When most people hear that my husband and I have started eating a keto diet, we get one of two reactions:
- they have no idea what we are talking about, don’t understand the science behind it and think we are crazy to eat so much fat
- they understand it and have heard about it but only think it’s for really over weight people, and wonder why we’d sacrifice delicious carbs if we don’t have a drastic amount of weight to lose.
I thought I would share with you some of the other, maybe lesser known, benefits of a ketogenic diet; what really drew us in to it, and the benefits we are already seeing.
Mental Clarity – Skipping the carbs means your body starts to use fat for fuel and produce ketones for energy, and when your brain is using ketones for fuel instead of carbs, you can focus much better on tasks, have a better memory, and don’t feel confused or “foggy” as much. (The diet has even been known to improve brain function in those with Alzheimers and Parkinsons.)
Energy – By cutting out carbs, your blood sugars are more stable. Energy levels are up and stay fairly level all day long, instead of dropping shortly after a big carb heavy meal.
Mood – Your energy levels are more stable so that “hangry” feeling doesn’t happen anymore, and your mood doesn’t spiral down after eating carbs. Your brain is clear, your energy is up, so your mood kinda follows automatically. You feel great, so you are happy because you feel great!
As a busy and often exhausted mom, these benefits were pretty enticing to make this lifestyle change with my husband. My mood swings and crashing from carbs was becoming a big issue, and I knew it was based on the way I was fueling my body, but I thought I was just too busy and distracted with the kids to focus on my own meals. Kids ask for food a lot, and I felt like all I was doing was getting them meals and snacks all day long, so when it came time to feed myself, I was so sick of food, and couldn’t be bothered to make something healthy most of the time! I’m a stay at home mom, with all 4 kids at home for the summer, if I can find time to focus on my health, anyone can!
When my husband started this diet a month ago, he just switched to it one day, and dove right in (he was already pretty low carb), and that worked for him. Everyone is different, and every body is different and reacts differently to something like this. I knew I had to take a different approach since I had my gall bladder removed in October 2016. So when he started eating this way, our dinners changed to be more like what he needed (I wrote about that here), and that one meal a day that was higher in fat and lower in carbs was my gradual way of easing in to this. My first official week I was still consuming about 50-60 grams of carbs a day, and slowly increasing my healthy fat intake. By the second week I was at where I needed to be fat and protein wise, and this past week I dropped my carbs to about 30 grams a day. I also bought a digestive supplement that contained Ox Bile to help my body during this transition, which I take before a very fat filled meal. Without a gall bladder, my liver drips bile constantly to help digest fat, whereas a gall bladder stores it and releases it when you eat a fatty meal. Once my body gets used to eating fattier foods, it will increase the production of bile.
Speaking of gall bladder issues, not having one hasn’t been as carefree as one might think. It sure is better than how I was living with one though! Once My gall bladder started producing stones, I was in constant pain and was eating a very unhealthy fat free diet. I was constantly stressed about eating any fat because even just a few grams would cause pain, and I ended up losing probably an unhealthy amount of weight due to this.
Life without a gall bladder however, wasn’t automatically great. Yes I could gradually go back to eating fat again, but I developed a tone of side effects, that I didn’t even realize were from having my gall bladder removed until I started researching the keto diet! I had the worst acne of my life, and at the same time the skin on the rest of my body was insanely dry and itchy. . My oil glands became clogged in my eye lids, resulting in constant dry eyes and not being able to wear contact lenses anymore. I’ve also had stomach and digestive issues, going from one extreme to the next. My nails having been brittle and my hair has been falling out! I had nearly daily headaches (which I thought were caused by lack of water or my ponytail being too tight), and outrageous hormone swings, way worse in the past, leading me to think I had Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder. My nose was also constantly runny, and I was always gassy and burping and super bloated after meals.
Turns out your little itty bitty gall bladder is needed and does serve a purpose, and removing it can mess with lots of other parts of your health!
Once I started researching how to eat a ketogenic diet without a gall bladder, I learned that this diet could in fact help all the issues I had been having. Guess that saying, you are what you eat, really is true!
A big part of this change has been making one of my meals a liquid meal. Liquids are easier for your body to digest when you don’t have a gall bladder. So every day, my lunch has been a smoothie. After two weeks, I have perfected it, and it’s such a treat to drink, it tastes like chocolate milk or a chocolate milkshake depending on how much ice you add, it is super healthy and of course full of healthy fats!
Chocolate Keto Smoothie:
In a blender, add the following and blend till smooth:
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/3 scoop chocolate protein powder (I like LeanFit Naturals Whey Protein Blend, tastes great, blends nicely, and only has 1 net carb per scoop!)
2 tbsp almond butter
1/2 packed cup of spinach
3-4 frozen raspberries (added for a touch of sweetness, can use fresh ones, and can be skipped entirely since the protein powder does have stevia in it)
1 tsp sugar free cocoa powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
3-4 ice cubes, or more if you want a thicker milkshake like consistency
Blend it all up, I use a Ninja blender which takes less than 30 seconds to blend it all.
The macros on this are pretty great for (approximately): 414 calories, 6 net carbs, 36grams of fat, and 16 grams of protein.
Depending on the breakfast I had, or what is on the menu for dinner, I can easily adjust this to contain more healthy fats by adding a tablespoon of full fat sour cream, full fat cream cheese, or more coconut oil, but I eat 4 smaller meals, since that’s easier on my gut since I don’t have a gallbladder, 400 calories is about perfect for me.
Overall, my husband and I have both been happy, more energetic, and just generally feeling great! Let me also say that when my husband started eating this way, I never thought in a million years that I would be able to. I didn’t think I was strong enough to resist carbs; I love potatoes and cake and cookies, and cereal and sugar in my coffee, and well, I loved carbs and ate them all day long. But I did it! It’s pretty amazing how your body adapts and you no longer crave carbs once you kick them. It’s also amazing how much your taste buds adapt and find things like 80% dark chocolate sweet, when you previously would only ever eat the extra creamy milk chocolates!
If you are having any of the health issues I’ve mentioned above, or even other ones, look into the Keto Diet a little more, it might be right for you. And remember, what we put into our bodies greatly impacts our insides, not just what we look like on the outside!
*****Once again, I am not a doctor nor an expert on Ketosis and the ketogenic diet. Please consult a professional before attempting something like this. And eating this way is not suitable for everyone, such as kids, teens, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or those with underlying health issues. For more info, I have found this website very helpful: Dr Jockers *****