My Keto Journey – post 3
The keto saga continues as I figure out whether or not I’m in ketosis and what it takes to be in, or to get kicked out of, ketosis. It has been quite interesting experimenting on myself. I’m a pretty good test subject, as it turns out.
Before I get into the meat – no pun intended – of the post, I want to share something I started working on this past week. For reasons previously discussed I decided to compile a document where I looked into the most common conventional treatments for brain tumors contrasted with some little-known but greatly studied and highly effective natural alternatives. I find that I’m getting better at using Pubmed.gov as a research tool.
I started with an excerpt from a mainstream web site on the subject and then went into the treatments used – radiation and chemo, all from official sources. I compiled the uses and side effects of the radiation as well as the uses and side effects of the most commonly used chemo drugs for brain tumors. I then compiled information with many peer-reviewed sources on treatments that are not only not used nearly enough by conventional doctors but also not studied nearly enough. These, of course, being natural non-toxic alternative options, which naturopathic, chiropractic, natural, etc. doctors have known and used for decades.
After having compiled this nearly 30-page document I realized it contained some really useful information, which not only applies to brain tumors but to probably all cancers. So I decided that once I’m done editing my “Energy” book (I’m still trying to come up with a good title. Be on the lookout for a Facebook post on a contest for this. I think I’ll give away one of my husband’s beautiful metal art pieces – if he lets me (!) – to whomever comes up with the best title) I will work on an e-book with a scientific comparison of these drugs. Of course I will write it as much as possible for the layperson, although I will provide direct quotes from the scientific literature. And, who knows, if it’s popular I might do it for a whole slew of other treatments and issues!
Okay, now that I got that out of the way, let’s talk keto. So I finally picked up my keto strips from the mail last Wednesday. By this time I had been doing intermittent fasting along with mainly the ketogenic diet for two and a half weeks. I had fallen off the keto wagon a couple times because, well, life and summertime can get in the way. Knowing what I know about the diet and getting into ketosis I honestly did not think I was in ketosis yet. I assumed that my weight loss was due to the calorie restriction and intermittent fasting (as I discussed in the second blog post of this series).
Well, I checked myself that Wednesday evening and, lo and behold, I was fully in ketosis! Mind you we had an event the night before at Del Charro in Santa Fe where they serve what are quite possibly the best margaritas in town. As you probably remember from the last post I like margaritas, especially this time of year. It was a special menu from which I could only choose from about five things. Although there was a chicken Caesar salad option, which would most certainly have been keto friendly, I opted for the black bean burger. I began choosing this when I still thought I needed to have very minimal animal protein. I happened to develop a love for that black bean burger there so, even though it has carbs, I opted for that. Also, I can barely resist French fries anyway especially at Del Charro so I had to get them with the burger. You understand.
I did not eat the black bean burger with the bun. Since I cut bread out of my diet I really don’t miss it. But overall between the carbs in the burger, the carbs in the fries, and the sugar, alcohol, and carbs in the margarita (well if you put it THAT way. #foreheadslap) you could say it was fully not a ketogenic friendly meal. Still, I ate that meal within the 7 or 8 hour window I had on the intermittent fasting schedule. So I thought Wednesday, the day after, was as good a day as any to start testing my urine ketone levels. Guess what – I was in ketosis. It wasn’t even just the mildest level but closer to the midlevel.
I was stumped. I guess being in the condition I am in from all the running, my health is pretty good these days also even though I have a little more around the middle than I necessarily like, and from cutting out carbs as much as possible my body was able to get into ketosis more quickly than I thought. Gil was also in ketosis. His level was not as high as mine but it was still good.
