It has been well over a year since my last update, and a great many things have taken place since. My update here is useful for those times now and again when someone asks about a ketogenic diet, or who attempts to advise me for or against. So where am I today?
First Things First
In June 2019, my father entered the hospital with what was diagnosed to be a substantially dangerous condition and, ultimately, a comorbidity situation that made each problem inoperable because of the other. To say that that was a distraction from focus on my person diet would be an understatement, but I will say that my familiarity with digging in to diet was quite helpful digging in to his conditions and potential treatments.
By November 2019, he was popped out of home hospice for the first of two procedures to tackle the more dire problem, February 2020 was the second set of procedures, and along the way he has had some adjustments to diet and exercise and my mom has managed to become quite the data scientist keeping track of things day to day, to get to a point where he’s doing pretty okay. Still one, more chronic morbidity, and he’s got some more recovering to do on the physical strength side, but he’s still around.
And then there’s this human malware floating around the world that has closed my gym and made grazing at home a weakness that has won out more than I’d like. Another way of saying I have allowed “cheato” to take place more often than I should have, and so I’ve really not been “keto” so much since the big shutdowns in March 2020 or so. While I have mostly stayed with OMAD/IF, I have most definitely given in to temptation and comfort foods more than I had ever allowed myself during my keto journey.
A course correction has taken place.
Tools and Toys
I began my experiments with non-keto, or “maybe keto ish” diets, but without a focus on intermittent fasting, with the express desire to not take measurements or worry myself with counting and weighing and whatnot, assuming that this would only lead me away from my goals due to tedium, frustration if things weren’t working, or maybe just the tendency anyone has to forget or to lack consistency when tackling a recurring, long-running data collection exercise.
With my initial dietary experiments not working, I began to wonder about a ketogenic diet, I began to do some focused research on diet, exercise, and method, and I decided that it might be worthwhile to write some things down. I believe this actually started when I got myself a wrist-placed blood pressure cuff to measure my high blood pressure…
I already had my Android Wear smart watch capturing my steps and heart rate, and once I started to see my blood pressure coming down a little bit, I began to see that yes, data is good, I knew it was good already, but I was reminded that making the effort to take some note would ultimately be worthwhile. I was correct.
Add a Polar watch to keep track of my walking trips to the gym to exercise, a Bluetooth-enabled bathroom scale with faux body fat measurements (don’t believe those things, they’re not accurate), and the big plunge, a Keto Mojo blood glucose/ketone measurement device. The data pendulum had clearly swung the other way and I was seeing how diet, exercise, sleep, supplementation (especially to avoid the “keto flu” and replace the big minerals as muscular glycogen depletion lead to those minerals exiting with the rest of the water stored) and of course, weight.
I have blown the dust off of the bathroom scale, I got the updated Bluetooth-enabled Keto Mojo device and 50 each of the Ketone and Glucose test strips, and while I have not been able to hit the gym as it remains closed for safety reasons, I have been walking almost daily and capturing this exercise data to match the rest of the inputs in time. A connected blood pressure cuff might be interesting, but to be honest the explicit inclusion of potassium and L-theanine in my diet, coupled with the more regular exercise and additional focus on rest and sleep, have tended to leave it below normal. The other numbers need attention, I’ll let BP slide.
I had had a couple of test strips left, surely expired (the Mojo won’t read expired ketone strips at all and I didn’t mess with the date to get around it, given the amount of time that had actually passed), but I gave the glucose strips a try anyway and my blood glucose was tending to be in the 5.5–5.7 mmol/L range. This is not awful, but it’s not good.
When the new Bluetooth Mojo arrived with the new strips, I first compared and found the old glucose strips didn’t seem to be too far off (slightly high, but only slightly, within expected error anyway), then I checked before and after a 40-hour water fast. My blood glucose dropped to around 4.8 mmol/mL and my ketones reached 1.0 mmol/L. Okay then, not so bad (I used to get over 2.0 mmol/L ketone readings before I stopped measuring, when I was more comfortable with subjective observations).
But wait, it hasn’t been quite that easy. It’s been clear with more measurements (several per day based on when I eat and exercise, and adding in an apple cider vinegar and cinnamon beverage that did at one time convince me that it was helping to reduce my blood glucose on cheato days… well, I have not been entering ketosis nearly so easily, if the Mojo is to be believed. I have no experienced the startling water loss (ie non-stop pee) that I had when I first crossed the line into regular ketosis, so I have deduced that my fat adaptation has slipped and that I’ve got some work to do.
The Next Leg
I’ve written more than enough about my menu of choice when it comes to a standard OMAD meal, suffice to say I’ve cut out the lazy comfort food and now have some bone broth and vegetables where the ice cream may have been (though Halo Top is still okay once a week, with verified minimal-to-no impact on glucose), and I’ve taken to ricing my own cauliflower. As well I’m going to try air frying some Brussels sprouts and the kale, spinach, and a few peppers and nuts and maybe some grated cheese, along with the potassium salt, ground flax and ground chia used sparingly, and some nutritional yeast… sounds yummy, eh?
I had found when I found my keto stride, that consistent exercise plus attention to my typical OMAD menu resulted in weight loss and general well-being, while one of the two would result in stable weight and still general well-being. Now I’ve had to recompute my exercise requirements without the gym to use, so this next leg is a bit of a recalculation in general.
I’ll have more to say once I’m out of the transients phase, which I’m using to become used to that OMAD menu once again. Basically, to avoid beating myself up too badly, I’m going to reach consistent ketosis daily before I really begin taking data. I was holding on to about 15 extra pounds at the beginning of the lockdown window, so I’m assuming it’s more than that, but not too much more…
Part viii in this series will have more detail about that transition back into consistent ketosis and the progress toward the old set point, and then continued “bio-tuning” to general wellness. In the mean time, as I mentioned at the top, this series is really about my own journey to improve my own health, and while it may be useful for others if it pops up in a Google search, I really intend for it to be a point of reference if the discussion comes up, specifically about my own education and progress… it may be useful for others, and I point to it as needed, but by no means is this “what you should do.” It is, instead, what had and will most likely once again work for me.