Trending; My 3 year stint with the keto diet, a review

Now before I begin to be demonized and sent a bunch of hate email, I’m NOT a doctor. Nor did I do the keto WOE (way of eating) under the care of a health practitioner.
*I take full responsibility of my own health therefor I do my own due diligence, research and experiments; performed on me, by me. With this said this is my story, not yours. Please take anything I say as just that, my personal experience and opinions.
And sorry I'm not siting any scientific reports for this article.  I'm keeping it personal.  

I'm JUST a mom!

Whew, now that we have all that squared away, let’s begin, shall we?
(Note; For those just skimming, or have limited time, the condensed review is at the bottom.)

The story:

I began the keto WOE back in June of 2013 and I was 7 months postpartum at the time. However I continued this WOE through 2 pregnancies, exclusive breastfeeding and beyond. (ie. Intense workouts, heavy weight lifting, hiking, and more.)

For my body, this meant I would consume 112 grams of fat, 110 grams of protein and 20 grams of carbohydrates each day. This is how I planned my food, along with tracking nutrients and journaling quite meticulously my eating habits, menstrual cycles, weight and measurements, how I felt and what was going on with baby. My pie chart would read 65% fat, 30% protein and 5% carbohydrate. This was how my body came to be in the state of ketosis. Ketosis is defined as “a metabolic state characterized by raised levels of ketone bodies in the body tissues”. And it is said to be perfectly natural and safe.

I read the Atkins books prior to beginning the keto WOE. Atkins is considered a high protein diet which is not the keto diet. But it is what got me started on reading and thinking about other ways of eating. My mom is a type 2 diabetic who has had a stroke, she is obese and cardiovascular disease runs in the family. I guess I was just trying to educate myself and prepare for all of that to be a possible issue for me in the near future. According to the BMI chart I was 20 pounds overweight, but looking at me you would not have thought this. I was healthy. I was definitely fertile, having had 6 back to back pregnancies and 7 in total prior to this WOE. I had text book pregnancies, speedy deliveries and exclusively breastfeed each time. So this diet began for me to lose those 20 pounds that were really just what many call, vanity weight.

~3 days into the diet I began spotting. Yes, menstrual “spotting”. Upon research I found this to be considered “normal” for a low carbohydrate diet.

~3 weeks into the diet I lost 5 inches mostly on my upper body and 7 pounds.

~5 weeks into the diet I lost another 2.5 inches, this time in my lower body and another 3 pounds.

~9 weeks into the diet I lost a total of 15 pounds, measurements stayed the same.

Spotting issues did continue until I found myself pregnant again 9 weeks into the diet.

Then I did the crazy thing and began to research keto and pregnancy. (Gasp!, for many, I know.  But we live life on the wild side over here.) Well this was 5 years ago before keto was even a thing. But I did belong to a m.o.m.y.s. board/forum. (Moms of Many Young Siblings) And I discovered that keto was being done by many moms while pregnant and nursing for many years. It just wasn't trendy, yet.

SO I opted to continue on my journey and all seemed to go well. I am a fairly disciplined person and cravings came but I did not let it take hold. I added T-tapp into my days and then jogging too. I was feeling great.

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I had a natural birth and my body actually went back to their pre-pregnant measurements immediately! I was floored, with delightment. However I still had some “baby weight” to lose and then some to get to my goal weight. But I looked darn good especially for a mama of 8.

This time postpartum I was doing Krav Maga workouts, heavy weight lifting and we began hiking as a family. We bagged peaks. This is climbing, hiking trails to vistas. It became our family’s fun time, hiking adventures and family goal to “bag these peaks”. (Hence the "travels, hikes and vistas" list on the side bar.)  I had so much energy, I was feeling like a demigod. I was barely ever hungry. But even so, I could not shake the extra weight. I fiddled around with my pie chart and increased my fat, lowering the protein and carbs. I became a member on myfitnnesspal and this was said to be a speedier way to become fat adapted and break a plateau. I tried it. It worked to shed the baby weight but it seemed I could not rid myself of any more. Then I found myself expecting, again.

8 months pregnant, blessing 9

But this time around I began having migraines and dehydration. I knew that a build up of ketones may indeed cause dehydration. And this can be problematic. Many say to consume bone broth to remedy this. And I did. And it helped, but it did not stop it from happening. I began to supplement with more than a handful of vitamins, minerals, herbs and even more EFAs. I also began to notice that I seemed to be aging faster. My skin became a bit gauntly. Then I started noticing it on other "ketoer's" as well. Yet, I still had incredible energy and my workouts continued. But I soon found myself craving food that I wouldn’t eat due to them being too high in carbohydrates. And eventually I made a conscience choice to listen to my body because underneath I began to feel that this wasn’t sustainable. I missed the seasonal variety that creation had to offer. I could no longer deny the "carby" vegetables and fruits. I reasoned that my stint was coming to an end.
I do my best to listen to my body and it was definitely speaking to me that my path was in need for a change.
Soon after another blessed delivery I felt like my adrenals were flickering out. Not immediately mind you, but about 6 months postpartum, I found myself tired on our hikes and those of you who exclusively breastfeed know this takes way more out of you than being pregnant. I re-read “what your doctor may not tell you about premeopause” and thought to myself this sounds like me. I was 37 then and I finally surrendered to the fact that I’m 37 and have 9 children. ...It’s probably time to slow down a bit. :o)  

I cut out all the extra exercise. I ate all the foods. And I gained weight doing so. BUT I felt at peace. My face got a bit fuller but you know what, it made me look a bit younger too. I had hips and a behind for the first time in my life. And I accepted that. The migraines became tolerable and I tried some USP natural progesterone which immediately felt like a huge heavy burden was lifted off of me. I used this for a few months until I ...yes, you probably guessed it, found myself expecting again. :o)

Today, a mama of 10 and I will say….life is too short. Too short to avoid a food because it has too many carbs. Too short to spend it striving to build that perfect body version of you.

Enjoy life! 

Sure, keto may be the way to do that, for one who can’t enjoy life because of bondages to food or other disease but for many this is not the case. I’m not in favor of the way the keto WOE is being propagated. It is being sold as another fad diet.  And it is not the cure all, for all.  It should be done under the care of a nutritionalist not just a medical doctor.  For many will experience heaps of improvements when their numbers and tests come back but this is still not the whole picture.       

After all is said and done, I’m sticking with filling up on real vegetables and fruit first, then adding in high quality fat and protein. This seems to be the best way to nourish yourself and stay in good health. And don’t forget the herbs! They have more nutrients than most vegetables. But this too is only part of it.

After all "man cannot live by bread alone".

For those with limited time *my condensed review:

KETO is:

  • a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate way of eating
  • a way to lose fat, often speedily
  • a way to increase your stamina/energy without being hungry all the time, once you are fat adapted
  • a way of life because once you add carbs back in your going to gain water weight and eventually refill some of those fat cells you once had, and often much more speedily than it came off UNLESS your increased carbs are from non-starchy vegetables only

KETO is not:

  • a cure all; many will incur dehydration, migraines, constipation, irregular periods, and eventually cravings for food that you “aren't suppose” to eat
  • sustainable, for most folks
  • healthy, in that one will tend to ban foods that were created to be consumed and or focus on food way too much
    *My Opinion(s)!  Of course.
    Tell me, what do you think?  Do you have experience with this way of eating?  Please do share!


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