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Homemade sauerkraut, my flat belly secret

I hope that got your attention! Yes, I believe eating a little of my homemade sauerkraut every day helps keep my tummy flat. I will explain why and show you how I make my own sauerkraut.

Food fermentation has a long history

Humans have been fermenting food since an estimated 10,000 BC. The reasons for this were to preserve food and enhance the nutritional benefits.

Just about every culture has traditionally used fermented foods in their diet, such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, natto, cod liver oil, high meat and, of course, sauerkraut.

Americans do not typically eat fermented food. In fact, most of us tend to treat our stomach like a garbage can and just eat anything without regard to the effect it will have on our bodies.

I want to have a long and healthy life (and fit into my size 4 jeans) so I decided to make fermented food part of my diet. And of that list, sauerkraut appeals to me the most.

The nutritional benefits of sauerkraut

Something magical happens when you mix cabbage, salt and water together in an anaerobic environment. It produces lovely probiotics, enzymes and vitamin K2, to name a few. All these things are good for gut health and your overall health because if your digestion is messed up, you won’t be healthy.

When your digestion works properly, you won’t have gas, bloating, heartburn, etc. 

And you get all this good stuff for just pennies a day compared to buying nutritional supplements.

Making sauerkraut vs buying it

You don’t have to make your own sauerkraut but you’ll save a lot of money doing it and you can customize it to your taste.

If you’d rather buy sauerkraut, make sure to get it from the refrigerated section. Any sauerkraut that is shelf stable has been pasteurized which kills all the probiotics.

I could make vats of sauerkraut for what one jar from the store would cost. And here’s how I make it.

How to make sauerkraut

You will need a 64 oz mason jar with optional plastic lid, glass weights* (optional but highly recommended), large knife, cutting board, large mixing bowl, water, sea salt and cabbage (slightly over 4 lb).

*You need some kind of weight, not necessarily these, but these are perfect!

64 oz  mason jar, plastic lid and glass weight
64 oz mason jar, plastic lid and glass weight

This basic recipe makes about a half gallon of sauerkraut.

Cut cabbage into thin strips. Save one leaf (cut into a circle) to fit inside the jar as floater control.

circle of cabbage
Cut a circle of cabbage to control floaters

Discard the core.

Put cabbage into mixing bowl with about 1T of salt. Knead and massage cabbage with your hands for a total of 10 minutes. 

Sliced cabbage with 1T sea salt
Sliced cabbage with 1T sea salt ready for kneading

After five minutes you can add extra spices or veggie slices if desired.

garlic, onion flakes, red pepper flakes
I sometimes add crushed red pepper, garlic and onion flakes

Transfer cabbage into mason jar and use your fist to press out all the air. Pour in the liquid from the cabbage.

cabbage kneaded for 10 minutes
Cabbage after 10 minutes of kneading
Tamping down the cabbage with my fist to remove air
Tamping down the cabbage with my fist to remove air
cabbage pressed into mason jar
All the cabbage pressed into mason jar. This was a little smaller batch.

Add the floater control circle and put at least one glass weight on top. You may need to add extra brine to completely cover the cabbage and weight.

Adding cabbage circle to jar
Adding cabbage circle to jar
Glass weights keep cabbage under water
Glass weights keep cabbage under water

The recipe for brine is 1T sea salt to 4 cups of water (I use filtered water). Save extra brine in the refrigerator.

leftover brine
Save leftover brine in the refrigerator

Leave 1 to 1½ inches of space from the top of the jar. The liquid is going to rise during fermentation.

Lay the lid on top but don’t screw it on. This is just to keep bugs out.

Lid placed on top of jar and put inside bowl
Lid placed on top of jar and put inside bowl

Put the mason jar on a plate. Cover the jar with a clean cloth and set aside out of direct sunlight for 7 to 14 days. (Longer in cooler temperatures.)

Put a clean towel over the jar
Put a clean towel over the jar

Check sauerkraut every day to make sure there’s still enough liquid. Sometimes after the liquid rises it will begin to evaporate and you need to add more brine.

Bubbles produced during fermentation
Bubbles produced during fermentation

When the sauerkraut is ready, remove the glass weight and cabbage circle. Now you can screw on the lid and place the jar in the refrigerator. This will keep up to a year.

remove and discard cabbage circle after fermentation
After fermentation, remove and discard cabbage circle

Watch my video on how to make sauerkraut

See me make sauerkraut step by step

So there you have it! I eat about ¼ cup each day. Being a low carb food, it fits well into my keto diet.

Sauerkraut finished and ready for the refrigerator
Sauerkraut finished and ready for the refrigerator

I hope you’ll enjoy your sauerkraut and good tummy health!

