Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Part 2: Risks of Keto and Very Low Carb

Read Part 1 first in clearing up the difference between keto and moderate low carb diets, and my experience with each.

Next. If you are an Endurance planet podcast fan, you know we've discussed the benefits of very low carb (VLC) and ketogenic diets. There is not doubt that these diets can do a lot of good for certain folks and improve health--the research supports this--and it can even aid in athletic performance for those dedicated to the stringent protocol, but these diet extremes are not for everyone.

Thus on EP, it's our duty to share the pros and cons of certain diets to allow you, the listener, to make an informed decision hopefully along side your doctor/coach/health practitioner. The last thing I want is for "the wrong person" to start a keto or VLC diet because they heard it was sooo great, but not have all the facts and tools, and end up worsening their situation or health. Who is the "wrong person?" Generally: someone who's not in the right state of health, not metabolically fit, and/or a lot of women; you have to listen to the podcast with Tamsin for the full lowdown.

I did this podcast with Dr. Tamsin Lewis is to give the female POV without male bias. There are a lot of great guys out there who are able to look at the science and not just talk from a male-biased perspective (Peter Defty and Dr. Jeff Volek come to mind). But usually those who promote keto are male. And let's face it, us ladies shouldn't always have to take advice from the dudes ;) I personally am getting more emails and/or reading stories from female athletes who've messed up their health by poor dietary practices including keto. Women who heard advice about low-carb being awesome, so they tried it, had initial success (toned up, better energy, some performance gains, etc) then it backfired. Weight loss plateaued and/or they gained weight, energy crashed, performance crashed, hormones crashed, periods disappeared. And that's why I wanted to do this show.....

Furthermore, if you listen to other podcasts who praise keto (Tim Ferris, Jimmy Moore, etc) it's important to note many of these folks aren't endurance athletes either. That matters because they can probably handle keto extremes that endurance athletes can't, thus they give advice that doesn't apply to the triathlete and runner folk.

Hence, it was time to get 1) a female voice on the show to balance it out and 2) to talk straight to endurance athletes female or male, to show that keto is not always what it's cracked up to be.

So far with the outpouring of emails and comments I've gotten since releasing the show, it seems like we did what we set out to achieve in creating more awareness and depth to this topic. Women (and men) have mostly been stoked and appreciative of the show.

Why Bother Discussing VLC and Keto?
This actually brings me to an important point. If keto is risky why the hell even bother? You also may already assume or have heard that low-carb is "dumb" for athletes. Mainstream sports, especially the triathlon and running worlds, still largely promote the traditional high-carb diets, sugar-based fueling and carb-loading. Pizza and pasta parties are still a big thing. Sigh. However, the content you get on Endurance Planet in regards to diet and nutrition won't be what you've traditionally learned about sports nutrition nor what the USDA food pyramid recommends.

Why? Because we take sports performance to the next level and integrate concepts for better health, metabolic efficiency, and optimal living.

Most people will not optimize their health and performance as a high-carb sugar burner. It may work for a while, but eventually catches up in some way, shape or form.

So moderate low carb, high fat (LCHF) is usually a safe, healthy route, which I talked about in Part 1. However, a lot of people don't settle for "safe" and they want extremes! Those risk-takers lead us to new discoveries. Thus, we're seeing that lowering the carbs to a state of nutritional ketosis is effective, depending on the goal, and it's catching on. Keto is intriguing and "sexy" right now, and also easier to sell vs. the moderate safe approach. Keto has its pros: It can create a ripped lean body without training your ass off, control appetite, maximize metabolism, boost brain power and function, increase energy, increase clarity and productivity, prevent disease, balance health, and the list goes on.... In a clinical application, keto can also be life-saving and is shown to be effective in treating certain cancers, epilepsy, obesity, Type-2 diabetes, reversing insulin resistance and so on.

But what about for an endurance athlete? For the athlete who's healthy and fit enough to begin with, he or she may thrive off getting into nutritional ketosis (with appropriate carb cycling). It gets nitty gritty, but the evidence is there. Look to the low-carb guys in the FASTER study, for example, including Ben Greenfield and Zach Bitter. These guys are finding a level of fat-burning capabilities that we never thought possible. The more we can efficiently burn fat during endurance events, the more we can sustain and achieve--and not wreck our bodies with chronic sugar dosing. Seems like a win-win for the athlete who also deeply cares about health and longevity.

