My nutrition experiments

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Lean *and* healthy??

So here I am, after a long break. It’s been a busy few months, with study, work, wedding planning and house hunting.

I have been eating Peatish for about 6 months now, but I have changed things around a lot within that, and taken some inspiration from elsewhere, mostly Matt Stone from 180degreehealth. The good news is my temperature, periods and stomach are all normal! The bad news is I’m about 5kg heavier than I was this time last year. Ok, so I was probably a little too low on body fat then. But I could stand to lose some now. The thing is, I have learnt my lesson about dieting and the consequences for my health. For me personally, I would rather stay at my current body composition than get my vanity body but be cold, miserable and infertile again. So why don’t I just keep doing what I’m doing? Basically because I know I could have a better figure while maintaining my health, as long as the goals are very reasonable and I remain patient. So, no aiming for <20% body fat, no extra unscheduled workouts and no getting really hungry. For some people, planned fasting works. I need to eat regularly. So I’m eating every 3 hours, but back to a normal amount of food (from about 2500 calories back to 1800 calories). I workout for no more than about thirty minutes about 4-5 times a week, and I walk as much as I can. Not speed walking but not crawling either. It’s kind of getting my limbs woken up rather than pushing myself.

All my workouts are a blend of free stuff online. I’ll do a post about that soon.

Food wise, I am taking all the good stuff I learnt from Ray Peat and fitting it into a more ‘normal’ diet, whatever that is. So no more meals of 2 eggs and a pint of OJ. The stuff I learnt that I will defnitely keep are:

No getting hungry

Eat plenty of fruit

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Include plenty of easily absorbed calcium rich food (dairy)

Eat enough protein, but not too much, and with carbs and fat

Don’t skimp on carbs

Minimise polyunsaturated fats, because they easily oxidise and cause damage.

Eat liver and shellfish once every week or two. Bucketloads of minerals and vitamins.

Not drinking lots of plain water. It just gets peed out. If you eat plenty of fruit and veggies, you get lots of fluid in your diet already.

 

Stuff I am kind of glad to be relaxing up on:

Eating vegetables. Ray isn’t a fan. But I love vegetables, and I think they can make a good contribution to the diet when mostly well cooked (some raw is good too) and when there’s plenty of fruit in the diet, ie it’s not low carb.

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Eating starchy foods, but not whackloads, because Ray is right, it does make me fat. But it does make me warm. I’m looking forward to getting a little brown rice, pinhead oatmeal and buckwheat into my diet again.

Eating more solid food. A lot of the Peat staples are liquid. He recommends a quart of OJ and a quart of milk a day. Too much fluid makes me cold. I prefer whole fruits and maybe half that amount of dairy with some of it as goat’s or sheep’s cheese rather than all milk. An ounce of cheese is like a cup of milk. I have been keeping liquids lower for quite a while.

Coffee. A Peat favourite. And I love the taste, but I think it makes my menstrual cramps worse. I am planning on replacing it with carbonated water (a different Peat favourite) for the summer and decaff or herbal teas when it’s colder.

I’ve quit taking all the pills and potions I was taking. Some things helped speed up recover, some things made little difference. I am continuing to take a few vitamin E pills a week, and the trusty vitex agnus castus.

Some people have getting really lean as a goal without really knowing what they might have to sacrifice to get there. These big gains don’t come for free. But there is a happy medium out there. And now that I’m feeling a bunch better, I’m going to find it for me:)

 

 

Peat type meals

My creepy looking hand when it gets cold. Yuck.

Here’s a selection of the things I’ve been eating this week, most nice, one pretty disgusting.

Breakfast, pretty typically:

This was a study day at home, I prefer to get stuck in and then stop after half an hour to eat. Two eggs, salt, half a litre of OJ, milky coffee. Calculator is a little too high in xeno-estrogens for regular consumption.

What I typically bring to work- half a litre of skimmed milk, 2 carrots, coconut oil, half a litre of OJ (having drank the first half for breakfast) and some eggs and cheese, or maybe cottage cheese or cold shellfish.

I eat my carrots in work bugs bunny style, with a tablespoon of coconut oil straight up:

And when I’m at home, I have the luxury of my food processor, so they get the carrot salad treatment- dressed in lemon juice, salt and coconut oil:

A home lunch:

Cottage cheese and tinned peaches in sugar syrup

Dinners are usually lighter than they used to be, but I have a little custard and fruit or milk and honey about an hour before bed. Here’s some beef broth with sieved tomato:

And another night I treated myself to something a little more starchy, mashed turnip (rutabaga) with broth, butter and cheese:

I actually couldn’t finish that bowl. Simple sugars throughout the day appear to better regulate my appetite and I don’t cram my stomach in the evenings. Maybe it’s also not being as used to starch as my main carbohydrate. It was delish though, especially with plenty of salt:D (which totally warms me up).

