A few tips and tricks to incorporating a healthy lifestyle

Insulin Resistance & Ketosis…Part One

Well. As promised…I’ve finally collected some of my thoughts on this process I’ve been going through. I hope it answers some of your questions. Chances are it will raise some new ones for some of you, which I hope to be able to answer. Here goes nothing. ūüėȬ†muncher_cruncher

I’ve taken my time writing this post for a variety of reasons. One, I wanted to be sure I had a firm grasp on the process that I’ve been going through for the past 9 weeks. Two, I wanted to understand the science behind it. I hate fad diets. In fact, I actually HATE the word, “diet.” I believe in lifestyle changes; in sustainability. If a crazy attempt at weight loss isn’t sustainable. I won’t endorse it. End of story. Lastly, I wanted to wait and see how my body responded to this process before I gave you the full rundown. I can tell you honestly, I feel like this lifestyle might be the answer to many problems, weight loss issues, & overall health concerns for a lot of you. I’m still in the thick of it, no question, but I want to share at least this first part of my journey.

Let’s fast forward to about ten weeks ago. I made an appointment to see my doctor, which is unusual in and of itself. I rarely go to the doctor. I have been lucky to stay healthy enough that I haven’t had to go in often. However, I was about at my tipping point. Having been in the health and fitness field¬†for over ten years, I feel like I’ve been forced to get to know my body very well. It has always been stubborn. I’ve never been one of those people who could eat whatever they wanted, & “get away with it.” While some might not believe it, I’m actually naturally drawn to healthy foods. I have always really loved fruits and vegetables. I was the weird kid that asked my mom if I could bring cut up veggies, & salads in my packed lunch. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE all sorts of sugary junk food too…I have a sweet tooth like you wouldn’t believe, but for the most part, a lot of my favorite foods are naturally healthy ones. I have also been through ups and downs with my weight, and in coming to know my body I have found what feels comfortable for me…at my height, and with my build.

SO, back to 10 weeks ago…prior to my making my appointment I’d seen some drastic changes in my body over the past year. Things that had changed for me…my weight increased, my body fat increased, I was feeling exhausted, I wasn’t sleeping well, I felt like I was extremely snacky, and I had some weird dizzy/almost blacking out spells. A lot of it I brushed under the rug because…I get up early…being tired is kind of part of that. Not sleeping well tends to run in my family…etc It’s easy to try and push those types of things away. However, the weight gain I was not ok with.¬†I workout pretty hard as it is, and I was eating very clean. The fact of the matter is that my caloric intake hadn’t increased, my sugar intake hadn’t increased, and my exercise hadn’t decreased. Scientifically, the math just wasn’t adding up. In fact, I started to add in MORE exercise and tracked & restricted my calories more, desperately trying to make my body do what it SHOULD have been doing. Turns out I’m in the fitness industry, and there is a lot of pressure on me to look a certain way. Like I said, I knew my body was stubborn prior, but this was different. Not only were things not responding positively, they were responding negatively. Which might makes sense as to¬†why I was at a bit of tipping point…

I had done a lot of research on what the problem could be, and decided that I should at least get my blood work done to eliminate some possibilities. So, it was to the doctor I went. I had a full check up…blood work and everything. The results came back to show that all my hormone levels were normal. No signs of thyroid issues. However, my blood glucose levels were abnormally high. My doctor went on the tell me that my results were showing that I had somehow become insulin resistant, and that he wanted me to go and work with a specific dietician who he thought could help me reverse this issue.

At this point I¬†will be honest. I was one hundred percent skeptical. I have studied a LOT about food and dietary intake. While I’m not a registered dietitian. I have put a lot of time into learning about how the food we eat affects us. I was actually quite curious as to what this dietician might have to say that I hadn’t heard before. Turns out I had a fastball coming at me.

