So This Is What Happened To Me...

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago for CarbSmart. Thought I should publish it here, too, plus an update, to let you know how this is going:

Well, isn't this interesting.

Background: I have been asked to tape a pilot for a possible low carb cooking show. I am very excited about the whole thing, but like anyone else faced with the prospect of going on television, I'd like to knock off a few pounds between now and then - "then" being early November.(Since writing this, that date has been changed to early December -- the 9th, to be exact. After all, I've never claimed to be a skinny girl, only to be a skinnier girl. For the past year or two, I've been wearing size 10 jeans, which at 5'2" makes me normal-to-mildly-plump.

I had, in the past, tried the much-written-about HCG protocol. I had been willing to try it because it was clear that Dr. Simeons, who developed it, had a deep distrust of carbohydrates. I figured that made him my kind of guy. Indeed, his basic instructions for maintenance are "No starch or sugar for the first several weeks, and be cautious with them for the rest of your life." The Simeons protocol is radical - inject low doses of HCG (human chorionic gonadatropin) once a day, and eat a low everything diet - just 500 calories a day. (I, characteristically, left out the allowed bread stick or Melba toast.)

The Simeons protocol had worked as advertised for me, though it was not a rollicking good time. Still, since then I'd talked to two doctors who did, indeed, feel that HCG was a safe and useful adjunct to weight loss whether you used Dr. Simeons protocol or not. One of those doctors was the fellow who diagnosed me with polycystic ovarian syndrome and attention deficit disorder. Quite a lot of his practice revolves around weight loss, and the effects of diet on straightening out hormones, and the effects of hormones on weight. He knows whereof he speaks.

So I thought I'd try the Simeons protocol again. But something unexpected happened. Since my last go at the Simeons protocol, because of my PCOS diagnosis, I'd started taking my fasting blood glucose every morning. I was on a couple of medications for blood sugar, metformin and Victoza.

I discovered that the Simeons protocol made my blood sugar go seriously wonky - up as high as 126 one morning. I started taking my blood sugar after meals, and discovered quite quickly that a supper of chicken breast and cabbage (a very tasty salad) left me with sugar of 147 two hours after dinner. Clearly this was not working out for me. I quit after just two days of the 500 calorie per day phase of the protocol.

(I will insert parenthetically that I know folks for whom the Simeons protocol improved their blood sugar, sometimes substantially. I am not one of them.)

But I had the HCG in the house, and the assurance of two doctors I respect that low-dose HCG is safe, and helpful for weight loss in general. I decided to keep using the HCG and try the Atkins Fat Fast. I'd read about it for years, of course, but never gotten around to trying it. Based on the work of Kekwick and Pawan in the 1950s, and Dr. Frederick Benoit in the 1960s, demonstrating substantially greater weight loss with the same calorie count when most of those calories come from fat, the basic jist of the Fat Fast is quite simple: 1000 calories per day, 90% of them from fat. It's recommended that you have 5 small "feedings" a day, each of about 200 calories.

This is harder than it sounds. No, not because I'm ravenous all the time, I've actually been remarkably comfortable on what is, admittedly, still not a lot of food. I don't have any ketostix on hand, but I suspect I am in quite a deep ketosis, which should suppress appetite. My energy level has been fine, too. No, what's hard is actually getting 90% of my calories from fat. I haven't gotten there yet; generally I've hit the 80-85% mark.

What do I eat for those 1000 calories? For breakfasts I've splurged and had three slices of bacon, with two eggs scrambled in all the grease. I'm Breakfast Girl, so having my biggest "feed" first thing worked well.

After that, I've eaten stuff like:

* 1/2 ounce of pork rinds with 2 tablespoons whipped cream cheese, and a few sweetened jalapeno slices.
* Tofu shirataki noodles turned into Fettuccine Alfredo by melting in 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon onion-and-chive whipped cream cheese, plus 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
* One ounce macadamia nuts - this is 1/4 cup. Yes, I measured.
* One ounce pecan halves, fried in butter.
* Traditional shirataki made into sesame noodles with a sauce of 1 tablespoon each either almond butter or peanut butter, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 tablespoon chicken broth, 1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, a touch of garlic, and Sriracha sauce to taste.
* "Chocolates" made of coconut oil and cocoa powder, plus a little liquid Splenda, and shredded coconut meat.