Continuing the salt success, I tried a Peat special- sugared and salted milk with gelatin stirred in (I drank it hot so the gelatin hadn’t gelled up yet). It was pretty bad, I like salty things but not salty milk:( I also find hot milk makes me phlegmy whereas cold milk doesn’t. I think I can’t handle the milk proteins once they’re denatured. Boke, won’t be repeating that experiment. I think I like my salt with fish, broths and eggs!

Yucky milk concoction.

I am still noticing better appetite on this diet. I’m not as ravenous as on a paleo type diet. I still get cold but I now have more spells where my hands are comfortably warm. And my period this time was not as crampy:) I’ve also began to lose some weight, jeans are noticeably looser this week. I imagine if I drank nothing but salty milk I would lose my hips very quickly!

Peatarian experiment update

In September I shifted my paleo ways towards some recommendations of Ray Peat’s, with the aim of sorting out my hormonal and digestive issues. I did a post of what I was eating.

Plus side:

I got my period back in mid October. My last one was January 2010, and despite being paleo and eating plenty of real food from early this year, there were no improvements until I started slamming the fruit, eggs and dairy. It probably didn’t help that I was still running up until April, working out a lot, and I did lose about half a stone in the first part of the year.

Negs/what I need to tweak:

I was eating plenty of starch in the last month or two, and unfortunately that has led to a few pounds of weight gain, and although I haven’t had any worsening of IBS, my constipation hasn’t improved a bit, but then, of all Peat’s suggestions, I’ve been the laziest about the one that’s supposed to help with bowel elimination/peristalsis, the raw carrot salad.

In general, I think Peat is working fairly well for me, although I need to be stricter with the carrot and go low on starches, eat more fruit and sugar instead. Fat content of my diet is higher than Peat would recommend, going to try to get that from 50% to 25% of calories. What can I say, I love fatty lamb and cheese. Instead I’m going to eat cottage cheese and skimmed milk more, and make more broths rather than eating as much gelatinuous joints, which have a lot of fat as well as gelatin.

My mood is overall better too. I still have bad days especially if it’s been very dark.

Another update to follow, hopefully before the end of the year…!

The Peat-itarian experiment

My version of Ray Peat’s recommendations:

Carbs- rice krispies, potatoes, white rice, fruit and fruit juice.

boiled potatoes and eggs, fried in coconut oil, buffalo cheese

I have the rice krispies most mornings, with fruit and a glass of OJ, lunch is either fruit and something or leftovers from dinner, and potatoes or rice for dinner. I have a dessert including fruit a few nights a week.

ground lamb with a packet of gelatin stirred in, spinach and mashed potatoes

Protein: milk, gelatinous bony lamb or beef, or added gelatin into ground lamb/beef, white fish and shellfish, eggs.

frozen blueberries and homemade custard

I have full fat milk for breakfast and drink milky coffee a few times during the day. I’ve swapped out yogurt for making custard with cornstach, sugar and milk- I have that a few evenings a week. Most nights I eat either white fish or a bony, gelatinous lamb or beef stew. I eat some vegetables with it, and usually potatoes or rice and butter.

Fat: coconut oil (straight off the spoon and cooking), butter, tallow, cheese

I eat about a tablespoon of straight coconut oil a day and if I’m frying I use the coconut oil or occasionally tallow (more for roasting). I use butter for serving on hot rice or potatoes and I often eat a couple of ounces of cheese with fruit for lunch.

I’ve just started taking some supplements mostly based on what the Jaminets recommend, although this isn’t really recommended by Peat. I’m taking 2g Vitamin C with another 80mg along with the 10mg zinc, 200mcg selenium, 10mg vitamin B6 and 75mg vitamin K, 5mcg vitamin D and 800mg calcium. I take about 40 drops of an agnus castus tincture everyday. Probably about twice a week I take 2-3g of magnesium citrate. I’m adding about 5g a day of sea salt to my food and drinking about 2.5 cups of drip or pressed coffee a day.

So far, only changes to my symptoms- improved sleep and a slight increase in how warm I feel, but axillary temps, both on waking and throughout the day, are still fairly low (34.5-36 degrees Celsius). I also seem to be losing weight as my clothes are looser (I don’t know what I weighed either before or now so I can’t tell for definite) despite the fact I’m eating more calories. Hopefully this won’t continue much as I can’t imagine it’s going to improve the amenorrhea. I thought my carb percentage was higher but when I checked, I’m still getting quite a lot of calories from fat (no bad thing). Some days, 50% as fat, and other days that’s the carbs. Even at that much at, PUFA is usually around 4g/day (less than 2% of calories). Protein is about 20%, although it can be as low as 15% and as high as 35%, from what I’ve seen. I don’t have the time to track my intake every day, although it’s instructive especially from the micronutrient perspective.