Keto diet results year 2 | keto after 60

Two years have passed since I started the keto diet and intermittent fasting (IF) as a woman over 60. So what new things have I learned between year one and year two?

Be sure to read about year one here.

Not only did I lose a bit more weight, I learned some important keto diet tweaks that I’m revealing in this article. You will also see before and after photos from the first and second year. And I am posting pics of a full day of keto eating.

Keto weight loss results

Okay I’m going to start with the good stuff because most people are looking to lose weight.

In May of 2017 I started IF without dieting and lost no weight. In June of 2017 I started the keto diet (with IF) and that’s when things began to happen.

My starting weight was 150 and by June of 2018 it was 130. (I’m 5′4½᳓.) So I lost 20 lbs in one year.

I went from a size 12 to a size 6.

one year on keto, keto after 60

During the second year I was mostly in maintenance but then decided to lose a few more pounds. So I lost five more pounds and went from a size 6 to a size 4!

two years on keto, keto over 60

I’m happy with these results and I’ve gone back to maintenance.

Electrolytes are important

Sodium, potassium and magnesium are even more important on a keto diet because they are easily flushed out of our bodies.

I had been getting muscle spasms in my toes/foot once in a while at night. Eventually I realized it was only happening after dancing on Saturday night. I tend not to drink very much water when I’m out and after several hours of dancing I became dehydrated. And that caused me to lose more electrolytes which then caused the spasms.

So I got this electrolyte supplement that I only take Saturday night before I go to bed. Problem solved! I haven’t had any more spasms since then.

Lyteshow electrolyte supplement
Lyteshow electrolyte supplement

And I got some NoSalt as a potassium supplement. I use it along with sea salt when salting my food. (I get enough magnesium from vitamins.)

NoSalt as a potassium supplement
NoSalt as a potassium supplement

I also learned that the keto flu I experienced when I started keto could have been eliminated by having more sodium. Now if I start to feel a bit sluggish I reach for the salt shaker and consume about ¼ teaspoon of sea salt. Other people make something called solé water with pink himalayan salt, but I’d rather just put the salt in my mouth.

Experimenting with keto macros

The difference between keto and a low carb diet is the amount of carbs you can eat. To be keto, carbs are limited to 20 grams a day. Then you can play with your protein and fat macros to achieve the results you want.

Much of the time my carbs are around 10 grams per day.

Keto is touted as a high fat diet. But you don’t need to consume excessive amounts of fat if you’re trying to lose weight. Fat is a limit not a goal. It’s more important to get the protein in first and top it off with fat. You should have at least 50 grams of fat if you’re losing weight and more if you’re trying to maintain.

During my second year of keto I ate fewer and fewer vegetables, and sometimes none at all. The reason for this is I had noticed some “adverse effects” from certain vegetables. However, I do try to eat a small amount of homemade sauerkraut for the probiotic benefits.

I also tried upping my fat intake, sometimes as much as 84 percent. And I have to say I felt really good with that much fat.

But was I getting enough protein?

two years on keto, keto over 60

Protein, the underrated macro

I practice lazy keto which means I don’t track my macros every day. Once in a while I do it just to see where I’m at. (However, I do always keep a mental note of how many carbs I eat.)

Because of the IF, I was only eating two meals a day. I felt really satisfied but didn’t think the 50 grams of protein per day, suggested by conventional wisdom and online macro calculators, was enough. Almost everybody says not to worry about it but I still did.

I didn’t want to look like so many older people I’ve seen with droopy, flaccid skin that hangs off of their bones. Every time I see that I think to myself, that person isn’t getting enough protein.

After a lot of digging I found this amazing YouTube channel, Keto Chaos, who’s done extensive research and explains the protein situation very well.

An explanation of protein synthesis

And I learned a new word: sarcopenia, the loss of muscle tissue in older adults. Aha! That explains the flaccid skin!

The secret to getting enough protein

Basically, the older we get, the harder it is for our bodies to utilize protein. That means we need to eat more of it.

But there’s a trick to it. You have to eat 30 grams at a time for protein synthesis to occur. And it takes three to four hours to complete the process before eating again.

There is some debate as to whether eating more than 30 grams in one sitting will do you any good.

I’ve been experimenting with three 30 gram protein meals a day during my eight hour eating window.

It was hard going from 50 to 90 grams. To make it a little easier, one of my meals often consists of whey protein. It’s pretty tasty in my iced coffee.

I’m working my way up to consuming more protein. I think 100 to 120 grams would be preferable.