Zach, for example, just broke the American 100-mile record going 11:40, a 7:00/mile average. Ben trained for and raced Kona well on a keto diet in 2013. And even female athletes like pro ultrarunner Nikki Kimball are thriving off keto not only for endurance performance but mental and cognitive benefits (it's alleviated her depression). Dr. Maffetone has been promoting low-carb high-fat for decades and even has his current athletes like Dr. Amanda Stevens able to cycle in and out of ketosis--interestingly Amanda in 2015 had one of her best seasons to date after going this route, which we discuss on this EP episode. Vinnie Tortorich is a good example of someone for whom keot makes sense; he's a cancer survivor and endurance athlete who's seen real benefits of no-sugar, no-grain, keto-style diets.... how can you argue with how good he's doing vs. what could have been?

Keto can be healthy, beneficial, and a smart approach....

But YOU Matter
That said, for as many people for whom keto works or could work, there are plenty of people for whom it doesn't work or won't at all--to the point of risking a harmful backfire. That's why careful consideration is needed when approaching any diet extremes and we must take into account the individual.

Perfect example: In this article, Chris Kresser writes on prescribing individual diets for two different females with two different stories. One woman had Metabolic Syndrome, insulin resistance, and obesity; the other had Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome and Hypothyroid (interestingly, the latter woman's conditions were partially caused by a very low carb diet!). For the obese woman, Chris prescribed a keto-ish diet (15% carbs) and an intermittent fasting (IF) protocol. The woman with adrenal fatigue and hypothyroid received diet prescription that included moderate carbs (20-25%) and more frequent eating, no IF. That makes absolute perfect sense, and in the article Chris explains why.

What's right for you may not be right for me, and vice versa. What's right for a 40-year-old sturdy male athlete may not be right for a 20-something female runner with body-image issues. Hence the podcast with Tam...

The Podcast
Tamsin brings a lot of experience and expertise to the topic of diet and health for athletes as an Ironman champion, practicing medical doctor and psychiatrist, someone who's dabbled with LC diets, and also someone who's overcome an eating disorder. Her patients include female athletes who've suffered from dietary extremes like keto. So does she have the experience and authority? You bet.

We set up this show to be more geared toward women because they have the most "to lose" with keto. While males are not void of potential issues, they do tend to be more robust and suffer less hormonal disruptions when they do diet extremes. That said, it's certainly not impossible for a guy's health to tank with keto extremes.

The podcast highlighted potential risks of keto diets, especially risks for athletes. Furthermore, we wanted to help educate people on whether they are the right candidate for a keto diet or not, as some are more susceptible to the risks than others. It wasn't a keto-bashing podcast nor fear-mongering; although, I'm sure some will take it that way.

That link will also take you to the show notes, which has a full outline of keto's risks, which we discuss in detail; thus, no need to be repetitive on this post.

Did we discuss risks and side-effects that aren't necessarily backed by research, but rather anecdotal evidence? Yes. Not everything can be answered by "what the research says" and just because it isn't in the research doesn't mean it can't be true. Keto for endurance athletes (especially females, and even non-athletes) the way it's being done in modern times is relatively new and the research just hasn't caught up yet and/or it can't be done due to IRB issues. And even the research that has been done has had its hurdles....

"I remember all the flak we got for the Western States Study by the UCONN IRB...they were against athletes trying to run 100 miles on Low Carb and did not realize the athletes were running anyway and in this state....we finally got it through, but took a few months...." says Peter Defty, of Vespa.

If research is lacking, especially on females, then we can look at what's going on in the real world. There is a growing amount of anecdotal evidence on females--athletes or not--who've suffered poor consequences of keto diets. In my professional network, I talk about this with my colleagues quite often. It's real. It's not just opinions that were conjured up out of nowhere. And even digging around online you can find tons of stories of keto gone bad. Tamsin and I even shared some of our personal experiences from an educated POV. I hope it was clear that we were not trying to generalize the situation and diet-bash, but rather "bring life" to the topic.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of research showing the very real issues associated with female-athlete triad cases, and I can make an educated guess that there are plenty of triad cases that involve diets that are too low carb... this even gets into the psychology of the matter. Very important.

