The picture that broke the camel’s back:
At the end of February I sat in front of my GP for my annual and got the lecture I never thought I would get.
“Your blood tests came back. There are a few things we need to discuss. Number one, you are severely anemic, I don’t know how you aren’t falling down right now. Number two, your blood glucose is not good. You are pre-diabetic. And. You are a good 15-20 lbs over what is ideal on your frame; it’s stressing your heart to carry that extra weight (note: I have a congenital heart defect). This all needs to change.”
I sat there sputtering. “Bbbbbbut….I’m 90% vegan! I hardly drink. Other than coffee with cream, I only drink water. I’m not a snacker. I don’t over-do it on the sweets. I always eat breakfast. I do hot yoga 3 times a week. I’ve run 5Ks!! ” What am I doing wrong?!?!
I was flubbergasted. I mean, I own a mirror. It’s not like I look at my naked reflection in it every morning and say “Rhonda Rousey eat your heart out”. I am soft, I am curvy, I have some jiggle in my wiggle.” I full-on practice that self-love and BoPo lifestyle. I’ve always loved Adele’s quote (I’m paraphrasing}: “If it doesn’t affect my health or my sex life, I’m not worrying about it.” (sorry mom).
Well it’s affecting my health at least. And dammit, my health is too important to me. I promised my GP that when I saw her again in August for a work up, I wouldn’t be the same woman. And I intend not to be.
Before I go further, I remind anyone who is reading this that I am not a doctor nor do I have a degree in nutritional science. I am a woman who knows her body, is well-connected with her health team and who is not frivolous with her health. The plan of attack I have chosen is mine alone and I own it. This is not a sales pitch and I am not advocating anything to anyone. This is my journey, I am simply sharing my experience.
I went home and hit the internet to get some answers. I am not a believer of “diets”, I am a believer of sound nutritional science. I truly believe that what we put into our bodies is critical to our physical and mental health. So what have I been putting into mine to get me to this point?
Overly simplified, all our food can be classified under three macro nutrients: fats, proteins or carbohydrates. I wasn’t putting a lot of fat into my body. My protein was primarily plant-based. That means everything else I was eating was a carbohydrate. When I analyzed my current diet, it consisted of pasta, waffles, vegetarian dumplings, rice, potatoes, lentils, chick peas, whole-grain bread, fruit, veggies, quinoa… yah… those are all carbs. I thought I had been eating all the right things and yet I was sicker than I had ever been.
Enter Ketogenics stage left.
A Whodawhadda what?
Ketogenics is a diet that is low-carb (20 – 30 grams per day), medium-protein, and high-fat. Basically a ratio of 75% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbohydrates. I know. Makes you nervous, doesn’t it? It’s ok. I understand. I was freaking too. But the more I read the science, the more it made incredible sense to me. And read I did. Every blog, YouTube video and medical paper I could get my hands on.
Ok but what does it mean? Here is a simple explanation thanks to ruled.me.com
“When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin.
Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so that it will be chosen over any other energy source.
Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body.
Since the glucose is being used as a primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored. Typically on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy. By lowering the intake of carbs, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis.
Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver.
The end goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories but starvation of carbohydrates”
The results I saw online were incredible and undeniable: fat loss, improved cognitive functioning, increased energy, satiety, and improved health in so many areas. But it flies against EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING we have been told about what we should and should not put into our bodies. It’s a complete head trip. I was looking at eating B.A.C.O.N. Fatty cuts of meat. Cheese. Sour cream. Heavy cream in my coffee. Avocados. Coconut oil. Butter!!!! I doubted. Man, who wouldn’t?!
It was this talk by Dr. Jeff Volek that convinced me of the science behind the hype (warning, it’s dry. Sorry Dr. Volek). I became convinced that I need to see if altering my eating to fit this model will help me safely shed the 15 – 20 lbs I need to lose and, more importantly, correct my blood glucose. I refuse to concede defeat to Type 2 Diabetes.
I’ve promised to give this a solid 6 months of living by the strict tenets of the diet. And they are strict. 20 grams of carbs per day ain’t a lot. If, in 6 months, my blood work profile has not changed and I am not down the pounds I need to be, I will reassess. In the meantime, I am going to document my progress as a sheer scientific experiment: what works, what doesn’t, how I am feeling, side effects, if I fall off the wagon, carb rage…whatever. This isn’t a diet and weight loss blog, I am more than my mass or my cheeky rolls. But this is a significant undertaking in my life, so I’m going to share. Feel free to follow along and ask questions. Again, I am merely a participant in this adventure, not a doctor. For specifics on the science of Ketogenics, I encourage you to do your own research.
As they say: Keep calm and Keto on.