I love to start the year with a new year or resolution blog post. Unfortunately, this new year started with the flu. All my plans of re-dedication (being more strict) to keto and running are patiently waiting. Completely irritated with my failure to be able to start the new year with a revived mindset of a new refreshed me. I hope your resolutions are off to a much speedier start! Positive note, holiday guilt was short lived though since pounds gained with family food festivities were lost in viral illness misery.
It’s hard to believe that I am venturing into my fourth year of keto. Believing my previous years to be success of keto and intermittent fasting, I don’t plan to ever go back. I don’t even find it hard to stick to. I’ve compiled a list of replacements and snacks that I’m content with. As you venture into a new year/decade and possibly want to go keto, I am here to share what works for me.
Why the re-dedication?
In the past month (December 2019, I was a complete disaster. There was a perfect storm of health complications. I definitely had more cheat days with holidays. I was trying a new medication that had a side effect of low blood pressure so I woke up sometimes too dizzy to perform my morning run (which is how I deal with life’s stress). I had two migraines.
If you too are a migraine sufferer, you know how debilitating they are. I grew up with occasional migraines. I was diagnosed with chronic migraines as an adult after a few medical scares with vertigo, numbness, bell’s palsy, etc. where the doctors thought it was possibly multiple sclerosis. I have brain lesions from migraines (scar tissue). Brain neural transmission is rerouted around lesions to enable interesting side effects with each additional new migraine. I used to live every day with some sort of headache. The medicine Topamax is helpful but I can’t deal with the mental impairs it creates. It has an awful side effect of not being able to remember your words… they are so close on the tongue but you can’t get them out (anomia).
Do you know how many migraines I’ve had in the last 3 years (since going keto)? Zero! Let me restate to be clear. During a keto lifestyle, I have had no migraines. Even better, limited headaches in general. I will repeat any lifestyle forever that keeps migraines and headaches at bay. This year, I start with a renewed love for low carb living. The trial medicine also got the boot. No medicine is worth the migraine side effect.
While we are on the subject of medicines, I found a very interesting use for Imitrex. Occasionally I have sciatica nerve issues. They were definitely more prominent at a heavier weight, but I still have flare ups any time there is much inflammation going on (for example, bloating). I was in so much pain one morning with the flu, a migraine and sciatica nerve that I thought I was dying. I took the Imitrex for the migraine and by the time it had subsided so had the majority of the sciatica nerve pain. I had another flare up a few days later (still running temp dying with flu) and took another Imitrex despite not having a migraine at the time and voila sciatica pain subsided like magic. There isn’t a lot you can do for sciatic so hope this tidbit helps someone!
What have I learned?
All that information of my doomed December as back story for my renewed keto appreciation, but also to say do whatever lifestyle works for you. Do it for your health and longevity, not just weight loss. Maybe it is keto, maybe it isn’t. There is always so much controversy over keto and if it is healthy. I will scream it’s benefits from the rooftops. I find it interesting that we can all agree on low carbohydrates. Everyone knows carbs make you fat, give you diabetes, high cholesterol, feed cancer…. Everyone who diets for weight loss or any health related disease cuts carbs first. There is always initial misery from the keto flu (low energy, headaches from lack of glucose, etc.) even if that isn’t what anyone calls it unless you are specifically cutting carbs with the keto diet.
I’d like to challenge anyone in low carb limbo to add some fat into their diet and compare how much better they feel. Even if you follow none of the macros and just make fat/bulletproof coffee along with your low carb life, you’ll have improved energy and appetite satiation. Whether you are doing low carb, keto, intermitten fasting… whatever diet for weight-loss, the goal is to produce ketones/go into a state of ketosis. In the absence of carbs or food in general, ketone production from the liver goes up and the body uses fat as fuel/energy source.