Tamsin said near the end that she would never recommend keto for any female athletes. A bold statement, and her opinion. Do I agree? No. But I respect her opinion, just like I respect the opinion of other guests who've been on EP whose opinions don't always align with mine. And besides that statement of Tamsin's, I pretty much agreed with everything else she suggested and learned more from her.

Even Defty, who's a nutrition genius and advocate of keto-style optimized-fat-metabolism diets, says that keto won't work unless health is there:

"Many females in today's modern world probably should not be in straight up NK [nutritional ketosis] .....they just are not metabolically fit enough to make it work. If you have an underlying condition its tough to get into ketosis and you will struggle to maintain it....as you mention and know there are a lot of really badly broken people out there including a lot of females....people who through trying to be healthy actually got very sick and compromised.....so until the underlying issues are solved NK is not going to work well and even backfire.....if you are pregnant doubly so. I see a lot of people who are wrecked by Low Carb because either they or the person who is coaching them thinks they get it but really don't. There cannot be underlying conditions," he says.

We have to understand everyone is an individual and brings a unique situation to the table. As such, let's work with individual needs not try to broadly recommend diets as being right or wrong.

We will have more podcasts on the diet matter. It doesn't end here...

For More Resources on Keto Risks

Ben's top-10 mistakes of keto and his article on keto dangers.

Is low-carb ruining your health by Kresser, and more on VLC.

Adverse reactions to keto by the Paleo Mom.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Healthy Female Athletes and Babies

A few posts back I went into a rather deep analysis on a MAF Test I did, what the results "really meant" and how I was planning to get faster. But ya know what? My heart's just not in that right now. I'm still running, hiking and "training" regularly(ish), but not like I thought I'd be doing when I wrote that post. And that's ok...

I'm on this path to rebuilding health, and the results I'm getting in that department are far more valuable than MAF Test results at this point in time. I know the MAF Test is also there to show if you're a "healthy athlete" but that also assumes one is consistently training at/around MAF heart rate in order to maintain or improve the MAF Test. I'm all over the board to be honest. So who knows: I could be faster if I went and did another test, or maybe not. But I just don't really feel that feedback is needed right now.

This is not to say MAF Tests are old news though! I can still give you 101 reasons why nine out of 10 endurance athletes--like those I coach, lol--should be doing regular MAF tests every 4-8 weeks. It's just, for me, my "MAF Journey," is taking a turn........

So, I will tell you where my heart IS at. Two big things that are bigger and more important than me:


A Resource on Health

The more I open up about my personal journey in a candid way--in particular regaining "female" health after once being a broken athlete--the more I am so thrilled to be doing what I am because it's clearly needed.

I am learning how many women--especially those who are endurance athletes--are also struggling with their health and simply not functioning as a woman should. At least a couple times a week, sometimes more, I receive new stories of health and/or performance tanking. Going slower and fatigue to begin then in gets worse: injury, amenorrhea, acne, hormone issues, hypothyroid, adrenal fatigue, weight issues, gut issues, insomnia, erratic moods, and so on. Usual culprits often include overtraining, over-racing, stress, under-eating, unhealthy relationships with food and exercise, body dysmorphia, straight-up eating disorders, etc. Often they are lost. There's plenty of great functional health practitioners out there who can help these women but (correct me if I'm wrong) there's not a lot of female endurance athletes who are bridging the gap between women in endurance sports and the functional health world. I want to be that person.

I need to be because countless female athletes are hurting their bodies and health at an astronomical rate. Some want help and deserve the right kind of help; some need to realize their symptoms and issues aren't "normal" and they're not alone. Some women will turn to western medical doctors but get zero answers--or worse shit-poor advice like, "It's ok not to get your period" or "just go on the pill." I'm sorry but, FUCK! This is BS, and I've been fed that story too--by a female doctor nonetheless. So often the health problems just continue, unaddressed, for 5.... 10.... 15+ years.

I am obviously not a doctor, nor here to dish out individual medical advice, but what I can do is just share my journey in detail and dish out tons of resources, and hope that provides inspiration to those silently suffering on how they can get help and take charge of their health naturally with a practitioner (or team of them) like I have. Be a detective. Don't be afraid! Don't accept BS answers from doctors who only give you 3 minutes before moving onto the next patient. If you feel like something is wrong and you're not getting answers you want--go with your intuition and seek the answers.

