The Ketogenic Diet Experiment

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.

The Ketogenic Diet Experiment by Tara Perillo
The Ketogenic Diet Experiment

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.

Tools of the ketogenic diet by Tara Perillo
Tools of the ketogenic diet

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.

Leaning out on the ketogenic diet by Tara Perillo
Leaning out on the ketogenic diet

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.

Batch Cooking on the ketogenic diet by Tara Perillo
Batch cooking on the ketogenic diet

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.

Some great ketogenic diet reading:

 

Keto Tools:

 

 

As always, I wish you good health…..and, good food!

*This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of these links, I may receive compensation. Thank you for helping me to keep Paleo Cajun Lady blog running.- Tara Perillo

Tara Perillo

Welcome all. I am Tara Perillo, herbalist, homeopath, yoga and fitness instructor, and healthy foodie . After successfully reaching remission of my lupus symptoms, through changes in my diet, exercise, and lifestyle, I wrote the ebook, Sickness To Fitness Quick Start Guide. I am also honored to have my paleo and AIP recipes featured in Paleo Magazine, Paleo Living Magazine, Shape Magazine Online, 85 Amazing AIP Breakfasts, The Paleo AIP Instant Pot Cookbook, and blogs by The Paleo Mom, Kris Kresser, Whole New Mom and many others. My focus is to help others become stronger in every facet of their lives. Join me to become stronger in health, mind, body, and spirit, together!

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6 Replies to “The Ketogenic Diet Experiment”

  1. Awesome Tara! We seem to continue walking parallel paths. After a while on a low carb/high fat keto diet I am about to increase the carbs from a below 20 grams to approx 40-50 grams per day. Also a carb back loading day is on the schedule. Must figure out what carbs to indulge in that day though. Not particularly fond of sweet things – probably I will start with white potatoes, rice crackers etc. The hardest thing will probably be to cut the fat that day – I have truly learned to love all the tasty fat every day now. So happy that I too finally seem to tolerate dairy I terms of hard cheese, full fat cream and grass fed butter. OMG – I love butter!! Now I wish us both good luck in this!!! And by the way – it has been a while since I heard from you (miss ya’..) Just hope it is a result of you being busy and up to all the things you are doing. Please tell me if I in any way have offended or disturbed you (would never never deliberately do that – hope you know that you have a supporting friend over here).

    1. Hi Malin! I don’t think you could ever do anything to offend or disturb me! LOL! I’ve just been terribly busy. I really need to learn to say no to some things. It’s so interesting that you are making similar changes to your diet. Did you hit a brick wall in your results, like I did? I’ll chat you up on FB tomorrow. Also, like you, I’m finding giving up the fat on loading days to be quite difficult. I love my butter too! We’ll chat tomorrow. XOXO

      1. Yay!! So happy you are still my friend. We must let this nordic-cajun combo show the world how to rumble LOL!!

  2. Hi Tara,

    Thank you so much for all of the great info and inspiration. I was wondering if you have any advice on when to keep up with exercise and when to let up?

    I was diagnosed with autoimmune issues (rheumy thinks maybe lupus) a year ago. I had joint pain and hearing loss for two months before I found AIP. Did AIP for 6 months and had amazing success– no joint pain and reversed hearing loss. I have always been an athlete and kept up w/ workouts through that time. AIP majorly helped my performance. About 3 months ago I got a parasite and since then have suffered debilitating fatigue. Worse than before I ever started AIP. My workout schedule is similar to yours, but my functional medicine doc says I need to let up to get better. I feel sometimes if I can white-knuckle it through the warm up, a workout makes me feel better. You mentioned exercise suppresses the immune response. Any thoughts or research you could send my way? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sarah! Thank you so much for all your kind words. I’m so happy to hear about your success on the AIP. To answer you question, I’d have to agree with your doc. Unfortunately, since it’s a parasite issue, you’re going to need to keep your immune system strong to fight it. Once the parasite has been killed, and your symptoms start to dissipate, you can go back to your workout schedule. I’m not saying you have to give up all exercise during your healing. I don’t think moderate weightlifting would hurt you in any way. It’s just the cardio, HIIT, or plyometrics that would have to take a back seat for now. Also, make sure you’re keeping your natural sugar levels low, and your fiber levels high. This will help to starve the parasite and move it from your body. Parasites are nasty critters. It sounds like you have a knowledgable doc you’re working with. I hope you can get this resolved quickly, so you can get back to your regular workout schedule. Good luck. I’ll keep you in my prayers.
      Tara

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