If you’ve been active in the health and wellness optimization world, you’ve probably been bombarded with this whole Keto craze that’s been floating around. In fact, some of the most well known health advocates and physicians, such as Dr. Mercola, are all promoting this high fat ketogenic diet. What is Keto? In short, it’s a low carbohydrate, high fat, moderate protein diet that helps your body get into a state of ketosis, to ultimately allow your body to learn to burn fat for energy instead of glucose. Just google Ketogenic diet and you’ll find a ton of detailed information if you want to learn more. Here’s an image of recommended foods from the Diet Doctor website:
So you might be wondering why I was giving this Keto diet a try. I am currently 1.5 years post partem, a 37 year old female, and still not feeling 100% myself. I consider myself to be pretty in tune with my body and I haven’t confirmed anything with blood work or anything but I feel like my hormones or something else in my body is out of balance. My skin is chronically dry and cracking (especially my feet and hands), I’m starting to carry more weight around my mid-section and I noticed my weight slowly starting to creep up again, even after I had lost all my pregnancy weight. So what gives?
I suspect that a good part of my out of balanced state is due to stress. Confession: I am very new to this whole thing called motherhood. I only held a baby once for a few seconds prior to holding my own little one for the first time and I never had any experience baby sitting growing up. So while this whole new world of raising this tiny human has been a great source of joy, it also comes with consistent thoughts of fear, worry, frustration and reminders that I don’t know what I’m doing. This also triggers feelings of inadequacy that I’m currently working on a sometimes daily basis.
Aside from all that, after reading about all the potential health and cognitive benefits of a keto diet, I wanted to experience it for myself.
OK, now that you have some background..In regards to Keto foods, my highest fat sources came from avocados, olive and coconut oils, ghee, eggs, nuts/seeds (pecans, brazil nuts, almonds & pumpkin seeds) fatty fish like wild caught salmon, anchovies and sardines, ground beef, and chicken legs and thighs. I cut out all fruit and grains. My veggies consisted of leafy greens like kale and spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, cabbage, zucchini and spaghetti squash. I also ate carrots sparingly and cut out all other root veggies like beets and sweet potatoes. I cut out dairy and cheese from my diet a long time ago so I kept that consistent.
Intuitively, I have to admit that this diet didn’t feel completely right to me (from a health perspective) and wrapping my head around the high fat part was really challenging for me. And while I knew this kind of eating was not going to be sustainable for the long term, I wanted to experience this “keto high” that others were raving about so I wanted to give it a chance.
Well, results were not so stellar for me. I experienced what’s commonly called the Keto Flu. Essentially, you’re feeling flu-like symptoms for a few days which can also include headaches, nausea, brain fog, and fatigue. I personally experienced terrible fatigue, painful leg cramps that woke me up at night, very poor restless sleep and extremely dry nasal cavities (leading to skin cracks and bleeding inside my nostrils – gross!). Reading that these symptoms should only last for a few days, I stuck with it. Well, three and a half weeks later, I couldn’t do it anymore. I gave up. While some of the keto flu symptoms had disappeared, my sleep was still terrible and the inside of my nose was so dry that it was bleeding almost every day. To make things worse, my weight had steadily increased and I was always hungry.
So I’m not sure why the Keto diet didn’t work for me but I’m glad I gave it a shot and even more glad to be moving on. While I’ve always been carb conscious and would probably consider myself a lower carb kind of girl, this extreme carb restriction was not enjoyable and in my case, not effective in any regard that was apparent to me.
Very interestingly, my sister, who also had a baby 2 years ago, had been on a completely polar opposite diet (high carb, low fat – vegan) and lost about 15 pounds and feeling great. So, of course, I had to give it a try myself. I’ll tell you all about my experience with that in my next post!