Saturday, May 8, 2010

Conquering Cortisol

I have been incorporating some 24hr+ fasts into my week, to see if I can get the scales and bulges shifting in a more pleasing, and frankly deserved, direction. What with all the stress of opening night being just 10 days away, the last thing my strained nervous system needed was the struggle to fit into certain clothing items, and the scale showing yet another increase. I have only been eating primal foods, and I have been ensuring my weekly caloric intake average has not exceeded my activity levels. Yet, the increases continued. At first I blamed the basic cortisol issue of stressful times, and then I considered the role of sleep in the equation.

Then something interesting happened.

I became aware that on days where I tried fasting from dinner to dinner, I wouldn't experience keto-breath at all (this isn't noticeable by others, at least in my case, but is instead just a taste in my mouth). Intrigued, I tested myself with a keto-strip, and for the first time since going low-carb, there wasn't the slightest trace of ketones detected. In the past, fasting has still left me in ketosis, wasting the excess, even during caloric deficit.

On days where I ate breakfast, I would experience keto-breath around lunchtime, and it would persist until dinner time. The keto-sticks proved that I was wasting excess ketones, and in the morning, the scales would be showing a downward trend. This would occur even if I was consuming the same amount of, or even more, calories between the two meals as I was in the one on fasting days.

Conclusion? That with the cortisol-inducing stressors I'm currently up against, my body can't take another one - namely, intermittent fasting.

So until the play is over, it's breakfast and dinner every day for me, and whilst I'll still make sure not to exceed my average activity level (as determined by my time wearing the GoWear Fit) in caloric intake, I won't be pushing myself to create big caloric deficits. I also won't be getting on the scale until the show is well and truly over.

So here's a look at the meals of this week - I've been having fun with seafood of late, discovering that pretty much every seafood is delicious when sautéed in coconut oil or ghee! I'm trying to back off on my sodium intake at the moment, getting most of it from the smoked salmon that has been a frequent participant in my meal preparation, and a bit of salted organic butter.

Smoked salmon & egg smash!

Lamb chops, mmm!

Smoked salmon & egg smash - part deux!

Roasted chicken drumsticks, coated in coconut oil and herbs.

The killer breakfast - a lamb chop with a hefty side of bacon.

A new culinary feast for me - octopus tentacles! Decided to keep it simple - take a tentacle, chuck it in a hot frying pan with heated coconut oil, and sauté until cooked through. Surprisingly delicious all on its own!

And again, since it's utterly delicious!

Back to an old favourite - salmon sashimi.

Lamb chop and smoked salmon & egg smash, together at last!

Oh, what, more salmon sashimi? Heck yeah!

Chicken drumsticks, coated and roasted in coconut oil, to juicy perfection!

They went so well together, a reprise was demanded - lamb chop, and smoked salmon and egg smash!

Peeled prawns, sautéed in ghee and garlic. Mmmm!

And finally, tonight's dinner: scotch fillet beef steak, with prawns and sliced fennel sautéed in garlic and ghee.


Sara said...

Jezwyn-- Sorry to hear that you are having increases. That happens to me too when I IF--made doubly miserable by the fact that my husband seems to drop pounds effortlessly while IFing. Grrr. Your menus look lovely--especially the octopus--YUM! Thanks for sharing!

Ned Kock said...

Actually it is more likely that you'll get into ketosis by being on a high-fat diet than by fasting.

This post has a table showing blood ketone concentrations under different conditions:

Certain anabolic hormones, which are higher in men than in women (e.g., growth hormone, testosterone) during fasting and heavy exercise, tend to promote the mobilization of free fatty acids and thus production of ketones by the liver. This may be one of the reasons why men seem to achieve ketosis more easily than women, under certain circumstances.

Jezwyn said...

Glad I'm not alone, Sara. I never had any problems before, fasting or not, so since the DepTran incident it seems like nothing works :(

Ned - uh, yeah. :) I've been in ketosis for most of the past 17 months, and the only times I've found myself out of it was when I let myself have fruit or alcohol (i.e. Christmas). Fasting usually doesn't affect things either way for me, but now it seems to have a direct effect.

anne h said...

I've been on LowCarb for 14 months...
When I drink an LC energy drink I go right out of ketosis....must be the reason Atkins says no caffeine during Induction....maybe cortisol....
Never had octopus but you make ti look pretty!

TrailGrrl said...

It's hard to say. Sometimes if I don't eat until 2 or 3pm for lunch and then dinner I feel lean. Other days I feel lean after eating a ton of food the day before as 3 meals.

One thing I've noticed, and I don't know how carb-sensitive you are, is sometimes if I eat a lot more carbs than I normally do (e.g., a party, lunch out with co-workers, etc.), the next day I seem to be lighter. Maybe a bit of a break every now and then is beneficial.

My IF'ing basically consists of I don't eat until I'm hungry. I don't consciously try to IF for a certain period of time. Some days I am hungry at 11:30am and other days I don't feel it until 2 or so. I used to not be able to function unless I had breakfast first thing but then again I was eating crap and not much fat.

Do you think monitoring your calories could be the problem? Maybe in fact you are not eating enough some days.

There are a lot of variables and everyone responds differently.


Jezwyn said...

Hi Anne,

I don't consume processed food of drinks, so I haven't explored the effects of artificial sweeteners and other chemicals. I know that caffeine can cause fat loss to stall for some people, but it's also tough on the liver, which is why I avoid it.

