Diets, Intermittent Fasting, Ketogenic

Keto Level-Up: Intermittent Fasting

Another big keto buzzword (buzzphrase?) is intermittent fasting. This is where you fast for a certain number of hours in a day. Everyone already does a small fast when you eat dinner at 7pm and do not eat again until breakfast at 6am, so that would be an 11 hour intermittent fast. Many keto experts recommend intermittent fasting as a good way to heal certain underlying conditions and it seems to be a good tool for those who have plateaued. The very, very, very basic premise is no food coming in forces the body to use ketones (which it will get from body fat) and insulin spikes are reduced. Plus, the intermittent part does not give the body time to go into the dreaded starvation-mode that tanks metabolism.

I have been attracted to the idea of intermittent fasting for years. I am in education, so I get about 6 weeks off in the summer. I noticed that on weekends that I was busy or in the summer (especially while traveling), that I would forget to eat until 2pm or so.* I did not gain weight at those times like the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” crowd claimed I would.

*Unless I was bored or overly stressed because I am an emotional eater.

My conundrum came when I was working. How do I do an intermittent fast or even just eat when my body tells me I am hungry when I am at work? Here’s the thing: you all remember being mad at the unfairness of not being able to snack during class or asking permission when you needed to go to the bathroom. Guess what. It is just as frustrating for the teachers. Sure, I can probably get away with having a beverage when kids cannot, but food? No way. Heck, I cannot even ask to the bathroom when I need to. I have to wait for a passing period bell to give me permission. I wanted to try a 16 hour intermittent fast, but I was not sure how to pull it off with my job. I could not wait to eat breakfast at 10 am at my desk and I have developed a close relationship with my BPC.

Finally, after four months I found my solution: Ample K shakes. For the record, I am not being compensated in any way for this review, (but I am willing to be… ;))

I had heard about Ample K on a few podcasts and then the freaky “it just showed up on Facebook” thing occurred, too. One podcast, I had tried some real duds based on their recommendation, so I look at them as ones who will shill anything… but the discount codes can come in handy, so their recommendation did not send me running to order. Then, I heard it recommended on a much more selective podcast, so I decided to give it a shot.

 

Thank goodness for those discount codes, because this is not a cheap product. I am hoping it will catch on enough that they can mass produce it and the prices can drop or maybe they will make a tub so you measure it out instead of bottling each serving in its own bottle.

I tried with tempered hopes, but I really liked it! It is a powder in a bottle that you add water or a nut milk to, shake, and drink. I drink it with Unsweetened Vanilla Macadamia Milk. I swear it tastes like cake batter, which satisfies my sweet tooth without sending me down a spiral of craving real cake.  Perfect! You can even add cold brew or instant crystals to make it a coffee drink. I have never seen a hot version recommended. My guess is one of the benefits of Ample K is its probiotics and many probiotics cannot handle heat or maybe the plastic bottle it comes in is the problem. I have not seen an explanation, so I am merely speculating.  I did try it with water a week in and it was fine, but my palette’s tolerance for this version has been ruined since I started out with the good stuff.

t9u4Z47jQFmSZxpK1D%u1Q

So now I had a satisfying beverage that could be coffee-fied as needed. For the last two weeks during workdays I have been skipping breakfast and my BPC and waiting until around 10am to have a shake. Then I eat lunch, have my BPC right when I get home,  and eat dinner before 6pm to create a 16 hour intermittent fast. The early dinner does not bother me. I have always been on the Senior Citizen Early Birds Special schedule for dinner, plus snacking is one fo the few bad food habits I never developed. I may need to consider switching to decaf for the later BPC, but I have always had trouble sleeping so I cannot say for sure caffeine is my current problem.

The verdict: hopeful.

I have been losing and gaining the same three pounds all year, but I have gone down five pounds so far in two weeks with none of the regular upswings.

Sorry I cannot tell you it has been the miracle cure and I dropped 20 pounds the first week (I hate those stories,) but the scale is finally going down consistently and I was confronted twice with the scenario that I normally “cheat” and I was fine.

It feels like I have turned a major corner.