I sat down and learned that I wasn’t alone in my current state. It’s actually thought that about half of the United States is insulin resistant, due in LARGE part to our common diet. The program that was introduced to me was completely based around controlling my insulin levels, similar to the ketogenic diet, the goal was to retrain my body to become insulin sensitive again…and in doing so to re-train it to utilize fat as the main source of energy.

I instantly began studying the topic. What I was hearing made sense. However, for me, making any health or lifestyle change has to be backed by reason and understanding…and for the record, “So and so just lost 10 lbs in 5 days,” is not what I’d call a reason. I need to know the science.

So… here is a snippet of what I learned..Insulin resistance means the body has stopped responding to the hormone insulin. Insulin’s role in the body is that of storage of glucose and fat. It also helps our cells function as they should. If there is too much insulin in the body (commonly a result of the food we eat) the body starts to become insulin resistant. Insulin resistance very likely means¬†inefficiency in how the cells of the body are working & excess fat storage. Sugars & carbohydrates are the foods that will spike insulin.

Let me try & break it down simply…We eat food. The food that we eat raises our blood sugar to a certain extent (depending on the sugar/carbohydrate content) The pancreas responds to raised blood sugar by releasing insulin. Insulin tells the muscle, liver, & fat cells to take up the blood sugar and remove it from the blood. If this process happens excessively, the muscle and the fat cells stop listening to the pancreas…and all gets sent to fat storage. This is insulin resistance. The longer this goes on, the “louder” the pancreas tries to get the point across…releasing more & more insulin. This makes the body extremely inefficient. Anytime the blood sugar is raised, the pancreas will give an exaggerated insulin response. Elevated insulin levels stop the body from utilizing fat as a fuel. IN SHORT: insulin keeps fat in the fat cells, where they are NOT utilized as fuel. This isn’t good…in fact it is the gateway to a HANDFUL of other chronic & deadly diseases, but that is another post for another day.

So, I was told, that in order to reverse this spiking, I needed to¬†maintain¬†a consistent diet of foods that don’t increase insulin levels, (namely fats). This was to the be the start of¬†reversing my insulin resistance issues.

What did this look like for me?

Well…this is where the curveball came at me. I was told that I needed to base my diet primarily around fat. I needed to focus on eating in a low carbohydrate, high fat way. In doing so, I would stop my body from eliciting an insulin response. This would put my body in a state of ketosis.

Many people stress at hearing that word because they confuse it with ketoacidosis. Nutritional based ketosis is controlling the body’s insulin response, resulting in a the generation of fatty acids, known as ketones. This means the body is in a state of burning fat. Diabetic & alcoholic ketoacidosis is a metabolic state of toxicity. It occurs when the body fails to regulate ketone production and those ketones become out of control. The blood becomes acidic, and can be deadly. A nutritional state of ketosis will not default into ketoacidosis because the body has regulatory feedback loops that will prevent it from doing so.

When eating in a nutritional, ketogenic way, ketones are measured. A high amount of ketones denotes a low amount of insulin. this is what is desired with this process. So, is eating this way safe & healthy? Yes.

Whoa…that’s a lot of sciency talk…I just want to try and give the background explanation as to why this process made sense to me. I wanted you to understand why I felt like this was a process I wanted to pursue.

Now on to what you really want to know? How is going..

I’m happy to say that I have really enjoyed eating the way that I am, and it’s been a very positive experience for me. The first couple weeks were definitely an adjustment. It’s common for people to feel what is considered a “keto flu,” lethargic/tired/low energy/etc…which I did. It makes sense. You are basically starving the body of carbohydrates for a few days, which it is NOT used to. I had to allow for time for my body to make the shift to relying on fat stores for fuel.

I had to re-set my habits. I had to build my meals around fat. This was a change for me, mostly because I’m not a lover of high fat foods like cheese & butter that many people are MORE THAN HAPPY¬†to eat. However, I’m adapting…and I’ve come up with some BOMB recipes.

