The ketogenic diet is becoming more and more popular for its ability to heal, manage, and reverse insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, neurological disorders, obesity, PCOS, and cardiovascular disease. What a powerful tool to have at our disposal for these types of conditions! I, however, don’t have any of the above health issues, yet still found profound healing by switching to a ketogenic diet.
A quick background on me…I have tried pretty much every style of eating in my lifetime, always being on some sort of diet. Growing up, it was about low-fat, processed foods because we were told dietary fat caused heart disease and increased body fat. Instead, I ate sugar and carbs on top of sugar and carbs because that was what we were “supposed” to do.
Then came my twenties when I began dieting to control my weight. Then it was all about calories, grams of fat, protein shakes, and Lean Cuisines. This was the era of “calories in vs. calories out”, so I killed myself in the gym and only allowed myself a set amount of food each day.
I finally got some sense knocked into me in my thirties and started eating for my health. Plagued with several years of chronic illness, I found the power in using food as medicine, switching to a Paleo template and even trying the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) for several months to manage my autoimmune diseases. I became passionate about how food can be our biggest healer or our worst poison, so much so that I changed my entire career to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner to help others heal.
But, even with these changes, I was still in need of additional healing. This desire to take my health to the next level led me to the ketogenic diet. I already had quite a bit of knowledge on this diet as a speaker on The Low Carb Cruise, but had never dabbled in it myself, always preferring to keep some carbohydrates in my diet, just because I liked them. But, after a trip to the doctor’s office one day, I came out of the meeting knowing I wanted to try a ketogenic diet. Let’s talk about the reasons why I made this switch.
Why I Switched To A Ketogenic Diet
1. Chronic Inflammation
In addition to having two autoimmune diseases, both Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and ulcerative colitis, this past year I was also diagnosed with chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) from exposure to toxic mold. This all equals tons of systemic inflammation that is impossible to get under control without the use of special medications. The medications worked wonders, but I still had lingering inflammation that even my clean paleo diet couldn’t budge.
By getting into ketosis, I was able to use this therapeutic diet to further reduce chronic inflammation throughout my body that was causing unnecessary pain and swelling. Ketosis works by changing your metabolic pathway from using glucose as fuel to using ketones, a by-product of fatty acids produced in the absence of glucose. This change to a fat-burner metabolism produces less oxidation and even shuts off an entire inflammatory process with the production of beta-hydroxybutyrate. Not to mention the increase in fatty acids from the diet produce prostaglandins which are inflammation regulators.
Results: Within days of being in ketosis I could feel a difference in my water retention, joint pain, and inflammation in my knees and ankles, the two most noticeable areas for the inflammatory pain in my body. It has only gotten better and better since, now 5 months along.
2. Brain Health
This CIRS diagnosis also left me with some pretty bad brain inflammation and injury. One of the biggest symptoms and clues that something was wrong prior to getting this diagnosis was in my inability to hold conversations, think clearly, focus, or recollect simple words. It was scary and embarrassing! So, this was probably my biggest reason for switching to a ketogenic diet. I really wanted to do everything possible to nourish and heal my brain.
The brain can get up to 75% of its energy from ketones, which is an amazing source of alternate fuel for it to rely on. This is why the ketogenic diet has shown amazing healing benefits for those with Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, autism, and epilepsy. But even for those with good brain health, switching to a fat-burning metabolism means more energy for the brain because ketosis actually increases the number of mitochondria in brain cells, little “energy factories” that allow for more energy uptake. Ketosis also balances out neurotransmitters, specifically GABA — the calming one — and glutamate — the excited one. By keeping these in balance, we can modulate stress better and maintain focus more easily.
Results: By far the biggest change I noticed by switching to a keto diet was in my focus, memory, and clarity. The debilitating brain fog is gone!
3. Adrenal Fatigue
Another huge one that I needed to tackle and quickly. My adrenal glands had taken a major hit from this chronic illness and I was in stage 3 adrenal fatigue by the time I was considering a ketogenic diet. I had very little left in the tank as far as cortisol — the stress hormone — goes. My body had been in “fight or flight” mode for a really long time and it needed a break!
The idea of a ketogenic diet for adrenal health made a ton of sense to me. Our adrenal health is very much tied to our blood sugar regulation. If we have a blood sugar dip, our bodies respond to this low blood sugar by calling on cortisol to bring blood sugar back up to normal. This happen A LOT! Even in people already eating a very healthy, clean, even paleo diet.
