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Keto/low carb sisterhood

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  • norcals
    norcals Member Posts: 209
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    Thanks. It is definitely harder to stay low carb during the summer months when my fruit trees ripen. I enjoyed the fresh, tree ripened peaches and plums this year. I think the key is to reduce the carbs in other areas. Also, this summer, I increased carbs to 50g, so plenty of room to eat fruit

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 745
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    Hi folks! I just started a keto diet and it occurred to me to come here and check if there was a post/community for it already.

    For me I feel like the diet is only incidentally related to my cancer, if at all. I'm 41, diagnosed at 39, and pre/during/post, my blood tests and general health have always been fine. I was bicycling about 17 miles round trip for most of my radiation treatments.

    But over the last 5 years or so I had crept up to a higher weight than I've ever been before (mainly stress-related, I believe, for which cancer didn't help but it certainly wasn't the only thing going on). And my BMI came out at 30.5 this summer, which technically put me over for extra COVID risk and would let me apply for remote accommodations. I actually asked my doc to write me a letter. But then I realized I didn't want to submit it. I think it's wrong-headed and dangerous to have kids and teachers back in schools but I also realized that if in-person school of any kind was happening, I would rather be there than at home.

    So overall I just thought, *enough*. I want to get my weight/BMI down. (I know BMI isn't very meaningful on an individual level, but it mattered for the bureaucracy!) I want to wear the cute clothes I've been hanging on to just in case. I want to be able to find treasures at thrift stores again. Damnit, I want to come closer to meeting conventional beauty standards, even if conceptually I think they're complete bullsh*t. Yes, this is probably 75% pure vanity. Maybe higher.

    I'm not sure how I got to the keto subreddit but I decided to start. The whole thing is probably somewhat impulsive on my part.

    So anyway, I started last Monday, and tomorrow will be my first full week. It is very strange. I already miss all kinds of things and feel kind of sick of meat and cheese and kind of want to devour the huge bag of kale in my fridge, though I know that has carbs to be mindful of also. It feels weird to have kale as a restricted food! But I ordered some ready made meals to try, ordered a microwave from Amazon, bought some keto chow, and am starting to experiment a bit more with cooking.

    I have kept a vegetarian kitchen my whole life for cultural reasons, despite eating meat. So even just having meat on a pan feels like an adventure! If anyone has general advice on cooking meat or specific tools you think are worth spending money on, I'd love to hear. Do I really need a meat thermometer, for instance?

    In terms of macros, I basically took it from the keto subreddit. I'm aiming for 20g net carbs max, 96g protein goal/min, 107g fat max, and 1457 calorie budget. But I was having trouble with feeling very hungry at first (alternating with super fun) and I was advised that for the transition I should be willing to go over on fats, and even a bit on calories, to help stay satiated and keep me on the diet until my body can adapt. So I've been consistently under on the carbs but not alway under on fat or calories.

    My starting goal is to stick to it for at least one month before I stop to think about it. That seems like a fair amount of time to give my body to get used to it.

    One challenge I have coming up is heading to my father's for the holiday. He would look forward to cooking for me and he is an amazing cook. He would totally try to do keto if I asked, but I would definitely hear about it too! More so though is that I'm almost afraid to even let my aunt (who would be there) know that I'm dieting. The whole visit would be about 23 hours (for quarantine reasons), so I'm thinking of just calling it a cheat day and hoping for the best. I can definitely get away with gorging on brisket.

    I'm also wondering how much to trust the net carb count on these processed keto foods that say they have like 20g carbs but 17g fiber. Can that really be so?!?

    Sorry if that's a lot! I guess dieters need to talk about dieting, or at least apparently I do, and I'm so glad sunandsea started this thread so I can hop on. Thank you!

  • flashlight
    flashlight Member Posts: 311
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    I was wondering if anyone had a good resource book on how to start. I saw a book on Amazon by Suzanne Ryan called Easy Keto. I'm not sure how to start. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  • sunandsea
    sunandsea Member Posts: 28
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    Hey Salamandra - welcome to the group!

    I can't imagine what you're going through as a teacher right now, but I applaud you for continuing to take charge of your health. We all nudge our health goals forward for all sorts of different reasons...vanity included! That's how I started working out (finally) in my mid-30s - I wanted to look (and feel) good. As for keto, congrats on completing your first week! I found the first weeks and months to be tough, but then again, I was layering a new diagnosis and the pandemic on top of this new diet which was just crazy when I look back on things.

