KetoLife: The Learning Curve

In The Complete Guide to Fasting, Dr. Jason Fung tells how he got started using fasting for his diabetic patients. He had been trying to get them to adopt a low-carbohydrate diet. He gave them information about it, and then had the patients keep food diaries. And found that many of his patients had no clue. They proudly announced they had given up bread— and their food diaries showed that they were eating crackers, pasta, or even pita bread in its place. It was easier to tell some patients to eat nothing at all!

The biggest lesson that we need to learn when we are starting keto/low-carb is that it is different than low-calorie/low-fat dieting, and that the rules are different. We don’t count calories, we count carb grams. We don’t embrace hunger, we take it as a sign to eat something (on our allowed-foods list.) We don’t shun fats as long as they are natural, more-healthy kinds of fats— our bodies actually need fats, and they keep us from being hungry and get us into ketosis (which is where we want to be.)

One of the major rules we have to learn is how to avoid carbs. We need to know what foods have carbs in them, and that all carbs count. We can’t eat the carbs in bananas just because bananas are fruit. The carbs in a slice of whole wheat bread count just as much as the carbs in white bread. Carbs are carbs!

In the early learning phases, we need to learn lists of what foods have carbs in them and are to be avoided. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes (french fries) and sweet potatoes are as forbidden as bread and oatmeal. Even non-starchy vegetables, since they have carbs in them, need to be limited to the allowed quantity. Some low-calorie diets allow you as much lettuce as you can stuff down. We can’t do that— even small quantities of carbs add up when you take the ‘free-food’ approach to things like lettuce.

Dr. Atkins recommended that if you can’t get into ketosis in the Atkins Induction phase, you cut back on your allowed vegetable salad— having one a day instead of two. Some people these days try the ‘carnivore diet’ to get into ketosis— after all, our Paleolithic ancestors probably ate meat alone during the winter seasons, or when the kinds of vegetable food they ate were not currently in season. They couldn’t go to the supermarket and get apples and salad greens year round!

This is why it is so important to measure your state of ketosis. Those urine test strips Atkins recommended are better than nothing, but the best approach is to test your blood for ketones. It’s a similar procedure to testing your blood sugar, but you need the right kind of meter and test strips. Since the test strips are $1 each, I can’t afford that system myself (I’m on SSI disability) but I have a Ketonix breath ketone analyzer which I use daily.

You may have read (on ‘keto’ diet food packaging) that you are supposed to count the ‘net carbs’ or even ‘sugar carbs.’ That is not currently recommended. I’d suggest keeping your eye on the total carbs of a food item. The important thing is what carbs are measured by your body. A high-fiber keto tortilla may not be something you want to eat too regularly if it sends you out of ketosis.

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KetoLife: Dr. Atkins’ Fat Fast Diet

You may have heard the term ‘fat fasting.’ Maybe you think it’s a kind of fasting. Maybe you think it is fasting from fat, as the low-fat diet advocates seem to want. But the truth is, Fat Fasting is a kind of temporary diet, used by Dr. Robert Atkins with his patients who had hit a weight-loss plateau. That is, they were continuing to do low-carb but the weight loss they were expecting had stopped.

‘Fat Fasting’ is not fasting at all. It is a kind of low-carb and low-calorie diet, based on some scientific research, that helps some low-carbers. It usually calls for 4-5 mini-meals a day, which have to be composed of certain percentages of the macronutrients. Dr. Atkins might have had people eating 4 to 5 handfuls of macadamia nuts on a Fat Fasting diet day.

Dana Carpender, author of many low-carb cookbooks, has two cookbooks out especially for the Fat Fasting diet. These recipes open up the Fat Fasting diet, and give you a lot of choices for your mini-meals. You still can’t do the Fat Fasting diet for too long at a time— it’s meant to be temporary. (That’s why we can call it a ‘diet’— it’s not our lifestyle!) Get her Fat Fasting books to learn more about Fat Fasting.

