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Oct 23

New Adventures in Carbland – Parts II and III

As mentioned in Part I, I haven’t had the best time with this experiment.

However, as I’ve said time and time again – mine is a journey of science, not of advocacy. So you might find it interesting that I’ll have a few more positive things than last time to say from Carbland… even if I can’t wait to return to Fatland. (I should find a better name for the latter location :D)

Updates from the Last List

GI Stress. This has gotten better. Since my last posting, I’ve had it just once in the morning. This could be due to my current phase having only 1155 calories / day, of course.

Postprandial drowsiness. This is likewise improved. But as above, this isn’t too surprising given each of my meals are just 385 calories during this last sprint.

Broken circadian rhythm. Also improved. Very close to how I was sleeping in keto.

Weight gain. So I found out my scale wasn’t giving me accurate numbers. After trying a few tear aways by holding specific weights while on it, then without, I found it was extremely inconsistent. I changed the batteries, reset it, and afterward, it appeared to work better. At that point it displayed I was 183lb and I was one day into this lower calorie phase.

In short, I now don’t trust my original weight readings mentioned earlier and thus I can’t say for sure on that metric. It’s just as possible I didn’t gain much weight, even if more was showing in my waistline — however, even in this case, it was likely more water weight than anything else. (My hope is that it is 100% water weight. :D)

Transient Symptoms or Just Lower Calories?

As mentioned above, I’m now in a phase where I’ve been lower calorie overall, yet still having around 108g of carbs a day. It could be some of the previous symptoms were due to the transition to having carbs back, and to some degree, it could be having lower energy load overall. My guess is that it is a little from Column A and a little from Column B.

And hey, while I’m on this pro-carb-just-lower-calorie promotion train, I have a uniquely special circumstance that is worth mentioning. In all my experiments, I’ve always had a very difficult time eating below 1200 calories as I feel generally hungry, keto or not. Yet, this current low-calorie phase has been easier relative to the others in that I don’t crave larger helpings of the food I’m eating. Yes, it does help that I really, really dislike this diet (as Siobhan called it, “prison food”), but even so, I’m finding less physiological hunger to eat more.

Aside from the physiological cravings, however, my mind has been filled with the delicious, juicy cuts of fatty meat I plan to eat when this is all done. As experiments go, this one has been one of the toughest. I miss my keto diet terribly and I’m excited to get back soon.


A Very Unexpected Part III

I’ve been planning to post the above for Monday morning, Oct 23rd, which is tomorrow as of this writing.  Everything there was written in the late morning today and I presumed nothing more would change.

But something very odd happened that I feel I should make note of…

Around 2 pm I was doing monotonous work with my spreadsheet and nothing about it was unusual. Weirdly, I felt a kind of acute mood shift. It was like a wave of both exhaustion and general pessimism. What made this particularly noticeable was how fast the trend was. One moment I was trucking along with some code and the next I felt heavy malaise.

I happened to have a Skype meeting with Siobhan a few hours later and was trying to describe what it was like. “I feel strangely pessimistic about everything now.” Indeed, I was feeling gloomy about my experiment and at how valuable the data might be. I have a family member I’m working with and had new and less optimistic thoughts about this outcome of this as well. I tried to take a break and browse Netflix, but felt unusually anxious and annoyed at their selection. It was as though I had just gotten some terrible news about something and it was affecting me in a very profound way… but without the actual news.

Everything I thought about seemed to have a greater negative spin to it.

Being the scientist I am, I actually started ranking my mood on a 1-10 scale on the hour (1 being miserable, 10 being very happy). How long would this last?

1pm 2pm 3pm 4pm 5pm 6pm 7pm 8pm 9pm 10pm 11pm
8 2 2 2 3 4 2 2 4 4 4

Right now it is 11:30pm as I write this and I think I’m still at a 4. I just can’t seem to shake this odd episode. I’d say it gives me all the more reason to look forward to the experiment’s end tomorrow following the blood draw, but even that doesn’t seem as exciting as it should be. Truly, I can’t recall ever having experienced anything like this before.


Morning Update

My mood is closer to a 7 now, but I woke up exhausted – and I mean really exhausted. Like I pulled an all-nighter with work and I could head back to bed and sleep five hours. Why?!?