    As for kitchen supplies, I love my InstantPot and toaster/air fryer combo appliance. Shredded chicken/pork and broiled fish are my go to's and are easy to prepare quickly and in batch if you're really feeling ambitious. A meat thermometer is great for checking the internal temp for roasts. I use mine probably once or twice a month.

    As for macros, I kept mine pretty strict since I didn't want to lose weight while on treatment. It worked. These days, now that I'm on hormonal therapy, I've relaxed a bit and just follow the Diet Doctor website's often cited advice - stick to round 20g and eat to satiety. Re: your question about processed keto foods, I was curious about that too and honestly, I think it depends on the food and on how your body tolerates it. I was so excited to try the low carb (4g net carb) tortillas, but now that I'm wearing a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), I knew immediately that it was a no go for me. My doc advised me to keep my blood sugar between 70 and 110 mg/dl on the CGM and one tortilla shot me up to 128 within 30 minutes. Other foods that are higher in carbs, but not processed (like non leafy green veggies and beans), don't have the same effect. The CGM's great for keeping track of what works for me.

    Go easy on yourself when eating out and visiting friends and fam...at least at the beginning. It's all a learning process. Just do the best you can as you explore this new way of eating. Brisket (w/ no sweet sauces) sounds like an excellent way to stay on track.

  • flashlight
    flashlight Member Posts: 311
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    sunandsea, Thank you so much for the information. I have a lot of research to do and hope to get started soon!

  • Lolis
    Lolis Member Posts: 294
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    Hi,

    I hope you all are well and healthy!!!

    I fell off the wagon in late August and have been fighting to get back to the same regime as before. I find I am more stress eating due to stress from work and a need for a vacation in the sun!!!!

    trying to get back to the same macros as before, however finding it so much harder this time around!!!

    Loli

  • norcals
    norcals Member Posts: 209
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    Hi Lolis.

    I stayed on strict keto (under 19g carb) throughout chemo and radiation, but when covid and the lockdowns hit, I started increasing carbs due to stress as well. I was able to get back to lower carbs by using intermittent fasting and by having friends go on the low carb diet with me. We check in daily with our daily macros and that has really helped. If you have a brave friend that will be on the diet with you, that might help. My friends have loved the fact that they have lost inches off their waistline in the last several months and have become accustomed to a low carb diet. We also started at a higher carb limit and lowered the limit every week until we got down to 20g

  • flashlight
    flashlight Member Posts: 311
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    So far doing well on the keto diet. I did the keto 2-week challenge on the diet doctor's site and just finished Kristie's 5-week keto. I have found a lot of the dishes on the site very good. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I will probably have a small taste of everything. I am making just a small dinner for 6 of us.

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 745
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    I went off keto for Thanksgiving dinner, but brought home no leftovers (very small, my one friend I'm podding with and her husband, who doesn't pod with anybody).

    It was all delicious (they are great cooks), but none of it felt so amazing like I couldn't give it up again after.

    I'd been reading about IF and hadn't tried it and thought it might be a reset after breaking keto, so I fasted from after dinner until this morning. About 36 hours. It was... ok. I'm not sure how you tell if you're getting benefits from fasting? Anyway then I did some googling and found that there's not really much evidence in favor of that kind of fasting for women anyway.

    The week I started going to my local farmer's market, a trout vendor appeared and he sells fresh sushi grade river trout. This is my second week getting it. I cut out all the meat and eat it raw with soy sauce then fry the skin in salt and butter and OMG so delicious. And very keto. ($$ though :) )

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 745
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    Hi all! Wanted to brag a little and check in with folk! :)

    I've lost fifty pounds since I started in September! I'm amazed and fitting into clothes I haven't fit in ages. I'm still not as fit as I used to be, so that's an ongoing goal. But it feels amazing to feel in control of my weight. I've gone off diet periodically but I decided that my rule is that it has to be totally out of the house. My most problematic eating is at home. So I'll go off diet at a friend's/family's house, but I won't bring home leftovers. I've done this for about maybe five holiday meals since September, and two trips.

