This week I would like to share my experience with the ketogenic diet. Keto is all the rage today, and in some ways, rightfully so. It can be a very powerful nutrition plan for treating epilepsy, Alzheimer's, and some forms of cancer. In addition, many people also experience a speedy weight release.
In very simple terms, keto emphasizes a high fat, moderate protein, and very low carb eating plan. When one successfully enters ketosis, ketones and fat are burned for energy, as opposed to glucose (from carbs and protein). There is a TON of information available about this diet, but a good place to read more is Mark's Daily Apple. This is where I was first inspired to transform my primal nutrition into a ketogenic plan.
If you've read my story, you know that adopting a primal lifestyle changed my life. But last year I became caught up in the keto hype. This coincided with reading "The Complete Guide to Fasting", which was fascinating and quite compelling.
I felt some immediate benefits on keto, or so it seemed. I completely lost my appetite, which I thought was awesome! I could fast for long periods of time with ease. I routinely started the day with fatty coffee, ate a salad with a small portion of protein and lots of fat for lunch, and often skipped dinner. I loved that I was NEVER hungry. It felt like complete food freedom.
I also became a little addicted to the insane energy and crystal-clear cognitive function that came with keto. Tom and I jokingly wondered if this was what crack was like.
But then came some changes that I didn't enjoy so much. My clothes started to feel tighter- at first a little, and then A LOT. Pretty soon I had just a few flowy, baggy outfits in my closet that I could wear to work. I didn't have a scale, but I knew I was gaining weight.
My PMS became debilitating. Around day 20 of my cycle, I would become even more bloated. Fibroids in my breasts became increasingly painful. I felt like crying for strange reasons (which is very unlike me). I was irrationally irritable and emotional. These symptoms would continue all the way through my period.
In addition, my cramps and flow were both excessive. Basically, I spent 15 days of every month in discomfort.
But, otherwise I felt great: free from the need for food and full of energy. I rationalized my weight gain and PMS with the fact that I was in my mid 40s, and probably approaching menopause. Plus all the information in the community in which I was absorbed was very pro-keto! I think I subconsciously ignored any information that was anti-keto.
However, when I was quiet and connected to my truth, I heard a whisper telling me something wasn't right. I didn't want to be uncomfortable in my clothing, uncomfortable in my body.
Finally I made an appointment to visit my holistic practicioner. I stepped on the scale and learned that I'd gained ten pounds in a year. my practioner listened to my situation and guessed that all the fasting and very low-carb eating was sending panic signals to my body. She predicted that I might be suffering from thyroid issues and hormonal imbalances.
She was right. My blood labs and Dutch test revealed hypothyroidism and estrogen dominance.
I could either try medication or attempt to heal the issues naturally. I chose the latter and we made a plan, which included three meals a day: each with protein, lots of vegetables, fat, and a starchy carb. (This plan included natural supplements and a list of foods to avoid, which I will detail in another post.)
I'm not going to lie: adding starchy carbs (sweet potatoes, plantains) back into my diet felt really scary! I'd been pretty keto brainwashed into believing these foods were B-A-D. But I reframed and ate blueberries, plantains and sweet potatoes all in one day. I quickly discovered that was a lot of fun!
And guess what, I started to notice immediate improvements. By the end of two weeks the inflammation in my body had drastically decreased. The puffiness in my face disappeared. I could feel my body releasing weight.
My period actually surprised me! No cramps, no bloating, no fibroids, no emotional changes. I couldn't believe it.
I didn't recognize my body in the mirror. It looked like when I'd first gone primal! I wore a bikini on the beach without a second thought!
As I prepared to return home from Mexico, seven weeks after starting my healing plan, I happened upon a scale in the grocery store. I was shocked to see that I'd released over 15 pounds.
I have a check in with my holistic practioner in two weeks, and I can't wait to complete blood work and urine tests to see the changes in my thyroid performance and hormone balance. I know amazing things have happened.
The best part is, I still have complete food freedom (starchy carbs DID NOT bring my former sugar addiction back) and unstoppable energy. And now I'm enjoying my meals even more. I eat delicious carbs like sweet potatoes, berries, and/or plantains every day!
Are you still with me? I realize this is a long post, but I felt called to tell my story. I know there are others, like me, who feel that keto is working for EVERYONE but them. If you are that person, I advise you make an appointment with a holistic doctor and complete a full thyroid panel, a Vitamin D test, and the Dutch test.
I am definitely not trying to advocate against keto. I am very grateful for my experience with it. I am also grateful to Elle Russ and her extremely helpful book, "The Paleo Thyroid Solution", as well as Steph Gaudreau for her frank words about keto and women, which I finally took to heart.
I am sharing my story in the hopes that, whatever situation you are in, you listen to your body, tap into the whispers of your truth, and act on your intuition if you feel something might not be right. I waited a long time to do so. Of course, there is no such thing as regret in my universe. I know it was all part of the journey.
I am over the moon ecstatic with how I look and feel, and so in love with life. I want the same for you, dear friend!
I don't have many pictures of myself during my keto phase, because I insisted on being the photographer. If Tom took an unflattering image of me I instantly deleted it. (Hey friends and family- if you have a chubby Katie picture from last year I'd love for you to send it to me! Ha- I know I've never said that before!) I did find one picture to give you a visual of my keto journey.
Initial Primal Katie (41 years old)
Keto Katie (42/43 years old)
Current Primal Katie (43 years old)