Today I’m sharing Amber’s story of making her way from vegan to pescatarian to keto—and, ultimately, to health! Have you improved your health, tackled a fitness goal, or overcome obstacles with the help of the Primal Blueprint? Inspire others by sharing your success story with the MDA community. Contact me here. Hi, Mark! I wanted to share how putting the steps provided in your book into practice has changed my life. Thanks for reading. I was already 20 pounds overweight when I gave birth to my son in 2016. During pregnancy I put on another 40 pounds, which put me in the obese category. I let myself indulge in every craving (mainly strawberry shortcake) and paid no attention to the scale. I was overly confident the weight would fall off after delivery, but when it didn’t, I started to think this was just my new normal. Six months later I joined a gym. On day one I stepped on the scale, and when the number was displayed I was completely mortified. I had zero muscles in my abdomen, and they often had to create different exercises specifically for me as I could not participate in their regular classes. I was embarrassed but determined, and after 11 months I was down 30 pounds and feeling proud. However, I was hungry most of the day. In an effort to drop the weight, I had “tinkered” with diets. At the time, I was on a vegan diet that quickly turned into a pescatarian diet. One day, my gym announced they were moving locations and could no longer provide daycare for my son. Just like that, my gym days were over. I tried to “will” myself to the gym at 5 a.m. but it NEVER went well. I could barely keep my eyes open let alone do a proper workout. I let the membership expire and quickly noticed the weight coming back. I could not understand how this was happening. I thought I was making healthy meals. A normal day went like this: One piece of sourdough toast with avocado and some juice. For lunch I would make vegan nachos comprised of a starch-like substance to substitute for cheese along with black beans, rice, lettuce, and tomato served over chips. For dinner I would make yet another dish with beans or fish with gnocchi. It went on like this for the next two years, and abruptly white wine enters the picture. Wine became a constant in my life and—surprise!—I started gaining even more weight. I was tired all the time; I went to bed at 8 and yet woke up exhausted. At age 32 I thought for the first time that this was not any way to live life. I decided to address this extreme exhaustion with my doctor. She ordered labs, and when the results came back (sparing you the details) everything was elevated to “red” in EVERY category. I was shocked and ashamed. My doctor explained a “new” diet she heard remarkable … Continue reading “Amber’s Keto Success Story”
I’ve long espoused a fairly low-carb lifestyle for optimal health, but “low-carb” means different things to different people.
For some, it means eating the fewest carbs possible, as in a strict carnivore diet or something more like carniflex, a meat-centric approach that strategically includes some plants.
For others, it means a keto or Atkins-style diet that restricts carb intake.
Some people don’t count carbs at all but still consider themselves “low-carb” because they eat mostly meat, eggs, and vegetables, and they limit things like grains, fruit, legumes, and added sugars. Sound familiar? That’s the classic Primal or paleo approach.
What all these low-carb folks have in common is that they need to decide what to eat day in and day out. Thinking about food all the time can become tedious, especially when you’re trying out a new way of eating and don’t know what’s “allowed.” It’s tempting to sort foods into discrete categories based on macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein) and quality (“good” versus “bad” foods) to reduce decision fatigue.
When you first start following a keto diet, overthinking is pretty much part of the package. For better or worse, keto newbies spend a lot of time learning what they can and can’t eat, meticulously weighing and measuring food, and tracking everything that goes in their mouths. Weighing, tracking, and restricting become understandably tedious after a while. I do know some people who are happy to maintain this level of dietary vigilance for months or even years, but most people fizzle out. Those who don’t want to return to a more relaxed way of eating like Primal look for a compromise position—a keto diet without all the fuss. This raises the question: is monitoring and careful control of your food intake simply part and parcel of keto, or is it possible to follow a keto diet intuitively? What Does Intuitive Keto Even Mean? There’s an apparent contradiction between eating intuitively and keto dieting. Eating intuitively means listening to your body, honoring the signals it sends you, and not controlling or restricting your food intake based on external rules. Keto diets come with an inherent set of rules and restrictions. At the very least, keto diets have to be low-carb by definition. In practice, this means there are many high-carb foods that you can’t eat in any appreciable amount. Even a small serving could interfere with ketosis. Many folks also set parameters around their keto diets, like they have to be gluten-free or sugar-free. As I have explained previously, that’s not technically true, but those are common values in the keto community. If your inner voice urges you to eat a couple candy bars, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread, or even a large bowl of mango, you can’t comply and still be ketogenic. You can’t listen to your intuition. Thus, if such a thing as an intuitive keto exists, it has to involve some sort of compromise. That said, I believe when people say “intuitive keto diet,” they mean keto without all the fuss and micromanaging. That is possible. Lots of people do it by: Eating mostly animal products, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and fats (all low-carb foods) Eating when they are hungry, not rigidly adhering to a set eating window Allowing hunger to guide how much and how often they eat in any given day Not tracking macros That’s how I would define an intuitive keto diet, anyway, and the definition I’ll use for the rest of this post. One could argue, though, that that’s neither keto nor intuitive, not really. Eating Intuitively Versus Intuitive Eating It’s impossible to talk about intuitive keto without clarifying the difference between eating intuitively and Intuitive Eating (with a capital I-E for clarity). The former is loosely defined as eating according to your body’s hunger cues and desires for different foods. The latter is a specific eating philosophy developed in the mid-1990s by two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, that is still popular today. Any kind of purposeful … Continue reading “Can You Eat an Intuitive Keto Diet?”
We’re all about easy meals here at Mark’s Daily Apple, but sometimes you want to step it up and make something a little special. Who says you can’t serve an impressive meal that’s also simple? Here, we made air fryer cornish hens over mashed root veggies with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts. It’s easy to prepare and is a step up from your typical weekday fare.
Here’s how to make it.
You’ve heard about all of the benefits of going low-carb, but for transparency, you may want to know about keto bloating and gas. The good news is, it’s temporary, and not everyone experiences it.
You know I’m a big fan of self-experimentation, but here’s the rub. Whenever you try something new— be it a new diet, sleep hack, exercise program, whatever—you hope the results will be favorable. Unfortunately, though, you can’t guarantee a good result. Or at least, you can’t guarantee a good result immediately. Sometimes there’s an adjustment period before you get the outcome you want.
That’s certainly true with a keto diet. For most people, especially folks who aren’t already eating Primally, going keto means significant dietary changes. All of a sudden, they’re eating many more healthy fats, animal products, and vegetables; few or no grains or legumes; and limited root vegetables and fruits.
A little planning and motivation will help you start a low-carb, keto, or Primal lifestyle, and under normal circumstances, keeping your carbs on the low side is easy. But let’s not create the illusion that it is easy all the time. From time to time, you may get stressed and eat mindlessly. Or, your aunt drops off her blue-ribbon cake that you’ve loved since you were in preschool, and you give in, just this once. Or, you had a jam-packed day and all you can muster to make for dinner is that package of gluten-free noodles in the back of your pantry. The next thing you know, you’ve eaten enough carbs for a week, and you wonder how you’ll get back into ketosis after a carb binge.
The short answer is, yes you will recover from a carb binge. Yes, you will get back into ketosis. As far as how long it will take to get back into ketosis – that depends on numerous factors, that we’ll dive into here. The important thing to remember is, you did not obliterate your goals with one misstep. Especially after you’ve spent some amount of time in ketosis, your body will allow for fluctuations in carb consumption here and there. That’s called metabolic flexibility, which we’ll go into shortly.
Every “keto for women” forum abounds with stories about menstrual cycles gone haywire in the first few months of keto. Common complaints include:
Irregular menstrual cycles
Sudden changes in menstrual cycle length, especially periods lasting much longer than normal
Keto critics love to cite these stories as evidence that keto isn’t good for women. After all, for premenopausal women, menstrual cycle activity acts as a barometer for overall health. Menstrual cycle disruptions are usually a sign that your body is under some kind of stress.
I use my Los Angeles surroundings as a barometer for changes in the mainstream approach to health, and it holds up quite well. Silicon Valley can claim to be the cradle of technology, but L.A. is definitely the cradle of diet and fitness trends; and the latest is most definitely keto. At the local cafe where every species of Malibu fitness enthusiast gathers to gossip and fuel up, I’m seeing fewer gels and energy bars, and way more butter coffees and discarded packets of the new powdered ketone supplement products.
One of the upsides of indoor venues being closed this past year is that a lot of people have (re)discovered a love of the great outdoors. More people than ever seem to be venturing out on the trails, camping with their families, and generally taking advantage of nature. Although avid hikers and campers might lament the busyness of their once-isolated outdoor spaces, I think we can all agree that this is a good thing for society as a whole.
The food situation can be a barrier to entry, though. Traditional camping and hiking foods tend to be high-carb and grain-based, so Primal and keto outdoors enthusiasts may find themselves at a loss for what to eat. Portable, shelf-stable items like oatmeal, granola bars, sandwiches, pasta, and s’mores probably aren’t on your Primal menu. (You can make better-for-you s’mores that are pretty darn amazing!) Never fear. Plenty of Primal- and keto-friendly foods work just as well in these scenarios.
Conventional backpacking wisdom also suggests that hikers need to keep carb intake high to maintain energy and stamina. Not so! Primal and keto diets are ideal for camping and especially for hiking and backpacking. These sustained submaximal efforts rely largely on fat-burning for energy, at least for the metabolically flexible among us. A growing contingent of Primal, paleo, and keto backpackers are demonstrating in real time that it’s not only possible to fuel your outdoor adventures on a low-carb diet, it may actually be ideal.
When we talk about “getting enough electrolytes,” we usually mean the big three: sodium, potassium, and magnesium. There are many others, including calcium, chloride, and bicarbonate, but the big three are the ones targeted by supplement and sports nutrition companies.
In part, that’s because sodium especially, but also potassium and magnesium, are lost through sweat. Athletes need to replenish these electrolytes during and after hard workouts or endurance outings in order to maintain optimal hydration and performance. Sodium and potassium work together to manage fluid balance throughout the body and facilitate muscle contractions and nerve firing. Magnesium is critical for cellular energy production and the transport of sodium and potassium across cell membranes.
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about the other functions of electrolytes in the body since Mark recently covered the topic in his Electrolytes 101 post. Suffice it to say that if you don’t maintain the proper levels of electrolytes, you’re in a world of hurt.