science

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Freestyle Libre Continuous* Glucose Monitor

To start, let me preface this with: I do not have Diabetes, either type 1 or 2. I did have “metabolic syndrome” before I started Keto 3 years ago but my glucose levels were always fine. I didn’t ever get my fasting insulin tested back then but I can only assume I was on the way to becoming a type 2 with higher than optimal insulin levels.

Anyhow…

Some months ago, there was a thread on a local Utah keto group that caught my interest. A lady was talking about how cool it is that her “Helo LX” watch claims to have support for measuring glucose “coming soon” (as of this writing, it’s been coming soon for a year and there’s no indication it will ever come since it’s not possible to do). That got me started down a bit of a rabbit hole. Another user on the group mentioned he had an actual CGM that was relatively cheap. I’m a bit obsessed with instrumentation so I asked what his setup was. Turns out he was using a new type of glucose monitor that can be adapted to serve as a “continuous” glucose monitor for about $75 a month, with or without insurance.

It may be helpful to check out Nerdabetic’s video playlist about the Freestyle Libre to get you introduced to all this craziness. Done? OK let’s go!

Abbott (the manufacturer of the Freestyle Libre) has a program in place that gives a $35 discount (the same you get with insurance) for people without insurance and it is possible to get Group #, BIN, and Member ID# codes that can be used as secondary insurance on top of your insurance (or get a free prescription discount card from www.Familywize.org or similar). The default price for a 3 pack of sensors is $110. Insurance brings that down to $75, though there are apparently ways to get that down even lower (top comment). If you happen to already have a Dexcom, Abbott will give you the libre reader and sensors for free.

*The Freestyle Libre differs from true continuous monitors (and likely circumvents a bunch of patents) by making you tap a reader device to the sensor in order to gather data via NFC, It’s a bit like paying using your phone. You tap and get the last 8 hours of readings. The official Libre reader device costs another $100 or so  and for my usage is only useful for starting up the sensors. Here in the U.S. There are some interesting limitations to the Libre sensors (that only apply if you use the official reader):

  1. After starting a sensor, it won’t give you data for 12 hours. Abbott recommends starting a new sensor before the old one expires…
  2. In the U.S. sensors only work for 10 days. Everywhere else they work for 14 days, meaning you can go for 4 weeks on 2 sensors instead of 3 sensors. If you use a 3rd party app, it’ll also work for 14 days.

There are several phone apps (mostly Android) that can talk directly to the NFC tag on the Libre sensor, making the official hardware reader almost unnecessary. You can initialize the sensor using an Android app called “Glimp S” – but the NFC hardware in my Pixel device has weirdness so I just use the Libre reader for that one thing. I don’t know if there are any iOS apps that can start a sensor, I’m guessing not without additional hardware.

Here’s what I did:

  1. First I had to convince a doctor to write a prescription for one. In the United States, they’re only available with a prescription. I made an appointment with my doctor, and when I told him I wanted one he was a bit baffled as to why I wanted one. I didn’t want to get into my history of n=1 experiments but he thankfully decided to go for it. Ultimately my history (pre-keto) of having “metabolic syndrome” was sufficient for the script for the Freestyle Libre.
  2. I started using Glimp and direct NFC but I had to reboot my phone every time I wanted to get data off the Libre.
  3. I ordered a Blucon Nightrider that takes the NFC data and sends it over BlueTooth every 5 minutes. It’s apparently compatible with both Android and iOS devices. Soon there will be similar devices like the T-mini (Poland) and MiaoMiao (China).
  4. I’m using xDrip+ to pull data from the Blucon > Libre. iOS users should check out Spike.
  5. I ordered an arm-band holder for the Blucon so I could keep it in place during the day
  6. When you start up a sensor and are using xDrip or one of the other apps, you have to add some blood glucose calibration points. I use my trusty KetoMojo for that. As time goes on, it’s a good idea to add new ones every few days. Below are some examples of: sensor is a few days old, shows 48 blood glucose. I added a calibration point and it shifted the readings up to 89. A few hours later I added another one and it was already right-on at 92.

So now we come back to my doctor’s question of why I’m doing this. Well, #1 it’s interesting to see how my blood glucose reacts to food and activity. For the most part my readings are really stable because I stay pretty strict with eating keto. #2 reason is that I’m planning on incorporating the data into future n=1 experiments. Should you get one yourself if you’re not diabetic? Probably not, unless you’re crazy like me.

