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!

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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

 

Keto Troubleshooting

Today I’m going to address two unpleasant side effects you can run into getting started with a ketogenic diet.

Ya’ll know health minded people¬†love¬†to talk about poop.¬† healthy poop.¬† regular poop.¬† abundant poop.¬† s-shaped poop.¬† Oprah poops.¬† Dr. Oz poops.¬† Ever’body poopin’.¬† Or at least, we want to be.¬† It isn’t a big deal until there’s an issue and then it’s a¬†big freakin’ deal.¬†¬†Am I right?!

Grains add a lot of fiber and bulk and trigger¬†peristalsis; the movement that keeps things moving through your waste elimination facility.¬† So when you cut out virtually all grains you’re going to lose a lot of that bulk that your insides are accustomed too.¬† Ya’ll know where I’m going with this….118

One easy enough fix is loading up on magnesium.¬† Magnesium is super, duper important for many functions in your body but especially proper elimination.¬† If you’re strict keto you’re probably going to need to supplement.¬† I like natural calm.¬†119 I just mix two teaspoons in with some water or vitamin water zero and it tastes pretty good.¬† It helps with good sleep and… you know, staying regular.¬† It’s good stuff.¬† It also (as stated, derp) helps with anxiety.¬† If you suffer from cramps it’ll probably help that too. ūüėČ

You want to be sure you are staying properly hydrated through the day.¬† Hydrating is¬†not¬†forcing down a gallon of water.¬† Hydration is being smart and taking in electrolytes along with your H20 so you actually hydrate (and not flush yourself and have to pee every 5 minutes).¬† I drink smart water or water with my handy liquid electrolytes added.¬† I add plenty of pink sea salt to my food.¬† This has helped me to almost completely avoid the dreaded “keto-flu”.

Another issue you can run into is problems sleeping.¬† Generally, I’ve been sleeping about an hour less at night.¬† I’m not sure if it’s because I just need less sleep or if my body is still adjusting.

One trick I read on another blog is to get a hit of carbs right before bed.¬† The carbs will trigger your brain to release serotonin and help you sleep.¬† I like drinking a glass of this milk.¬†120 I tolerate dairy pretty well so this is an easy “fix” for me.¬† The fairlife milk is great because it is lactose free and only has 6 grams of carbs per cup.¬† The fat and protein in the milk will slow the absorption of the carbs while still giving you that serotonin fix.¬† Plus it tastes great!!!

If you can’t do milk, you could easily do an avocado (about 10 grams carbs) or a handful of pistachios.

Happy sleeping and bathroom trips to you!

 

 

 

 

Day Seven and a Caveat

One thing I have encountered in my researching into the ketogenic diet is a prevalent arrogance against people who report that the diet¬†didn’t¬†work for them.¬† They tracked their carbs, stuck it out, and saw no progress…or¬†worse,¬†gained weight!

Are these people lying, as some would suggest?¬† I don’t think so.¬† My mom tried the keto diet and she is one of the people who didn’t do well on it.¬† She gave it a month and didn’t lose any weight.

For many people, the diet works amazingly well.¬† The weight melts off, your thinking is clearer, you have more energy, etc. but that isn’t everybody.¬† There’s a million diets out there for a reason.¬† We all have different physiology.¬† There isn’t a one size fits all approach…despite what some blowhards may claim.

From what I knew of my body, I was fairly certain this diet would be a good fit.  And it is.  Eating a greasy cheeseburger (no bun!) with a big dollop of mayo makes me happy and makes me feel good.  A big hunk of bread would make me feel ill.  A cinabon would do me in for the day.  You have to pay attention to the way your body responds to different foods.  What gives you a sense of well-being?  Head in that direction.

A diet should be sustainable and should be nourishing.¬† If you can’t stay on it successfully, you’re almost certain to gain back the weight.¬† That’s why it’s so important to find a diet that enhances your well-being, a diet that you can *gasp* enjoy!¬†¬†117

Today I ventured to eat out for the first time since starting keto.¬† I got the steak salad bowl at chipotle.¬† I skipped obvious carbs like rice and beans and added extra veggies, cheese and guacamole.¬† It was so good!!¬† I didn’t feel deprived at all.

Cautionary Tale

In my research I saw that a lot of people use MCT coconut oil because of it’s energizing properties.¬† Of course I had to buy some!