To make things easier, I got this sleek little food scale to measure my protein.

digital food scale
digital food scale

What I eat in a day

Here are some pics of one full day of keto meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Breakfast: bacon, egg, salsa, queso fresco
Breakfast: bacon, egg, salsa, queso fresco
Lunch: keto protein coffee
Lunch: keto whey protein coffee
Lunch: 2T peanut butter
Lunch: 2T peanut butter
Dinner: Shredded pot roast, green beans, sauerkraut
Dinner: Shredded pot roast, green beans, sauerkraut, Malden sea salt flakes
Dessert: five chocolate almonds
Dessert: five chocolate almonds

Keto cheat days

As I did in year one, I have one cheat day a week. I feel like it makes the diet more sustainable and has given me metabolic flexibility. That means my body can run on glucose that day and the next day it switches back to burning ketones.

I know this because of how I feel the next day. Some people feel crappy but I usually feel normal, like I can delay my eating if I want to.

Will I stay on keto?

This way of eating has been so effective and almost effortless for maintaining my weight so I intend to keep going.

I also intend to keep experimenting with macros and cycling between keto and low carb. Limiting carbs will always be necessary for me.

And I never get tired of bacon!

More information

Protein and older adults

How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle building?

Older adults, double your protein intake for better health. I’m with them up to the point where they start recommending plant sources of protein. Humans need meat!

Intermittent fasting and keto after 60

Today I want to share my experience with intermittent fasting (IF) and the ketogenic diet I’ve been doing for the last six months. My main goal in trying both of these was to lose weight, which I have done and continue to do.

The great thing about this way of eating is that there’s a lot of flexibility. So there’s no “right” way to do it. That’s good but also bad because it can be confusing when you’re just starting out. Hopefully my experiences will clear up some of the confusion.

I’m going to talk about how much I’ve lost, the foods I eat, how much exercise I’ve done, how I’ve felt, and the benefits besides weight loss that keep me motivated to continue. I will also list some resources at the end where you can go to get more extensive info on both IF and keto.

You may find this especially helpful if you’re a mature woman who’s having a hard time maintaining and/or losing weight.

Intermittent fasting

Let me start by saying I’m 62, post menopausal and living without a gallbladder. (That hasn’t been a problem for me on this high fat keto diet although it can be for some.) I’ve lost 18 pounds in the last six months and am still losing about half a pound per week.

Prior to that I had been dieting for a few months and had been on a plateau for about a month when I discovered IF.

I was really resistant to the idea at first because it sounded potentially unhealthy. But when I learned it’s a good way to keep insulin levels down, and therefore lose weight, I decided to give it a try.

Without going into too much detail, IF has been described as an eating window. You only eat during a certain period of the day which can be anything from 12 hours to four hours. Another way to look at it is skipping breakfast or not eating anything after dinner.

I do the 16:8 method which means I fast for 16 hours and eat during the other eight hours. I like to eat soon after getting up in the morning and then eight hours later I stop.

There are days I choose to fast longer or shorter. I’ve gone as long as 21 hours fasting or as little as 12 hours. I intentionally vary the schedule to keep my body guessing and to have a normal social life.

In the beginning I was confused. Do I eat three meals a day or just two? I started with three meals a day but felt too full so I cut back to two.

Then I was worried I wasn’t eating enough. And because some people claim you can eat any type of food you want, I started eating chips and cookies. Well that was a mistake and I put on a couple of pounds.

Around that time (about three weeks in) I discovered the keto diet.

keto after pic

Wearing size 6 jeans Xmas 2017

Keto and keeping it simple

The keto diet is a low carb high fat diet, or LCHF, generally defined as 60% fat, 35% protein, 5% carbs. This forces your body to use fat (ketones) for fuel rather than sugar (glucose) from a standard high carb diet.

Most people say you need to keep track of your macros and recommend recording your meals in MyFitnessPal.

I did this for maybe one day. I don’t like tracking macros, counting calories, adding up points, etc. I’d rather learn to eat intuitively.

The most important thing to remember is to keep net carbs at or below 20 grams. And if you’re trying to lose weight, eat a little less fat so your body will burn stored fat.

I keep a mental note of my carb count which is pretty easy because my meals are simple and repetitive. If I want a special treat, I work it into my daily carb allowance.

How do you know if you’re in ketosis

Ketosis is when your body has made the switch from burning sugar to burning fat. It can take a few weeks to adapt and it’s different for everyone.

A lot of people will test their ketones and blood sugar and generally obsess over whether or not they’re in ketosis. Once again, this is not for me. I just go by how I feel and since I’m losing weight, I know I’m on the right track.

I did have the “keto flu” for what seemed like forever. In real time it was three or four weeks. How did I know I had the keto flu? Well I just generally felt like crap. I was so lethargic and tired I could do almost nothing but lay around. And my symptoms were exacerbated by a summer heatwave.

Then I learned that keto flu could be remedied by taking electrolytes, specifically sodium. I started sipping on some homemade bone broth and began to feel better within about three days.

