Update on Emma
We have had a very busy couple of weeks. Between dance competitions, doctor appointments, getting the yard ready for my oldest’s graduation and helping the boys with college decisions, I have been overwhelmed!
Last Thursday Emma had her checkup at Seattle Children’s. She goes every 3 months but this was the one year mark from diagnoses. One year on meds down! She has had no absence seizures that we are aware of but due to her sleep being severely disrupted and muscle pain, the doctor decided that she needs to have a night study. We will be calling to set that up today. Her blood work had remarkably improved in most areas but her anion gap was slightly high. This could mean that her medication is causing a problem or it could mean that she is having small seizures… thus the sleep study as well. I am currently forcing electrolytes down her and waiting to see if she gets accepted as a new patient at my doctor’s office. He has helped us out with so many other things that I am ready to see what he can do for her.
The neurologist was surprised at the rest of her levels and I was glad to see that the keto diet is not causing deficiencies. To give you an idea, in the last 6 months these are the comparisons:
White Blood Cell from 12.3 down to 5.2
Vitamin D3 from 34 to 118!!! (We have dropped her dosage down to 1/5th!
Platelet from 9.4-10.1
Ferritin (iron stores) from 25 to 60
Blood Pressure 127/55 to 120/60 (closing that gap!)
So overall, we are seeing many improvements. The hardest part is that she does have a meltdown once in a while over fruit! Her medication has changed her palate and she thinks a lot of things that she used to love are bitter or sour. Her blood sugar gets low when she refuses to eat and I am learning that I have to be mean and force her to eat. Low blood sugar is a HUGE trigger for seizures and I am having her eat before bed and drink a little heavy cream which she loves! Fingers crossed that this sleep study just shows insomnia caused by the medication.
Here she is at competition enjoying a
A pint of heavy cream!
Building Muscle on the Keto Diet
I have never had an easy time building muscle but about 12 years ago after having my twins, I set out to lose the baby weight and started working out consistently for the first time in my life. I mean, I was always active, I walked or rode my bike or did aerobics here and there but I never researched or worried about nutrition and such things.
I started thinking, “I don’t want to be skinny”, I want to be fit! I began lifting weights. I was able to get in really good shape in about 6 months with hard work. I could do pull-ups, push-ups, lift 25 pound hand weights and run 4 miles without feeling tired. I was eating about 3,000 calories a day and I only weighed 113 pounds. I realized that muscle was the key to a fast metabolism. I also noticed that when I stopped running more than 15-20 minutes I was more muscular. I discovered that cardio burned calories but muscles increased metabolism overall. So when i stopped doing as much cardio, I gained about 6 pounds of muscle. Still, if I did not lift HEAVY, I could not build muscle. Fast forward to the age of 40…
I had a 18 week miscarriage and my body was never the same. I started feeling fatigued and weak. I was easily winded, just walking up stairs. I had numbness in my feet and I would almost pass out sometimes. My heart would race and flutter and I just didn’t feel right. Ever. Almost a year later, I began losing weight rapidly and right during the holidays so that is never normal. RIGHT?! My hair was getting super thin and I was losing muscle rapidly. I couldn’t lift more than 12 pounds and forget about push-ups! I went to my doctor and found out that my thyroid was low (yes you read that right, I am opposite of normal) and I was very anemic. My estrogen was somewhat low but normal for my age and progesterone was still pretty high. Testosterone was low. So we increased my thyroid medication, I started taking iron, Vitamin C, eating spinach, beets and lots of red meat. I began taking DHEA and using bio-identical cream. 3 months later, my thyroid had improved, but my iron was LOWER. So I received weekly infusions at the hospital for 8 weeks. My levels increased very nicely and I was feeling way better.
A year later, my fatigue was back but I wasn’t having heart palpitations or numbness, just overwhelming fatigue, no desire to do anything and it was summer and I usually feel great in the summer. In September I went back to my doctor. This time iron was okay and thyroid was good but my testosterone was very low (It was 10). The DHEA had done nothing. We increased the DHEA and bio-identical cream. In January, however, it was EVEN LOWER. It may be news to you that women NEED testosterone but we do! I will post some links at the bottom of this for you to read. Low T in women causes, breast cancer, osteoporosis, muscle loss, memory loss, fatigue and so much more! It is falsely believed that estrogen is bad! It is not! Its the imbalance of all hormones that causes health issues.
