every carb I've eaten this weekend.  This is actually good... since I need the glycogen as I move towards mythical ketosis.  My weight, for those of you who care, is 187.6lbs

The next step is... drumroll... carb reduction. Since I'm churning out posts again, I'm sure I'll have something to say in the next few days.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Bulletproof Challenge: Update 2

Week one is now finished. Overall I can say this, the Bulletproof diet is working out. But here are my thoughts. I'm going to cover three areas: running, overall well-being and weight loss.

There is no doubt about it, I had two bad runs in a row starting with Wednesday's 7k run that under the best of conditions would have been tough. With a reduced carb diet (and my own eschewing of any pre-run fuel) my run was pretty poor.  The following Saturday was better, but I really seemed to hit the wall at about the 14th or 15th kilometre--we ran just over 18k in total.
To be sure, I believe that my woes are directly related to a combination of a lack of carbs in my diet as well as a deficiency in fueling-up properly. My heart rate was elevated at points where it shouldn't have been elevated, and I (perhaps wisely) elected to take walk breaks.

On my Saturday run I took a bottle of filtered water (with an electrolyte beverage enhancer and 1/4 teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt added in) as well as a GU packet and waffle.  These additional fuel sources were not enough to overcome the fatigue.  Another thing to point out is that we paused for a total of 4 minutes during our run which made our run pretty close to a half marathon.

According to Garmin, my estimated VO2 Max decreased from 51 to 49 over this period (!).  My hope, and belief, is that I should recover this loss as my body acclimated to burning fat--a process that could take a while.

On a happier note, my sense of overall well-being has been greatly enhanced since beginning the diet. It may be the case that removing bad bacteria from my gut as well as toxins from my diet has caused this change.

At my height this month I weighed 193.  At my last weigh in, yesterday, I weighed 188.  I've experienced fat loss and muscle gain.  My belief is that the majority of my weight loss so far has been water weight (as a result of cutting carbs) as well as ... sadly... at least some glycogen.

Getting beyond last week, I've begun this week on a much different note.  Today I ran 6k, including a number of 400m repeats (of which one was at 1:35). I alternated fast and slow repeats. In between repeated I alternated between a set of 20 lunges, 20 side lunges or 50 squats.  I rested, when necessary, to allow my heart rate to come down.  Interesting, my heart rate was about where it ought to have been.

Throughout my workout I felt stronger and faster.  At the end, I had done 3k of cycling, 6k of running, 201 squats, 70 lunges, 40 side lunges, 10 minutes of ab exercises (numerous types of crunches), 20 reps of back extensions... and an ice bath.  No post workout soreness or concerns.