User Experiences

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Effects of Keto on blood work in identical twins

When we went to Low Carb USA (San Diego) earlier this summer, over a meal I mentioned to Dave Feldman that one of our sets of twins had one doing keto (hereafter referred to as “KT”) for a year and the other not doing keto (hereafter referred to as “NKT”). Dave got really excited (that’s a SEVERE understatement) and wanted to know if we could convince them to get some blood tests to see how keto was affecting their cholesterol, insulin, glucagon, and other factors. Dave wanted to make sure they had similar activity levels. Both have Fitbits Alta HRs, you can see the raw data from those here (KT) and here (NKT). They are relatively close in activity 169,928 steps for KT vs 158,278 for NKT over a 2 week period before the blood tests. Sleep patterns are noticeably different: the Fitbit on KT recorded 5524 minutes of sleep, the Fitbit on NKT recorded 6388 for the same 2 week period; that’s 92 vs 106.5 hours.

The same 2 weeks leading up to the blood draw, each was taking Dave Feldman style photos of everything they ate, which proved to be the biggest annoyance for both during the experiment and they were looking forward to concluding so they could stop with that. This was to ensure that we had a record of what they were eating and that both stayed pretty much consistent with their food during the 2 weeks before the blood draw. The day of the blood tests came, KT was worried as she has had issues with blood and fainting – strangely KT had absolutely no problems at all with the blood draw and was done in about 3 minutes. NKT, on the other hand, went pale and ended up needing to lie down before the lab could finish the blood draw. We were very happy that she came out OK, though I doubt she’ll be donating blood anytime soon. =)

Before we get to the results I should explain that both parents in our home are quite strict with keto for ourselves. Two of our daughters are also strict about staying keto, though both are more “lazy keto” and don’t track carbs or such – frankly, it’s not really necessary. As young and healthy as our children are, simply the act of cutting out sugar and flour was likely enough to prevent problems in the future. Our other children are not doing keto and will eat candy, pizza, fruit, and such if given the opportunity – though we, as parents, do not buy anything non-keto anymore so it’s usually at school or when visiting.

Now for the data! Dave wanted to get a recording of his first read-through of the blood tests:

Most of the analysis was done by Dave during the video so refer there for commentary. If you prefer to look at the data yourself, you can either read it in tabular format on the “Twins” tab of this spreadsheet (the other tabs are data from previous experiments I’ve done) which also has % difference and absolute value difference columns for comparison, or you can grab the original blood tests in PDF format: KT, NKT. I’ve made some handy graphs (also on that spreadsheet in the “Twin Charts” tab) to illustrate some of the takeaways.

To start, we have a comparison of their NMR Lipid Panels. Nothing here is really a surprise at all, KT has higher numbers for all of the measurements except LDL size which is the same for both, this follows Dave’s hypothesis regarding the lipid system as an energy distribution aparatus. Both are low on HDL but have fantastic Triglyceride levels. Both also have a remnant cholesterol of 8. Dave has explained this better but this number represents energy parked in the blood in VLDL particles and you want this as low as possible since it tends to be a legit indicator of risk; an 8 is fantastic.

Both have really good fasting glucose.

Which should make their nearly identical Hemoglobin A1c not a surprise at all. This number represents the percentage of their red blood cell hemoglobin that has become “glycated” or exposed to glucose. It serves as a way to measure your average glucose over several months, usually 6 months. HbA1c is the test used to diagnose Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, although elevated HbA1c is a symptom of T2DM, not the cause. Most experts agree that the underlying cause is hyperinsulinemia or chronically elevated insulin levels.

Boom.

KT’s low fasting insulin doesn’t indicate how close she is to having hyperinsulinemia or her risk of T2DM or Alzheimers – that would require a Kraft test and measuring insulin response to glucose over time instead of once while fasting. NKT’s elevated fasting insulin does indicate that even without eating for 12 hours, her insulin was still elevated. For now, she’s likely to be able to handle that insulin load; but Dave feels that he’d like to see insulin below 10 in the future. This higher number for NKT was one of the few surprises that were in the test, most of the other markers fell in-line with what Dave expected to see based on the other results he has seen from both keto and non-keto subjects.