My energy levels have returned, which means my body is working toward utilizing fat as fuel. I have become more of an intuitive eater, and less of a snacker. This actually is the most insane part to me. I never thought that this would be the case. Fat is a satiating food. So, eating mostly fat, means that I don’t feel hungry as often. I feel satisfied when I eat. In turn, I’m learning to listen to my body more. The people I have been working with challenged me to stop tracking my food, and to listen to my body. (From someone who¬†could give you a record of my tracked macronutrients for the past…i don’t know…10 years…this seemed unbelievable.) I have actually let go of my journaling…it’s been so incredibly freeing.¬†I don’t feel bloated like I used to on occasion. I am sleeping better…and I’ve dropped weight and body fat, which THRILLS me. I’m starting to feel like myself again, and I almost didn’t believe that was possible.

I’m still in this process, still learning, and still working to be where I want to be. However, I will absolutely say that I’m loving the path I’ve gone down so far. I’m excited to continue to learn more, and I hope that this will be something that I can utilize to help my clients, readers, & followers in the future! xoxoxo Megs

22 thoughts on “Insulin Resistance & Ketosis…Part One”

    • I added in intermittent fasting about a month ago, and it’s been really helpful with my intuitive eating process. I never would have thought I’d be able to incorporate something like that!

  • Great post! Really interesting to read. Question – what do you think led to your insulin sensitivity? Since it seems like you ate fairly clean already and didn’t eat too many processed carbs, it’s strange that you became insulin resistant.

    • I have eaten VERY clean for a long time, which is part of the reason I was so frustrated. However, I think due to bouts of eating too few calories, along with some likely genetic pre-disposition for naturally having more insulin in my blood, it just become an issue. I am also shorter, and when I do gain weight my mid-section is where it lands. This is a very common sign for those who naturally have higher insulin in the blood.

  • This is so interesting to me! Did the dr have any explanation about why this happened to you, given that you aren’t the typical high carb high sugar eating client they often see? I love that you are a woman of science–show me the facts!!

    • He didn’t but after my reading/studying I feel like it was probably a combination of eating too few calories for prolonged periods of time, & me just being one of those unlucky people who is more sensitive to sugar. I’ve ALWAYS noticed my body not responding to sugar well…so I feel like it just happened to be the perfect storm of not working together.

  • I feel like this is my story too. Another added perk is I DO NOT have any IBS issues!! I’m still testing this out ( 11 months ) i also am a personal Trainer and I work in a gym that doesn’t really allow me to give out too much ” diet” advice. Most of my family has switched to this type of eating but it is a slow process. I’m looking forward to following your Keto journey!
    ( prayandrun)

    • Have you been eating this way for the 11 months? Have you felt a difference? I’m impressed that you’re family has been eating this way too. That is so awesome! I hope you are feeling better too! xoxoxo

      • Yes I started in January and lost 12 lbs after gaining weight due to rotator cuff surgery and knee surgery only a few months apart. I lost it pretty quick but now I’m stuck. Just bought a book on Fasting ( jimmy moore) and will start incorporate that now. I’m a runner and I stopped using carbs to fuel my run. I’m using a super starch called ” UCAN ” that I love for my longer runs and marathons. Check it out. It does have carbs but not the same way.
        I have seven kids so not everyone wants to give up their carbs so it’s a struggle for sure!!

  • Fascinating for so many reasons, thank you for sharing! I’ll be following along. (I’ve loved for many months grabbing your workout ideas from IG, so happy to read your blog now.) I naturally crave healthy foods too, and I build muscle easily, but also… diabetes runs in my fami,y, so when I reach a stubborn place with fat loss it crosses my mind that insulin could be the answer. Anyway– I’m more curious than ever about using a higher fat/lower carb diet to feel my best. Any idea whether this is particularly good or bad for long distance running? And do you mind sharing your height/build/weight? I’m 5′ 8″ and trying to reconcile everything a goal weight. Thank you, and Merry Christmas from Oklahoma!!xoxo

    • Hi Marie! Merry Christmas to you too!! I’m glad you’ve found the workout ideas helpful!! In answer to your question about long distance running, the people who are helping me are actually all triathletes/marathoners/and some ultra runners. They’ve become totally fat adapted, and do their endurance runs fueled by fat, so I feel like it is totally possible. I am 5’4″ and 135, with a more muscular build. ūüôā Let me know if you have any other questions I can help with!