Out of frustration, I went to my GP this morning, and she’s going to do a hormone profile including thyroid. She said if they came back in the normal range she would refer me to an endocrinologist or gynaecologist to find out why my amenorrhea is so persistent. For the constipation, she gave me a commercial form of psyllium husk. Pretty benign, so I’m giving it a shot. I should have long before now, as my girl Anney at Farty Girl has used it with success. The only problems with it are the quick gelling, and you need to drink plenty of fluids and probably make sure you get enough fat in the diet too (no prob for me there). The raw grated carrot didn’t make my constipation any better, although it’s not a bad thing to take anyway, so I should get back into it. It’s just a bit fiddley and time consuming when you can’t see the benefit.

Anyway, it’ll be three weeks before I have any blood results, and that’s another few weeks to see if the Peat-itarianism is helping me.

I should also note, that posts are going to be pretty infrequent:( I’ve just started a degree on top of my job, so blogging is a bit squeezed.

Sparkly changes

I am so glad to be back posting, I didn’t mean to leave it so long. However, I’ve been pretty busy. I spent the first two weeks of September on holiday in the south of Spain, and I got engaged! The holiday was complete switch off from the interwebs and when I got back I spent the time catching up with family and friends about our News. We picked a ring the day after we got back and it’s now being made, I won’t have it until mid October at the earliest, but I shall put a little photo up when I get it:)

I have also been doing some major dietary experimenting. My probiotic miracle cure didn’t last very long, and I was back to being constipated. Basically, I think the improvement in constipation was just some more of the magesnium hanging around in my colon. Since I got back from holiday I have been experimenting with the dosage of magnesium. The problem is, my gut transit time is so slow that the magnesium, even if taken only a teaspoon a day, starts to build up before it becomes effective, and then it makes things a bit too loose.

Although I stayed away from live internet, I downloaded all the articles from Ray Peat’s site to read while I was away, and I started implementing his ideas, because I’m pretty much convinced I have estrogen dominance, which is somewhat suppressing my thyroid, causing the cold intolerance, dry skin, constipation and haemorrhoids, stiff shoulders and hip joints, amenorrhea, insomnia, irritability, tiredness, chunky hips, purple skin, restless legs…I think I must have always had some estrogen dominance, even before I started taking the pill, because I started taking it because of painful periods. So it probably didn’t cause the estrogen dominance, but it certainly made it a lot worse. I remember the first time I went off the pill for a while, I lost 7  pounds in a week, probably all water, and felt pretty good, although I did have 6 months of amenorrhea a few months after quitting. Then my periods got painful, and I went back on the pill for three years. I quit in January 2010, and I’ve had two periods since. My cold intolerance just seems to get worse and worse, and except for high summer, my skin is extremely dry and cracked, and bleeds across the knuckles. The mild constipation I have had for a long time got a lot worse when I gave up the pill, and it’s pretty awful now, no matter how much or little fibre I eat. All these things have made me desperate enough for improvement that I can’t just stop where I am with my diet. Ray Peat’s work has convinced my that there is still hope for a major improvement through diet. I have reintroduced fruit, now being a staple in my diet (blueberries, bananas, oranges, cherimoyas, mangoes, cherries, peaches etc), raw carrot salads, white rice and potatoes, cooking in coconut oil, plenty of milk, cheese, some eggs, gelatinous cuts of beef and lamb, some shellfish and white fish, and my favourite, some ice-cream. I had it every day on holiday:D Breakfast is usually a bowl of frozen seedless berries or melon with milk, a sprinkle of crispy rice cereal, maybe an egg and a cup of milky coffee. I eat a tangerine or something if I get hungry between meals (getting hungry seems to be a major stressor for me, I get very irritable and light headed, so trying to avoid that), lunch is raw carrots, cheese and fruit or some shellfish and rice and an orange, dinner is gelatinous stew, eggs and white fish and potatoes or rice.

Danny Roddy’s concise guide to ‘Peatarian’ inspired eating for hair health has helped enormously in working out what to eat, although I do not eat as raw as Danny, and I eat more starch in the form of potatoes and white rice, which offer me some bulk and I find very easy to digest. I haven’t ventured into OJ territory, and I haven’t had ice-cream since I got back from holiday, although I’m thinking of making a kind of frozen milk+OJ thing with gelatin. I am also fast running down my little jar of coconut oil that I had for ages, but now that I am using it as my main fat, even more than butter, I need to get some more, but I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to buy here in the UK. I might order Nutiva stuff off iherb. It’s also interesting to hear one of my favourite ‘paleo’ bloggers come out an say he doesn’t think sugar from fruit is problematic, or even a few ounces of sucrose everyday.