By |2018-07-03T16:04:39+00:00July 3rd, 2018|Categories: Ketogenic|Tags: , |2 Comments

KetoFest 2018 – Coming up this July in Connecticut

Richard and Carl of the “2 Keto Dudes” Podcast hosted a really great keto conference last year (which we attended) nearby Carl’s home in New London, Connecticut. They’re planning on doing it again this year on July 20-22 – but it will only happen if enough people sign up for the Kickstarter to make it happen. They’re at 66% of their goal with 11 days left.

If you are near that area and want to attend (or you’re like us and are planning on attending, despite living on the other side of the country) please check out their campaign. There are only 15 of the “VIP Party” slots left – we missed out on that last year; we’re stoked to be going this time.

We’re also going to be at KetoCon in Austin, Texas – June 15-17 if that’s close to home for you.

By |2018-03-20T10:04:36+00:00March 20th, 2018|Categories: Ketogenic|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Chris on the FanPress podcast – the history of Keto Chow, nutrition, and more

This entry is part 197 of 203 in the series Ketogenic Diet

This podcast was recorded a while ago (January 28, 2018 to be specific), took Steve a while to get it posted – probably because it went kinda REALLY long. I have to say: this is by far one of my favorite podcast interviews so far. Steve let me (over) indulge myself and give a rather complete history of Keto Chow and my journey thus far. It was also nice to be talking to someone who really likes what I’m doing. I just checked my email and I have one from him way back from May 2015! This one will be tough to beat. It goes on rather long at nearly an hour and a half but if you’re up for it, I recommend checking it out!

http://fanpress.co/show3/

Keto Chow at the Low Carb Breckenridge 2018 Conference

This entry is part 193 of 203 in the series Ketogenic Diet

We returned yesterday from the Low Carb Breckenridge. It was really an awesome time. We met a lot of great people, hung out at the “cool kids” party house, ate some yummy fat (along with a little protein =) – I consider it a rousing success and I still haven’t even gone through the stack of annotated business cards to follow up with people yet! Photo Gallery:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/tvZBAtxJoqfjR8qH3

I had a chance to do a “5 Minutes of Fame” quick presentation about my most recent experiment – ended up at 2:47 which left extra time for Siobhan Huggins to go 6:57 =)

Clinging with all their might

This entry is part 192 of 203 in the series Ketogenic Diet

OK, so I recently did an experiment where I consumed the same 2000 kCal a day for 6 weeks. I was messing around with the source of the bulk of those calories, mostly using different fats but the final week I substituted out all of the saturated fat I ate the week prior, and instead ate candy. Remember – still the same 2000 calories. I had been losing weight pretty consistently the 5 weeks I was living on fat. I gained weight the week I was eating the same 2000 calories from carbohydrates. It’s all documented ad nauseum on the experiment page, with data, graphs, DEXA scans, and more. I posted about it on reddit and have gotten some rather interesting comments from people who insist that the type of calorie is irrelevant and the only cause for weight gain is eating too many calories and not exercising enough. I’m rather forthcoming with my views on the subject (I think sugar is fattening and fat is not).

Today I got the best one yet. I said:

It’s like saying “Bill Gates is rich because he saves more money than he spends” or “The room is crowded because more people entered than left”. Sounds rather silly right? That’s because it’s the EFFECT and not the CAUSE.

To which they replied:

Bill gates isn’t rich because he saves more money than he spends. He’s rich because he takes in more money than he spends… which sounds an awful lot like calories in calories out.

Wait…. what? I’ve never had anybody actually think that “he makes money” is the CAUSE and REASON Bill is rich (as opposed to his ruthless business acumen and the lucky break he got with licensing QDOS, among other things) but if that’s what someone wants to believe, that’s what they want to believe.

By |2018-02-26T15:37:14+00:00February 26th, 2018|Categories: Keto Chow|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Results and conclusions from 6 week fat experiment (42 days of Keto Chow)

This entry is part 44 of 44 in the series 42 days of Keto Chow Experiment

I have my analysis done on the data from my 6-week experiment doing Keto Chow for all my meals and swapping out different types of fats to see how they impact my lipid panels. It’s all chronicled over on the page about the experiment, along with an extensive array of graphs and other fun stuff.