Servings are very small - for instance, just one of those little chocolates, made in a mini-muffin pan, would be it for a few hours. My breakfast holds me for at least 5 hours, and after that, I have just enough of one of these fatty foods to make me not-hungry, but certainly not enough to feel full - just keeping hunger at bay. It's just enough food for that, I find.

Dr. Atkins said not to do the Fat Fast for more than 3-5 days. I stuck with it for six. In the past couple of days I have liberalized, aiming for 1300-1500 calories per day, but staying with the super-high fat percentage.

The results? As I write this, I have lost six pounds in just over a week, and it looks like more, I think. (This may be a result of the HCG. It seems to help the body lose fat where it most needs to lose it.) That makes me very happy.

What makes me even more happy is what this super-high-fat diet has done to my blood sugar: It is normal. Normal, normal, normal. I have stopped taking my metformin and Victoza, and my morning blood glucose is consistently in the 80-95 range. This thrills me to the core.

I don't know whether the very high fat percentage is responsible for this, or if it's the caloric restriction, or both. My best guess is that it's the fact that I'm eating considerably less protein than I formerly have - apparently my body is really good at converting protein into sugar. (It should also be noted that I am not drinking alcohol these days, again, in the interests of looking as good as possible for the television taping. I do not know what effect this has.)

I think I have found my new "normal" low carb diet - super high fat, super low carb, moderate protein. I also think I will do perhaps three days of the Fat Fast at least a couple of times a month; clearly my body approves. I've been toying with the idea of doing the Fat Fast Monday through Wednesday, then liberalizing from Thursday through Sunday. This sounds very liveable to me.

We frequently hear low carbohydrate diets referred to as "high protein diets." I have known for a long time that this was not so, and try to remind people that properly done a low carb diet is a moderate protein/high fat diet. Still, many people panic at the idea of eating "all that fat", and still have a sneaking suspicion that they should choose mostly lean meat and vegetables.

Clearly, for my body at least, this is not so. Not that I've been choosing all lean meats; I'm a rib eye and pork shoulder steak kind of girl. But from here on out, I'm likely to eat 6 ounces of good fatty meat, not 12 - and to melt some butter or coconut oil over them. I will be aiming for my minimum protein requirement for the day (about 70 grams), rather than eating the 125 or so grams of protein that has been my usual intake. And I will be searching for new and creative things to do with super-fatty foods.

My blood sugar is normal! Without medication! HOORAY!

************************

Since I wrote this, I have changed my approach a bit: I am Fat Fasting every other day, while on the days in between I am eating ad lib, as much as I like, but still focusing on staying quite low carb and getting enough fat. I have not been losing more weight, though I have been maintaining with ease. However, my blood sugar is still stone normal. Was 92 when I got up this morning. It appears that so long as I eat this way, I don't have any blood sugar trouble at all.

This both thrills and annoys me. The "thrills" part is obvious. The "annoys" part is because I did not realize when I started this experiment that I was signing on for a lifetime of limiting myself to 1000 calories, mostly of fat, every other day. If you hadn't figured it out from the career of writing cookbooks, I like food. I like cooking, I like trying new stuff, I like eating interesting and varied meals. I'm not crazy about being borderline hungry all day every other day. I also miss being able to have a little wine on those evenings. And I have yet to figure out how to work in my gelatin on Fat Fast days, since it would increase my protein, something I don't want to do on those days.

However, I am very, very happy to be running normal blood sugars. Every time I got up in the morning and my blood glucose was over 100, I would think in dismay, "I'm rotting!" Elevated blood sugar, even modestly elevated blood sugar, speeds aging, causing irreversible damage. It is, officially, A Very Bad Thing.

So I will persist, because as irritating as it is, it works, at least for me. I may well do another 5-6 day stretch of the Fat Fast before I shoot the television pilot.

Being me, I have been coming up with new things to eat within the parameters of the diet -- can't resist the recipes. I've been planning to try Fat Fast Chocolate Truffles, made of cream cheese, baking chocolate, and liquid sucralose. Also think I'll try sour cream with a little liquid sucralose and vanilla, the way I would sweeten yogurt, with 1 or 2 strawberries cut up in it. I also have quit the bacon and eggs on most Fat Fast days -- turned out they were using up more of my 1000 calorie allotment than I thought. The exception is when I wind up doing my Slow Burn weight training on Fat Fast days -- my guru Fred Hahn insists that I have a good whack of protein after lifting.

Complicating matters is the fact that Fair Winds Press just sent me a contract for another cookbook, this one of paleo recipes. I'm generating ideas at full speed, but can only try them on myself every other day, which hamstrings me considerably. On my Fat Fast days, That Nice Boy I Married is the official recipe taster, but of course that means that I can't test recipes with ingredients he dislikes on those days.

Still, the bottom line, the most important factor in the equation, is that I have found a way of eating which -- at least for now -- has completely normalized my blood sugar. I don't know if it will do the same for you, but if you're eating low carb and are still medicated for blood sugar problems, it's worth a shot, I'd say.

Standard Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on television. This information is just that: Information. While I did this without doctor's supervision, I am a daredevil hotshot, and also took my blood sugar a lot in the process. Depending on your medication, it is possible that you could have a hypoglycemic episode by doing this, though I did not. Be cautious, especially as regards motor vehicles and heavy equipment, and any other circumstance that might make getting light-headed or woozy more dangerous than it otherwise might be. Consulting your doctor is a fine idea, unless your doctor is a total anti-low-carb dork, at which point I recommend you consult a different doctor. Permanently.

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Thanks For the Pepperoni Tip for Fat Fast

I started doing the Fat Fast since I had hit a plateau and was stuck at the same weight for a while; was hoping the Fat Fast would kick me off for another round of fat loss.
Anyway, was mainly doing the Macadamia Nuts – which is REALLY bad for the entire day! Anyway your tip on Pepperoni Chips was great. I made a small change – used Sour Cream instead of cream cheese. It was really good (almost like eating chips and dip).
Once again -- Thanks

Yay!

Glad you like the pepperoni chips. I think they'd be awesome in place of croutons on a salad, too.

Fat Fast and hCG

Hi there-hoping that I am not too long winded here, but was curious on whether you found that the hCG while fat fasting seemed to work out? I did Atkins Induction for 30 days and lost 20 lbs, but fell off the wagon some years ago. In Sept 2011 I found hCG and over the course of 6 months and 5 rounds I lost 56 lbs. I decided that hCG might not be for me and went into Atkins again. I am unable to lose at all. Went back into hCG and lost with no trouble. I have heard that long uses of the hCG can cause trouble with your endocrine system....:( Disheartening - I do not want to do the plan anymore, but have at least 80lbs to get off. I have some left over hCG, and I am day 28 in Induction, with no losses. I searched keywords Fat Fasting and you popped up. I am curious. How many have tried the hCG with the fat fast and how did it go. Do you take the hCG only when you are fasting or do you take it everyday you are on low carb? How did you do the hCG with your low carbing? Were there any negative effects? Thanks a million for your info :)

Fat Fast not so good for me.

Hi Dana, I posted this on your CarbSmart post but wanted to post here to for anyone doing future searches (like I did).

"Hi Dana, just though I'd post my experience for you. I've been low carb (mostly following Wheat Belly since March of 2012). I've lost 44 pounds but was stalled for a few months. In hindsight I think I let my portions get larger and probably lost control of carbs (so easy to do that even when not consuming any grains). I did some reading on the fat fast and there were mixed reviews on its safety but I decided to try it anyway. I made it 2-1/2 days but during day 3 I think my blood sugar must have gotten too low (or blood pressure) and I started to feel ill (while out driving my car). This made me start to panic which I think resulted in an anxiety episode where my hands went numb. I pulled over and got an apple and half a cookie but my mouth was so dry I couldn't even eat them. I had to buy a bottle of water to wash them down (I had consumed water that morning too). Suffice to say my experience with the fat fast was not pleasant. I finally did make it home (my husband was none too happy about the situation) but even today (day after episode) I'm not feeling right. I felt weak and light headed this morning with very cold hands. After eating my breakfast I feel better but not great. I lost 5 pounds but don't think it was worth how I'm feeling now. As soon as I got home yesterday I made a protein shake and then ate my normal low carb dinner. I had a well balanced low carb breakfast this morning. I'm wishing I hadn't done this and I'm hoping I bounce back soon."