In February, I had testosterone pellets implanted. (I truly believe that I have always had low levels. Part of why it was so hard for me to gain muscle!) I felt no change for about 3 weeks but around week 4, I started sleeping way better! I started feeling like working out again! (On a side note I have 2 breast tumors that have shrunk by 50% since getting the implant as well! Waiting to see what it does for the related tests) Didn’t realize just how much I was waking up at night. I am slowly starting to feel some strength back and about a week ago, I thought “It is time to get serious and try to use KETO to GAIN MUSCLE and prove that is does work”.
I set my macros on myfitnesspal to 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs. Remember that if you are trying to lose weight those ratios are 80/15/5. However, I am not trying to lose weight but gain muscle mass. If you are doing KETO to lose weight and you are lifting weights, you should be able to increase your ratios too when you get to your goal weight. You may even be able to handle the higher protein percentage but if you are still trying to lose, you need to keep carbs at 5% and under 20!
This past week, I have gained 2 pounds on KETO!!! Hilarious to think that the same diet we use to lose weight we can use to gain! Right? That is because we can both LOSE FAT and GAIN MUSCLE with this way of life! I have seen pictures of people who are incredibly fit and not killing themselves with workouts on this diet. I hope that is as encouraging for you as it is me! Google the results people are getting!
Here are some links for you to read:
“Never give up on something you really want. It is difficult to wait but more difficult to regret.” ~ unknown author
How the Ketogenic diet works…
You know how you hear people say that they “carb load” before a marathon? Or ever heard the term “sugar crash”? Simple or complex carbohydrates, quick energy, sugar rush, and I could go on and on. These are simple terms used to describe the way that our body breaks down and uses carbs for energy. Carbohydrates are the first go-to our bodies use for energy. A simple carbohydrate is a carbohydrate that has a short process to break down and complex carbohydrate has a slightly longer process. However, BOTH types are the fastest for our bodies to process to use for energy. Because no matter the type of carbohydrate, we use it first. This is why if a person’s blood sugar drops dangerously low as in hypoglycemia or diabetes when a person takes too much insulin, you would give them something with sugar to quickly get their blood sugar to rise.
After we have used up the energy from our intake of carbohydrates, our bodies seek out protein. The break down of protein is where amino acids come from. Proteins are essentially long chains of amino acids. The reason we drink or ingest amino acids when we lift weights is that they are already broken
down and more readily available for our bodies to uptake and assist in muscle growth. This is also why you take these before, during and immediately after the workout when the muscle is seeking replenishment.
Lastly, our bodies seek out fat for energy. Long chain fatty acids break down the slowest of all three. Triglycerides have a double bond and are therefore much slower to break down. There is something in science called ATP which simplified is an energy molecule. You use it to break down both carbs and proteins but you do not use it to break apart fats and because you are not using energy to make energy as in the breakdown of carbs and proteins, the net gain of energy is double that of carbohydrates. It is a sustained energy versus the quick spike then crash when you run out. Also, keep in mind that consuming massive amounts of protein can be hard on your kidneys. When we cut out carbs we begin to crave protein. Fight the urge to over-consume it! Our bodies will use the liver to convert protein into something that will be used just like sugar and that is why some people will gain weight on too much protein. (My Lauren!)
I am trying to make this as simple as I possibly can. I know some of you that understand science are reading this saying, oh there is so much more! However, I am not trying to teach a biology class here. Haha.
So lets talk about how the keto diet should be followed in order for it to work. There are many keto ratios thrown around. You will see some that follow the 2:1, 3:1 or 4:1. It really depends on your health issues which one will work best for your body. You may find that you have to start out at 4:1 and eventually be able to move to a 2:1. A 4:1 means that you are eating 4 times the amount of calories from fat as carbs + proteins. This is a strict diet. It is difficult to maintain forever and is most often used in someone with uncontrolled diabetes type 2, insulin resistance or epilepsy that is not controlled with medication. My girls are currently on a 4:1 and have been since last April. Eventually I would like to see them on a 3:1 but because I know how the diet works, I will not change over until Emma is seizure free for two years and Lauren has an insulin level of 5.
So here is where this diet is different than other diets. You CANNOT cheat on this diet. At least until you are through your health crisis or at your goal weight. If you have a food addiction, I would say never. The reason is that your body will always first seek out carbs and if you are eating too much protein, your body will use protein exactly how it uses sugar and you might as well be eating donuts. I am going to get real here. If you are going to cheat even with a “bite” of something not allowed, then you are doing more harm than good. If you do this for a month and only lose one pound it DOES NOT MATTER, you are giving your body a chance to recover from the crap you have been putting into it. If you have health issues but you are not focused on them and are doing this to look good and lose weight and that is your only goal then you do not have the mentality to change your lifestyle. THIS is for most people a SLOW weight loss program. This is good because your skin will have time to adjust and your body will be reprogramming itself and healing. Your mindset should not be on how you look but how you feel and what your end goal should be to have good health. Looking good at the end is just a perk. If you have high insulin (trust me you can for years before it shows in your blood sugar) you will not lose weight easily, you will not lose weight quickly on the keto diet and you will not be able to get back into ketosis sometimes for 2 weeks! So imagine if you only cheat once a month? That means you are only actually on the keto diet for 2 weeks a month!!! So in my family we tested with the strips. I am going to give you our times until the strip was dark and our individual insulin levels.
According to my doctor insulin is perfect at 5.
Dan–insulin 17 6-7 days
Lauren–insulin 25 5 days
Emma–insulin 4 24 hours
Amber–insulin 3 12 hours
Do you see how much the difference was?
Now the only reason I have Emma never cheat is because cheating can cause a seizure and if she can be seizure free for two years, she may never have another seizure. I am definitely not as strict as my family is because I do not have to be and the goal is that someday they won’t have to be either. Lets face it though, sugar is not good for ANYONE and neither is all the simple carbs that people are way over consuming.
So lets talk weight loss. If you have normal insulin levels you will see the weight come off rather quickly on keto. Or maybe the scale doesn’t move but you see more muscle definition (if you are lifting) and your clothes are looser. If you have higher insulin levels you may not know it and your weight loss will be super slow, probably bouncing around a lot. However! STICK WITH IT. Lauren has only lost 14 pounds BUT she was in a size 10/12 and now she is in a 4-6. Her wieght can seriously fluctuate by 5 pounds! Her stomach looked like a preggo belly and now it is nearly flat. I would also like to add that eating all the fats is GREAT for your skin and your skin will start to go back much better losing weight this way that on a restricted calorie diet. By the way! This is NOT a restricted calorie diet. DO not worry about that. Worry about getting those ratios right.
If you suspect you may have insulin resistance, add 1,000 mg of Berberine 3 times per day. It is a natural supplement that works kind of like Metformin but with fewer side effects. Another thing that is good for lowering insulin is cinnamon supplements.
A plateau on the keto diet is a 4-6 weeks stall. If you complain about it before then, well, you need to stop complaining and worrying. If you do have a stall, you may need to tweak some things. Double check those labels! Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Frusctose, and Splenda are NOT keto! Preservatives are mostly not ok. Artificial sweeteners are mostly bad. The ones allowed are Stevia, Xylitol, Erithrytol, MonkFuit, and Chickory Root. Maltitol IS BAD! it will raise your insulin!
Another thing is to make sure that if you are getting most of your fats from dairy and you stall, then you need to switch up during the day. MAKE SURE you get at least 2 tablespoons of coconut oil every day. Also, heavy cream is great but alternate between it and full fat coconut milk. Alternate between butter and coconut oil. Use avocado oil. Eat bacon, sausage, and use the grease for cooking. I know dairy is convenient but too much can create a stall in some people. Not everyone has this problem.
I suggest you use an app like MyFitnessPal to keep track of your macros. You may be surprised what you are eating.
When starting out, I also suggest that you give yourself 30 days of nothing sweet even the allowed sweeteners. Go 4:1 (for health, weight or both) until you reach your goal. Then switch to 3:1. If you are one of the lucky ones who is just doing this to eat healthier and get fit you can do 2:1, keep in mind that you should still limit your carbs to under 100 per day.
It will look like this:
Carb 5% and under 20
Carb 10% and under 40
Carb 20% and under 100
You can reverse insulin resistance, Speed your metabolism, not starve yourself and build muscles easily on this. Google Keto and bodybuilding and you will be amazed! Stick with it! You won’t regret it!
So what if I am dairy intolerant?