For example if you're a woman listen to this podcast now and by Sara's book too.

Let me change gears slightly...


Family Planning (ah!)

Another reason MAF Tests don't really matter to me right now is because of what I'm about to share.

This year I am getting married to the man of my dreams, and we have plans. We want to start a family! We're not starting tonight (lol) but it's coming. Which makes me sooooo grateful I switched things up in late 2013 to build back health because I've needed these past couple years to take the time to do it right.

It's incredibly important for a woman to be in a good state of health if she expects to get pregnant and build a healthy baby to completion.... I don't take this task for granted and I'm also not living in la-la land like I've had a perfect bill of health all my life. Two years ago my hormonal status was basically at rock bottom, and I know there would've been no baby-making happening had we bothered to try.

Meanwhile, I know plenty of women get pregnant all the time with sub-par health in some way shape or form. So please don't misunderstand, I'm not saying I need to be "superwoman" and obsess over a perfect body and perfect pregnancy. It's not like that at all. I'm just being real with the situation, and I know I have to get my body over some final hurdles to make a healthy pregnancy possible. Thus, I am taking the time to read books, study, and figure out how it applies to me. Do the right things for my body--like not overtrain in a way that could setback my hormones and things like thyroid. For a somewhat technical example of what I mean check out this podcast or this book.

So anyway, wow, right? Did you see that coming?


What's Next for TriTawn?

This story, this blog, this journey is taking new turns all the time as you can probably tell lately given the subject of my posts--not really the triathlon race reports of the old days, and I should probably do a redesign on this outdated blog or at least change that header photo (fact: I was amenorrheic when that photo was taken and definitely too skinny). But it's all good; it's all related and all important here on tritawn.com.

So what about training and racing? I can say with confidence I'm not quitting anything. I'm 30 and have plenty of years ahead. I am an athlete for life. After 20-plus years of being an athlete I don't think that's going to change. And it certainly won't change just because we start a family. Perhaps I'll have to revise the plan and my race schedule temporarily to make sure certain things happen, but I'm not worrying about a thing...

We got Ragnar SoCal and I got the Boston Marathon coming up--I will be there! I know I've talked a lot about ultra-ing too. This year? Maybe, maybe not. It's not off the table, but I'm also 100-million-percent willing to pull the plug on anything right now if my body gives me the signal that it's just too much. We're just taking it one day at a time. I'm monitoring myself well. We will see..........

I'm curious to see what my body is up for in 2016. The unknown doesn't scare me. I'm so ready for this crazy ride........


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Part 1: Keto vs. LCHF, and My Experience

Last week we published an Endurance Planet podcast on the potential risks of very low carb (VLC) and ketogenic diets for endurance athletesThis was especially geared toward female endurance athletes, and even non-athletes for that matter.

Keto/VLC is defined as roughly 50 grams of carbs a day or fewer, on most days. Furthermore, it's a very high-fat diet, often 50-70 percent of calories coming from fat! That's a lot of fat. It's also not a low-calorie diet, which should be clear if you know a bit about macros: 1 gram of fat has 9 calories, whereas 1 gram of carb or protein has 4 calories... if you have 50-70 percent of calories from fat, and you're eating enough, that's going to be a lot of calories. That said, it's not always pounding a ton of calories because keto-adapted people can go long periods with less or no food because they're so efficient at burning fat for fuel. Often the keto folk do intermittent fasting. And other times they're taking down "fat bombs." Endurance athletes are finding more interest in this diet lately because you can be a mega fat-burning machine and go forever on very little fueling needs--efficiency like none other.

To read more on what keto even means and its role for athletes, check this out. You'll see, it's extreme diet with extreme considerations. It doesn't just cut you off from cookies and junk, it goes way deeper. As do potential risky side effects if not executed carefully.


Keto Does Not = A Moderate Low-Carb High-Fat Diet

I had some folks email me and thanking me for the podcast, which makes me happy. And in Part 2 I'm going to talk more about why I thought that podcast was needed, along with more that we'll be doing.