Menopause

I'm really glad to read all these great posts! The one by BawdyWench really made me feel better about myself and my metabolic changes in my mid 30's, 40's and it appears now in my late 40's. I just read the blog posting on the Venus of Willendorf (my EXACT body shape - and I've never had kids - not even one pregnancy!) I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and do the Fat Fast, too. My low carb experience has helped me normalize my blood sugar and my A1C is down to 4.9 from 5.5. I'm lucky because I've never loved food, although I do have a few dishes I enjoy on occasion. Food bores me (I hear you foodies cringing) and like sleep, is a necessary evil. For me, both food and sleep have been problems since I was a baby. My mother used both as a punishment along with other more physical ways. Anyway, I'm due for another sleep study to have a C-pap placed & set and am hoping the good quality sleep will help me to have energy to exercise. At 49 I'm too young to be so bloody tired all the time!

Thank you all for writing and especially Dana! It's wonderful to have a community of people who understand.
~Melissa~

So This Is What Happened To Me...

The unexpectedly high blood sugar readings during the Simeons protocol seem almost beyond belief. I can understand your relief when you found a diet that brought your blood sugar well below 100, but it would really be nice to understand what was going on during the Simeons protocol period. I hope you continue to pursue that inquiry.

Josiah

Hmmm!

Dana, have you heard of the Optimal Diet? It is likely not well known in the US because it was devised years ago by a Polish doctor, Dr. Jan Kwasniewski. Here's a link to the English site: http://homodiet.netfirms.com/ If you Google Optimal Diet, there are a bunch of sites that explain the ratios etc.

This sounds like what you are doing right now - high fat, middle of the road protein, low carb.

I have played with it, and need to do better at it. I love coconut oil and use that when low on the fats. I think it will help me with the same issues you are having, including wonky fasting glucose, just over 100. I know I posted here about the fasting glucose issue, in relation to the sleep/cortisol post. I am sleeping better, but my fasting glucose is still being a PITA. My A1c was 5.2 last month, so I am not concerned about the overall picture. Just keeping my doc off my back, lol.
Suze

Interesting Tweak on HCG Protocol

Don't you love synchronicity? Where you start thinking about something, and then stumble across it everywhere?

That's where I am with hcg at the moment. I've been LC since 1998. Started around 180 (I'm 5'7" and 56 years old), got down to 150 and maintained there for a couple years. Then menopause hit and I gained 50 pounds in 18 months without changing anything. That was in 2006. I've been struggling ever since to lose that 50 pounds again.

This past January I did a very dedicated couple of rounds of homeopathic hcg and lost 35 pounds. Woo-hoo! I've maintained within 5 pounds since April. Now, however, I've gone up another 5 pounds and again struggling to get back down. I need to take drastic action before I gain even one more ounce. Can't let this get out of hand again.

Anyway, I've been mulling over how (and why) the body seems to become so accustomed to things. When I first did LC eating in 1998, the weight fell off me effortlessly. Then became accustomed to it and it was harder. When I did a serious round of hcg in January, it came off easily again . Now, even though I've tried to do subsequent rounds of hcg again, it's not happening for me.

Maybe it's the mind, but then again, maybe it's the body.

I have this weird theory that our bodies love the status quo so much that even though you're doing everything right, things don't budge. What used to work to lose weight now only works to maintain that weight.

Maybe we need to REALLY shake things up on a regular basis in order to lose more fat.

So this morning I was thinking about maybe going back to hcg, maybe to basic "very low carb," but then thinking maybe I need to shake things up even more radically than that.

And then I read this blog! Do hcg, but do it with high fat! I really hate eating all those veggies on hcg protocol, and I really hate NOT eating fat on protocol. Berries are ok here and there, but I sure don't like the idea of eating high-sugar apples and oranges every day, let alone twice each day.

