Ok, lets see if we can get through this as this blog has deleted more than once.... bah.... but as promised here are my “Keto conclusions” after thirty days on the ketogenic diet (high fat, very low carb, moderate protein) and around thirty days back on the carbs (lowered fat, higher protein compared to keto). Am I a fan? Well yes and no. For me no, not at all, however I have seen wonderful success from a ketogenic diet and if I or another loved one was diagnosed with cancer or epilepsy I sure as heck would give it a shot again.
I decided to give keto to fight off inflammation, increase energy and improve my mental clarity. No such luck for any of the above. Weight loss was not my main goal but I was looking forward to loosing the 2-3 pounds I put on over the holidays, no such luck there either. In fact I feel like I put on 2-3lbs (nothing major, not complaining, but still interesting). My first conclusion is the reason I didn’t seem to feel any better could be because I was already eating very clean (2 cheat meals, ok well 3 over the holidays, a week, and about 85% organic). I’m not slamming anyone else that has had great results with keto but perhaps their great results were due to dropping out preservatives and refined sugars that I wasn’t eating before.
Next conclusion, after seeking out various experts, podcasts and of course googling until my fingers fell off, it seems that some body types do better with ketogenic diet compared to others. This lead me into researching Ayurveda medicine and Ayurvedic body types. Being a primarily mesomorph body type (athletic build, builds muscle and looses weight relatively easily, medium or short high with relatively even weight distribution) this translates best into a Vada dosha or body type (although one is rarely a straight dosha and instead a combination of the Vata, Pitta and Kapha). Vada body types are very cool (I’m always cold, like painfully cold during the winter) dry, rough and light so it is advised to choose foods that are warm, moist, oily, smooth and nourishing. Vada body types are also known have a slower digestion which make sense that slower digesting foods (fats and proteins) in the keto diet made me feel sluggish and bloated all the time whereas before on a lower fat, higher carb diet, I was able to digest food quicker.
Another notable point I saw while researching is how much better men seem to do with on a ketogenic diet vs women, especially women of child bearing ages (which includes me). Reason being is yes good fats (and vitamin D) regulate thyroid, which are directly related to hormones, however low carbs can also be hazardous to the T4 (thyroxine) T3 (triiodothyronine). Your T4 and T3 (the most active hormone) help to regulate your energy levels, mental clarity, memory, mood, metabolism and weight.
To understand this better let me see if I can explain some thyroid basics the way I understand them. When thyroid hormone levels are low, the brain's hypothalamus produces TRH (thyrotropin releasing hormone). The pituitary glad at the bases of the brain senses low T4 and it makes more/releases TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Next in the thyroid gland (located in the front of the neck, below the Adam's apple and wraps around the trachea) gets the message to release more T4. This message goes back to the pituitary gland in a feedback loop, which even though it starts in the brain, it must make it's way to every cell in the entire body to be effective. Next the TBG (thyroid blinding globulin) binds with/carries T4 in the blood therefore making it inactive. When estrogen is raised, TBG is raised, which leads to hypothyroid (slow) symptoms. Which would explain why men have less of a problem on a ketogenic diet. (Estrogen, ding, ding!) Now the 5'DL enzyme needs zinc and selenium, to finishing converting T4 to T3 which also requires vitamin B, vitamin C and adrenal hormones (DHEA, hydrocortisone and testosterone in the adrenal glands) and on an improperly planned ketogenic diet these nutrients may be lacking. On a side note, T3 and T4 are made mostly of iodine, hence why on a ketogenic diet, pink Himalayan sea salt daily is so important, especially when fluoride in our water and toothpaste etc. can lower the body's iodine but that is another topic for another time. Now if the adrenal glands become fatigued the body will produce cortisol, or your stress hormone, in the cortex of the adrenal glands (which make the body more insulin resistant, which will make a ketogenic diet more difficult) which need progesterone to make cortisol, which cause a deficiency of progesterone which affects the balance of estrogen and testosterone. But back to T4 to T3 conversion, once the conversion takes place all receptors of the cell must receive the message otherwise free T3 (not able to be used) may be the problem where yes, a ketogenic diet could help the receptors of the cell become less stiff and rigid, to work better however a full panel of blood work is a must!
According to Dr. Cate Shanahan, "an abrupt elimination of sugars and carbohydrates can actually stimulate what is known as hibernation syndrome. Hibernation syndrome sounds like what you might expect: It is identified by weight gain, the desire to sleep, and cold extremities. The biochemical marker for hibernation syndrome does not show up on a normal thyroid panel, which is a lab test that looks at levels of TSH and the thyroid hormone T4 (and not T3)." Which would explain why so many people have problems seeing thyroid issues on normal thyroid panels, and even more of a reason to advocate for your own health and seek out specialist! Also problems such as adrenal fatigue, adrenal failure, Hashimoto's, Addison disease and Graves disease can start/be accelerated by an improperly balanced diet so again, make sure to do your research! I would also highly suggest if you choose to do a keto diet to "ease into keto" and slowly lower your carb and sugar intake instead of completely dropping them both immediately (which I did not do, which may have also been a reason I was having so many problems with keto).
Back to my keto experience, unfortunately I did not get a full panel of blood work done before, during and after my keto experiment, so I can not exactly pinpoint where my problem with keto was. However, after being back on an average of 100g of carbs per day, roughly 75g of net carbs per day, coming from my dairy free, gluten free, soy free Isagenix shakes and bars, salads, sweet potatoes, beans, a serving or two of fruit a day, and veggies every meal, I feel much better. I've seemed to have lost the few pounds I put on during my keto experiment, my digestion seems to have sped back up to normal, and my energy levels have stabled back out. I will say my low blood sugar (which could have also been a problem I had with keto) seemed to improve with keto, and I don't have as much of the "hangry" symptoms or blood sugar crashes as I did before, as well I don't wake up starving as I did before. For me this was a great experiment, I'm not for or against a well balanced, well formulated keto diet, if it works for you, I'm also not against it as a temporary cleanse or detox, as long as you are well aware of your body and do your research! For me I've decided to keep my fats higher, using whole eggs instead of just egg whites daily, increase my daily avocado, and not be afraid of the occasional slice of no nitrate bacon or organic grass fed butter. I would say add in more coconut oil but I'm still working through the taste thing.... I also will keep implementing a 12 hour daily fast, and keep my carbs from natural sources and around 100g, 75g net per day! But again this is what works for me and my body but I hope something in here helps you too!
Quote of the day:
“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson