Here I share with you my food for thoughts; on the basis of my 13 months of Ketogenic regime. There is something here for everyone to learn and gather as much as I’ve felt out of this elusive, feeble, yet resilient – way of life. I will publish this entire Anniversary post in three separate blog articles.
All this is a subjective living account over the context of sustaining within frugality. That is; objectively speaking – a sharing of thoughts upon nutritional sustenance; within tenaciously limited fiscal resources. This lifestyle I follow at many prolonged times beyond / outside of my will or choice – only serves as anecdotal account of lone survival.
Part I/III – my history.
Introduction and a brief history; over how it all started.
Who am I?
A skinny “ectomorph”. A skinny-fat 30 something male struggling to make a mark amidst today’s homogenised thinking.
I have always been fixated to being “simple”. But this led a dilemma. I have been naive. For a good decade or so I remained passive and conservative. For a good ten or so years having succumbed to the “health” and “fitness” oriented lifestyle I lost count over how many times I’m told of the same thing over and over again – “just eat more and lift more.”.
Years of brown rice, dirty tupperwares piling up the kitchen. ..That – and until side effects resulted.
Agitations, suffocations and congestions from the gut, head to toe. Slurred speeches, and stomach butterflies in public spaces. Everything in my internals feels “crowded”. My lower back pains, rare but excruciating – the pinched nerves in my neck – were frequent.
Between the years 2012 to 2014, I started questioning things, and wanting to try and experience life differently.
Gathering as many reading materials as possible, one dietary regime to another ~ I see myself stumbling interesting opinions from fruitarians and then raw meat diets.Yet no other paradigm I find were as controversially convincing as Ketogenic diet. This captivated me as it appears to be most accessible at easily scrutinising just one(1) macronutrient.
I was intrigued to Keto because fats – have been one macro nutrient which I have never dared to implore nor instigate before deeply through all my life. I took the opportunity then to get started. Butters, eggs, hams were as I remembered it ~ the very first series of staple(s) stocked. Supplementations, including proteins remains as they were.
May 2014 / SKD / Standard Ketogenic Diet
On one Wednesday winter evening in May – I spent over one and half hours all out (or all-in should I say) worth of training to excruciatingly “depleting” all my glycogen reserves into one workout. One night before my very first Ketogenic breakfast in the next morning.
“Chest pains? nope. Back pains? nope. Strength reduction? Nope. I was fearless. The very first time I had those slices of ham with a block of butter and coconut oil defenitely felt different. Unforgettable. A rush of energy motivated me to get in the car and just head straight to the gym. I felt energised. I did not even feel the need to down my intra workout shakes or amino acids while resting between freeweights benching 10% over my weight with a finisher superset 10-rep diamond pushups inbetween.
The first month of SKD has passed. That energy rush were somewhat waning. Anxiety, and hunger then sets in. I thought and speculate ~ that I could just wake up not being hungry at all. Where’s that expotentially HUGE mental clarity everyone’s talking about?
Am I there yet? Is my body there yet? Do I feel “there” yet? Is my Ketostix turned purple yet? Does my breath “stinks” yet? Surely by now I could have felt the metallic taste on my mouth.
Months passed ~ I still “don’t know”. I re-read all those “happy” accounts amidst forums again. Anxiety brews to yet again questioning whether I am “there” or not there. Ketosis or not, were apparently as my faith patience stood ~ still not “there enough”.
I grew increasingly tempted. Thereby increasing my training regime to new limits. Gruelling to the bone. One thing I couldnt get over though – was my new realisation – of hunger. I thought I knew what hunger felt like all along. But never this worse. How could I felt so hungry? I didn’t want to take more salt, because I fear this and that would happen to me.
“It’s just part of so called “adaptation” says one forum. “By this week X you should feel a lot better!” says another. “On the next morning on this x month you would feel so different!.” I continued to believe in them anyway for that “one” day to happen. I continued enduring for as long as I could – by investing more time waiting towards these more hopeful “hopes”.
Before I knew it – nearly two and half months have passed. Where’s that mental clarity? Where’s that feeling of rush earlier? Where’s that sense of invincibility everyone seems to be on about?
I led myself to believe – “I am still not there yet.” I decided to “shift” or in other words – “reinvest” my hopes to tap to another elements of liveable reservoire. Surely I have to treat these things as a diversified investment. Albeit sightful embarassments – led to sighted public failures. Connective tissues, mobility, started taking its toll. eps increasingly felt like “days” to finish. Sets felt like “weeks” needed for me to recuperate.
