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Tag: keto

Keto Expert Explains Why Women Can’t Really Eat “Keto Diet” All Month

I thought this was an interesting find.  So apparently, even the Keto experts are claiming now that for women, the keto diet falls short of supporting our feminine hormones.

In the video, Leann Vogel, whose written a best selling book on the Keto diet, claims that for most women we just cannot eat a true keto diet the entire month long.  Instead, it’s more like 7 days, or a little more if you’re lucky.

Yes, you read that right… this is an expert on keto claiming that women can only really eat a true keto diet staying below 20 grams of carbohydrates and eating excessive amounts of fat (above 100 grams), for about 1 week out of the month.

For the other weeks she recommends a more “paleo-style” plate with paleo carbs such as sweet potatoes and such, and even on the more “ketogenic” days, adding up to 100 carbs and lowering the fat intake.

This is pretty much what I found out about a year ago when I started really researching this new fad diet, which models closely the Atkin’s diet (although with a ton more fat consumption, and more veggies and fiber).

Unfortunately for Keto Advocates, women need carbs to support our hormones, this puts the fad-dieters into a dilemma.  This is the problem Leann Vogel claims to have “solved,” for women, except ironically (or hilariously) the solution is a completely different diet (Paleo)!

Check out one of her older videos where she reveals all the problems women can have while on this diet (that can be remedied by going more Paleo and breaking from the Keto-fad):

In this last video, she even at one point says that sometimes there’s a problem with the program you’re following.

So again… to recap 😀  This is a Keto Expert admitting there is a problem with the base amount of carbs women should have in a keto diet, and is advocating for women to follow a completely different diet for about 3 weeks out of the month!

Am I the only one who thinks this is hilarious?  😀

Health & Long-term Keto Diet

My fitness group ladies keep coming back to discussing the new diet fad of keeping your body always in a state of ketosis.  Just today (note: this was a couple of weeks ago) we looked at an article that is again… not very favorable.  And after reading it, I’m definitely beginning to see why these fads can be so annoying to fitness instructors and nutritionists.

When I first heard about the keto diet, I immediately remembered studying case studies of diabetic people in ketoacidosis in college, and was alarmed that there were apparently women who were trying to get their bodies into that state of chemical toxicity in producing ketones in their blood.  BUT those two things are different.  Ketoacidosis is a very high level of ketones, whereas ketosis is just the presence of ketones.  It’s similar, but one is life-threatening, while the other seems benign.

My fitness ladies are skeptical, quite a few have tried it and already been badly burned, having experiences that ranged from physical illnesses and side effects like kidney stones, to higher cholesterol levels that forced them to have to go back to a normal, much healthier diet.

This article delves into those issues from a scientific perspective which is nice.  My background was biology and chemistry… and very heavy on biochemistry – how those two work inside your body – so the science stuff speaks to me.

 

From an obesity researcher quoted in the article:

“But just as other “don’t eat this” or “eat more of that” diets of the past didn’t cure all, so goes the ketogenic diet. “It’s one of these diets where so many people are talking about losing tons of weight, improving their health risks, beating cancer, and all these other lofty claims,” says Stephan Guyenet, an obesity researcher and author of The Hungry Brain. “But all those big claims are far ahead of the current scientific evidence.”

It does work… reading the awesome stories on reddit are incredibly inspiring!  But again, it’s part common sense (following your macros), part fad (eating 90% fat!), and part diet (lowering caloric intake by not eating carbs, which are the bulk of calories per day we normally eat anyway).

The main benefit I saw while I was trying it myself for curiosity, is that if you’re eating crap foods, processed sugars and bad carbs, it at least teaches you those things are bad for weight loss (and overall health).

It also teaches men and women who had poor diets and lazy habits to include a TON more veggies and green leafy fiberous foods into their diet – which of course will aid in fat loss and curb hunger.

Like I said, a lot of it is just common sense, and the main part is restricting caloric intake (which always leads to fat loss, no matter what diet you’re on).


It’s the perfect diet for very overweight men or women who have no idea where to start.


More on that from this article:

“Keto doesn’t seem to be any better for weight loss compared to any other “diet,” Kashey says. And that’s due to how weight loss science works. “People get excited about the idea that the ketogenic diet burns fat stored on your body,” Kashey says. “Yes, ketones can be made from your stored fat, but ketogenic diets are high in fat. Therefore, the fat you eat is what gets converted to ketones. How do you make sure you are burning more fat than you are eating? You eat less fat. That sounds an awful lot like reducing calories.””

For women, it can be a little dangerous as it messes with our hormone production, which affects bone loss longterm. (From article):


“But it may also have some health-based drawbacks, Scott-Dixon says. “Especially in women, it can disrupt hormonal production,” she says. “You also sometimes see immunity issues and nutritional deficiencies, so you’re maybe risking getting sick, and becoming malnourished, which is sort of embarrassing if you live America.” Guyenet agrees, saying “few human groups have ever lived in chronic ketosis, so I’m skeptical that it’s a good idea.””

I’ve read from a lot of the Keto Gurus that human groups have been mostly living in ketosis throughout history.  It’s something you’d have to look into for yourself, but I personally think just following a healthy, well-balanced diet (by which I mean including carbs), is probably the best way to go, especially (as I found out personally) if you enjoy exercise or sports and do endurance or high intensity workouts.

The Keto Diet seems to scientifically harm your overall athletic performance and long-term energy.  So if you do aerobics or are a die-hard runner, the longer you’re in ketosis, you’ll be worsening at your beloved sport or hobby:

“One study of endurance athletes found the diet led to performance declines, and another found that it hurt endurance race performance. One study on mountain bikers, however, did show some promise. Any benefits of exercising in ketosis are likely offset by the drawbacks, covered here. “You know what has been proven to improve exercise performance, though?,” Kashey asks. “Carbs.””

Coming from a long-time runner and dancer, it is very hard to imagine exercising at your best level (much less racing like one study found) without the necessary carbs that fuel long-term endurance.  I thought all that was common sense, even as a teenager when our coach was explaining it to us.

The Keto Gurus (who when I researched more on their actual diet, were eating more protein than they should be to be in ketosis, and carb-fueling on days they called “Re-Feed” days, lol), will try to tell you that being in ketosis produces more ATP energy during your workouts.  It’s just not true scientifically.  The body cannot break down fat as fast and efficient as carbs when using them for high intensity workouts or in weight lifting (in order to build muscle), so while 1 gram of fat does in theory produce more ATP eventually, it’s not fast enough or easy enough for the body to do this under exercise stress.

I found a good scientific article explaining what I was feeling in my workouts when being in a constant state of ketosis.  This study that was done was involving different sets of mice, one set that was prone to epileptic seizures, and another that was normal and the control (no physical abnormalities).  The sets of mice were all put on a ketogenic diet to model the human version of the diet.  The mice prone to epilepsy, when on a ketogenic diet, were significally improved in their health and also surprisingly made “normal” amounts of ATP energy that they weren’t previously able to make (so they were under-making ATP on regular diets – whereas the keto diet helped them to be at normal ATP production).  It didn’t make them make “more” than what is normal, but it did help them make more than they used to on regular diets that weren’t working for them health-wise.

The normal mice however, who didn’t have seizure and health problems, when measured actually produced significantly less ATP-energy than what they had been producing when they were allowed to eat carbohydrates.  (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2646796/

So if you have medical conditions like epilepsy, being on the keto diet has been proven to possibly help restore you to normal levels of ATP production, greatly impacting your life in positive ways.  However, if you’re the typical adult without epilepsy, your ATP levels may be “significantly decreased,” on this diet due to the lack of healthy carbs.

It’s actually because of that, heavy weight lifting is not doable on keto – they actually advise against it.  Mostly because you’re not eating enough carbs in order to build and rebuild muscle!

“Therapeutic use of ketogenic diets should not require constraint of most forms of physical labor or recreational activity, with the one caveat that anaerobic (ie, weight lifting or sprint) performance is limited by the low muscle glycogen levels induced by a ketogenic diet, and this would strongly discourage its use under most conditions of competitive athletics.”

(From here: https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-1-2)

Here are some hardcore cyclists talking about their negative experiences in exercise performance on keto:

Depending on how hard you work out and how much ATP you need, it may affect your workout and training to a greater degree.

