Those of you who have been following my blog for a while, know that I love to experiment with my diet and workouts. In fact, I actually consider myself to be an ongoing experiment in health.
In my latest experiment, I tackled the ketogenic diet, a very low carb (less than 50 grams/day), moderate protein, and high fat diet. The most common ratios for obtaining and maintaining nutritional ketosis is to consume your daily caloric needs with 5% carbs, 20% proteins, and 75% fats. For me, that included 21 grams net carbs (net carbs are total carb grams minus fiber grams), 85 grams protein, and 162 grams fat, with a total daily calorie count of about 1700.
Now, I think it’s only fair to give you a little background on my interest in the ketogenic diet. The first time I heard of it, was at PaleoFX. last year. Fact is, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, gave a speech on the positive negative effects of the ketogenic diet, especially on women. I was actually talking with her about her speech, at dinner the night before. After listening intently to her speech, which included much compelling evidence to some of the dangers to women’s health, I pretty much determined it was something I would never try.
Flash forward almost one whole year later. By this time, I have put my lupus into remission, with help from the AIP diet, as outlined in The Paleo Approach, and a workout program, created by myself. I had also been experimenting with different macro ratios, in order to keep my fitness level progressing. In my research, I came across the ketogenic diet once again. This time, I reached out to the masters in ketogenic, low carb, and high fat diets. Hearing what they had to say, and reading up on their research, I decided to put aside my earlier fears, and give it a go. The ketogenic diet experiment began.
The first thing I had to do was get together all the items I would need to begin: keto urine strips, a blood ketone/glucose monitor and strips, a macro counting app (I like MyMacros+), a food scale, and lots of fats.
After calculating my proper macros (above), and beginning to follow the recommended ratio, it took me only four days to start producing trace amounts of ketones. I had tons of energy and mental clarity. Within a week, I had lost 2 pounds of fat. I continued to feel this way and lose weight for eight weeks. Then, I hit a brick wall.
One of the reasons I began the ketogenic diet was to help with some hormonal and skin issues that were lingering. My first period, while on the ketogenic diet, was completely pain-free. This was something I hadn’t experienced in years. And, I didn’t suffer from the horrible PMS symptoms I usually did. Unfortunately, it didn’t repeat with my second period. I also experienced some relief in my skin rashes, in the beginning six weeks. But then, those came back, even worse than before. All of the energy and mental clarity I had experienced disappeared.
To be completely honest though, I don’t blame the ketogenic diet. I know, after years of experiments and research, it’s just what my body does when I’ve been on any regimen for eight weeks. It’s actually the same way for many of you. Once your body gets used to a particular diet or workout program, it simply stops working at it’s ultimate level. That’s not the time to give up. It’s the time to shake things up a bit.
It was important to the experiment for me to remove some of the variables, to be sure they weren’t affecting my results. I stopped exercising for four days, and followed that with a week of decreased workouts. I also cut out or decreased some of the foods I had reintroduced, such as nightshades and dairy. These changes actually made my symptoms worse, not better. Trust me, I was happy it wasn’t all the cheese I had been eating. So, it was back to the drawing board.
What now? The next phase of my experiment has begun. As of this past Sunday, I have increased my carbs to 50 grams a day. I have also increased my protein to 110 grams, and my fats to 174 grams, while I focus on building muscle again. This works out to daily caloric intake of 9% carbs, 20% proteins, and 71% fats. It’s still well within the ketogenic diet range. As of yesterday, I am still producing ketones, even with the new ratios. I will also be doing a carb cycling day each week. On those days, I will increase my carbs to about 100 grams, and lower my fats to about 50 grams. If you increase your fats and carbs by large amounts, at the same time, you will gain fat. One day a week of doing that might not hurt you; but, over time, it will catch up with you.
My workouts will also be changing. I’ll be doing five days of weightlifting split workouts, two days of 20 minute HIIT running sprint workouts, and three days of 30 to 40 minutes dance practice. That may seem like a rigorous schedule; but, I’ve seen that I don’t do well with less exercise. For me, a strenuous workout program keeps my immune system suppressed, which keeps my symptoms to a minimum. However, I do take a week off from weightlifting and HIIT workouts every eight to twelve weeks. That ensures my body can fully recover.
I’ll definitely keep y’all informed as I move through this new phase of the ketogenic diet. Even though we are all different in what works for us, and what doesn’t, that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn something from others’ experiences. I really hate when those trying to hawk their books or whatnot, try to tell you not to try other ways of healing. It’s one thing to make you aware of some of the dangers. It’s quite another to say your way is the only way. You should always experiment with different protocols. Some may help to heal certain symptoms, while others get rid of lingering ones. Finding the combination that works for you is the hard part.
As always, I wish you good health…..and, good food!
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