    I was looking at the macro ratios and realized I don't even know what mine are. I've been following "Reddit Keto" per their FAQ, which totally de-emphasizes ratios. Lately I've been very persuaded by the emphasis on protein rather than fats for healthy weight loss and possibly even for maintenance. Which I'll be getting too soon Happy

    I've been loving the Diet Doctor podcast and here are two that kind of touch on that: Ted Naiman and Andreas Eenfeldt. Also I think I'm a fangirl for Adele Hite and I wish she would do more podcasts and speaking.

    Would love to hear updates/thoughts from the sisterhood

  • flashlight
    flashlight Member Posts: 311
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    Salamandra, Congratulations!! I'm looking for a maintenance plan as well. I didn't think I would be able to diet while on tamoxifen, but it works!!

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 745
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    Yay flashlight!!

    I think I'm going to get the book End Your Carb Confusion - both the authors seem very sensible, and apparently it gives guidelines for long term maintenance and figuring out your personal carb level. Haven't bought it yet - I think based on pure irrational superstitions about the evil eye...ha! I should probably go ahead and do that.

  • Julweed
    Julweed Member Posts: 1
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    Hi sisters! 2 weeks post surgery started keto, with a 24 hour fast then drop to 12 carbs/ day. Hoped to maintain that until radiation at 4 weeks, which keeps getting delayed due to surgical scars not healed all the way. I’m currently 9 weeks post op and my rad start pushed back another week again. I’ve been at 20 carbs/ day for a few weeks now. My macros are 80/15/ 5 . I feel great other than the delay in treatment, which has caused more stress and anxiety than the diagnosis. Lost 25 pounds quickly and am maintaining. My glucose ketone meter should arrive tomorrow so will need to read up on how to use it, what my goals should be during radiation. Used the urine dipsticks when I first started keto and logged everything!

  • jinx27
    jinx27 Member Posts: 119
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    Hello! I just dedicated the the next two months to eating low carb/anti inflammatory diet along with 16:8 intermittent fasting in order to get my cholesterol and weight under control. Im insulin resistant and have curbed my weight and metabolic panel before by diet and exercise. These two books below are what Im following. I believe the anti-inflammatory diet is somewhat similar to Keto but with less restrictions around sugar from fruit.

    imageimage

    However being in chemical menopause has made this even harder due to the lack of estrogen. m on a break from Lupron and Arimidex, so Im hoping to get a leg up with my diet/ excercise.

    Salamandra Losing 50lbs is amazing, congrats to you! Especially while being on Tamoxifen round of applause Hug

  • nola70115
    nola70115 Member Posts: 61
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    I'm interested in hearing how your plans work out for you. I've been reading "The Metabolic Approach to Cancer," which my integrative health doctor recommended. I've found the book to be discouraging because it would be impossible to follow many of the regulations at the same time. One chapter will say your diet needs to be ketogenic, and another chapter says your diet needs to include 30-40 DIFFERENT vegetables a week, organic of course, and most of those should be eaten raw. I don't know how you'd get that many vegetables without having too many carbs to be in keto. The book also talks about improving your microbiome by bathing in the forest, so... yeah. Not terribly realistic. I'm all for a healthy diet but I can't imagine sticking to something restrictive for literally the rest of my life. Food is a big part of our culture and I don't even do most of the cooking in my household.

    Is there such thing as a moderately keto diet? Or if I'm not under 5% carbs is there no point at all?

  • flashlight
    flashlight Member Posts: 311
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    Hi Nola70115, I had to have a plan to follow. I signed up for the free month at Diet Doctor - www.dietdoctor.com. Then signed up for the Keto challenge. They do have low carb diet plans and lots of helpful articles/videos. Some of the diets out there can be extreme and too difficult to follow not to mention expensive.

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 745
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    Hey Nola,

    I basically use the Keto subReddit FAQ as my guidance and am taking the approach of anything that fits my macros, although trying to make sure I get some amount of either vegetables or liver. It's not really specific to cancer at all, but it's been very doable for me to follow.

    I'm not sure what to say about the restrictiveness of it. I am trying to stick to 20g net carbs, which excludes a LOT of things that used to be part of my diet. On the other hand, it leaves a LOT I can still eat, AND I can have minimum quantities (tastes) of pretty much anything if I adjust the rest of my day to it. I stayed with my sister-in-law for a week and a half. She is a wonderful and creative cook who was totally supportive and cooked for my diet. I didn't count/weigh, but I tried to stick to pretty low carb (I may have been up in the 20-40 range). I have to say, it didn't feel restrictive at all. But of course it is.