Advertisements
Recipes

Keto “Brown Sugar” Bacon-Wrapped Sausage Appetizers

Probably just about all of us have a pre-keto go-to dish we like to make for carry-ins (aka pitch-ins, potlucks, etc..)  My go-to was an appetizer that involved wrapping Lil’ Smokies in half a slice of bacon, then covering them all in brown sugar, baking, and moving them to a crockpot to keep them warm. They were perfect because they work well for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. They were easy and a surefire crowd-pleaser.   Obviously, this was not going to work in the keto WOE.  Luckily, this was one of the easier recipes to keto-ize!

I have a large extended family and I often take this to breakfasts serving a 30+ person choir and symphony. So the following recipe is for a large group. However, leftovers reheat well and can be used to make a yummy omelet the next morning.

pbsioepwsqwbksrsdw24jw.jpg

What I love about this recipe is that it is crazy simple. You will need breakfast sausage links in about 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces, bacon, a brown sugar substitute (I use Sukrin Gold, so I know this brand works and it is 1:1 so I did not have to adjust my old recipe), and toothpicks.

Probably the hardest part of this recipe is finding keto-friendly breakfast sausage in the store. Honestly, since I am on a budget and this often is a large amount of food for a large amount of non-keto people, I often have to go with “close enough.” Sugar is involved in the curing process, so it will be nearly impossible to find sausage without it, but a little cane sugar is better than high fructose corn syrup. So that is what I aim for. If you look at the carbs in the finished product, you will find most of the sugar goes away in the curing process. If following a budget is not a big concern or you are cooking for a smaller group, then find a local source of meat. They will be less likely to go the chemical route in their curing process (i.e. dextrose, corn syrup, etc.)

This recipe is one of the few times I prefer packaged bacon over butcher counter bacon.XWOoAszNQw6CD7Ps17o3yA For one, budget again, but more importantly the packaged bacon is sliced thinner than most butcher counters make theirs.  This thinner slice is just easier to wrap around the sausage.  I use kitchen scissors to cut the bacon in half. Once I have my bacon and sausage, then I grab some toothpicks and set-up my assembly line.

Before you start wrapping, you will need a metal shallow baking pan. The bacon and sausages will release liquid. The rest is super simple. Just wrap a h4vJbBvB1SqmUknPD8zyjTQalf-slice of bacon around a sausage and secure it with a toothpick. Put the sausage in the pan. I usually do open side up, so it can really let the melting “brown sugar” seep in. This is one of those things that just sounds like it makes a difference, but I have not done taste tests or double blind studies to determine if it makes any difference. I do arrange them in an orderly fashion so that they cook evenly and I can get all the baking done in one go. Less time and fewer dishes to clean are always a good thing.

Once all of your sausages are wrapped, then generously sprinkle the “brown sugar” over the top of all the sausages.  Once that is done, they are ready to pop in the oven.  Bonus: your house will smell amazing!

JJKBeYvgRHWDeP1zda0gDg

Once they are done, I throw them in a crockpot or Instant Pot. Pour the liquid in the baking dish over the sausages in the pot. These are great for making ahead and then warming back up when they are ready to be served. I have had good luck with doing the Steam option on the Instant Pot for about 5-7 minutes and then setting it to Slow Cooker once they are heated up. Sometimes, especially if I am making these for a breakfast or brunch event, then I will put in a maple syrup substitute to give it more of a “breakfast” taste before I start reheating them.

The final step is enjoy this divine treat and all the compliments you will get!

Recipe: Keto “Brown Sugar” Bacon-Wrapped Sausage Appetizers

Ingredients:

  • 3 packages of smoked, uncured bacon
  • 2 packages of little smoked sausages or 2 packages of breakfast sausage links cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup brown sugar substitute (if your brand of choice is a 1:1 ratio with brown sugar)
  • toothpicks
  • Optional: 1/2 cup maple syrup substitute

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut the bacon slices in half. Wrap each  sausage piece with the bacon and secure it with a toothpick. As you wrap the sausages, arrange them neatly in a metal shallow baking pan. Once all the sausages are wrapped, cover all with a generous sprinkling of the brown sugar substitute.

Bake for 30 minutes. Transfer to a crockpot or Instant Pot. Pour the liquid released during the baking process into the pot. This allows for ease in making ahead and reheating.