The other surprise was the low glucagon levels in both. A typical level is 50, and one would expect KT to have higher than normal levels. While hers is higher than NKT, both are abnormally low. Glucagon is something that Dr. Benjamin Bikman presented about at the 2018 Low Carb Breckenridge conference, interesting stuff.

So, in summary: It’s interesting to note the difference in the LDL numbers of the two. Many professionals are of the opinion that LDL is causal in atherosclerosis and would insist that KT has a higher risk of heart disease in the future. The cool thing with this data is that genetically they’re identical, with the same environment, same living conditions, same lack of cholesterol-lowering medication. They actually have almost the same triglyceride numbers too! NKT and KT both are handling the glucose load really well (that’s rather expected, given all the machinery is still new and fully functional). It is important to note the massive difference in their respective fasting insulin. So many of the chronic diseases in modern society are a direct result of too much insulin: chronic hyperinsulinemia. NKT is in danger of hyperinsulinemia causing problems in the future which is something to be truly concerned about.

By |2018-12-05T08:55:14+00:00November 23rd, 2018|Categories: Ketogenic|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

#NoSnackNovember is on!

There are a lot of “No” in November things that go on, I like to shave the sides of my face so I’m not doing “noSHAVEmber”, and I think that one of my biggest obstacles is snacking. So I’m doing No Snack November. That means if I’m going to eat something, it has to be during a meal. No after dinner treats, mid-day stuff, etc…

There’s a popular belief that “we need lots of small meals throughout the day to keep our energy and metabolism up.” The biggest issue with that is there’s no science to back it up. So far as we can tell, it’s actually a marketing campaign by grain-based snack food companies trying to make us feel good about buying their products. It’s a “Factoid” which is defined as “an assumption or speculation that is reported and repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact.” To the contrary, every time you eat, there’s an insulin response and that keeps your body from using stored energy in the form of fat. The IDM Program has a great article that discusses the perils of snacking.

What you really need to do is limit the number of times you eat in a day. Even better is to go for a period of time without eating anything and then follow that up with eating. This is often referred to as “Intermittent Fasting” but is more properly known as “Time-Restricted Feeding”. You can read more about the benefits and methodology of IF/TRF on this excellent site. IDM has an article on TRF too.

So, the challenge is to go all of November without any snacking. Who’s with me?!

By |2018-11-02T10:24:12+00:00November 2nd, 2018|Categories: Ketogenic|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Others using Keto Chow to conduct science!

Siobhan Huggins recently posted about her half of an experiment where she was tracking biomarkers while changing around the amount of fat she was using. We were super happy when she approached us about using Keto Chow for the experiment. I (Chris) have done my own experiments using Keto Chow to tightly control variables, which is difficult to do with nutrition unless you’re using something like Keto Chow – it’s cool to see others using Keto Chow for science as well.

Siobhan was going for 6000 calories a day during parts of the experiment. That’s a REALLY difficult thing to do unless you’re using something like Keto Chow:

I’d say, in this case, the inconvenience of having to drink 6 shakes a day was far outweighed by the data I got in the process. Lipoprotein(a) coming from a baseline diet to a high calorie/high fat phase provided some useful information that – of course – leaves me with even more questions, and possible future experiments in mind, for sure. Plus, it wasn’t too bad, as the very kind staff at the hotel where the conference was taking place offered to store my shakes in the front office fridge so they could stay refrigerated until I needed them. I’m extremely grateful, as this made the whole process much less of a hassle, and allowed it to go as smoothly as it did. The food served at the conference actually did look quite appetizing, but in this case the sacrifices of citizen science won out over the freshly carved meat they were serving.

Even with that said, I must say that my diet over the conference weekend was definitely more appetizing than what Dave was eating – as he expressed multiple times! I’m sure he’ll be mentioning that himself, however, in part 2

Sometimes science is hard =) You can read about the entire experiment and see all the cool graphs and data over on cholesterolcode.com.

By |2018-10-24T08:32:16+00:00October 24th, 2018|Categories: Future Foods, Keto Chow|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Comparison of Fitbit Charge and Oura Ring – activity and sleep tracking

I was intrigued talking to a friend about the first generation Ōura ring he had and decided I wanted to try it out for myself. I also had a Fitbit Charge HR and an Android Wear (not WearOS because they didn’t update it, I’m not bitter) watch that I was using. I figured a comparison is in order! All of the following data can be found on this Google Docs Spreadsheet.