This past week consisted of a little more social, summertime fun than I planned or than is conducive to a ketogenic lifestyle. Or so I thought. Okay, so Tuesday there was the marg, etc. Wednesday we decided to take the short, twenty-minute drive, to the lake for a little “fishing.” Gil threw two lines in but didn’t catch anything. It wasn’t a serious fishing trip, we really just wanted to get out. It being summertime, and fishing, we couldn’t seem to do it without a cold beer. We opted for Michelob Ultra, which I’ve barely had for the past ten years. It doesn’t have the best ingredients – alcohol aside – health wise. I know that sounds strange but some beers, especially craft beers, are not as bad for you as others because they don’t add things like genetically modified organisms, high fructose corn syrup, bad water, etc. Michelob doesn’t have the highest rating but it wasn’t like we were going to be drinking a case, or drinking it regularly. It was just a refresher. It seemed like a better choice as far as carbs are concerned.
It was actually pretty good. In the food department we were still following keto macros and eating within the IF window. Again I tested myself thinking I probably kicked myself out of ketosis with the beer but, no, it was a little lighter on the scale but fully in ketosis.
Wouldn’t you know it but we had dinner plans with friends on Thursday also and I decided I might as well bag the ketogenic diet for the rest of the weekend considering the social calendar was about full so I had carne asada – one of the best tasting steaks you’ll ever eat – with beans and rice and Chimayo Cocktail (when in Rome…errr…Chimayo). Good grief I’m starting to sound like a bit of a lush. This is not common, just so you know. Either way this is forcing me to really look at my habits! Anyway, I didn’t eat much of the beans, rice, or rolled enchilada that came with the dinner but I did have Chimayo cocktail, which is the perfect combination of gold tequila, crème de cassis, and apple cider. Chimayo is known for its apples and the Rancho de Chimayo perfected a specialty, local, “margarita”, complete with cinnamon-rimmed margarita glass and an apple slice garnish.
Still doing IF into Friday I actually ate a small amount of the leftover refritos (beans) and the leftover steak with eggs but not until after noon. I had quite a bit of ground beef I needed to use so I decided to make a big pot of red chile to freeze. I asked Gil if he’d like some beans for dinner. We hadn’t eaten like this since before we started keto. Beans are somewhat high in carbs although pretty good for you. Since I had already decided I was going to bag the keto diet for the weekend I figured, what the heck. He said, “Absolutely!” Well, maybe not that enthusiastic but he does love beans and chile.
Dinner on Friday, with a glass of red wine, was within the IF feeding window so, for this weekend, the only time I was not intermittent fasting was between Friday and Saturday. I rechecked my ketones and, still, I was in ketosis. I didn’t get it. I seriously thought maybe the strips were faulty. This concerned me. The other reasons for false positives listed didn’t fit so that’s all I could think of.
You’re going to think I’m crazy, but seeing that I was still in ketosis after all the shenanigans I thought I would go extreme to kick myself out. I had already kind of gone extreme. So Saturday morning I invited my bestie for a morning run (more like walk – I’ve been nursing a knee) for her birthday then I took her to breakfast. To make sure I kicked myself fully out of ketosis or, in any event, test the efficacy of the strips, I ate a waffle. It was this beautiful carb specimen. It had loads of whipped cream on top (keto anyone?), and lovely berries and walnuts sprinkled about.
I also asked for an egg and bacon on the side. I didn’t eat the whole waffle, it was way too much sweet (and carb) for me but I did eat the egg and bacon. Oh, I also had a mimosa. No judgment! It was all so lovely, as was the visit with my best friend.
I got home and immediately tested with the strips. I’m still in ketosis! What gives? Hmmm…do I see a slight shade lighter than before? I can’t tell but, sure enough, it’s measuring. Now I really couldn’t help but think there was something wrong with the strips.
We happened to have yet another social dinner planned at Rancho de Chimayo, aaaagain Saturday evening. I said, “This is it, I need to see if those damn keto strips even work.” So I had another burger with fries. Yes, I’ve had way too many burgers in the past two weeks. This is really not usually like me but I love them so much. I’ll get better. I did not eat the bun, again because I’m really just about over bread. But I did eat fries. Not all of them but some. This time I had a prickly pear margarita. I promise I don’t drink this many margaritas in one week. I rarely have them once a month.