Since I am not great at repetition eating, I have to live by general rules of thumbs which are all listed at the end of this post. I wish I didn’t get bored with food and have to constantly change things up. I wish I could prep food for the week and not hate every bite of something I’ve already eaten previously in the week. If you can repetition eat, you are already a better dieter than the general population. Finding foods that work for you and repeating them is a first easy win/key to success.
After years of tracking ketones, I know when my production is in it’s highest. My ketone production is like a daily mountain climb. It starts in the morning (when I wake/start moving 6-8 am) escalating until peak time around lunch (typically 12-3) then slows towards dinner (6-8 pm) and is minimal at bed time (10-12). I would think this is similar for everyone, but maybe not.
I don’t think it is usually provided with any keto diets about timing fat and carbs but I think the timing should compliment your normal body ketone production. For me, this means minimal carbs until dinner. So whatever macros you decide work best for you, have the majority of those carbs at dinner time when ketone production is low. Morning to lunch is a no carb zone for me (when ketones highest). I eat fat/protein for every meal/snack. Some people say keto keeps them from sleeping as well (insomnia) but if you target your carbs for dinner, it will also increase natural melatonin production for better sleep.
Intermittent fasting windows also work well around natural ketone production cycles. I find it easiest to fast until lunch most days for a long 12-16 hour fast anytime. If I am doing a longer fast, then I skip dinner. I’ve read a bunch of fasting books by different doctors and in my opinion any time you can fast, you will reap the benefits. I just personally find catering to natural ketone production the easiest for me. I am less hungry then. I have bulletproof coffee still in the mornings and don’t consider that breaking my fast. I also find carbonated no sugar waters (la croix, bubly, etc.) to be an easy way to fill the belly during a fast.
Everyone has heard about not eating before bed. Not helpful for weight-loss, causes bad dreams. indigestion and heartburn, etc. Good to add into your fasting routine. No food 3 hours before bed. Your metabolism is slowed down so why bog it down with food. It’s the natural time for the body to clean up other things (cellular autophagy).
After all your planning of foods, macros and timings, then give yourself a break. Plan for life. Targeting carbs for dinner keeps me guilt free for chocolate and booze. There are going to be holidays, festivities, cheat meals, etc. Of course I have cheat days and/or meals! Mostly with each one, I am usually full of regret and so miserable I swear off cheating again for some prolonged time-frame. But I am prepared for my ketosis bounce back. I can fast and go on a run after a cheat day/meal and be back into ketosis within 24 hours. Give yourself some grace. Don’t throw away all your hardwork for a slip up. Have a plan of fasting and/or extended work out to get you back on track after cheating.
Last tidbit is to just move. Whatever you can do that works for you. I like to run and do yoga the most. These help me deal with stress. I find my sanity in shoes hitting the pavement. I want to be healthy and live as long as possible. A body in motion will stay in motion! I don’t want to just keep up with my kids… I want them to keep up with me!
My general dietary rules:
- Repetition eat and food prep as much as possible.
- Eat majority of your carb macros for dinner.
- Add intermittent fasting that works per your schedule.
- Don’t eat 3 hours prior to bed.
- Plan for life with a fasting cycle/extended work out after cheats.
- Exercise whenever you can.
My New Years Resolutions
This coming year, I want to continue to follow all the rules noted above to get to my final weight goals while giving myself more love. Spending so much time trying to change yourself limits the amount of time you have for appreciation. Maybe I need to re-evaluate what I find acceptable and what I want to change.
I want to have more body confidence for what I’ve already worked to achieve. Compliment others more for the things I think, but don’t always verbalize. We should spread kindness to ourselves and others.
I want to listen more than I speak. Be in less of a hurry to get my own opinions out and instead mull over the opinions of others. What can I learn from just listening and understand others more?
Lastly, I want to make more of an effort to separate tasks. I have a hard time with work/personal carry over. I should separate my time working versus not working (doing the things versus spending time with family). Looking at my phone (emails and pings) less when not working. Staying off devices around the kids to set a good example.
Whatever your goals for 2020, I hope they come easily, make you happy and your cup of all things runneth over.