Optional: add the maple syrup substitute and toss before reheating.

Diets

Non-Scale Victory

Keto is something that if you get into more than just superficially you hear the mantra, “This isn’t a diet, it’s a ‘Way of Living’.”  Many people will refer to keto as a WOE (way of eating) to avoid using the word diet.  It is a big mind shift for most of us. A diet is something we enter with an end in mind. A goal weight usually. Of course, if you reach the goal weight, for most of us it comes back. Keto however, is not just a way to loss weight, it is presented as a way to heal the body of a lifetime of sugar/carb damage. For many of us, the damage is extensive enough that keto needs time to heal other things before weight loss can occur.  Unfortunately, for me, I am one of those people.

This means I am one of those people who has to stay motivated with non-scale victories while I wait for my body to get around to the weight loss part. So far, my blood pressure has gone down, my cholesterol’s HDL/LDL ratio is great, my triglycerides are on point, and my resting blood sugar has gone under 100. Great victories. Important victories. But…

I don’t consider myself I particularly vain person, but I really want some scale victories.  Not yet, but I did get one that was a nice ego boost. A victory I can finally see. A victory that is not just numbers I do not understand. A victory that does not involve bleeding!

Are you ready for this?

I found, not one, but two swimming suits I like!

Not two that were good enough, not two that will do, two that I liked how they look on me! Two that I had to make a hard choice on which one to keep.  I have rarely been able to manage to find one. Two is just unbelievable.

It was an amazing feeling and a non-scale victory that feels like a victory!

Diets

Some People Have to Learn the Hard Way

Dear readers, I have not forgotten you. I have not abandoned the Keto WOE. I have just been living a country song the last few weeks and something had to give and that something was keeping up with the blog.

But. also like a country song, I have to admit that I cheated.

Now, don’t get carried away and think I had a weeks long affair with carbs, it was only a weekend fling.

Here’s what happened. I have been experiencing stress on top of stress on top of stress. My normal schedule is a full-time job plus a 20 hour a week part-time job. This week I also had three evenings of 1 ½-2 hour long meetings and a third side gig that lasted Friday 4pm-11pm and all of Saturday. Meals were provided for the third job and after the week I had had, I did not have the time or fortitude to provide my own food (plus, it was a sporting event at an arena and they are hardcore about no outside food.) I was exhausted from the week, so giving fasting a try was out. I thought I would just do the best I could with what was provided.

What was provided was carbs covered in carbs, with a helping of carbs, and a side of carbs with carbs to drink and of course carbs for dessert. Some meals I tried to stay on plan harder than others, like I had the teriyaki chicken and the pulled pork without buns, but they were covered in sugary sauces. Another meal was spaghetti and breadsticks, and I did not resist the siren call of garlicky breadsticks.  I never partook of the mixing bowl full of M&M’s, but a peppermint patty was consumed.  It was a weekend of temptations and I had many defeats.

That was a few days ago and my body is still punishing me for it.

One of the ways I have dealt with keto is by keeping in the back of my mind that I can have some cheat days. I am not talking about once a week like some diets, I was considering more along the lines of my birthday, Easter, and Christmas, then maybe when I have Girls Weekend with my two besties (but that’s more of an alcohol cheat.) I found it easier not to feel deprived if I was not approaching this as giving up pizza and dessert FOREVER. Forever is just too big of a word.

So, I took an unexpected cheat weekend and… IT SUCKED.

My belly felt like I had filled it with cement all weekend. It was just heavy and bloated, and that feeling is still making its way through my digestive tract and that is as much detail as you want to know.

I hear this differs with people, but keto was helping my sleep and this weekend that was out the window. I am having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep again. I am sure this lack of sleep is not helping my stress levels or my chances of getting back into ketosis anytime soon. My energy level is non-existent and even BPC cannot help!

The best I can say is that it has been a learning experience. One of those learned the hard way learning experiences. Like any fling, it was fun at the time, but has only left me with regrets and a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

 

Uncategorized

A Mystery is Afoot…Too Bad I Don’t Like Mysteries

I am a reader. My favorite term for the kind of reader I am is Book Slut.  I will read almost anything. Reading has shaped my life and career, but the genre that never did it for me is mystery and I find myself in the middle of one.