Many modern Ketonians don’t use the Fat Fasting diet, but use actual fasting to deal with weight-loss plateaus. Dr. Jason Fung has some books out, including The Complete Guide to Fasting, which can help you learn more about how to use real fasting safely and effectively.

But sometimes the Fat Fasting diet may be what you want to do. Maybe you are having a hard time getting into deep ketosis, or staying there. Maybe you just have a hard time not eating anything at all— or you live with loved ones who will get frantic if you skip even one meal, no matter how heavy you are.

I have tried the Fat Fasting diet a few times, before I got Dr. Jason Fung’s book on real fasting, and it worked, though I’m lazy enough to like the break from actual cooking you get while you are real-fasting. I also use a few recipes from the two Fat Fasting books in my regular low-carb life. A few I adapt— the two mac-and-cheese recipes call for shirataki noodles, which I dislike, so I use a good serving of green beans or perhaps canned bean sprouts as a substitute for the noodles.

The advantage of the Fat Fasting recipes is that most are single-serving recipes— which is grand if you are cooking low-carb for one and don’t fancy eating the same meal again and again. And the recipes are high in percentages of fat, which is good if some of your regular low-carb foods are also too low in fat. (Remember, fat in your food is what makes you not-hungry!)

KetoLife: Funner Than Water

Nothing is worse torture than to be sick, barely able to ‘watch’ TV with my eyes closed, and have that dreadful Vitamin Water commercial come around again and again and again. They say ‘Vitamin Water’ is funner than water. You know what would be even more fun? Frosty chocolate milkshakes!

I was appalled when they first started marketing drinks with flavorings, sugars or sugar substitutes, possible carbonation,  carbs and calories as ‘water.’ That’s so unfair to consumers! We are all taught when we are dieting or trying to be more healthy we don’t have to restrict our ‘water’ amounts. But when they sell us a soft drink called ‘flavored water,’ what does that do to us? We may think we can consume any ‘water’ freely.

The purpose of water— actual water— is not to be fun. It is to hydrate our bodies. Without enough hydration, human beings die. That’s why it’s a popular method to execute disabled people— just quit hydrating them and they die quick, though probably not without a lot of suffering.

Before putting any soft drink called a ‘water’ into your body, check the nutrition facts on the label. How many carbs does it have? How many of those carbs come from sugars? How many from fiber? How does it compare to a typical sugared soft drink? A diet soft drink? And you are expected to be drinking it as a ‘water?’

Water has zero carbs, zero sugars, and, for those who still care, zero calories. That’s why you can drink as many glasses of water as you like without worrying about breaking the low-carb/ketogenic lifestyle OR a low-calorie hunger plan.

Need more flavor to your water? The traditional solution is to make the water into tea or coffee. Both tea and coffee are now held to have health benefits— though if your drown your tea or coffee in sugars, artificial sweeteners, and non-cream ‘creamers,’ you have only yourself to blame for bad results. But if you can manage to learn to drink plain tea or black coffee, you are set with ‘funner’ water for life. There are also keto things you can put in tea or coffee to make them ‘bulletproof,’ or more helpful for getting into ketosis and staying there.

What about the vitamins? If there are vitamins in your bottled drink, it’s because someone put them there, artificially. But you don’t need those vitamins. If you are on keto, you are taking your vitamin-and-mineral pills every morning (plus probiotics, I hope) and these plus the vitamins in the actual real food you will be eating will tide you over, vitamin-wise. You don’t need vitamins in your bottled drink! You are already getting those— and your real-food vitamins are of higher quality than any you get from bottled drinks.

But what about when you need hydration but can’t drink enough cups of actual water to achieve that? As when you are sick? I had that problem recently. I did not resort to buying  Vitamin ‘Water.’ I looked at it, in the shop, found the kind they carried was sweetened with sugar, and bought something else called ‘Bai’ which is sweetened with stevia, which is one of the few fake sweeteners which is considered mostly safe even in the keto community. It has a few grams of carbs per serving (and more than one serving per bottle,) but since I intended to drink it in small amounts— thinned down with actual water in most cases— just to add some variety in my hydration when I felt too ill to bother much with food or water. (I also purchased some Atkins drinks— my standby food when I’m sick— which they now carry at the Dollar General store in Stephenson, MI.)