Any time you are a sugar-burner — meaning you rely on glucose for your fuel source — you will have blood sugar dips. These happen in between meals when you have hunger pangs, energy dips, and a need to reach for a snack to get by. Until you are a fat-burner and have reminded your body how to use ketones as fuel, you will be constantly relying on cortisol to get you out of blood sugar dips. This makes it very hard to heal from adrenal fatigue.
But, once a fat-burner, your body ALWAYS has its supply of energy available for use in the form of ketones and this makes for a very stress-free environment in the body. Plus, eating high fat, moderate protein, low carb meals keeps the blood sugar nice and even throughout the day, regardless of how long its been since your last meal.
Results: Recent salivary cortisol testing shows that I am about 50% healed from my adrenal fatigue! That’s a pretty good turnaround in only four months time. As far as how I feel — prior to keto I was tired most of the time, had a hard time getting out of bed, and felt foggy all day. Not any more! Within a few weeks, keto gave me my energy back and it has stayed that way ever since. I feel very balanced, energized, and well rested on a daily basis — something I couldn’t say just 5 months ago.
4. Hormone Balancing
My hormones also took a huge hit during this time of impaired health, mainly from the stress of the situation, as I discussed above. I went through it all — abnormal cycle, painful PMS, and no signs of ovulation. I needed to let my body know it was safe. I was hopeful that this could be achieved through a ketogenic diet. I could eat tons of nourishing, healthy, nutrient-dense food — by way of fats — and take out the blood sugar roller coaster from excess carbohydrates, since blood sugar, adrenal health, and hormonal balance are all so intricately bound together. Plus, hormones are made up of fatty acids, so I could provide my body with these building blocks necessary to produce healthy hormones.
Results: I now have clock-work menstrual cycles, minimal PMS symptoms, and know exactly when I am ovulating. The KEY here for women to understand — you MUST make the transition safely and slowly to keep stress to a minimum for your body. You also must make sure to eat enough food, even when in ketosis, to keep your body regulated and nourished.
5. Hunger & Cravings
This was not something I knew ahead of time that I wanted to see change from my ketogenic diet, but looking back, I’m SO happy that going keto made my cravings and hunger disappear. Dietary fat sources are extremely satiating, so having a high-fat meal or snack results in going longer between meals. Not to mention, the reduction in blood sugar swings means less cravings and random hunger cues. As a fat-burner, your body has all of the energy it needs right on the body by way of body fat AND now knows that using body fat for energy will be the primary source of fuel. This means hunger reduces, cravings vanish, and a whole new level of satisfaction ensues.
Results: For the first time in my life, I can say that I have learned how to eat intuitively because of my ketogenic diet. I have delicious, nutrient-dense meals that are so satiating, I don’t have to rely on snacks to get through the day anymore. There is no “hangry-ness” that happens where I need to eat the first thing I see and end up bingeing. I don’t crave sugary treats anymore and that’s a huge step coming from someone with a giant sweet tooth! It is SO freeing!
6. Fasting Capability
The initial reaction for me to try a ketogenic diet actually came because my doctor prescribed an intermittent fasting regimen for me to try to increase my leptin sensitivity. Ironically, it was at the same time that I was reading The Complete Guide To Fasting and so I was becoming more and more aware of the immense benefits fasting can have. I was ready! BUT, I also knew that in order to make the daily fasts tolerable and not a total stressor on my already delicate health status, I would need to become a fat-burner first. That’s when I knew the keto diet was the perfect next step for me and it all clicked into place.
Results: By taking the time to gently switch into ketosis first, I am able to fast comfortably for as long as I choose in order to gain all of the health benefits of fasting! There is slight hunger, but nothing like it would have been if I were a sugar-burner and still using only glucose as fuel.
As you can see, I’ve taken all of the powerful, healing tools provided by a ketogenic diet and applied them to my healing protocol with outstanding success. I am forever grateful to keto for giving me my life back and making me feel like myself again.
I have had great success in my own journey, but have learned some incredibly useful tips for females specifically that want to try a ketogenic diet. While it is a great therapeutic intervention for women, it does need to be approached differently in order to have the same kind of success I had.
Stay tuned…my top tips for women who want to become fat-burners will be out next week!
Are you ready to make the switch? I’ve created a 6-week online course designed to take women from being sugar-burners to fat-burners safely and effectively in order to maximize their healing journey — The Fat Burning Female Project. I’d love to have you be a part of the next group!