CT scans to MRI’s. Nexium to Naltrexones.
I spent no other year as expensively as 2014 in realm of so called gathering “medical advices”. From multiple Xrays, CT scans and a three month long waiting MRI scan appointment. Three separate doctors. A chiropractor. And a rheumathoid specialist.
My chiropractor visits alone already mounted in the near $500s. That was just for a month and half. Yet I was in pain so much that there were times I could not even able to get in my car and drive properly. Even slight twist of my left leg on the clutch sends a quivering jolt of frostful, bite throughout my spine. Next – what’s this pain in my chest I experienced at times? Those nocturnal extreme painful leg cramps waking me up at 3AM in the morning. EACH and every morning that is; each time – greeted me with my entire spine and back so painful akin from awakening ever so barely from a car accident; one night after another.
Despite multiple hundreds of dollars wasted from all the CT scans, more blood tests, X-rays and MRI scans ~ left all doctors confused.
But eventually a diagnosis were made. I had a mild degeneration on several small discs on my hip at risk for developing Ankylosing Spondylitis. – for I have carried a defective gene (HLA-B27) all my life
I then – was prescribed numerous things. From stomach acid suppressing Lyrica to Low Dose Naltrexone’s. My own research suggests these to be anything but helpful, besides being insanely lucrative. Why on earth would I be willing to restrict stomach acid production if that helps me digest the food I’m eating? As IN ANYTHING I eat?
The LDN however, provided me some elusive and interesting effects. Sleepy on one hour for a nap, then felt a “rebound” of energy afterwards. However, I felt overall strangely somewhat remaining fatigued on some days.
Questions however remains brewing But what happens if I were truly become dependent on LDN? What happens then to my existing opioid receptors? Will they erode themselves overtime? One answer leads to another’s expense. So much so that $300 down the drain for the Rx’s. And who knows what else I had to fix the neurosis I headed myself down into.
August 2014 – The “Quit”
Things finally hit me for the sad conclusive ultimatum. Looking back at my lab / blood reports – if anything, I’d be surely and truly clinically dead by now from nutrient abuse. My creatine kinase numbers was actually close to a heart attack victim. Yet curiously – I’m still not dead, I was still breathing and still alive; if yet very hungry if so from having to fast for the test/s. Ravenously so.
So by the end of August 2014 / three months later – I had to call it quit. I’ve also decided to go off LDN. I immediately resorted back to the carbohydrates heavy diet and six / 7 meals a day regime. I immediately resorted back to my past, prior interpretation over what is “normal”.
Immediate relief. Over a matter of few weeks – I gained more or less the strength and vitality I lost; those same old “gains” of pride within me restored; staring at me in the mirror; day in and out of the gym.
….But also along with it – the same old feeling of life I previously and subconsciously – had to endure. From that paralysing upper back spasm all the way to gut problems ~ all manners of detail that need not be shared.
Was I truly “happy”? Somewhat. But I remained dubious as to whether all these side effects of pertaining to the conventional “templated” way of eating would simply be “normal”.
A new fear; albeit with some curiosity – emerged once again.
July / 2015 – Enter Nutritional Humility
July of 2015 marked a quiet yet extremely significant, turning point of my sustenance and nutritional life. I decided to set aside a goal that led me to the creation and formation of this entire concept branding initiative to the screens in front of you.
Originated from a series of food-acceptances blog articles, a DIY self printed mini book, and then slowly to all things as they are currently today – a 250 page manuscript and a full featured website.
That chain of thought which permeated as my vision to preach food acceptances slowly developed as an early concept I termed to as Nutritional Humility. How should one “exercise” this quality; all from within as though it existed tangibly to his or her way of eating, living, training and most important of all – surviving? This requires deep reflection of over any and all that a person consumes, proceeds his/her’s daily motions of living. I termed it “self enquiring”. Every internal questions obligates an internal answer.
So as I sat down and reflect on myself back on (the failed) Ketogenic living earnestly and having considered from all the above … I tallied up the positives and negatives.
I actually realised; shockingly so overtime – on the positives that were left discarded and taken for granted. It is very difficult to ignore these surrogate events, than being entirely consumed by all the pains I was experiencing ~ the hunger, anxiety and list goes on.
I spent much less time preparing, indulged less on flavouring, and spent less time investing in traditional prepping, and cooking all my foods. The relentlessly taxing hours upon hours spent in the kitchen. Filling the room with food all just waiting to get cooked.
