One Year Later- RESULTS!

My photos from a year ago popped up on my phone this morning.  I saw a pic of where I was at then and I had to of course compare it to now, 6 or so months into a ketogenic lifestyle.

The second picture was this morning.¬† Of course I had to make a dorky face.¬† Might as well if you’re taking bathroom selfies, and flexing no less.¬† I think I look leaner and more defined.¬† I’m probably only a couple pounds lighter.¬† I started lifting heavier and increased my lean muscle mass while cutting a bit of body fat.

In the “before” pic I was very fit, working out very hard but not getting the results I wanted.¬† I remember thinking I should be getting more out of the work I was putting in.¬† I wanted to be leaner but, as much as I knew about health and fitness, I wasn’t sure how to go about it.¬† I knew just cutting calories wasn’t a great plan because cutting calories is a sure fire way¬†to slow your metabolism¬†which is like shooting yourself in the foot.

I have to admit this all pure vanity stuff.¬† Of course I want to be healthy but when it’s five pounds plus or minus it’s pretty much aesthetics.¬† I’ve had three babies but I really wanted great abs.¬†¬†20180608_1309022006147604.jpg

Goal: accomplished.

I don’t do crunches or count calories.¬† I just keep my carbs low, eat plenty of healthy fat and protein, and lift challenging weights.¬† When I do cardio I keep it very short with HIIT style workouts.

My belly button looks wonky and I have plenty of stretch marks, but they’re badges of honor.¬† I just want to be the best version of me and honor what my body has accomplished.

 

Chilly Keto ColdBrew Mocha

Guys, I was doing a flex-keto approach and doing high and low carb days along with some intermittent fasting.  Which worked well for awhile until I found myself eating TWO big ole gluten free smores last weekend and then realizing I had gained, or was well on my way, to gaining back all the weight I had initially lost.  *sad face*

So I did what I usually do to atone for too many dietary sins.¬† I started tracking¬†every single gram of carb¬†with my fitness pal.¬† It’s still amazing to me that calories don’t really matter.¬† 1,500 calories with over 100 grams of carbs will have me gaining weight while 1,800 with less than 30 grams of carbs will have my body fat quickly dwindling away.¬† This may not hold true for all but I know it certainly is for me.

20180603_0941431091780791.jpgI’ve said it before but I’ll say it again- one of the best things about keto is the fact that you can still have creamy, delicious treats.¬† Like this cold brew based coffee drink I am sipping right now.¬†If you’ve read the blog for awhile you’ve probably figured out that I am a bit obsessed with both coffee and chocolate.¬† So I love finding new, low-carb ways to combine them.

I picked up some starbucks brand cold brew at target.¬† If you get some, make sure it is unsweetened.¬† Most kinds come pre-sweetened.¬† Definitely don’t want that!

I blended about a cup of cold brew with half and half (food of the gods!), cocoa powder and my monk fruit sweetener to get this delicious, frosty treat.¬† You can also add ice to make it more frappuccino-esque.¬† I think for future versions, I’ll have some coffee ice cubes on hand to add in.¬†¬†20180603_093440940081504.jpg

Keto ColdBrew Mocha

  • 1 Cup Cold Brew Coffee
  • 1/2 Cup Half and Half ( you can sub in filtered milk, almond milk, or heavy cream)
  • 1 tbs. Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tbs. Natural Sweetener (such as stevia, monk fruit, or¬†erythritol)

Combine ingredients in magic bullet style blender and enjoy!  This refreshing treat is sure to put some pep in your step at 182 calories, 8.7 grams of carb (about 6 net carbs), 14.5 grams of fat and 4.6 grams of protein.

 

Keto Flourless Chocolate Cake

I love chocolate…. Like it’s a food group to me.¬† The most important one.¬†¬†11062757_10156302585070074_8547220417261379568_n

If I couldn’t have chocolate, I wouldn’t stick with keto for long!

Luckily for me, there are many great chocolicious keto recipes out there as well as recipes that are easily adaptable.