Eventually I became quite energetic as is typical on a keto diet. Increased energy and the fact that I can go long hours if need be without food tells me that I’m in ketosis. Another sign is keto breath which I do notice from time to time.

Foods I enjoy and what I eat on a typical day

I like buying high quality food and cooking most of my meals from scratch. I buy grass fed beef, organic free range chicken and organic eggs. This is not mandatory on a keto diet, it’s just my preference.

I try to stay away from artificial sweeteners but every now and then will have a Zevia diet soda.

I also have no interest in keto versions of high carb foods like pancakes, cakes and cookies. The only thing I make once in a while is coconut flour muffins. But it’s perfectly fine to eat keto treats occasionally if it helps keep you on the diet.

The foods I like to eat most often are eggs, bacon, beef, butter, cheese, half and half, peanut butter and sour cream. Sometimes I also eat avocados, almonds, chicken thighs and mayo.

My usual breakfast is one egg and two pieces of bacon. Lately my favorite concoction is what I’m calling a cheesy jalapeno egg with sour cream.

Cheesy jalapeno egg and bacon

Cheesy jalapeno egg and bacon

I don’t usually have lunch but if I’m hungry I may have a bite of peanut butter or pork rinds. And for a tasty treat, I mix half an avocado with a couple of tablespoons of sour cream, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. I either eat it with pork rinds or homemade cheese chips. Yum!

For dinner it’s often ground beef with vegetables. Sometimes I make my own version of “crack slaw” (without sweetener or sugar). Once in a while I’ll have steak or chicken with sauteed vegetables or my homemade sauerkraut. And last week I had taco salad with ground beef, cheese, lettuce, olives, salsa, tomatoes and sour cream.

Taco salad

Taco salad

For dessert I like to have exactly five chocolate covered almonds from Trader Joe’s. I work it into my macros. It keeps me from feeling deprived and doesn’t trigger any carb cravings. Now ice cream or chocolate chip cookies would be another story.

TJ's choc covered almonds

Daily treat: chocolate almonds

As for bulletproof coffee, it’s not for me and maybe not for you if you’re trying to lose weight. I make my own cold brewed coffee that I either drink black or with half and half and no sweetener.

To supplement or not to supplement

I’ve been taking a variety of supplements for the last few years and will keep taking them because I notice a difference. Some people believe you should get all your nutrients from food. That would be ideal but I’m not sure it’s really possible. However, I’ve been able to cut down with no ill effects which is saving me money.

Exercise

For the first four months I did the T-Tapp barefoot basic plus workout five days a week. Then I took a couple of months off and recently started doing T-Tapp three days a week, and a kettlebell express workout two days a week. I still lost weight when I was not exercising.

I keep a file of my exercise schedule with weekly measurements and monthly weigh-ins. It gives me encouragement and perspective on how far I’ve gone.

Strategies for living an IF and keto lifestyle

Everyone has to decide how strict to be with the diet. Are you going to cheat, carb up or bring your own foods to non keto gatherings.

My goal is to have a normal life that includes celebrating holidays, special occasions or going out on Saturday night.

After two months on keto I incorporated “cheating” into my lifestyle. It’s also part of my strategy to avoid a plateau. So far it’s working.

Saturday is my free day from keto and IF because I like going out on Saturday night. I reserve that day for eating things I might be wanting such as bread, pizza or dessert. And I almost always make organic popcorn.

That is not to say I go hog wild because I don’t. I try to keep the net carbs under 75 grams.

Sometimes I’ll switch my cheat day for a night out with friends or celebrating a holiday. I just got through Thanksgiving and Christmas this year by doing that.

For those holidays I ended up having one meal that day. I ate mostly meat and green veg with very small servings of everything else including dessert. I was really stuffed and fasted for 21 hours afterwards.

The key is to enjoy yourself for that one day and go right back to keto the next day. No guilt.

Benefits of IF and keto aside from weight loss

The very first thing I noticed on day two of IF was how much better my foot felt. For those of you who don’t know, two years ago I suffered a severe ankle injury, breaking all the bones in my left ankle. My goal is 100% recovery, currently around 98%.

Anyway, after making this observation I did more research to see if there’s a connection between IF and joint pain relief. Turns out it’s something called autophagy, a process the body uses to rid itself of cellular debris. Autophagy reduces inflammation and boosts the immune system. This alone makes me want to keep doing IF.

Watch this short video for more information:

Some of the other benefits have been curing a persistent toenail fungus, saving money on food and supplements, experiencing sustained energy throughout the day, and generally feeling strong.

Recommended resources for more information on IF and keto

Recipe ideas and general information on keto: Keto Connect on YouTube
A doctor’s perspective on keto and intermittent fasting: Dr Eric Berg on YouTube
IF and keto wonderfully explained in plain terms: Butter Bob Briggs on YouTube