But first, I think some people might have mistaken that the potential risks/side effects of keto also apply to a more moderate low-carb high-fat diet. It's important to point out that keto and VLC is not synonymous with a moderate low-carb high-fat diet. The moderate approach is something one would generally take on to promote better fat oxidation (fat adaptation), metabolic efficiency, "cleaner" eating, and overall better health (i.e. avoiding refined carbs, refined sugars and junk). Moderate low-carb diets are much more flexible, "friendly" and doable in most lifestyles, and have many many benefits. And for the record, if you see me hashtag #LCHF, in my world I use this acronym for a moderate low-carb high fat diet, NOT keto or VLC. Maybe it should become MLCHF lol.

Tailored LCHF kick ass diets for health and sports performance, and I truly feel like most people should go this route instead of traditional high-carb fueling. I don't promote high-carb diets for males or females, nor even females needing better hormonal health. I won't say never, though, because I also believe our diet needs are unique to our situations and I can think of a few cases where I can see high-carb diets working really well. For me? High-carb/low-fat makes me batty, erratic, foggy, flat and sluggish, gut in shambles, and I feel like crap. On the flip side, I cannot sustain keto (at this point in my journey). I do well somewhere in between, moderate low-carb, high fat, adequate calories. I've learned through trial and error; scroll down for more of my story.

For females who who need to regain hormonal health, there may be a bit higher need for carbs--but you don't have to go off the deep end--while allowing tons of good fat and calories in general. In regaining hormonal health and a menstrual cycle, I allowed more carbs when my body craved them*, but I did not need to binge on tons of carbs in an unhealthy way--it was more about ensuring adequate and nourishing energy was present in my regular diet (including the fat that had been missing!), that stress remained low, and that body fat/body composition remained in a good spot. It's as simple as that. Ok, I know it's not that simple, but it also doesn't have to be overly complicated if you're dedicated to the cause as I was/am.

*If you are currently a carb-addicted human you will always be craving carbs all the time, so first you must break this addiction--it's a mental exercise. Sugar and carbs are a drug, and you have to break the addiction. There's also usually an emotional and psychological component at play here too. And, no, you are not that special exception, sorry. I know what it's like to crave refined and processed carbs/sugar, and I know what it's like to get off that cycle. So when I say above that my body craved carbs these cravings were genuine--my body was asking for things it needed to rebuild. You have to respect that. Likewise, I also crave fat now--fatty meats, avocados, butter--and always crave the greens and veggies and so on. 

More reading on sugar addiction.

And ya, I'll say it again: I love LCHF and I'm willing to align myself with a diet style at risk of being called out for joining a LCHF cult, or whatever. But I don't mind because I really truly believe this carb- and sugar-addicted world in which we live is making us obese, the root of so many diseases, killing us, and hurting athletes' performances and health. (It's not the dietary fat that's to blame). Managing carbs and sugar so that it doesn't spiral out of control and lead to bad outcomes just makes sense--and it doesn't doom you to a life without carbs either.

Should You Cut Back the Carbs, Add the Fat?

How do you know if you should give this moderate LCHF stuff a try? If you can't go more than 2-3 hours without food in general, if your energy is constantly fluctuating (when you're empty you're a jerk/b*tch), and if you can't do a workout without fuel--even a 60-minute session--this is bad. I'd suggest weaning of the carb and sugar dependence and introducing more healthy fats into your routine. End that vicious cycle, end the carb and sugar addiction/dependence, and you will go far as athlete and human. The carbs, while enjoyable, can wreak havoc in you.

"Thanks to generations of people over-consuming sugar and other refined carbohydrates, many people suffer from a condition known as carbohydrate intolerance, or (CI). This is perhaps the most well-hidden epidemic of our time... CI then progresses to a functional disorder producing symptoms that negatively affect quality of life, such as fatigue. Gradually, this process generates serious illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease." --Dr. Phil Maffetone

That said, if you find you are having trouble getting off the carbs and shit is going haywire in the process, a few things:

1) First I would make sure your carbs haven't dipped below 100g/day--i.e. don't start with extremes like keto. Even though I personally hate counting and calculating calories and macros, sometimes it is needed, and even I've done it to check in.

2) Ensure you're getting enough calories and fat. Too low calorie is a common mistake when making diet switches and eliminating things--if you eliminate foods, you gotta replace the calories with something else nourishing. It could be as simple as adding more cooking fat (oils) to your meals; an extra handful or raw nuts, some avocado, or sipping on bone broth daily. Or google "fat bomb recipes" and take a stab. Again, food logging can help.