    I think it would be tough for me to stick to if I were really doing it for cancer. I'm not sure how much research is out there to support it, especially not the specifics, and you can't see/feel the difference even if it is working. But since I did it for weight loss and it was so successful, it's easy for me to see the impact and easy for me to stick to long enough to get used to and feel like I can do this long term, even if I'm maintaining instead of losing.

  • nola70115
    nola70115 Member Posts: 61
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    Thank you for your replies. I'm trying to figure out how to keep my carbs low but meet my recommended vegetable intake. I'm supposed to get 9 servings of vegetables. With a goal of less than 33 grams of carbs the math just doesn't work. I think I'll need to work into it gradually.

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 745
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    Hey Nola,

    I would question whether the vegetables are really necessary. My understanding is that you can get the same nutrients from meat, especially liver, and even more bioavailable.

    That said, if you really want to do the vegetables, go for the 33g. There's a great chance you'll still be in ketosis (20g is just the safe cutoff for basically everybody, because it's difficult to know our unique personal limit), and at least get a lot of the benefits of it. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, especially when the research is so limited!

  • norcals
    norcals Member Posts: 209
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    Hi.

    I agree with Salamandra. During active treatment (ACT chemo, radiation, and xeloda), I was very strict with my macros. I alternated the vegetables that I wanted to eat because at 20g carbs, it’s very difficult to eat a lot of vegetables. It was also difficult to have fruit. I was planning on staying at 20g for another year, but I decided to increase my carbs to 35g-50g. It’s so much easier to have vegetables at this carb level. I am also much more active since I finished Xeloda, so I think that helps as well. Friends and family have joined me in the low carb diet. They have been below 50g for over a year now and they have grown accustomed to eating this way. It has been almost 2 years for me and it is automatic now to limit carbs.

  • nola70115
    nola70115 Member Posts: 61
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    My cholesterol levels are okay. The guidance to add vegetables wasn’t as much for nutrition as it was for maximizing my immune and digestive health. I’m seeing an integrative medicine doctor who is all about maximizing natural immunity.

    As he has told me, I can’t keep driving myself crazy trying to make a perfect diet. Perfection is the enemy of the good, etc. I’ve settled on a moderately low carb approach, but not so low as to keep me in ketosis. The doctor said as long as I keep carbs under 30-50 grams a day I’m good. I’m losing weight at that level. If I level off I can always adjust the ratios.

  • wavesofharmony
    wavesofharmony Member Posts: 106
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    There are many good books. I would recommend The Art & Science of Low Carb Living by Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney. They are the researchers that most low carb/keto folks refer back to. Dr. Volek oversaw a clinical trial at The Ohio State University focused on using ketosis for women with metastatic breast cancer. I have personally worked with the researchers who conducted this clinical trial (even though I was diagnosed after the close of the clinical trial. Many books about using ketosis for cancer are based on research on brain cancers. It has been explained to me that using ketosis for breast cancer doesn’t need to be as severe/strict as it is for brain cancer. Feel free to private message me if you want more detailed information

  • wavesofharmony
    wavesofharmony Member Posts: 106
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    I am happy to have found my way to this group! I was low carb prior to my diagnosis and then tightened up my macros after diagnosis. Being low carb pre-diagnosis probably did not allow me to have recognizable symptoms of the cancer that had spread to my bones (I had no pain). Having tightened up my macros has allowed me to tolerate the standard of care treatments I receive with minimal side effects. I also credit the nutrition and lifestyle with significantly decreasing active cancer in my body. I am looking forward to connecting with others following the low carb/keto path

  • Esther01
    Esther01 Member Posts: 229
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    Hi Waves of Harmony,

    What a blessing to see your post today. We are sisters in low carbs :) I am so happy that you have tightened up your macros so well, lowered your side effects and that you are significantly decreasing the active cancer. I have seen that working succesfully with several stage IV friends who inspire me so much.