Low carbohydrate regiments took half of that away. So that was indeed the “positive” I somehow blindly ignore. Is this enough, however ~ to make me forgo the diet altogether because of the constant hunger I was experiencing?
As I paused myself away from ketogenic regiments ~ my old self, and old problems with it ~ returned. I realize deep down that eating this way perhaps endlessly so for life, does not escape me from these old problems that plagued me much of adulthood.
Hence, I decided to give ketogenic regiments another try. This time, scrutinising every smallest things.
In August 2015, I’ve decided to revisit the Ketogenic regime to incentivise myself two (2) objectives ~ 1). Live and consume consciously. and 2). Scrutinise and self-enquire the ketogenic regiments down to the detail. possible. My TextEdit program started it all with the file name “Keto Diary”. The first entry marked on 18th August, 2015.
One thing at a time ~ understanding how, and when I need to be nourished via consistent MICRO-nutrients; this in addition to my willingness to micro-assess all factors – from lifestyle habits to health and fitness training regiment changes (these will be as I expand on the second part of this Anniversary post). Water intake and water quality. Fibres from all vegetable sources. I’ll try to experiment more on some days and less on another and see how I felt. Types of fats ~ I’ll try for week at a time – experimenting more on one type and less on another.
But perhaps the most important of them all. Salts. And minerals supplementation. Raising potassium in various dosages; appeared to resolve, thankfully, much of my problems ~ of feelings of unease during meal episodes.
It was also during these times I decided to consider other supplementations which were frankly absent during my early days of SKD. Notably – Vitamin D, the Coenzyme CQ10s, and liver health supplements. Given any available means of extra allowance – basic probiotics with FOS.
Everything seems to be better now, day by day.
….and here we are – 13 Months Later, October 2016.
The Ketogenic Diet has truly changed me to think beyond what I see as food not simply by way of indulgences. But by way of humble acceptances.Thankfully and gladfully – the “pains”, the “car crashes” I experienced every morning gradually lessened. Chest pains remaining ever so controlled to the point of negligible. From many months prior leading to this day – I have finally understood – that within my subjective and objective interpretation – Ketosis – is not a way of adaptation. It’s a way of nutritive and physiological – Understanding.
Despite conscious weakness – it allows me to live resiliently through the more adverse, prolonged resource scarcities. The lowest I was able to spend on food to survive was as little as $15 per week; in one single transaction and in cash. This was made possible by me reserving, recycling and preserving as many supplies possible with the above established mindset after having assessed all the micro living factors and patterns.
Even despite I clearly am hungry at many times, there too; have also been many occassions I blindly ignored – that I felt more appreciative for the passing of time. I do feel as though I was hungry; quite genuinely so through time. But ironically for as long as I am occupied before I knew it – that much needed black-coffee time that was supposed to be at 11:AM somehow pushed itself back further and further – to 1:00PM. Sometimes 2:00PM. Sometimes even 3:00pm.
Likewise with meal times. Lunch was supposed to be give or take around 1:00PM. I was; paradoxically able to push back the hunger back to 4:00PM. Or even as late as all the way after my workout = at 7:30PM.
Back from downing BCAA slowly throughout the afternoon from 3 to 5PM, workout, back home at 6, post workout shake until the mealtime.Yes, that have been paradoxically at times – my LUNCH time were as late as 8:00PM. This was my next solid food after breakfast at 10:30AM. Then came “dinner” at 10:00PM and pre-bed protein at 11:30PM.
How could all these be possible? I absolutely have no facts to explain. But rather – only experiences and self-interpretations to support my claims.
I may very well have survived 13 months later.
From first having maintained strict SKD (standard variant Ketogenic Diet) for the first seven or so months without carbohydrates at all; to intermittently experimenting with CKD and TKD inbetween short, mid and long term window interval periods. I will expand more on these as my food for thoughts on the next part.
I am wholeheartedly convinced and thus have accepted that this “feeling” of Ketosis is not what everyone perceived and claim to be. I called it simply as part developing and embracing your own nutritional humility.
I am weak, but not overly feeble. I am down, but not overly dire. I am uncertain, yet I am resilient of whatever I am facing at the present.
I do not claim to be some sort of insider nor am I a self-proclaimed nutritionist. Whatever the future trajectories may hold – I am certain for one thing – this way of eating subjectively nourishes me in ways that words perhaps can never quite explain succintly.