I am one of those people who has a really difficult time digesting dairy products. YES! I KNOW! I am married to a dairy farmer! Plus dairy products can add so much delicious value to cooking, baking and our lives in general…Right?! I am going to share some things that you can try to help you overcome or at least ease your intolerance, some options that have helped many people and some information on what “may” be causing your digestive distress. You could try these and if they work….great!!! If not, then I am going to offer some alternatives in cooking. Again, I am not a doctor, so I am just using personal experience and the experience of others I have spoken to.
So…. here we go! The first reason you may have an intolerance to dairy is actually that you are intolerant to gluten. By removing Gluten and dairy from your diet for a year, you may be able to tolerate dairy. The best thing to do is to do things to support intestinal healing during that time. This includes an anti-inflammatory diet, a good probiotic, pancreatic enzymes and a yeast cleanse. I have found may essential oils to support anti-inflammation as well.
The next reason is that you may have an inflammatory response to the casein protein A-1. Genetically speaking, cows carry one protein, either A-1 or A-2. It has been discovered that many people who cannot handle A-1 have absolutely no problem ingesting A-2. All Goat milk is A-2 so this would explain the tolerance of it over cow milk. In the United States this is just becoming available and as of right now you can purchase fliud A-2 Milk. I have been told that if you can tolerate “grass-fed” cheese and butter, more than likely its because those are produced in countries where A-2 milk is used. I personally, have absolutely no problems eating Kerrygold butter, Ghee or grass fed cheese. Ever been to Europe and not been bloated or have tummy upset? I will post links to this information at the bottom.
Some things that have aided people in digesting dairy products are taking those enzymes right before your first bite. Taking a daily probiotic. I have also had someone tell me that Doterra’s Deep Blue Complex helped and I have used it AFTER getting an upset tummy and it seemed to support a faster recovery. I found that Digestzen tablets aided in bloating. I do not purposely eat tons of dairy but once in a while just taste-testing or something I cannot resist is enough to kill my gut. So this is my emergency regimen:
Now for those who prefer dairy free or can’t have it. These are my substitutes:
Instead of: This:
Butter Coconut oil, Avocado, Olive oil, palm shortening
Heavy Cream Thai Kitchen Full-fat Coconut Cream/Milk (solid)
Cream Cheese Melt Cocoa Butter with a little coconut oil, liquid coconut milk and lemon juice, cream cheese flavoring, chill
use 1:2 ratio of goat cheese to full fat coconut cream
Milk Unsweetened Coconut Milk, Almond Milk
Cheese Well, sorry unless you like goat cheese nothing else is keto
If using cocoa butter, it doesn’t matter what brand just make sure it is FOOD GRADE. Not the one just for lotions and soaps!
My Daughter Before and After Being on Ketogenic Diet for 9 months
This is my daughter, Lauren (on right) about 8 months (Summer 2016) before we began the Ketogenic diet. As you can see she is puffy and red. She had so much inflammation and scary side effects from all of her medication. We felt hopeless to say the least!
This is Lauren Today! She is vibrant and full of life. She still battles asthma but she is off of 4 of her medications. She feels much better and with the exception of occasional teen hormones, she is no longer depressed!
I have so much information packed into this brain of mine and I am NO doctor but personal experiences have taught me to keep pushing, keep asking, keep researching and never give up! I believe that we MUST find the root of our problems and not try to cover the symptoms only. I know that being on a “diet” for life is not ideal. I have no idea why so many people struggle with inflammation, auto-immune disease and hormone imbalance. I am sure we can all speculate and I am sure everyone has their theories. Believe me I DO! The fact of the matter is that a combination of diet, lifestyle, environment and DNA mutations play a role in our health and how our bodies work. The fact that insulin tells our bodies that we are starving is a GOOD thing except when its wrong. It helps sustain us in famine. Why is it so high in people who are getting plenty to eat? Well, one reason I believe is that even if you are overweight you can still have a diet that is “starving” your body of important nutrients. Or maybe you simply have an auto immune problem. Either way, the start to healing your body is to focus on getting the proper fuel into it. The focus should not be on being “thin” Thin does not always mean healthy. In the journey to good health, unfortunately some DO have to take extreme measures. Keto seems extreme, but it is definitely worth a try. If you FEEL better don’t focus on the scale…and follow me in this journey too! I hope to make it less daunting.
Insulin resistance and the keto diet