You don’t have to believe me but I really was deliberately carbing it up like crazy to figure out once and for all if I had really been in ketosis or if the strips just were junk. Well, guess what, Sunday morning finally I was showing negative!
I planned on getting right back on the keto wagon on Sunday but the man wanted a Sugar Burger. Yes, another burger dammit. But you have to understand; these burgers are like a fiesta burger times twenty. They’re not available all year and during the spring/summer/fall season they’re only available Thursday through Sunday from 1 PM to 6 PM. Sugar’s, in the Embudo Canyon, was featured on various food blogs and reviews. It’s like a local treasure so when the man said “Sugar’s!” I said, “Yay!”
We’re also back on IF. We had keto coffee this morning and didn’t eat our yummy sugar burger – and fries – until almost 3 PM. I don’t plan on eating anymore today. Seriously. After the glut of the past few days I’m so done. This was one of the unhealthiest weeks I’ve had in a very long time but I thought it would be interesting to throw this in the middle of being in ketosis and trying to get ketoadapted. I promise the next post will be much more healthful. I also have a much better understanding of all of this, at least as far as my own body is concerned.
Before being kicked out of ketosis my weight had stabilized and I was down six pounds from when I started. As you can imagine I gained a pound for all the gluttonous carbs and sweet alcoholic beverages and getting myself out of ketosis. Another thing I noticed is I haven’t slept as well the past few days as I did when I first started on the keto diet. There’s really something to it.
The experts say it takes around four weeks for anyone in ketosis, even those who can get into ketosis easily, to become keto-adapted where they truly enjoy the amazing benefits of being in a therapeutic state of ketosis. Although I do have more energy than the first week I started this and my pace from my (actual) run the other day was much better than it had been in a while I know I did not become keto-adapted before my shenanigans.
So, now that I know that I can trust the test strips and that I am capable of going into ketosis and staying there as long as I am either calorie restricting, intermittent fasting, or following strict keto I trust I can become keto-adapted within the next four weeks or so. I haven’t checked since this morning when it was finally confirmed I’d kicked myself out of ketosis but I plan on being diligent about checking to figure out how long it will take me to get back into ketosis. I will report on that next time.
In the meantime I’m very excited to know that I can indulge – a little – and stay in a therapeutic state of ketosis as long as I maintain my macros and continue the IF, which is not difficult for me at all. This is all very promising for me because I have such a hard time depriving myself on a long-term basis. I know how to sacrifice but the sacrifice has to be worthwhile. The sacrifice I have to make on this journey is going to be so worth it. And pretty soon margarita season will be over. Thank goodness!
One last thing about this week’s experience; I was feeling good in ketosis. Not 100%, probably because I wasn’t keto-adapted, but I felt way better than I do now that I’m not in ketosis. All my social shenanigans with food and drink really were just an experiment. I did it on purpose to understand what would happen. It’s a little scary to know I can have a margarita, two or three Michelob Ultras, a Chimayo cocktail, and a glass of wine on four consecutive days and still be in ketosis. This just highlights the fact that you can be in ketosis while doing unhealthy things so don’t let it be something to look forward to. One could also be in ketosis by eating only eggs, bacon, sausage, pork chops, etc. and not any greens but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. We still need to limit the toxins we ingest and ensure we are getting the proper nutrition from healthy vegetables. So don’t do as I do but do as I say. The good news, also, is that I can throw some fruit into my salads and stay in ketosis.
As I said before, you’re going to get the good, bad, and the ugly in this blog series. I’ll also be discussing the supplementation I’m doing and what it can do for you whether or not you’re doing the ketogenic diet. Supplementation is necessary because no matter how healthy we try to eat we will never get all of the nutrients we need.
Finally, I will need to tweak the caloric intake and foods. When I was calculating my macros I was going off a calculated caloric intake for weight loss but I found that even that was too much for me, as I was feeling full on less than what I calculated.
Next post I’ll discuss this as well as the common sense approach to achieve true lean body mass. Happy Margarita Sunday! Just kidding :).