Ho man I slacked yesterday. Oh wait, that’s not the way to start off a post. Okay, yesterday was the 15th day of my 30 day adventure, so I took, like, an All-Star break. There, that’s better.
The topic of the past few days seems to be sleep. Everyone and their uncle who has ever low-carbed it has been contacting me sharing their stories of sleeplessness, which even one of the godfathers of carb hatred, Michael Eades, admitted to having the same issue. In the words of Professor Scooby D. Doo, Ph. D., ?rut row!
I’ve got two sleep-less philosophies.
When I first restricted carbohydrates to a moderate level 2 years ago (about 100 grams per day), I noticed that I had excellent sleep quality but no matter what time I went to sleep the night before, I would wake up just before the crack of dawn.
Being a nature-humping outdoorsy wild man kind of character at heart, my first impression was that, since I felt great, never got tired, never got sick, or had any other symptoms of lack of sleep like I had experienced before when getting that quantity of sleep, I assumed that I was in touch with the natural biorhythms of the planet.
Don’t laugh yet, let me explain.
As a fisherman, a hunter (sort of), a farmer (barely), and currently a resident of an island that is covered with roosters, I noticed that I shared something with all the other creatures on earth. The time just before the sky lightens to the moment the sun rises is the most active time in nature. That is when the animals of the land and fishes of the sea ? at least all the diurnal ones, scurry with peak energy levels in search of food. Go down to the ocean before dawn ? it’s like watching piranhas attack. Show up after sunrise, and the water is much calmer. I thought the buzz I felt in the morning was a sign that I had finally attuned my body to the planet’s natural circadian rhythms and was now experiencing life in harmony with the rest of the creatures. Plus, I knew that health is associated with morning energy, and those from generations ago that are fabled by people now to have a level of health rarely seen today were famous for ?getting up at 4am and going straight to work. I started to roll with this logic. Plus, if you study the workings of serotonin, melatonin, and how they relate back to insulin you can start to understand that there really could be a legit circadian rhythm connection. You really do have an inner clock that is gauged to sunlight via photoreceptors in your eyes and skin.
Now that I’ve cut carbs to near zero (minus the 2 grams of carbs per ? pound of shrimp), I’m having the same experience again. It’s quite remarkable the precision of the timing of when I wake up. I wake up and it’s pitch black out. Is it 2am or midnight or what? I don’t know. I don’t keep a clock by my bed. But within minutes of waking up in a pitch black room with so much energy I can’t sit still or keep my eyes closed, the sky starts to lighten. Roosters go nuts (I can barely hear them though, and I don’t think that’s what is waking me up consistently at the same time every morning, but I can’t prove that). I’m up and energized with the rest of the outdoor-dwelling creatures.
Still to this day I would feel that way, because what I’m experiencing doesn’t feel like insomnia, but rather lack of need for sleep and extra morning energy. However?
I have that dark coloration coming in under my eyes. I may not feel sleepy, but I look sleepy. I may feel energized, but something is shouting ‘tired! I do think that there is a legit connection between discoloration under the eyes and adrenal taxation. And of course, adrenal taxation is precisely what I was most wary about before beginning this CARNival. More juice flowing through the veins feels great. I’m full of life baby, and could go all day. But hey, there are many drugs that could induce an adrenal outpouring and make me feel the same way, and I wouldn’t call those healthy.
Of course, the entire premise of the Zone diet by Barry Sears is to lower carbohydrates enough to lower insulin, but don’t take them too far down or else cortisol, the adrenal hormone, is raised and the whole thing backfires. Here is Sears to that effect?
In The Age Free Zone, pages 138-139, he writes:
?Can you push insulin too low? Of course you can. This is what happens when you eat a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. Fasting insulin levels drop rapidly (often within days on these diets). Unfortunately, you develop a whole new series of problems. One is ketosis?Without adequate carbohydrate reserves in the liver, the body can’t break down fats effectively, leaving behind what are known as ketone bodies. In a pinch, the brain can use these as a poor man’s glucose?But your brain didn’t fall off the turnip truck. The body will start breaking down muscle protein to make glucose. This is known as gluconeogenesis. It’s not very efficient, but if the brain requires carbohydrate, it will get it somewhere. In addition, without adequate supplies of glucose, you will become irritable and mental cognition decreases. In addition, research has indicated that the longer you stay in ketosis, the more your fat cells adapt so that they are transformed into ?fat magnets,? becoming 10 times more active in accumulating fat?A high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet drives insulin levels too low, thereby causing hypotension, fatigue, irritability, lack of mental clarity, loss of muscle mass, increased hunger, and rapid fat regain when carbohydrates are reintroduced into the diet. Not exactly a prescription for anti-aging. This coupled with the increase in cardiovascular mortality because insulin levels are too low, simply reinforces the need to maintain insulin within a zone: not too high, not too low.
There are several glitches in this statement however. One is that you can get glucose from protein in FOOD and not have to rely on tearing down muscle tissue to get it. Of course, you must eat EXCESS protein for that to happen, which is very important on a low carb diet, especially considering that one rarely has the appetite to do so. Personally, I’m starting to struggle to get over 100 grams a day, which would probably be a minimum for a 175 pound dude when going zero carb. Also, many of the symptoms of low-carb dieting are induction-phase symptoms. Irritable? Not me. Mood is better than ever unless I go too long without food. Hypotension? My blood pressure is pretty low, but I haven’t been at all dizzy. In fact, after exercising yesterday I did some back-bending which usually has me about to faint. Not this time. Fatigue? Anything but. I feel cracked out half the time. Loss of muscle mass? Definitely not.
So here’s what I say, so far?
If you are going to go no-carb, don’t assume that the less you eat the better. Eat like a competitive eater. This will keep the metabolism high, insure that you have adequate protein to manufacture the minimum glucose requirement (which also minimizes ketosis, most likely a good thing), and otherwise help you to avoid all the negative symptoms that Sears lists. You can still lose weight doing that. You’ve all seen the retarded amounts of food I’ve eaten thus far. My official weight loss total is minus 4 pounds in 16 days, most of it in the last 10 days.
Stay tuned for more on my sleep quality and quantity and what that means for the overall merits of this FUMPtastic extravaganza.
Breakfast: 5 eggs, 12 medium shrimp, 3T butter
Lunch: 5 ounces grassfed beef patty, medium rare, with 3 ounces cheddar cheese
Dinner: 4 ounces grassfed beef patty, medium rare, with 4 ounces cheddar cheese
Breakfast: Same as yesterday
Lunch: Porkface stew with eyes and brain and 2T butter (God I love writing that, must have something to do with my former John Robbins disciplery)
Dinner: Ditto lunch; each meal containing about 7 ounces stewed meat