Flourless chocolate cake is one such recipe.¬† It’s high fat, low carb.¬† It’s rich, dense, sinfully delicious.¬† It’s easily made sugar free with the use of a low-carb sweetener.¬† My favorite at the moment is monk sweet– a blend of stevia, erythritol, and monk fruit extract.

I adapted a combo of recipes to make this delicious and keto-friendly!

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Everything’s Better with Butter, Ya’ll!

You’ll need~

  • a stick of butter (preferably grass fed!)
  • 4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of your sweetener
  • 1/4 cup cocoa (or raw cacao powder)
  • 1 tsp. pink salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs

I started with melting my butter and the broken up chocolate on medium-low in a medium saucepan.¬† I added the sweetener as well, so that the cake wouldn’t be gritty.¬† As that melted down I turned the burner to low and added the rest of the ingredients, mixing after each addition.

I removed the pan from the heat before whisking in the eggs.¬† I poured the brownie-like batter into a greased, round 8″ glass pan and baked at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

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The result was Ah-MAZ-ing.  I ate a piece with some whipped cream on top.  It hits the spot for sure.  Not only is it keto-friendly but you are also getting loads of antioxidants from all the chocolate.  Believe it or not but chocolate is pretty much the richest source of health-boosting antioxidants that you can eat.

“One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits they tested, which included¬†blueberries¬†and Acai berries.” –¬†health benefits of chocolate¬†

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Chocolate is a superfood in every capacity; high in fiber, iron, minerals… and this is a great way to get the full benefits without the health-degrading effects of sugar.

So treat yourself to this recipe with zero guilt!

The Fat-Adapted Athlete

Exercise and fitness have always been really important to me.¬† It’s my natural¬†antidepressant!¬† So, naturally, I wanted to discover how and why my ketogenic diet may affect my fitness abilities….

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Mommy Athlete!

Your body can only store so much glycogen.¬† Often marathon runners “hit a wall” after burning through their stored glycogen.¬† They often take sport gels and drinks so they can keep going (and not collapse…!).¬† It’s the body’s preferred method of fuel, though there is a finite amount of what the body can store in the muscles and liver.¬† Once it’s gone, it’s gone.¬† However, if you are a fat-adapted athlete you have almost unlimited energy you can tap into.¬† Even a very lean person with 10% body fat has about 54,000 calories of energy stored in the form of body fat- which he can easily access.

If you are an athelte in ketosis, you have literal days of easily accessed energy…. Versus two hours as a sugar burning athlete.¬†¬†fat adapted athlete

What is really interesting is that in a state of ketosis you stay in your fat burning zone longer and burn much more body fat- 230% more body fat  than you would on a high-carb diet.  You stay in the fat burning zone up to 75% of your VO2 max, as opposed to under 50%.  Which means you can work out harder before you get into an aerobic zone.

This really mimics my own experience.¬† I’ll be working out really hard but I’ll stay in¬†a fat-burning zone, at the same level exertion that used to leave me huffing and puffing.¬† I’m burning fat as opposed to glucose.

I’ve also noticed it took time to transition.¬† When I first started I really paced myself, so I wouldn’t place undue stress on my body.¬† A little stress is good, and forces adaptation.¬† A lot of stress is bad and causes too much inflammation.¬† The article above states that it takes athletes at least 5 weeks to fully transition into being efficient, fat-burning athletes.¬† It is a huge metabolic overhaul, after all!¬† I saw that too.¬† I had less stamina and explosive power the first 2-3 weeks.¬† When I would push past 75% VO2 (perceived exertion) my body did¬†not like it.¬† I got dizzy and even nauseous.¬† Though I am now about where I was before in terms of VO2 max.¬† I know this because I like to push myself to the limit with HIIT and Tabata style workouts.¬† I saw an initial hit to my cardio power and endurance but that has leveled out.¬† Workouts are even starting to feel easier!