This morning I put about a tablespoon in my coffee (and blended it, because fat bubbles=gross).¬† It was actually really good and frothed up like a bulletproof latte.¬† I sucked most of it down then realized…uh-oh.¬† Not feeling good at all.¬†¬†So I sit here feeling light headed and nauseous.¬† Apparently it’s something you want to slowly ease into. ūü§¶115

From what I understand, this stuff is like coconut oil on crack.¬† It’s powerful so you have to proceed with caution (not a strong suit for me!) and start with a teaspoon, max.¬† Don’t throw caution to the wind and dump it into your coffee with a gusto like me.

It is good stuff though.¬†¬†https://draxe.com/mct-oil/¬† I’m guessing one reason why it can make people feel sick is the die-off result.¬† When ingested, especially on an empty stomach, it can have a very strong¬†natural¬†antibacterial and antifungal effect.¬† It kills off yucky stuff in our guts, basically.¬† When those nasty little buggers die, they release some toxin crap and don’t go down without a fight.¬† That’s why you want to make sure you are eating fiber and drinking lots of water to help your body target and then flush out candida and parasites.¬† While it can have a profoundly positive effect when those nasty hitchhikers are gone, the actual process of getting rid of them can be quite unpleasant.¬† But coconut oil and MCT are very effective even if not for the faint of heart.¬† https://coconutoil.com/study-candida-infections-can-be-controlled-with-coconut-oil/

Aside from accidentally over- doing it on the MCT, I’m doing pretty well!¬† I’m already down a couple pounds and looking less “puffy”.¬† While I know that is probably due to losing excess water, I’ll take it!

Aside from dealing with decreased energy and a slight headache that comes and goes, I’ve already noticed a lot of positive effects.¬† My mood has been much more stable.¬† Before my mood would go through fairly extreme high and lows, no doubt coinciding with my wildly fluctuating blood sugar levels.

This is really huge for me because I do struggle (and always have) with depression and anxiety.¬† I’d liken it to being bipolar but going through the entire cycle of elation to crash every.single.day.¬† If this diet can help regulate my emotions it will be more than worth it!!

Another thing I’ve noticed is generally less aches and pains.¬† I have a minor scoliosis which leads to daily back pain for me.¬† It’s hard to measure in any scientific way but my back pain seems to have been less these past few days.

Another great feature of the keto diet is that when you cut out sugar, you eliminate a huge source of inflammation in your body.  So if you struggle with chronic pain, it could potentially greatly improve your quality of life and reduce dependence on medication.  https://www.furtherfood.com/how-to-reduce-chronic-inflammation-by-limiting-sugar-intake/

When it comes to cutting out sugar you may (like me) want to find a worthy substitute.¬† I’ve been using xylitol, which I do really like…¬†but¬†it is not carb free and can impact blood sugar levels.¬† One sweetener (of course natural, artificial aint even an option, people!) that is popular in the keto community is erythritol.¬† You can get it by itself or mixed with stevia.¬† I’m going to track some down today and start experimenting.

Toppling Day Three

I’ve always been interested in the ketogenic diet.¬† I’ve read about it quite a bit over the years and there is real science behind it.¬† But just lately as I’ve embarked on this keto-journey I have spent a lot of time researching on how to do it¬†right.¬†

One thing I’ve learned is that the emphasis is not on high protein.¬† The emphasis is on fat.¬† Not just fat, but healthy, nourishing fat.¬† The diet is about giving your body optimum nutrition while drastically cutting carbs so you can burn fat instead of glucose.¬† A process known as ketosis.

This is not an pork rind, bacon and artificially sweetened protein shake type of diet.¬† The emphasis should be on foods that you actually require refrigeration and proper preparation.¬† If you’re overly reliant on boxed foods, this isn’t going to work.

Now that your primary source of energy is fat you want to make sure you’re eating the right kind.¬†¬†113

In “exhibit A” here we have two sticks of butter.¬† One is obviously much darker in color.¬† That’s butter from healthy, grass-fed cows.¬† It’s much higher in nutrients because cows are condensing all the nutrients from a proper grass diet into an easy to absorb, delicious form for us.¬†¬†Butter is a Superfood!¬†¬†With grass-fed butter you’re getting¬†5 times more¬†conjugated linoleic acid, which just happens to be amazing for overall health and AIDS in weight loss.¬† Yes, you heard it right.¬† Eat butter to lose weight.

Other healthy fats to consume would be in coconut oil (also great for weight loss), olive oil, wild caught salmon, cod liver oil, avocados, and fat from properly raised animals.