This is one of those moments I truly wish I just had a lot more money to put down on a per-test basis. I’d add more tests to my blood draw like a thyroid panel and hormones (such as Cortisol), which I used to do when I was more flush with savings. If this is some strange biochemical episode, I’d love to catch its origin better.

12 comments

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  1. Ross

    Dopamine, GABA, serotonin, epinephrine?

    Troubling!!

    1. Dave

      Yeah — I really wish it wasn’t a Sunday when this all took place. If it were during business hours during the week, I’d have hightailed it to the lab to get a blood draw and work out checking off as many hormone tests as I could afford. I’d have loved to see if any of these showed well outside their range.

      1. James Bond

        Dave, what would you check exactly for mood swings like that? The catecholamines Ross mentions work in the brain and I don’t know of a meaningfull test for that.
        Urine metabolites, maybe, but still not sure how that will represent what’s happening in the brain.

  2. April

    That negative mood/attitude swing intrigues me. In our online low-carb support groups, many people who consistently eat LCHF report increasingly stable moods after a few months. I never pay much attention to the ones who report it at 3 days or 5 days, etc. as much of that is possibly psychosomatic, but when someone tells me how good they feel at 6 months, I tune in closer.

    1. Dave

      That resonates with me as well. I typically call this the Honeymoon Stage, and it applies to pretty much everything one gets into in the beginning. Confirmation bias is at its peak, which makes it hard to tell what will continue to be satisfying and exciting over the long term.

  3. Adam

    I’ve tried switching between keto and adding carbs and find that I need at least 200g carbs p/d for stable energy/moods, any less and/or low calories leads to fatigue and a low mood. I also noticed some acne returning in the usual places from certain carbs like bananas and bread but no issues with potatoes, rice or milk. I find keto is quite stable moodwise once adapted but when including enough carbs and calories I generally have a ‘brighter’ mood, with quicker reactions mentally and physically. In general fat seems to slow things down and carbs speed things up.

    1. Dave

      That’s great, Adam — I’m glad you found your “sweet spot”. I’m personally not a one-size-fits-all diet guy. While I’m certainly featured in the low carb community and I practice keto (unless an experiment takes me off it), I don’t know for sure whether it’s the “best” diet for me — I just know it appears *better* than where I came from.

      1. James Bond

        Or maybe the ‘best diet’ is variable – like going in and out of keto, seasonally.

        1. Craig

          James,

          Very good observation. I would think ‘best diet’ for long-term health is one that provides the body the hormonal signals that it has evolved to expect. You can argue about the details of what that entails, but I’m confident that contains: periods of fasting, seasonal carb exposure, seasonal carnivory, whole non-processed foods. Of course, there will be individual variation, and a diet to treat for a metabolism disregulated by a modern diet might need to be different.

          Craig

  4. George Henderson (@puddleg)

    There are two nutrients that are required in greater amounts to process carbs, where this is similar to the deficiency syndrome; iodine and thiamine.
    Not that I think that you were clinically deficient, but that the increased need for these nutrients in enzymes and hormones upregulated in response to glucose may have drawn them away from other areas; affecting, say, the glutamate-GABA axis in the case of thiamine.

    1. Dave

      Excellent thoughts as always, George. I’m considering supplementing for the follow-up experiment and if so, I might see if I can keep an eye on these two in particular.

  5. EvgeniaBB

    Your part 3 is essencially my whole life pre LCHF. I don’t want to ever go back. I had sudden changes of mood several times a day, depression falling on me all of a sudden in a matter of seconds in the middle of a happy state, for no reason at all. I was afraid of becoming crazy and often felt like needing some meds against it.
    Fortunately for my mental health I’ve got a severely overweight husband and I discovered this diet for him.
    Me personally I have BMI 20, and it probably overestimates my quantity of fat because I’m much taller than average. As a result I believe I’m a hyper-responder too, so I’ll check my cholesterol as soon as have the opportunity.
    Dave, I read about your protocol, and I got an impression that calories don’t really matter when you get these results. It might be all about glucose as well. You increased your protein with your calories, and extra protein turns into glucose. So might it be that in reality protein did what carbs usually do? Your usual diet definitely has no defecite in protein, so all extra protein you took on the big days must have turned into glucose.
    Have you tried to increase your protein intake without increasing the calories? If it still works, it might be a great solution for all hyper-responders because they could just replace carbs by something they really enjoy.

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