One feature that Oura champions is heart rate tracking. Because the ring is snugly on your finger, they can do some cool stuff with tracking how variable your heart rate is, they also use the HR data for tracking sleep (just like Fitbit does). So here is how the Resting Heart Rate compares with the Oura and Fitbit:

It looks like the Fitbit is taking a longer average rate, while Oura is doing a shorter sample window but I’d say they’re both showing similar things.

Speaking of heart rate, let’s see how sleep tracking compares. In this graph, I’ve added the values from Sleep As Android, a sleep tracking program that I run on my phone as an alarm clock and tracks sleep. I actually have data going back to 2015 (I sleep more now since I quit my day job and stopped going to work at 5:30 am). Sleep As Android added support for using an Android Wear/Wear OS watch for tracking movement and heart rate to indicate sleep cycles, otherwise you stick your phone on your mattress and it measures the movement.

The plots for Fitbit and for Oura are REALLY close. Easily within a reasonable margin of error. SAA + the watch tracks at about the same, except it shows me sleeping about 0.5-1 hours longer on a given day. I suspect that the Fitbit or Oura data is more accurate since both are far more consistent with their heart rate data. SAA will often not show HR data at all.

OK, what about activity tracking? I’m right-handed and have Google Fit tracking on my left hand with Fitbit and Oura on my right. Fitbit has an option to select “handedness” – if you wear the tracker on your dominant wrist, it lowers the sensitivity to account for more non-step movement from that hand.

I’m guessing that having my Fitbit on the dominant hand with the lowered sensitivity accounts for the consistently lower numbers from Fitbit.

So what’s the take-away from this? It seems that the Oura ring is a very comparable sleep and activity tracker. The Fitbit has some other features that are lacking in the Oura (Social challenges against other users, differences in workout tracking, no way am I wearing the Oura while weight lifting) but I think I’m done wearing two watches – the Oura works good enough. If you happen to work in a profession where the ONLY allowed jewelry is a ring, the Oura would be phenomenal.

By |2018-10-03T11:48:27+00:00October 3rd, 2018|Categories: On Tour|Tags: , , , , |2 Comments

Invite to participate in the 2018 “Complete Food” Survey

Keto Chow was originally (and still is!) designed to be nutritionally complete, that’s one of the core fundamentals. I wanted something I could eat without having to worry about getting some weird vitamin or mineral deficiency so it’s set up to give you at least 1/3 of your daily nutrients in each meal. Do you have to eat 3 a day? Absolutely not, but you can if you are so inclined. There are other “Complete Foods” – most are in Europe and only a very small minority are designed for a ketogenic lifestyle (like Keto Chow).

About once a year, there’s a survey sent out to find out more about how people are using the complete foods/future foods – we’ve agreed to promote the survey that Queal is doing right now. So, if you want to head over and answer some questions about Keto Chow, please do!

More info about the survey and last year’s data can be found on https://completefoodsurvey.com/

By |2018-09-20T07:48:00+00:00September 19th, 2018|Categories: Future Foods|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Miriam (and Chris) will be LIVE on Facebook with Carrie Brown tonight!

At 8 PM Eastern (That’s 7 Central, 6 Mountain, or 5 Pacific) we will be joining Carrie Brown on her weekly Facebook Live event. Set your alarms! The live video will initially appear on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/flamingavocado and we’ll make sure to put it on ours as well.

By |2018-08-27T11:48:06+00:00August 27th, 2018|Categories: Keto Chow, Site or Store Stuff|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Using Keto Chow while camping, hiking, traveling, etc…

I have people asking for solutions they can use for doing keto while camping, hiking, staying in a hotel (with or without refrigeration), or otherwise traveling. I thought I’d share some of my recent experience. The headline image above is from when I was making Keto Chow for 2 of my kids and my wife.