Hydration is an essential in our ketonian way of life. But don’t let the ‘funner’ ‘water’ sellers fool you. Water is water. Other things are not. (‘Bai’ drinks don’t claim to be ‘water,’ even though they are more water-like than sugared ‘Vitamin Water.’)

AspieLife: Forgiveness

Yes, even if you have Asperger Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and people are mean to you all the time, you still have to forgive people. It’s an essential social skill you have to cultivate. And if you have certain religious beliefs (Christian,) you are expected to forgive people. Even if they ‘discriminate’ against you.

It can be really hard, though. I have had an instance when a person who had been rejecting me for years really wronged me, and this person staged a confrontation with me, in which the person was clearly very angry, but the person claimed to not be angry. Another, non-Aspie person in the room at the time confirmed my impression that the person in question was indeed angry. I hate being lied to that way, because as an Aspie I have limited social skills, and a tendency to believe I am the one at fault in any social situation. If the person would have just said he didn’t like me because I was ‘weird’ and it made him mad to have to have any contact with me at all, that would have been easier to forgive than the lie.

Yes, I know, the person is probably in denial about his own emotional state. And I know that as a Christian I need to forgive if I want God to forgive me. But it’s hard to forgive someone who is not sorry, who blames me for the problem, who will continue to wrong me and blame me for it, and will not change.

The situation makes me angry, for reasons I won’t go in to here. But the Bible teaches ‘love your enemy,’ and if someone chooses to act like my enemy, I not only am required to forgive that person but to love him. It ain’t easy, though.

As a person with Asperger Syndrome, I know I often need forgiveness because I say the wrong thing, or say things where eavesdroppers can hear me and be offended. It’s part of my weak social skills. But it’s harder to forgive a neurotypical person for something I feel he should have not done to me, because I assume they have better social skills and just choose not to exercise them in my case. But, really, being neurotypical doesn’t mean having perfect social skills or being a nice person or being free from bad traits such as passive-aggressive behavior.

To forgive my ‘person,’ I have decided to pray for that person. My goal is to pray one decade of the rosary per day for that person. If you don’t know what a rosary decade is, it is 1/5 of the ‘normal’ rosary prayer. I have had a hard time doing a whole rosary at a time for years, and since my stroke it’s even harder, so I am going for the shorter 1 decade at a time rosary prayer.

If you have a problem with a specific person that it is hard to forgive, I recommend prayer for that person as a solution. It’s a way of reminding yourself that God is in charge, even of that person. God can make that person more enlightened and a better person— or God can make you a more forgiving person. Or both.

Wednesday is now the day for Aspie Life posts. I hope.

Have you ever had a social situation that called for forgiveness, and had a hard time forgiving that person? What did you do about it? What would you suggest other people do in that situation?

Keto Life: Evidence that Calories don’t Count

We all have to unlearn all the ‘common sense’ slogans about healthy diet and weight loss parroted by advocates of the low-cal/low-fat ‘hunger games.’ ‘A calorie is a calorie is a calorie,’ goes one slogan. But slogans are not science.

One bit of real science everyone on the keto lifestyle ought to know is the 1957 study by Kekwick and Pawan. These two respected British doctors/researchers experimented with a 1000 calorie diet. The dieters were divided in groups. One group got 90% of their calories from carbohydrates, another got 90% from protein, and another got 90% from fat.

If ‘a calorie is a calorie is a calorie’ is a slogan with any validity, all of those diets should have had pretty much the same results. But the 90% carb dieters lost very little weight, the 90% protein dieters lost more, and the 90% fat dieters lost the most. The macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein, fat) in the food made more difference than the sheer calorie count!