This might just be the answer to my prayers!

Or maybe NOT do hcg at all (even your fat-fast version) and just go back to what I really enjoy ... 75 - 80% fat and moderate protein! And I love your idea of cycling on and off.

Dana, you've given me a lot to think about this morning!

THANK YOU!!!!!!

I found your article very

I found your article very intriging. I am not new to low carb, but I haven't done it in about 10 years.
I am not really following any diet in particular, sort of Atkins. Did the induction, and now in my third week, lost about 12 or 13 lbs. So far I'm still hungry, in between meals, but I'm not really prepared in the house quite yet. I have recently bought some ingredient's to help, so things should get easier.
I love your web site so far, tried a similar recipes for the buns you have minus the protien. They turned out flat, egg whites weren't whipped enough. Anyhow glad to join yor group of lowcarb friends.

I am so excited to read that

I am so excited to read that you might be doing a low carb cooking show!! A couple of days ago I was surfing the food channel schedule, looking for that very thing. If you will keep us informed, we can do an email blitz to the network, in support of you.

Also, I appreciate your list of ideas as to how to increase the healthy fats. I'm always stumped when I try to do that. :-} If you wrote a Healthy Fats Recipe ebook, I'd sure buy it!

Congratulations!

I forgot to congratulate you on your normal blood sugar. A nice surprise. Every time I read or listen to a blog or podcast , I come away with some new thing to remember. Each person has something to report that low carb does to improve their health. Amazing..I will suggest it to my mom, who has been low carb for 12 years. Have a marvelous evening, Lynn

I might get cable

If you are going to be on TV,(I do not watch TV) I may have to get cable. Your show would make it worth while.
I am not new to low carb. But I am new to LOW carb...I find that I have never gone low enough. I am also allergic to gluten, glaidin,(sp?), soy, corn, basically all grain. Also I am allergic to Preservatives, colorings, additives, MSG, you name it, I am allergic to it. Sugar gives me a screaming bloody murder headache. Alcohol does also with in minutes of the first sip. But I can eat meat, vegetables and berries.
I have not bought many cookbooks because most of them still use processed foods, wheat, and stuff like that. The whole Paleo/low carb thing just makes more sense to me.
Memorial day I began in earnest to eat 20 carbs or less to see if I could make the monster (insulin)go to sleep. I started a blog called "Don't Wake The Monster" I have lost 34 pounds. The weight loss has slowed way down. I have 25 more to lose.
Is your cookbook grain free? I have begun to read your blog and find it very entertaining. I also find it very informative. I am still in the beginning stages of the learning process. I appreciate the "fat fast" you just wrote about.
I wish you success in your TV show. I will be excited to see a real life low carb cooking show! Lynn

Your describing me

Polycystic and ADD and Diabetic. You have just described me. I have been diabetic for seven years. I have been low carb since sept 1, 2011. I lost the first 10 pounds in three weeks. I am struggling to lose ounces at this point. I eat protein, my blood sugar goes up.

I am struggling (mind wise) with eating a higher fat diet, but maybe I could inch it up more with a few ideas you gave me in the blog. The very low calories is what puts me in doomville. I am a cook. I love food. I love your cookbooks.

My heart sank as I read about "Fat fast" Will be standing with you holding onto hope to find more food ideas.

cheff30 in florida

PCOS, ADD, Diabetes

Do you have a sleep disorder, too? ;-P (Very common with ADD, I've learned.)

It really is pretty annoying to be so limited every other day, but I'm very, very clear on how dangerous high blood sugar is, so I'm determined.

I do

I have sleep apnea..I am on a CPAP. Any idea if I will ever be able to get off of it someday??

Sleep Apnea

Honestly, I know little about sleep apnea. I am under the impression, however, that obesity makes it worse, and losing weight can help. Sorry not to be more help. :-(

Very excited!

I was just thinking the other day how I wish there was a low carb cooking show on tv! I can't wait to see it!

I'm rather stuck right now. I've lost 20 pounds since mid-June so I think I'll take your advice and try to eat more fat than protein.

BTW...Happy Belated Birthday! We share the exact same birthday...October 18th, 1958.

10-18-58

Twin!! :-D