    I'm underweight, so I've had a hard time maintaining and building muscle. I just don't eat enough during the day and only eat healthy now, so I can't lean on ice cream and mashed potatoes and want to avoid packing my middle with new fat cells instead of the muscle I sorely need. I have rediscovered butter, eat tons of avocados and pour olive oil on everything. I love the MyPlate app. On the days I don't use it, my weight slides back down because I didn't eat enough. I need to be more intentional about that.

    I have researched and found several amazing doctors such as Dr. Thomas Seyfried (Cancer as a Metabolic Disease), Dr. Paul Anderson, integrative oncologist out of Seattle and my own IMD, Dr Rita Ellithorpe out of southern CA stressing the importance of staying very low carb. I now drink half my body weight in lb in oz per day and rare to no sugar to keep my insulin levels down. My metabolic function was in disrepair and I am so grateful Dr. E helped me rebuild it. I am committed to eat very clean and healthy and stay very low carb, which I certainly was not doing before diagnosis.

    I am also blood type A (we don't digest our nutrients as well and become dusty inside with cellular debris). I must have had one slow elimination pathway.. so I will need digestive enzymes with every meal to keep my cells healthy, and I now take systemic enzymes on an empty stomach for clearing away cellular debris which I can see from my cancer growth and escape to five of my lymph nodes was not happening before.

    I start 7 weeks of radiation today. I'm committed to staying healthy during and after it and am finally taking care of my metabolic cellular function and am committed to do this for the rest of my life.
    So glad to meet you here.

    Hugs and blessings to you-

    Esther



  • Esther01
    Esther01 Member Posts: 229
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    PS I'm also glad to see your research on ketosis. I've been finding the same but don't have near as much experience or the insights you will have. I did forget to mention intermittent fasting. My hours of eating are longer right now because I'm desperately trying to gain weight (I'm eating in a 9 hour window and fasting 15). With all the time taken in driving, errands, IV C infusions, chelations and doctors appointments, I don't have enough time to pack in enough calories so for now my caloric window is longer.

    Blessings,

    Esther

  • wavesofharmony
    wavesofharmony Member Posts: 106
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    Yes, the intermittent fasting has been a big boost for me. In January I began an experiment to see how I would do with only 2 meals a day and a shorter eating window. This approach has helped to raise my ketones more consistently. Interestingly a few months after doing this my blood glucose began to creep up a little from where it had been. I believe it has more to do with my body having fully adapted to using fat as it’s main fuel ( this is a noted phenomenon in some folks who have been low carb for a while). Also, my standard of care medications tend to raise blood sugar. I haven’t had my insulin checked recently but will soon, though I am not expecting it to be problematic.

    Do you do a fatty coffee in the morning? It’s something that you can take with you when you’re on the road. Because it is all fat and doesn’t raise blood sugar it doesn’t “break the fast.” Also, to gain some lean mass/weight, you might want to look at increasing your protein. Eating low carb with IF naturally reduces your caloric intake so you really need to make sure that the food you are eating is very nutrient dense.

    I hope that you tolerate the radiation treatments with few side effects. I have watched some videos and read articles/books by Dr. Colin Champ. He is a Radiology Oncologist who recommends low carb living/lifestyle. I know you can find some of his talks on YouTube.

    Sending you healing energy 🌀

  • norcals
    norcals Member Posts: 209
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    I ran across this article recently from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s website on research concerning the keto diet and cancer treatment. https://www.mskcc.org/news/can-keto-diet-fight

    While the research is not specific to breast cancer, I think it’s great that there is research being done about diet that can help with traditional cancer treatment

  • Esther01
    Esther01 Member Posts: 229
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    Thanks Waves,

    You always find the best studies and articles. I am researching which keto recipes will help me regain the most weight. According to the keto urine strips, I am in ketosis. I was really happy about that.

    Thanks for the kind thoughts as I go through radiation. I'm four weeks in and don't have any side effects. I don't have any fatigue and my skin is minimally red. I don't think that's just from a keto diet, of course. I was fortunate that my oncotype came back that chemo was not going to be of benefit for me. My dear friends going through radiation right now with me are all coming out of chemo and having a harder time of this. It breaks my heart. Radiation is hard enough!

    I need to incorporate more muscle-building into my day as you recommended. I struggled to LOSE weight all my life and now I'm swinging in the wind on the other side of the pendulum.

    Love

    Esther