How I Learned to Stop Fighting and Love Ketosis #amwriting


A year ago I got a diagnosis of pre-diabetes and obesity. No problem, I thought; I can just go back on a strict Paleo diet and all those troublesome blood test results, and the blood pressure that is stubbornly on the edge of low-grade hypertension will wind back down as they did the last time I cleaned up my food.

Starting a ketogenic diet was a good thing.
Withdrawal from carbohydrates was a bad thing for my blog.

Fast-forward to June (last month). I was having blurred vision, and phantom pain in my feet. My rheumatoid arthritis was out of control. I was afraid to check my blood pressure because I knew damned well what I would find. And the scale was not my friend.

Obviously, what I was doing wasn’t working. And I wasn’t on a Paleo (or more correctly, an ancestral) food regime. I’d start, but I’d find some trivial excuse to have “just one serving” of rice. Or cake. Or French fries. Or donuts… (Yes, plural. There is no such thing as one donut. It’s a complete myth.)

I refuse to take up the crown of the Queen of Denial (that was my mother), but I certainly deserve the title Silver Dragon, Princess of Denial.

Toward the end of last month, Younger Son told me that he was starting a ketogenic diet. He and I had not been diet buddies, really, since we had both gradually abandoned ancestral eating. (I had tried to be diet buddies with Hubby, but… it’s weird. He’s lost more than 100 pounds, but he can have a cookie. Singular. I’ve seen him do it. I’m convinced that trying to be diet buddies with Hubby is a Bad Move.)

So at the end of June I started a ketogenic diet, based on the guidelines I found at Nerdfitness. The idea is to deliberately put your body into ketosis, a state in which it runs using fat rather than glucose as its primary fuel. 30 net grams of carbohydrate (carbs), tops. 70+ grams of protein a day, add fats to reach target calories per day. I eliminated gluten. I eliminated grains. No starchy stuff, not even yams. No fruit—the carbs are all veggies. The one thing that keeps my current food from being ancestral is cow milk products, and I’m working on getting those out of my foods as well.

Objective Results after one month:

  • 9.4 pounds lost
  • Blood pressure normal (checked at the doctor’s office today)
  • Coffee down from an entire 12-cup-pot per day habit to one cup in the morning—without trying
  • Average sleep per night increased from 6 to 7 hours per night
  • Arthritis is noticeably less painful—I no longer need NSAIDs for pain control

This came at a cost; for the first two days I was sick with diarrhea, and I spent the subsequent two weeks in the notorious Keto Brain Fog, also known as carbohydrate withdrawal. Yes, it’s a thing. Blogging under those conditions proved impractical; I have two half-finished posts in the queue. They will remain half-finished, because they are as foggy as my brain was.

But not only do I now have the above objective benefits, I also have these…

Subjective Benefits After One Month:

  • Blurred vision and phantom extremity pain gone
  • Lots of energy, especially in the mornings. Only late at night do I now feel dragged out (which, when you think about it, is a good thing.)
  • I am almost never hungry. (Many days I have to force myself to meet my carb and protein goals, and eat enough fats to meet the MyFitnessPal minimum calorie goal.)
  • My ADHD is noticeably less troublesome. (Despite two weeks lost to brain fog, I completed two rounds of editing for my short story, corrected significant structural problems in my novel-in-progress, and started making the word count go up again.)

Conclusion:

I’ve accepted that it’s likely that I will be on a ketogenic Paleo diet indefinitely. This is not a hardship. Going back to the symptoms above—that would be a hardship. Further, moderation and I do not seem to get along. Once I start expanding what I can eat, I don’t seem to be able to stop. I can live with that.

Your Mileage May Vary.

I don’t want to get into religious wars about this. Not everyone wants to even try a ketogenic diet. Others will be convinced that I (or they) would be better off with a less-restrictive food plan. I’m certainly not trying to convert anyone! It’s just my experience. Apply it to yourself at your own risk.

Useful Ketogenic Diet Texts and Tools

(N.B.: I am not in any affiliate program. I receive no financial benefit should you purchase any item or service I mention in my blog, other than from my own writing.)

  • The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf.

    The original text I used to switch to an ancestral way of eating four years ago. Details of how to eat ancestrally without being dogmatic, and a lot of nutrition research references.
  • Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf.

    Robb adjusts his recommendations (!) based on ten years of new research in the nutrition field. He has an entirely new chapter on why, how, and whether to start a ketogenic ancestral diet. Again, research references abound.
  • Nerdfitness.

    Site owner Steve Kamb provides a lot of information on diet and exercise. He also discusses ancestral and ketogenic diets (which are NOT mutually exclusive) in an easy-to-understand and humorous way.
  • MyFitnessPal.

    I don’t know about you, but none of this works for me without actually keeping track of what I eat. All of it. You can do it with pencil and paper, but why? MFP, despite the obnoxious ads, is the service that will connect with the most other services, has apps on all the devices, and a huge nutritional database. My warning: be careful which version of, oh, onions (for example) you log. Some have fiber grams listed and some don’t. In order to know your net carbs, you have to know the fiber content.
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