I have been doing strict keto for over three weeks now and the scale has not moved, the inches have stayed put, and the clothes still fit the same.  So the mystery is what else is going on?

My list of suspects is long. Food sensitivities? Leaky gut? Insulin resistance? Eating too much? Eating too little? Exercising too much? (OK, I can safely eliminate that one.) Stress?  Too much protein? Some of these? All of these? Something else entirely?

My top suspect is stress. I work two jobs which comes to a minimum of 60 hours a week. I work two jobs because of a major home repair that could not wait and has caused a huge financial strain. My beloved dog is sick and the vet cannot figure it out, so I am worried about her and spent money I already did not have on multiple vet bills. So, my stress is caused by things out of my control and cannot be scaled back, so how do I reduce it?  Seriously. How?  This is not a rhetorical question.  Even with all this stress, I suspect it has a partner in my weight loss woes.  But what could it be?

My first step is I suppose I should find a naturopath or functional medicine doctor.  I have a very traditional doctor. She once told me I would just be on Aleve the rest of my life for an elbow injury.  Instead I went to a chiropractor and he set me straight medication-free.  I am a very logical person, so I have had a few things make it difficult for me when I have made tentative attempts to find one.  First off, I live in the Midwest in a deep Red state. This is not exactly a hub of holistic healing.  Vegetarians are rare, vegans are non-existent. I have never heard anyone around here talk about paleo and definitely not keto. Jimmy Moore has a list of keto friendly doctors (currently under reconstruction) and the closest on his list was two hours away.

My few attempts at Googling have netted sparse pickins’. I am not New Age-y at all. I am practical and logical, which is why keto appeals to me.  I have always thought nutrition was the key to good health (I’m not saying I never ignored this obvious revelation, but I intuitively understood eat well, feel well.) So the nutrition focus of the few naturopaths or functional medicine doctor websites I have found is a plus. My concerns were more about they usually had either a vegetarian/vegan only path sprinkled with healing crystals and moonbeams or were all supplements, supplements, supplements that conveniently can only be purchased at that office.

So with the moonbeams and crystal crowd, I am just not confident I can get them aboard the keto train and the whole point of going to them is to have nutritional support. Plus, I don’t think it would be good for my eye health if I am rolling them the whole time I am there.

Now I have nothing against supplements…in moderation. I think they are fine and I take some. I take fish oil because I do not like seafood in general. (I literally had corn/soybean fields on every side of my house growing up, so seafood was not a taste I developed.) I take vitamin D because I just don’t get enough sun. I take those because I will not get those nutrients from food. Another reason I was attracted to keto was its emphasis on real, whole foods. It appeals to the scientific argument that resonated with me that eating this way was how we evolved to where we are today. So the idea of going to a doctor whose main goal seems to be pushing his product line isn’t doing it for me. If I wanted to fix my problems by popping pills, then I could stick with eating pizza and ice cream and get a box of prescriptions from a traditional doctor.

Then, of course, is the question of health insurance. I have pretty decent insurance, so I want to be able to use it. Not taking insurance or possibly even being eligible is also a problem I ran into as I peeked at the possibility of finding a holistic practitioner.

So I have my mystery and an idea of who I need to find to help me, but I am going to have to make a deep dive to find one.

On the bright side, I guess this means I will have plenty of topics to write about for a while.

Ugh. #TerribleSilverLinings

Recipes

Avocados All Day

IMG_1151Avocados are another one of the Holy Grails of Keto. They are a great source of healthy fats.  Plus, they are fairly versatile. Many keto gurus will even talk about eating one to two daily.  That’s a lot of avocados.

I have not fully explored the avocado possibilities, but I do have a couple of favorites.

Well, since breakfast is my jam and it is the first meal of the day, let’s start there.  I started off with a recipe I found. Basically, you would halve an avocado and scoop out a little bit. Beat an egg with some broth or water and add salt/pepper to taste. Here is the tricky part: getting the avocado to set level on a baking sheet.  The recipe suggested cutting a little off the bottom so the avocado does not roll. I kept squishing it too much, so I tried putting them in a jumbo silicon muffin cup. When I would try to pour half the egg into each of the avocado halves, I found the egg really likes to stay together so I would always end up with half the egg in the bottom of the muffin cup (if I was lucky.) Then I would add some shredded cheese and broken up cooked bacon and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.  It looks and tastes great, but a lot of egg went to waste with spills, plus the egg that stays in the bottom of the cup just tastes weird.