Maybe that makes you wonder what a calorie is, anyway. It is the measure of the energy in food, if you burned it in a lab. But we don’t burn our food in a lab. We metabolize it in our bodies, and our bodies treat the different macronutrients in different ways.

That’s why on keto we can’t substitute a 100 calorie candy bar for 100 calories worth of our low-carb vegetables, or 100 calories worth of butter. Our body handles different foods in different ways. In my own case, 100 calories of a candy bar would likely trigger a carbohydrate binge which would send my blood sugar and my weight right up. 100 calories worth of low-carb veggies would not, and 100 calories of butter, perhaps in a bulletproof coffee, would prevent my carb cravings and make me forget to eat the next meal. (Yes, even a chow-hound like me can say ‘no’ to food on keto!)

Since keto/lowcarb is not a temporary fad diet but a lifelong way of eating, we need to know about the science behind the approach. Memorize those names— Kekwick and Pawan— and the year— 1957. The study in question was published in the journal Metabolism Clinical and Experimental, and the study was called “Metabolic Study in Human Obesity with Isocaloric Diets High in Fat, Protein or Carbohydrate,” by authors A. Kekwick and G. L. Pawan.  Sadly, I could not find this study on the Internet.

If I had a medical degree and the ability to get things published, I would love to publish a short book with medical journal articles supporting the keto/low-carb lifestyle, and one of the first articles I would love to reprint in the book would be the Kekwick and Pawan study. Such a book would be a great little thing for us Ketonians to pass on to our skeptical doctors and non-doctor ‘health-care providers’ who would rather we use pills and, if necessary, low-cal/low-fat hunger diets in a vain attempt to improve our health.

I tend to post ketogenic lifestyle topics on Thursdays. I hope some of my readers find these posts useful. 

Keto Life: Keto/Lowcarb without a Food Diary or App

What is the most dreaded thing that might happen to you? Having to keep a food diary— a record of every bit of food that goes in to your mouth. And since Keto/Low-carb is a lifestyle not a temporary diet, you might have to do it FOREVER.

Or not. The original Atkins (1972), created by a doctor who had real-world patients, didn’t require anyone to keep a food diary. Look at the original ‘diet sheet’ portion of ‘Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution.’ There were some foods you could eat in unlimited amounts— like meats,  fish, eggs, butter and mayonnaise. Other foods were allowed, but in rationed amounts— 2 salads of less than one cupful, four ounces of hard cheese, four teaspoons of heavy cream. You didn’t have to formally write down even the limited things, so long as you could remember to stay within the limits.

That was in Atkins Induction. Induction was a time for your body to adapt to being in ketosis. Atkins wanted everyone to use urine test strips to see if they were really in ketosis. We now also have the ability to test for blood ketones or breath ketones. At any rate, if you are really on Keto, you should be testing.

Atkins also has levels— in which you could add back small amounts of carbs, so long as you stayed in ketosis. And then when you got to ‘Maintenance’ you could have even more carbs even if you were out of ketosis. On a more modern Keto lifestyle, we know how healthy ketosis can be, so we want to be in ketosis even when we are at a normal weight. So we keep lower in carbs than an early Atkins dieter might have in ‘Maintenance.’

Learning the Atkins way does require study. You need to know, for example, that you can have shrimp but not scallops, and why. That you can have real lobster but not that fake lobster that’s manufactured from fish and has carbs in it. That you can put a bit of heavy cream (or sour cream) in your coffee, but not skim milk.

The great part of Atkins is that there is always something you are allowed to eat. After you have gone through your carb-containing limited foods, you can still have a feast out of the zero-carb foods. During the first few days of Induction, if you are used to the low-calorie hunger diets, you will feel like you are always eating. Go right ahead and eat! Until you get in ketosis, you have to keep eating the allowed foods so you feel not only full, but not-deprived.