TrailGrrrl - I don't come to conclusions quickly :) I do lots of experimentation before I assume I know what's going on. I've tried fasting and feasting (no cal restriction), alternate day fasting (eating 1/4 normal kcal every second day), and everything in between, and the same goes for non-fasting weeks. I lose well if I'm simply restricting calories but am eating twice or more per day (but it's hard to keep cals down that way), I don't gain if I'm just eating to satiety, and yet if fasting is in the mix, I gain in both scenarios.

I eat when I'm hungry too, but since the DepTran interference, I'm ALWAYS hungry. I can't reach satiety even if I down a slab of butter. So that's additionally stressful, which is why fasting helps avoid that particular struggle. It looks like the only way I'll know if I'm eating enough is to stay aware of calories and macros.

There certainly are many variables (and that's my motto, expounded frequently here) and that's why I'm pointing out that IF may not be for everyone at all times. It's certainly not for me in this high-stress situation. From the responses I've had on Twitter, I know I'm not alone.

Anonymous said...

i tried ALL the possible ways of fasting, and -to me - doing just one meal per day ( usually at 6, 9, or 10PM) works remarkably well. give it a try.

Today i ate 5 egg yolks -scrambled- with cream, cheese, and wild salmon all chopped and fried in butter. desert? 2 large glasses of ice cold milk ( 1 with cream) + a bit of raw cacao powder and regular Nesquik mixed. finally 65 grams of 70% dark chocolate (no 85% where i live...)

i been eating like this for 2 weeks now, i feel no hunger amd my weight is stable ( stats 175cm, 64 kilos, + bit of muscle here and there)

Anonymous said...

btw, this means that i regularly fast 22 hrs ( sometimes more) each day. but its ridiculously easy and dsnt feel like a fast at all, i think it has to do with all the milk / eggs/ cream/ chocolate combo. hail Petro and Kurt, my saviors!

Jezwyn said...

Hi Anon. Eating once per day is what has screwed up my already-high cortisol levels so that I'm accumulating fat at the detriment of my lean mass. (Wasn't that clear in my post? "Dinner to dinner" means eating only dinner...)

Sounds like you're pretty much doing the Drs. Eades' Six-Week Cure except with your own version of the shakes, and on the Warrior Diet. Nice layering, if it works for you. That much dairy and sugar would totally screw me up. Lucky you, with your insulin sensitivity and functioning leptin. I hope I can get there one day.

Anonymous said...

ups, sorry, i didn't get that part , my English isnt very good btw >< yeah, my sugar consumption is kinda fked, but trust me it used to be bad, like tons of chocolate, soda, icecream, cookies bad. still, thats something i have to fix pronto, -dont really know how- i dont even like milk that much, ( is more like a sugar and fat,vehicle) but i have to up the fat content - cream- and coffee is not my thing. regarding insulin, try to exercise 2 / 3 times a week
( my cheap home workout : day 1 chins with a pull up bar, day 2 pushups with a backpack full of water, day 3 squats with a set of dumbbells)

one thing that i noticed is that fat ( bacon, sausages, pork chops,) dsnt fill me as much as protein. im always hungry on fat. also im eating more blue fish (copied that one from you) + the egg fest and luckily im hitting "satiety sweet spot" with higer consistency.

Jezwyn said...

No problem, Anon. :) Have you tried coconut milk, or almond milk? That might help you cut down on the sugars. I definitely know what you mean about progress being huge even if some traits linger - I was a sugar junkie too, especially when it came to dairy!

That workout looks great. Exercise doesn't do it for me, since my blood sugar is already really stable, so exercise doesn't have the same effect (there's little to bring down). I'm also cursed with poly-cystic ovaries (not PCOS though) so insulin resistance is pretty much always going to be part of my life.

I've been eating more protein too, since that way you end up consuming more 'food volume' for your calories, which can give you temporary fullness. Only fat gives me actual satiety though - at least, it did in the past. I'm tempted to add veggies back into my diet just for that volume. It's that or monitor calories super-closely so I can intellectually acknowledge when I've eaten enough! Ridiculous... :( I'd rather just fast!

cpayne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christian said...

You said you ALWAYS hungry, have you tried protein bars?

I had a similar problem to you, but I found realised I was eating too much in the evening.

I found that if I had a protein bar or similar (small snack, low carbs) around 4pm, then dinner at a normal time, by about 10am the next day, the dry mouth kicks in something shocking!

Good luck with it!

Jezwyn said...

I don't eat processed garbage, Christian. And weirdly, I'm not hungry while I'm fasting, but once I eat something, my desire to eat kicks in incredibly! It's not a hypoglycaemia thing though, it's just a grumbly-belly kind of hunger. So weird! If it were psychological desire for food, there wouldn't be the gut sensation, and if it were blood glucose weirdness, I'd feel it through fatigue, etc. I usually shut my gut up with tea :)

Paleo Grrrl said...

Hi Jezwyn!

Sorry to here about your gains...nothing worse when you've been working hard and been good!

I just wanted to introduce you are the inspiration behind my new blog and foray into the online paleo community!

I am a paleo aussie girl like yourself, with a partner who I've just converted to paleo and I'm also studying to be a teacher...needless to say when I stumbled upon your blog I was estatic to find someone so similar to me! (I live in feeling the distinct lack of a paleo community over here!)

Anyways, I look forward to future posts from you...and please check out my blog in the future (there isn't much to see right now!) and give me some advice as a paleo guru!

Take care and be happy :)