If you’re an athlete and worried about a decrease in your performance, do some research and stick it out.¬† The decrease is temporary and you’ll come back stronger than ever!

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How many push-ups can Chuck do?    All of them.

 

Results!!

I’ve been at this keto lifestyle for 19 days and¬†drumroll…. I’ve lost five pounds of body fat!¬† Five pounds in under 20 days!¬† If you need a visual to process that, here ya go.

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I’m sorry if you are currently eating.¬† Shocking, isn’t it?

20180125_093402.jpgAll I did was track my food with the fitness pal app.¬† I didn’t even cut back on calories much.¬† I just kept my carbs low (under 50 grams) and my fat high (over 110 grams).

If anything, I’ve cut back on exercise.¬† I do about 30 minutes a day.¬† I stick mostly with strength training.¬† I’ve been going over my supposed calorie needs every day, sometimes by up to 400 calories.¬† And still, results!

I’m feeling good.¬† I feel strong.

Obviously, I really highly recommend the ketogenic diet.¬† For most people, you are going to get results, and quickly!¬† The honest downside is that you are very limited in what you can eat.¬† If you stroll down the aisles at your grocery store you’ll realize you can’t eat 90% of what is in the store.¬† I have celiacs disease, so I’m used to a limited diet.¬† It hasn’t been a huge deal to me, but I can see how it would be to someone who is used to eating whatever they want.

But the real benefits are that you lose stored body fat without having to deprive yourself.¬† You won’t lose muscle like you would on a low calorie diet.¬† You’re eating foods that are great for you.¬† Your thinking will get clearer and your cravings will greatly dissipate.¬† All that fat is great for skin and brain health.¬†Fat and Cholesterol Critical for Brain Health¬†Dietary fat for Healthy Skin

 

Health, Hormones, and Keto…oh my!

I think it’s is arrogant to assume we know everything about the human body.¬† We don’t.¬† But there are some things that we¬†do¬†know and we should use them to our advantage.

I’ve spent (too many!) hours scouring articles and message boards on the keto diet.¬† And for as many people who try it, there are as many results.¬† Some women report their hormones go from dysfunctional to problem free, finding relief from PCOS or endometriosis. Some people are able to reverse diabetes and high blood pressure and go off of their medication.¬† Other people report that the diet caused hypothyroidism.

It’s important to give your body proper nutritional support, especially when embarking on a diet.¬† Any diet can stress your adrenal glands and possibly impact your thyroid function.

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Here are some natural supplements I am taking to support my adrenal and thyroid function.  The thyroid energy support has zinc, copper, iodine, B-vitamins, and a couple adaptive herbs.  Nothing too crazy.

Ideally you can improve your adrenal health as you are cutting out a major source of stress on your body- sugar.  Sugar and Adrenals

You also want to try to keep stress levels down.¬† If you’re into cardio, you may want to scale it back.¬† You don’t need to slog through hours of cardio to burn off carbs because you’re not eating them!¬† Stick with minimal cardio because too much can be a negative form of stress.¬†¬†Stress and Cardio ¬† ¬†Moderate activity throughout the day is actually really great for you.¬† Cleaning your house, playing with your kids, going for a walk- those are all ideal ways to aid your body in burning fat without increasing cortisol levels.

Another thing that (especially for women) you want to be aware if you are going keto; that you may experience funky side effects as you lose body fat.¬† ¬†I had three days of achiness in my legs, the same feeling I get when I’m really hormonal.¬† Why?¬† Your body stores estrogen and toxins in your body fat.¬† As you burn body fat those hormones and toxins get released into your blood steam.¬† Because we are exposed to a lot of environmental estrogen, a lot of us women have symptoms of estrogen dominance.¬† If you’ve seen women shaped like extreme pears; regular sized torso and¬†huge¬†bottom and thighs- that’s estrogen dominance.¬† Estrogen is very important for our health but too much, and the franken-estrogen we are exposed to, can cause major problems.¬† We want to decrease our body fat and flush out the extra estrogen, even if it means a bit of discomfort for the time being.¬† Xenoestrogens

You can aid the process along by staying hydrated (don’t forget your electrolytes!!) and sweating.¬† If you’re lucky enough to have access to a sauna, use it everyday.¬† Yes, you can sweat out toxins.¬†¬†Benefits of Sweating¬† You can get similar benefits from sweating during a workout.¬† You can also try hot detox baths with epsom salt, dry-brushing, and rebounding.