Once you are in ketosis, you won’t feel hungry. You may be able to skip meals and fast pretty easily, but don’t go overboard. You will have to be eating food for the rest of your life, and your Keto/Low-carb meals are your way to train yourself to eat your allowed foods when you do eat.

What helps me is that I find allowable foods that I really like— such as baked chicken thighs, or bacon strips, or deviled eggs, or cheese sandwiches on a ‘Diet Revolution’ roll or a low-carb tortilla. And of course a bulletproof coffee or a keto hot chocolate. I have these pleasure-foods every day. Because my body needs me to eat this way for life, and that won’t happen when I’m eating foods I don’t care for.

I recommend that EVERYONE on the  keto and/or low-carb lifestyle own a copy of ‘Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution,’ if only to prove to yourself that the Keto lifestyle is not just a ‘fad diet.’ It also has some good recipes such as ‘Diet Revolution’ rolls or bread. The book is on Amazon in paperback, or you may be able to score a copy at a used-book store. My hardcover edition came from a St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop. Get one!

AspieLife: Avoiding Loaded Language

People with Asperger Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder) are deficient in social skills, and so social interactions often tend to go bad for us and we don’t know why.

I’m hoping that most Aspies have been taught not to use direct insults against other people— like calling someone stupid or a moron for having a different opinion. No one likes to be called a whore or a mother-effer, either. These kinds of expressions are fighting words. Don’t use them unless you want to start a fight.

But loaded language can also cause problems. One kind of loaded language is composed of words that used to have meanings but now are mostly pejorative (insult words.) One loaded word is ‘fundamentalist.’ It used to mean a kind of Protestant Christian who believed in a statement of faith called ‘The Fundamentals.’ Now the word is used to mean ‘a religion, or faction within a religion, that I personally don’t like.’ Calling someone a fundamentalist is an insult and usually meant that way, if only subconsciously. Calling someone a Catholic, Muslim or Jewish fundamentalist is not only an insult, but shows the speaker doesn’t know what fundamentalist means.

Even when someone calls himself a fundamentalist, it’s better to say ‘he calls himself a fundamentalist’ than ‘he is a fundamentalist.’ The term is just too loaded to use casually.

Other loaded terms have to do with politics and social issues. For example, on the issue of abortion. When a news anchor frames the issue as people who are for or against ‘abortion rights,’ he is taking a pro-abortion point of view. On the issue of same-sex ‘marriage,’ when a news anchor says ‘marriage equality’ as Shepard Smith once did, he is taking the side that same-sex ‘marriage’ is a kind of marriage that must be recognized as such by the State.

Loaded language is language that presumes something. Recently online someone accused a political figure of having a ‘hissy fit.’ Now, no one who likes that political figure is going to agree with that terminology, and such people will likely be mad at you for your insult of the person they like.

One loaded language term of special interest to Aspies is the phrase ‘having a melt-down.’ Neurotypical people get angry or afraid, often justifiably. We Aspies are accused of having ‘melt-downs.’ Now, if we Aspies have a reaction that is more intense— or louder or more noticeable— than what a neurotypical person would do in public— that might make the term ‘melt-down’ understandable, if unkind. But if you are an Aspie, and you calmly and unemotionally point something out that another person disagrees with, you may still be accused of ‘having a melt-down.’

The best rule of thumb is to think before you speak. If you felt differently about things, would you avoid certain words? Then avoid them anyway. Try to use neutral and non-partisan terms.

But what about when other people use loaded language that offends you? The rule is ‘forgive them.’ Let other people be wrong once in a while. You are not the language police or the correctness police. You don’t have the burden of fixing all other people. Try to get along with as many people as you can. Social interaction is tough enough for Aspies as it is, don’t make it tougher by being unforgiving or demanding.

The author of this blog, Nissa Annakindt, was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome later in life. Earlier I was just diagnosed as crazy or a spoiled child! If you are an aspie, have you had any interesting wrong diagnoses? Do tell (if you want to.)