 

To do this diet well you want to cut out all the fluff your body doesn’t need while nourishing it with great, high-quality foods.¬† You shouldn’t feel deprived and your health shouldn’t suffer.

As I’ve really committed to this diet I’ve also researched alcohol consumption.¬† I’m a wine drinker.¬† The research I did led me to believe that one should abstain from alcohol on this diet, at least until you reach your goals.¬† Alcohol, in any form, is basically pure carbs (sugar) and completely halts fat burning.¬† So I’m retiring my wine glass for the time being.

I also obviously had to stop adding sugar to my coffee.¬† Right now I’m using a bit of xylitol to sweeten it, along with keto-friendly powdered coconut milk and heavy cream to make it rich and satisfying.

Additionally I’ve added smart water to my routine.¬† I read that many aspects of the ‘keto-flu” are caused by electrolyte imbalances.¬† When you suddenly go low-carb your kidneys start flushing out salt and water weight while you adjust.¬† You need to make sure to stay properly hydrated and one of the best ways is by drinking water with electrolytes.¬† You also want to add extra salt to your meals.¬† I use pink himalayan salt.

I’ve decided to keep my carb intake at about 20 grams a day to really kickstart the process.¬† I’ll probably adjust up to a more manageable 50 grams as needed.

It’s definitely an extreme diet and not for everyone.¬† But I’m finding it very doable.¬† Partly because the high fat consumption really leads to feelings of satiety.¬† I haven’t had too many cravings.¬† Though last night I was really jonesing for an¬†apple¬†of all things.

But I’ve really refined my goals and even found some “fitspo” as a reason to stay 100% committed to the process…¬†1115

This woman achieved this transformation in 4 weeks on a keto diet!!!¬† Wow, wow, wow.¬† I want shredded, lady abs like that!¬† So I’m dreaming of abs instead of snickers.

 

 

Day 2, Rocking Ketosis

Day 1 (of the rest of my life…) actually brought me into a state of ketosis.¬† How do I know?¬† By golly, my halitosis!!¬†¬†halitosis-948x640

About halfway through the day I noticed a constant sweet, fruity taste in my mouth.¬† As if I had drank a diet cherry soda.¬† It isn’t unpleasant but the feedback on my fruity breath¬†was.¬†¬†

How am I already in a state of ketosis?¬† I’m thinking because I’m fairly active and transitioned right from a pretty high-carb diet.¬† That and I did a very challenging workout that probably drained much of my stored glycogen.

Some people go through a rough transition, the “keto-flu” while their body adapts.¬† I haven’t experienced that yet.¬† I felt, surprisingly, really good.¬† I had zero cravings for sugar or carbs, which is a shocking departure from my norm.¬† I felt energetic but much calmer than usual.¬† I feel like this diet will be pretty easy to stick to for me.¬† I get the sense that this is the way I am supposed to be eating, for my body.

I’ve tried losing weight in the past (just a few pounds as needed) and it was¬†excruciatingly difficult.¬† I was still eating too much sugar and carbs.¬† For people who are sensitive to insulin spikes and don’t handle sugar well, you need to do more than just cut calories.¬† You need to go low carb or even keto so that your insulin levels stay low.¬† Insulin in excess is bad, bad stuff.¬† Not only does it make your body store fat (and put you into a cycle of constant cravings) but it also feeds tumor growth.

Even though I’ve always been pretty thin I know I’m at risk for developing type 2 diabetes as I age.¬† My blood sugar went berserk and I was borderline diabetic during my pregnancies.¬† I’ve been trying to eat my sweets in moderation but it just doesn’t work for me.

I really believe that on this diet I will feel better and be able to effortlessly shed a few pounds.¬† I know some might roll their eyes¬†but¬†I have a very small frame and a few pounds makes a huge difference on my body.¬† I’d like to lose about 4.¬† At that point I’ll have a body fat around 15% which will mean pretty sick looking abs.¬† ūüėȬ† I’m vain, ok?¬† Sue me.

The only drawback so far is that last night I felt too wired to sleep.¬† I’ve read that is pretty common at first but most people quickly transitioning to sleeping much better than before adapting a ketogenic diet.¬† Well, that and my odd fruit loops breath.¬† Hopefully that will dissipate as well too.

So far I’m feeling pretty good and excited about all the nummy, nourishing, low carb food I get to eat.¬† Avocados, cheese, cream- hurray!