So far, the only improvement I have seen is massively improved sleep. I didn’t realise that I never sleep through the night, but since the beginning of this week, that’s exactly what’s been happening. I’m amazed. What I’m really hoping to see soon though is some sort of improvement in the constipation, because I think until that happens, I’m just not going to be able to get rid of all the excess estrogen. I have also started taking a tincture of agnus castus again, and although I’m not keen on weird medicines, I am seriously considering some sort of progesterone or prenenolone supplementation.

Other changes are coming my way, I begin a Biology degree at the beginning of October (as a first step towards nutrition research or dietetics), so I shall have less time, but I hope to keep blogging about my experiments. Maybe this won’t bring me the health improvements I desire, but at the moment, it seems like the best dietary intervention for my circumstances. Only time will tell!

Shank Stew and Steamfried Squash

Shank stew

Throw 2 beef shanks and half a pound of braising steak in a crock pot, add a few garlic cloves, two bays leaves, a lemon, halved, and a good shake of herbs de provence before covering-just-with water. Then set the pot to low and leave it all day (mine was on for over 10 hours).

‘Steamfried’ butternut squash

Chop up a butternut or other winter squash into thin slices- I sliced with rounds against the length and then sliced each round into quarters.

Heat up a frying pan with some butter and a shake of chilli flakes and when the butter has melted, add in the squash pieces. Cover with a few ladles of the broth from the stew and top up with some hot water (you can use all broth if you like, but I wanted to keep as much as possible, just using enough to add some flavour). Let the squash cook away until soft, topping up the liquid if required, but letting it dry out a bit once it’s cooked through so you get a few crispy bits.

Just before serving, lift the bay leaves out of the stew, and squeeze the lemon flesh into the stew, discarding any pips. Dress with plenty of fresh parsley and serve with the squash.

 

Continuing the autumn theme, I had some gently stewed garden plums with cinnamon and plain yogurt as a little treat. It’s getting all cool and breezy here, and the leaves are starting to fall!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations…on your new gut flora!

I think I might have found a probiotic that actually works for me. Up until recently, I was taking magnesium citrate to counteract my chronic constipation. While the ancestral diet has done wonders for my other IBS symptoms (cramps, noxious wind, bloating), the constipation never really went away. I tried some over the counter probiotics, but I just got bloated. Last week, I was so constipated, I upped my magnesium dose for a few days straight, and when I started working I stopped. I suffered from diarrhea for two days, but that was probably a good thing. So, already a bit messed up, I thought it might be the right time to try a therapeutic dose probiotic, so I tracked down Bio Kult. What can I say, I don’t remember ever being this free from my gut problems. Initially I was a bit gurgley, but that settled quickly. It’s actually scary how used I had got to being constipated. It seems to suggest what I had suspected- that my constipation was because of low gut bacteria. I have found though that seedy berries or things like tomato skins can be felt making their way through, so I still have to be choosey about types of fibre. One type that doesn’t bother me is potatoes (although boiled skins are a bit tough to digest).

Coconutty potatoes

Boil some potatoes until soft (I didn’t peel mine out of lack of time, but I peel them off as I eat).

Make some coconut milk (I make mine from dessicated coconut flakes or blocks of pressed dried coconut).

In a saute pan, gently heat some cooking suitable fat, coconut oil is good here although you could use ghee or butter. I cooked some onion and cabbage before adding tomato passata (no skins or seeds, hoorah) and the coconut milk, as well as some garam masala and the potatoes, and let it putter away on low for half an hour.

I ate some last night as is, and had the rest today with a nugget of raw milk cheese. As you can see, the coconut sauce is not all smooth and emulsified because it doesn’t have any weird things like guar gum in it.

 

A final note on the probiotic stuff- Bio Kult is the probiotic developed by the doctor who wrote the GAPS diet. It seems to be working great for me, but I doubt it works for everyone. I was skeptical that high dose probiotics could work at all, and was amazed that this did, but I still doubt that everyone will have the same experience. There are other therapeutic dose probiotics out there, like VSL3, Mutaflor and Primal Defense. It’s apparently quite common with these high strength probiotics to experience a worsening of symptoms before they ameliorate, so it’s good to bear with something for a while if at first things are worse rather than better. This effect has been called ‘die off’, I don’t think I experienced it, but you may well do if you decide to try these things, and you may also find your IBS or IBD doesn’t get better at all. I am now coming round to the idea that oral probiotics are worth trying, having previously doubted their efficacy at all. So if you try Bio Kult and it doesn’t work, it might be worthwhile experimenting with the other ones. They all have different strains in differing amounts, and gut flora is rather varied.

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