I had to make some modifications.  So now I do it more as a casserole type bake.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray a small baking dish (the one I use is 4×6 glass dish.)

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of broth (dealer’s choice)
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • avocado
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices of cooked bacon chopped up

Beat together the eggs, broth, and salt/pepper. Use a spoon to scoop out the avocado in chunks into the dish.  Pour in the egg mixture, cheese, and bacon.  Stir to spread the ingredients evenly in the dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Serves two and it reheats nicely. Mix up the dish by trying different cheeses or sub ham or sausage.

IMG_0042One additional thing this recipe taught me was a great avocado trick. If you have an avocado that needs ripening, then halve and bake it for a little bit until it is your desired softness. I only wished I would have known this before the guacamole debacle of 2017.  The horror was unspeakable.

Speaking of guacamole, I have found a really good, and more importantly, easy recipe. Guacamole is great alone or as a condiment to add flavor and healthy fats to all sorts of foods.  It’s kind of miraculous. You will need:

  • 2 avocodos
  • 3 tbsp. lime olive oil (okay, I know this might be hard to find, but it is so worth it. This adds a level of creaminess that is transcendent.)
  • small tomato chopped (or five-ish cherry or grape)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

Super simple. Just scoop the avocados out with a spoon into a bowl. Smash it up with a fork. Add the olive oil and stir in the rest of the ingredients.  See, simple.

Chips are a keto no-no, so I like to use cheddar Whisps as my vehicle of guac transport to my mouth. Yum.

Uncategorized

Blame It On Keto

I am trying to keep a schedule for this blog, but I failed to publish on Sunday because I was sick.  I had the flu. Regular flu, not keto flu. Just your run of the mill flu.

This made me think of something I have noticed in the keto world: there are two groups of keto followers. There are the keto-ers who think keto is a miracle on a plate that will fix every ailment and problem. Diabetic? Try keto. Cancer? Try keto. Marriage on the rocks? Try keto. Dog got fleas? Try keto.

Maybe we will talk about that group another time. Today, I want to talk about the other type of keto-er. The ones who blame keto for EVERYTHING. What do I mean? I am referring to the perennial Facebook post or podcast question where the questioner relates a random illness or symptom and asks, “is this because I am eating keto?”

Now, I understand that keto can have some unexpected side effects like keto flu, keto breath, or hair loss; but some things have nothing to do with keto. For example, every feeling of illness is not the keto flu, sometimes it’s just a cold. Ask yourself: is everyone around you also coughing, sneezing, or blowing their noses? If so, you probably don’t have a new strain of contagious keto flu.  Have a scratch? Ask yourself, “do I have a cat or do I really think ketones are sharp and poke me from the inside?”

I see these types of posts attributing everything to keto so much that when I noticed my curly hair was not looking so curly, my first thought was, “is keto straightening my hair?” No, it was the super dry cold weather. Like it is every winter. I needed conditioner, not carbs.

Carbs is what it comes down to. Many of the posts I see trying to pin anything and everything negative happening to that person also will contain the phrase, “should I increase my carbs?”  There it is.  That’s the real question.

I am no expert, but if you are experiencing a new ailment first think, “does this look like any other cold/allergy symptoms I have had a million other times?” Next, “do I really think this is a keto problem or a craving problem?” Be honest with yourself. Then do some research and see if it is a keto side effect.

Whether you find it or not, it ultimately comes down to we are all unique individuals with unique needs, so you probably need to do experiments on yourself and determine your carb-tolerance. What amount of carbs keep you feeling tip top and in ketosis?

You.

Not me.

Not whomever turned you on to keto.

Not your favorite expert.

That is the blessing and the curse of keto. We are all different and have different needs, so you have to play around to find what works best for you. Keto is not a set formula, so it initially can take a lot of work to find your winning keto combination.

I wish it were easier than that, but this ain’t no calorie in, calorie out oversimplification.

Good luck and keep washing your hands. It’s (non-keto) flu season.