Just as a recent, personal experience I had the other day (already quite a few days in to ketosis), I was working out very hard on the stairmaster at our gym with my husband.  After only doing 15 minutes of that exercise, which was intense intervals of fast and furious climbing against increased resistance levels (large steps), and slow climbing to a lighter resistance, I had to stop and afterward, felt like I was going to black out.  LOL it was NOT cool!

After researching my experience with doing HIIT (intervals of high intensity followed by lower intensity), it turns out “dizziness” and low blood sugar (leading to blacking out) is one of the side effects of this diet.  Grrreeeaaat. Try feeling dizzy when you’re doing an intense cardio workout up high on a stair master!  Oh wait!!  You can’t because you may fall off and break something!  lol

Negative side effects of the Keto Diet:

  • Low blood sugar (bad for me… I already lean toward low blood sugar… this could be why I almost blacked out after only 15 minutes of intervals on the stairmaster)
  • Messed up electrolytes and minerals – you have to be on top of taking extra magnesium and salt daily to counteract your regular loss of electrolytes
  • Heart palpitations – because of the messed up electrolyte (salt and water) balance in your blood, again it can be remedied, but if you are prone to heart problems in your family, this could cause issues long-term and you’d have to be VERY on top of checking your blood levels
  • Muscle Cramps – again because of messed up electrolyte balances
  • Sleep problems – due to lower insulin levels and less serotonin production (causing anxiety at night).  A trick keto-gurus do to combat this is to (surprise!) eat a tiny bit of carbs at night so they can sleep better.
  • If you’re a woman, it will mess with your menstrual cycle hormones, possibly even making you not have a period (amenorrhea), which is known to cause bone loss long-term (and is generally a side effect of anorexia as well)

I guess it’s just human nature to look for a magic formula or easy route to get healthy, but it seems a little more complicated than what cutting out an entire food group (long-term) can do.  Does the Keto Diet have pros?  Yes.  Does it work?  Yes, you can check out all the success stories on reddit to see for yourself!  It’s honestly the perfect intro diet for very overweight people who aren’t exercising normally and eating loads of bad carbs in their diet.  It weans them off of the bad carbs, gets them eating a TON more veggies and leafy greens they should be eating anyway, and really does help them lose fat due to these habit changes.

 

But is it a little dangerous in how it paints carbs as the “Bad Guys” for optimal health?  Yea… and with all my training and experience in sports and athletics, I can see how this diet would be annoying to fitness instructors or coaches who understand how much protein their athletes need, along with carbohydrates for maximum performance.

 

You won’t find any Olympic Athletes on the Keto diet, and if they are, they’re definitely incorporating carbs on “Re-Feed” or re-fuel days on the weekends to compensate.  But with the protein restrictions to be in ketosis, I highly doubt any Olympians are on it, and definitely not long-term.

 

Ultimately you have to do what’s best for you long-term and do what you can realistically stick to.  There’s no way I’d be willing to give up my high intensity workouts and weight-lifting to build muscle to lose fat on this diet, when I’m already able to lose fat (and train like an athlete) on a healthier diet including carbs I love.

 

But if you can stick to it, and you’re willing to brave the negative side effects and messing with your feminine hormone production, then go for it.  To me that’s too much fuss to be tracking electrolyte balance and ketone production in my urine everyday, and part of overall fitness is keeping your mind at peace and relaxed and less stressed out (which being worried about not messing up my electrolyte balance, or if I’m messing up my period and bone density, would stress me out).

 

This blog is dedicated to approaching fitness for lifelong benefits and in a positive, relaxing way.  I want people to be aware how easy being fit really is once you have the knowledge and power to act on it, and make changes in your life.  There’s no need to pee on pH sticks everyday or track ketones in your blood.  There’s no need to stop eating carbs or a healthy amount of protein in order to build muscle.  In my opinion, any diet that cuts out an entire food group for the rest of your life, is just not peaceful or easy to do longterm.

 

 

Stephanie

Zucchini Enchilada Casserole

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This was a fun recipe… even though I messed up the slicing for the enchiladas and had to turn it into a kind of lasagna-casserole dish made up of layers instead 😀  LOL  It still worked and tasted amazing!

And it’s SO healthy!

I created this recipe myself so it’s modified after what I believe to be one of the tastiest, yet healthiest versions of this meal.