July 2018 has been a little crazy for me; with Keto Con, a 4 day-30 mile hike, family vacation, scout camp, Ketofest, and Low Carb USA all strung together. Particularly challenging was the hike, and later the scout camp with my oldest son since I wouldn’t have any refrigeration nor anything resembling a kitchen. The camp also wanted $6 a meal for amazing dishes like spaghetti, or grilled cheese sandwiches. My plan for the days I would be at camp was to bring:

They did have lots of clean, cold, mountain spring water available. The basic routine every meal went like this:

  1. I would grab my dry blender bottle.
  2. I’d put in the amount of avocado oil I wanted, it was marked on the side of the blender bottle with a marker to make measuring super easy.
  3. Add a scoop of Keto Chow powder.
  4. Add the water.
  5. Shake it up – from step 3 to step 5 you want to minimize time as much as possible to avoid clumps, try to hit fewer than 5 seconds.
  6. Go help some kid with something for 5 minutes (this lets the protein dissolve more so it’s not gritty).
  7. Drink
  8. Use the soap, water, and bottle brush to wash out the bottle – this is easier with hot water but I’ve used cold without problems.
  9. Leave the lid off and let the bottle dry.
  10. You’re ready for the next meal.

In the cases that I had access to refrigeration, using heavy cream was also an option instead of avocado oil. That entire sequence (steps 1-10) only takes maybe 5 minutes, not counting however long you take to drink the meal and it’s super handy when it’s raining but you already have your Keto Chow in your tent with you

So, there you go – a week’s worth of Keto Chow weighs around 1000g with 21 meals worth of avocado oil clocking in around 2000g (about a half gallon worth). Provided you have access to water, you can stick to a strict Ketogenic diet easily (oh and depending on the flavor you get, your net carbs for the DAY will be around 1.5-4g (more for chocolate compared to salted caramel and the others).

By |2018-07-31T11:57:39+00:00July 31st, 2018|Categories: Keto Chow, On Tour|Tags: , , , , , , , |1 Comment

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

5 days, 3 podcast appearances

This entry is part 202 of 205 in the series Ketogenic Diet

It’s been a bit of a fun week. On Sunday, Keto Connect posted their Keto For Normies episode interviewing Chris and Miriam. On Tuesday, Jimmy Moore posted a Livin La Vida Low Carb podcast with Chris. On Thursday, Daisy Brackenhall posted a Keto Woman Podcast episode with Miriam. Some of the podcasts were recorded several weeks ago, it was just a big coincidence that they all went live at (almost) the same time. For those wondering: we don’t have any new appearances scheduled but we’re happy to come on your podcast if you’d like =)

All I can say: I’m so glad we already had Keto Chow 2.1 in stock before the episodes went up! =)

By |2018-04-20T09:06:56+00:00April 20th, 2018|Categories: Keto Chow, Site or Store Stuff|Tags: , , |0 Comments

A Keto family vacation

We recently did a family vacation down to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. When planning it, we decided to do all keto food for all 10 people going. It actually turned out really well and allowed a few of our children who hadn’t ever tried doing keto an opportunity to give it a try. Sadly they’ve gone back to eating carbs away from home but at least they recognized how crummy they felt eating candy the first time after the trip.

We rented a house (because frankly, it was cheaper than getting 3 rooms at a hotel, more comfortable, and overall better!). The kitchen was quite nice and there were enough beds for everyone that wanted their own bed could have one.

Our staples on the trip included:

  • Heavy Whipping Cream – mostly for making Keto Chow but we also used it to cover keto pancakes.
  • Costco rotisserie chicken breast – makes the chicken salad really easy, just add mayo and other seasonings.
  • Keto Chow – perfect for drinking while driving!
  • Far too many almonds.
  • Low carb tortillas from Sams Club – they’re 5g of net carbs each so I didn’t eat them frequently but for little kids they’re perfect.
  • Carb Control yogurt from Kroger – also 5g of net carbs, not the end of the world but you don’t want them all the time
  • Eggs – with 10 people we went through almost 9 dozen Xlarge eggs.
  • Cream cheese – for the tortillas and to make keto pancakes
  • Sugar-Free syrup.

FYI: the recipe for the keto pancakes is silly easy – 8 ounces of cream cheese + 8 eggs in a blender. Blend. Cook. Done.

Drag around, it’s a 360 photo:

By |2018-04-13T11:56:13+00:00April 13th, 2018|Categories: Keto Chow, Ketogenic, On Tour|Tags: , , , |2 Comments