I’ve been reading about the keto diet/lifestyle for months.
(taken in Portland a few days before we started keto. I still love a leisurely breakfast!!)
It’s basically a way of eating that shifts your body from burning sugar to fat for energy. It’s a high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate diet. Contrary to what you probably think (because of the propaganda forced on us for the last 50 years about what foods are actually good for us) it is a very old and tried and true way to live and eat.
You can read more extensively about it here, but its many benefits include:
- Controls your weight by changing what and when you eat
- Weight loss
- Lowers your body’s inflammation
- Lowers cholesterol and triglycerides
- Reduces appetite
- Increases muscle mass
- Lowers insulin levels
- Eliminates sugar cravings
- Optimizes your mitochondrial health
- Starves cancer cells
Side Note: Ever since I graduated from medical school, I’ve been interested in nutrition. Mainly because I didn’t learn much AT ALL about it in school, oddly enough. That interest has driven me over the years to try every eating plan out there. When I was practicing medicine and my patients would ask questions about the South Beach Diet or Body For Life or Atkins, I wanted to be able to give first hand accounts of what I thought about them. So I jumped on all the bandwagons, at least for a time—mostly to learn first hand.
And for most of my life, I did not struggle with weight. I’ve never been skinny but always pretty average. I’ve always loved exercise and food and I’ve never really struggled too much with either. Until my hormones began to change. That and a history of some mild PCOS & a little bit of insulin resistance and elevated blood sugars during pregnancy. In 2012, my mild issues became bigger issues when I had to have my gallbladder removed after about ten years of dealing with intermittent attacks. (another sign I had a metabolic problem with too many carbohydrates and not enough fat to keep the gallbladder functioning properly, read more about that here.)
One of the reasons I was hesitant to try keto was because of my lack of a gallbladder but after more reading, I realized that the carb rich diet is what is hard on us, not fat. I do great with keto as long as I take a lot of digestive enzymes (Young Living’s enzymes are AMAZING! I take Detoxzyme with meals and Essentialzymes 4 before meals and Digest & Cleanse once or twice a day, get an YL account with me here!) drinks LOTS of water, eat fermented foods everyday and support my body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients. This is important for everyone but especially if you’re doing keto without a gallbladder.
(photo of me 9 months after my gallbladder was removed, when my health started tanking)
Honestly, I was scared to try it for a host of reasons. Everything I read would say things like, “This is not a way of eating you can cheat on, so don’t even try it until you’re ready to commit.” Okay, fine, I won’t.
But then we went to visit Steve’s son Malachi in Portland and he had done it for months and had phenomenal results. We came back determined to learn more and try it.
And y’all, I think I’m in love. We are five weeks in now and plan to eat this way at least until Christmas. Which brings me to the 3 most surprising things about our first month.
- We are not in a hurry to stop. Last time I did Whole30, I couldn’t wait until it was over. I love Whole30 and think it’s an awesome way to eat. It’s just not sustainable for me. But something about adding more fat makes you full and so you stop craving and actually stop thinking about food so much. It’s like a REAL LIFE MIRACLE for me. And Stevie feels the same way. We are in it to win it! And we want to keep going because we’re seeing so many benefits, feeling great, and have no desire to stop now. (We’ve also found that lots of people who start keto end of up doing it as a lifestyle, with brief periods where they up their carbs but then right back to keto.)
- We do not crave carbs or sugar or food in general. I can’t even tell you the last time I wasn’t regularly craving SOMETHING. Bread, sweets, wine, what have you. It feels SO EMPOWERING to eat for sustenance and not necessarily for cravings or pleasure. To be able to go HOURS without snacking or eating or wanting food? I cannot tell you how amazing that is. If we are hungry we eat. But if I’m not hungry at breakfast, I can drink my bullet proof coffee and be fine until lunch. It took awhile to get to that place, but after about two weeks, you don’t even recognize your old self that was looking for snacks and carb rich foods all the time. You DO NOT NEED willpower with this way of eating. It resets your hormones that control satiety and you honestly are NOT hungry as much. And never hangry, because we know a lot about HANGRY in this house. Add to that the fact that e are sleeping SO GOOD, feeling full of energy during the day, and losing weight and you can see why we’re not in a hurry to stop.
- The transition is harder than you might think. Your body is actually switching its metabolism and it probably won’t do that without a fight. Switching from burning fat and ketones from burning carbs is a PROCESS. It doesn’t happen overnight and your body will go through some STUFF to get there. We had what they call a mild KETO FLU, where your body rebels against the switchover and wants its carbs back. We added more fat, more water, more minerals and the symptoms only last a day or two. (for us that was days 4-6).
After 4 weeks, I had lost 6 1/2 pounds and 10 inches. Now, I realize that’s a lot of water, etc. but still, I’ll take it. I have a wedding in 2 weeks, you know!! And sleeping good and feeling full of energy is the perfect icing on the KETO CAKE!!!!!!
I think the key to doing this in a sustainable way is keeping it simple but also incorporating some variety. You will get sick of bacon and eggs everyday or steak and salad. I love to keep variety so alternating some creamy soups in there and some keto friendly bread or muffin options has been key for us. I realize that for some of you this all sounds crazy but fat is not the enemy. Your body needs fat and cholesterol to make hormones and to make your brain happy. Just read the book Keto Clarity and you’ll see what I mean. This “diet” has made me more productive than ever!!
Some of our favorite recipes this month:
We joined a subscription site called Diet Doctor and I love some of their recipes. It’s $9 per month and they have lots of recipes, meal plans and experts that do videos/lectures inside the membership site.
Let me preface this by saying we are eating nutrient dense whole food, without anything processed. We are eating LOTS of fresh greens and keto friendly veggies, along with berries for fruit. We’ve had lots of eggs and a variety of fattier meats and stews and lots of grass fed butter. (I love Kerry Gold butter from Trader Joe’s or Aldi). But to keep it interesting, we’ve made and love these recipes too…..
- Keto pizza
- Skillet meatballs (adapted from one of their recipes)
- Creamy Asparagus soup (or any cream soup!) recipe coming soon
- Bulletproof coffee or Rocket Fuel Lattes (I add a dash of cinnamon to mine!)
- Tuna Salad with poached eggs
- Everything bagels (so good!!)
- Keto Taco Salad with guacamole (a staple for us, recipe coming!)
- Keto pumpkin muffins (I made these in little muffin tins and they are SO GOOD!)
- Keto shrimp scampi (so so good!) served with cauliflower rice
- Ranch dressing (recipe on the back of the package)
- Chicken salad
- Strawberry cheesecake fat bombs
Supplements & Resources that are making life GRAND!
- Natural Calm, great to replace Mg and for any constipation you might experience, plus excellent for sleep, take before bed
- Digestive enzymes mentioned above, if you want to get started with Young Living, click here.
- Perfect Keto, a source of exogenous ketones that I wouldn’t recommend until you’ve been doing this a few weeks at least. They boost your workouts which can be hard on the keto diet and raise your level of ketones temporarily.
- Keto Clarity, get the audio book and listen on repeat!
- Various podcasts, including The Keto Diet Podcast with Leanne Vogel
So, I hope that gives you a little TASTE of what keto is like and if it might be right for you.
I’d love to know your experience and some of your favorite keto friendly foods!!
And whether you’re keto or not, you need to try my skillet meatballs. So good!!