      • Thanks a bunch for replying! I have been rethinking my meals now for about a week, and (Shark Week not-withstanding LOL) I am really surprised to see that by evening, I am completely full at around 1300-1450 calories, compared to before when I was often still craving an evening snack after eating 1700 or more. The main difference has been way less carbs and more good fats. No weight loss yet, but it’s just been a week. My energy is good, so we’ll see. Thanks again!!

  • When you first started this did it affect your workouts? I feel amazing other than when I work out and sometimes I just don’t have the energy.

    • It did. It took some time for my body to start to recognize, and utilize fat as the main energy source. There were definitely days my energy was lacking, and I felt lethargic. However, I was kind of expecting this. They call it the “keto flu, ” and it is a little different for everyone as far as how long the adaptation takes. It does get better though!

  • I have been following you on ig for a long time now and I’m glad you posted a lengthy blog post about this, I feel like I am further along than you are as far as insulin resistance, I have been 100% unable to lose weight for a few years. I was wondering if you have a book recommendation or two for me to read further? One book I’ve read recently is _the obesity code_ which was super helpful.

    • There are quote a few good books! I’d recommend The Art & Science of Low Carbohydrate Living by Volek & Phinney, & Keto Clarity by Moore!

  • Thank you so much for taking the time for such a detailed post. I can’t tell how much I can relate to what you’re going through. I too am at a tipping point for basically the exact same reasons you are. I just made an appointment today to go in for blood work. You inspired me. I was hesitant to do so because, quite honestly, I didn’t think the doctor would take me seriously. My weight has been creeping up the past year and half to two years, despite major effort to get it to do just the opposite. It feels so frustrating, and unfair really, since I work out 5-7 days a week and have been a clean eater for most of my adult life. I have a couple of questions…1 How long after you started your new eating program did the weight start to come off? 2 How come the intermittent fasting isn’t causing your body to want to store fat? Isn’t that typically what extremely calorie restricting can do?

    • Hi Mary! In answer to your questions…I actually was really successful the first week. Not every week has been crazy weight loss, but I’ve found some ways to get through plateaus, and have almost been at it for 4 months. I have found it to be really successful for me. As far as the intermittent fasting goes, it drives my ketones up. Because my body is becoming more fat reliant, it is re-training it to utilize fat when it needs fuel. So…during those times of intermittent fasting, it SHOULD be utilizing that fat. Does that make sense?

      • It does make sense. I almost done reading Keto Clarity (I saw your recommendation). It’s having a huge impact on my thinking. I know I’m sensitive to carbs, probably extremely sensitive compared to others. I’ve always kind of known that, and just instinctively avoid things like pasta and bread because they make me feel like crap. I’m pretty much a low carb, high protein eater. The information in this book about the need for increased fats and moderate protein is honestly answering some of my most frustrating questions, like…”why in the world would my weight not go down if I’m restricting carbs and calories and increasing my workouts”? Have you been checking your blood glucose and blood ketones daily? I just ordered a meter that measures both.

  • I’m new to your blog, discovered you on Instagram. I’m thinking I should try keto as well. I’m on and off paleo, and sugar affects me so badly. Even fruits. I’m very sensitive to it. How long did it take you to fully adapt to keto and get back to working out?

    • I was in the same spot…doing paleo, & sugar free. I feel like I always INSTANTLY was effected by sugar. I feel like it took me 2 or three weeks. I for sure cut down on my cardio the first two weeks. I wasn’t getting enough salt, which as soon as i remedied that (drinking broth every day) I saw a HUGE difference!

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