I also proved that at least in me: eating 2000 calories a day of mostly fat with some protein I’ll lose weight. Switch that to 2000 calories of mostly carbohydrates with a little fat and the same amount of protein (and again, the same 2000 calories), I will gain weight.

Fun stuff!

42 Days of Keto Chow – Day 42, done done done.

This entry is part 42 of 44 in the series 42 days of Keto Chow Experiment

Final day. Honestly could have gone longer if it wasn’t for the stupid sugar this week, the rather bad tasting Macadamia nut oil, or the gastrointestinal duress of liquid coconut oil. I’m looking forward to going back to my preferred heavy cream and avocado oil mixture. These last 2 days I have had diarrhea, it might be from the sugar – or it could be that the stomach flu is making the rounds among my kids and if I’ve managed to NOT contract it, that would be a miracle (ever tried to convince a sick kid to clean up their own throwup? Isn’t happening, buddy).

I started adding the blood tests, graphs, and other assorted data to the page about this experiment. It’s looking pretty good so far!

I got the costs for Keto Chow 2.1 this morning and I’ve been having lots of fun with spreadsheets all morning. The short version is: prices on current flavors will be the same, the new flavors are slightly more expensive to make so those will be a bit more… except the “Natural Strawberry” that’s sweetened with monk fruit instead of sucralose. That one is significantly more expensive to make and will likely be priced at or above the price of the peanut butter.

By |2018-02-15T11:22:47+00:00February 15th, 2018|Categories: 42 days of Keto Chow Experiment|Tags: , , |1 Comment

42 Days of Keto Chow – Day 41, blood tests back

This entry is part 41 of 44 in the series 42 days of Keto Chow Experiment

I was watching a video by Dave Feldman (where he had to keep pausing to eat skittles, it was great) and he talked about fructose malabsorption causing him digestive issues. I don’t think I have that problem which is why I haven’t had really bad problems during this phase. Again it seems that I dodged another bullet for which I’m grateful. I’m still anxious to get back into keto. Yesterday I bought the brisket and ribs for the meetup, they’re currently in the Sous-Vide cooking for a few days and I’ll finish them in the smoker on Saturday.

Got my Coconut Oil week blood tests back – REALLY interesting stuff. I’ve entered the data into the spreadsheet (check it out!) but here are some of the highlights:

  • I hit an all-time low LDL-P (particle count): 567. It’s down 43% from 996 the week before. 👍 (you’re looking for under 1000)
  • All time low LDL-C: 56, down from 78. 👍
  • I brought back down my triglycerides from 148 to 103 👍 (you want this below 100)
  • My HDL-C went WAY up (52% to be exact): from 40 to 61 👍👍👍 (you want this as high as possible)
  • A1c is still steady at 4.8 👍
  • Fasting insulin went WAY up, from 5.2 to 8.4 – the highest I’ve recorded so far. 👎

This test was the first time I saw a departure from the previous inversion pattern of LDL-C and Triglycerides which would go up and down opposite of each other. I don’t know if it was the high amount of MCTs in the coconut oil or what. Regardless, I can handily say that consuming almost entirely saturated fat for a week made my blood tests look AMAZING.

Here are some of the graphs from the spreadsheet:

42 Days of Keto Chow – Day 40!

This entry is part 40 of 44 in the series 42 days of Keto Chow Experiment

So close… only 9 meals left! It’s getting harder and harder to only eat the food in my experiment. I thought I had some kind of superhuman ability to stay on track, turns out it was likely just the result of solid keto eating. Making dinner for everyone else and not eating any of it hasn’t been a problem and now it’s REALLY hard to not take a bite.

For kicks, I made a crono-o-meter “recipe” of what I’m eating this week – mostly so it would generate a nutrition label so I’d have something to show people that question what I’m eating this week. Here’s a comparison of that and when I’m doing heavy cream:

Carb Week Heavy Cream Week

Those that say “nay” will likely take issue with the amount of sugar and sodium in the carb week, but if you click on the image and pull up the full nutrition info and check out the vitamins and everything else you’ll see it’s nutritionally complete still.

By |2018-02-13T09:50:31+00:00February 13th, 2018|Categories: 42 days of Keto Chow Experiment|Tags: , , , |2 Comments

42 Days of Keto Chow – Day 36: Carb Week Begins (with a live stream)

This entry is part 36 of 44 in the series 42 days of Keto Chow Experiment

OK, here we go!

You can view my glucose tests as I take them on the “Sugar” tab of the spreadsheet here.

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