I know I’ve mainly addressed women but men can really benefit from detoxing as well because you guys suffer side effects from environmental estrogen exposure too!

Eat Fat to Burn Fat

First, let me set up some of my weight/diet history for you.¬† I was always very skinny and active as a kid.¬† I loved sweets and chocolate with a passion.¬† I’d make myself cocoa or chocolate malt-o-meal every day before school.

When I got married I was pretty tiny.¬† But after having two more kids (I have three) my weight crept up and up.¬† I was eating healthier and working out more, so…what the ever-living heck?!?!¬†¬†You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.¬† Bad eating habits catch up even to naturally thin people.¬† I was eating too many damn carbs.

I set what I thought would be a realistic goal.¬† My “fighting weight” of the past couple years.¬† I zoomed down to it within¬†8 days.¬†¬†I was a believer in this diet but, wow!¬† I’ve been losing half a pound of body fat a day.¬† I know it is body fat because I have a blue tooth scale that measures hydration and muscle mass, along with weight.¬† My muscle mass and hydration have gone slightly up as the fat has been melting off.

I’ve been keeping my carbs under 50 grams, my fat well over 100 and protein between 60-90 grams.¬† I shoot for 70-80% of my calories from fat.

So your thinking, all right, that sounds good but SWEET MOTHER OF PEARL how am I going to eat that much fat?!? 

All right, calm down a sec, cause it’s not that hard.¬† Really.

It helps if you are a coffee person like me.¬† You can easily wave your keto wand over your coffee to turn it into a metabolic-stoking “fat bomb” delight.

While my coffee is brewing I add a tablespoon of butter from grass fed cows, a teaspoon of MCT oil, and a generous scoop of coconut oil to a blender cup along with a bit of xylitol.  When my coffee is done is dump it into the blender cup, blend it up, and dump it back into my mug.   Easy peasy!

This is known as “bulletproof” coffee.¬† It provides your body with 50-60 grams of fat.¬† It will keep you full for hours as you torch fat like a maniac.¬† All these healthy (you better believe it!) saturated fats are great for brain, skin, and hormonal health.

It’s really not as gross as it sounds.

One thing you should be aware of is that all this fat requires a bit of time to digest.¬† I normally down my coffee then launch into my workout before my kids wake up.¬† If you drink this and immediately work out the results won’t be great.¬† I promise.¬† Take a 10-15 minutes at least before any strenuous activity.

I realized on this journey that I am still “programmed” to buy leaner cuts of meat, like chicken breast.¬† That’s not helpful.¬† I’m switching to buying dark meat cuts like chicken thighs or drumsticks.¬† Most of the nutrients is found in the dark meat anyways.

Most of us who grew up in the 90’s were taught to avoid dietary fat (especially saturated!) as if it would instantly clog our arteries and make us fat.¬† It’s was a load of¬† poo propagated by big agriculture.¬† If I need proof, as a resident of the Upper Midwest, I just drive past some local fields.¬† Corn and Soy.¬† For miles.¬† Farmers get big subsidies to grow these franken-GMO crops that are destroying our health.¬† I could go on and on but trust me when I saw traditional fats are incredibly healthy.¬† Fats created in a lab are making us fat, sick and diabetic.¬† ¬†What is Healthy Fat? ¬† ¬†Well, that, and sugar and our 6-11 servings of grains a day.¬† Sorry to say, ya’ll, but if the American Heart Association poo-poos it, you know it’s good for you!!!¬† AMA Corrupt and Wrong