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Ingredients:

  • Two Zucchini’s
  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt (Plain – 0 sugar)
  • 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilis (optional – you can just use diced tomatoes and onions)
  • 1 jar Green Tomatillo Salsa
  • 3-4 pounds chicken (I used breast meat)
  • 2 cups Monterrey Jack Cheese
  • Garlic seasoning to taste (1 tbs on chicken and then mixed into filling)
  • Pepper to taste (1 tsp mixed into filling)
  • Chili powder (optional)

Directions:

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Cut in thin slices, score and season the chicken breasts, then boil until cooked through.

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Slice the zucchinis in the way you’d prefer – either long way to create strips or with a veggie spiralizer if you want more texture.  I tried out my spiralizer thinking the long blade would create wider strips but apparently something went wrong LOL.  They were wider, but they were spirals!

Here’s where I hear Snape’s voice in my head:

After chicken is boiled, drain water and shred the chicken with two forks pulling in opposite directions keeping the chicken in the pot you boiled it in.  Once shredded, add in a little more seasoning to taste (garlic, pepper, etc.), the greek yogurt, the jar of Green Tomatillo Salsa, and the can of Rotel diced tomatoes and chilies.  Mix all this together in the bowl with the shredded chicken to create the enchilada “filling.”

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This doesn’t show the Tomatillo Salsa… Don’t forget to add it!

Now layer your ingredients in a 9×13 greased pan starting with a layer of zucchini strips or spirals/slices, then roughly 1/2 of the chicken filling, then a layer of cheese (1 cup).  Repeat a second time using the rest of the ingredients.

It should make a pretty huge pan full!

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The thing I loved about this recipe is that it’s a healthy low carb (virtually no carb it’d be perfect for people on the Keto Diet) meal that’s packed with flavor, but without the crash later that comes with normal enchiladas.

The greek yogurt (man I love that stuff!) is a powerhouse of energy, and it tastes very similar to sour cream but with ZERO grams of fat.  Yet in that one cup, you get a whopping 20 grams of pure protein!  It’s just a much healthier option than the Crema de Mexicana or heavy cream or even the fatty sour cream that people tend to throw in this recipe.  It’s also been proven to help in losing fat, and we’ve experienced this effect when we added it into our almost daily diet.

I served it with refried beans and spanish rice ❤  Hits the spot and without ANY guilt!

Enjoy!!

Stephanie

New Year Resolutions & Diet Fads

It seems every year there are many people planning to pledge or re-pledge themselves to getting healthy or finally losing weight.

And along with those great goals comes fad diets :/

I’m NOT a fan of weird diets… instead I think it’s usually best for people to just eat healthy and see how their body responds to cutting out *some* foods, but certainly nothing that would be longterm forever “you can not eat carbs,” kind of “diet.”

Someone in my fitness group brought up that the Keto diet and Whole 30 both tied for last place in ABC’s list of the Best diets for 2018.  While I’ve known plenty of women who have lost substantial weight with Keto, I still don’t trust it to be a viable option for women longterm (their whole lives).

I think one can lose a bunch of weight while on Keto, but once you start eating normal again (if you ever go back to eating normal carbs, pies, pastries, french fries etc.), you’ll just gain it all back because you haven’t discovered a way to eat that’s truly balanced (“bad” and “good” stuff you can enjoy).

Having been an athlete in school and longtime dancer always interested in health and fitness pretty much, these kinds of diets don’t work in my opinion because they never really teach the person how to take control of their eating longterm (life-long), how to enjoy something once in a while, and not stress about it, and yet still be able to stay on track with their fitness goals.

It’s a careful balance that I’m sure is truly different for every person, but what these fad diets don’t do is to teach individuals how to manage that balancing.

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Are there certain foods that you should definitely avoid when trying to lose weight?  Yes definitely.

But do you need to stick to a very strict diet that doesn’t allow you to eat entire food groups like carbohydrates for the rest of your life just to stay thin and strong?  Heck no!

Again, just because something may work for a season while you’re doing it, won’t mean it’s always going to work for you.  Eventually there may come a time when you’re working a drastically different schedule or maybe in a depression, and you just want carbs again, and there goes your keto plan or Atkin’s diet.

It’s better to learn how to manage yourself through true discipline in being allowed to eat the “bad” stuff, as well as knowing what and when to eat the good stuff.