3) If it's still a problem and say you're 100-200ish grams of carbs a day and still struggling for whatever reason then I would look at the bigger picture: Are there other underlying problems that need solving first? Are you severely addicted to sugar/carbs and it needs time to break the addiction? Are you "fit but unhealthy" i.e. maybe overtrained and burnout. Is your lifestyle so high-strung and stressful that you can't survive without carbs? Or could it be another issue ranging from adrenal fatigue to gut disorders, and so on. Not that you need to be LCHF forever, or else, but a healthy person should be able to handle a moderate LCHF diet without it crashing their world.

We as humans simply don't need to be carbed up to survive and quite frankly it's really healthy to develop "fat-burning" with LCHF-ness whether you're an athlete or not. Like Maffetone's Two-Week Test, a test to see how you handle moderate LCHF (not keto) can be telling. It's good to be able to slip into LCHF with ease, and slip out if you feel like it. This concept is also closely related to what my friend Peter Defty is doing with OFM.


How I'm Dialing It In

As much as I now love LCHF, at first it was my enemy. LCHF did not work for me until I stepped back and fixed my health first--it was too much stress at the time. I also made the mistake of starting out too low carb, and too restrictive too often. In fact I remember blaming LCHF saying, "It ruined me."

But really, LCHF in itself was not the only problem. I was.

First off, I was likely doing something closer to keto and possibly too low-cal while 70.3 & Ironman training, so that did me no good. Yup, I made the mistake of mixing up keto and LCHF and it was mainly because I didn't carefully monitor what I was doing. Meanwhile, I was too deep into being "fit but unhealthy" at the time, overtrained, gut wrecked, and in need of lifestyle changes. I needed to get my training and stress under control. I needed rest. I needed nourishment of all kinds.

I still actually did achieve and maintain a level of fat-adaptation though. The fat-adaptedness was clear in my training, a few races, and even a metabolic efficiency test. But that didn't even matter at the time because my hormonal status and overall health needed mending if I wanted that fat-adaptation thing to do me any real good.

On my road to regaining health and recovering, I was able to still keep a healthy lowered carb/high fat/Paleo-ish approach as a general theme, and did so because I know at the end of the day this is a healthy way to live and thrive (and also knowing that high-carb diet hadn't done me any good either). But I also did not define how I ate by a specific diet and became open to anything that would charge my body back up. So I tweaked my approach to carbs, allowing more but not going off the deep end. I also got comfortable with eating a lot more dietary fat that had been missing for so long, and overall dug into more calories too--which really wasn't scary for me if you can believe it. It wasn't scary because when I put my mind to something--in this case the goal of regaining health--nothing can stop me. Overall, this combo/approach was when I found my sweet spot. It wasn't just carbs for female health.

But it's so important to underscore that I had bigger fish to fry than just a diet protocol. I had to create an environment--mind and body--that allowed for hormonal balance, a regular menstrual cycle, among other things. This made me reevaluate my training, racing and how I executed my days. Diligently making the necessary lifestyle changes was the ticket to start moving up the ladder toward optimization.

When it synced up finally--a healthy thriving body, good mindset, my macro's working for me not against me--man did that feel awesome!

And that's also when I could start playing around with LCHF how it's supposed to be--slip into lower carb times for fat-burning endurance sport purposes, and then cycle in the higher carb times for refueling, female health, and whatnot. Again, not to the extremes of keto but rather building a diet that would promote health, performance, and relief from gut woes--another benefit of LCHF.


Intuitive LCHF

My ticket to maintaining health and LCHF these days entails intuitive eating and living (so MAF!). I know "intuitive" is hard to define, but for me being intuitive means some days that are quite frankly very low carb/high fat, and that feels fine and I'm not depriving myself whatsoever. Then there are other days where I eat as many carbs as I want because my body says so: including but not limited to sourdough bread, sweet potatoes, gluten-free crackers/stuff, honey, oatmeal, rice, kabocha squash, healthy cereals, bars when on the go, even quality sweet treats (yes, I like to bake things like banana bread, healthy-ish cookies; yes, I love chocolate). And then days that are somewhere in between. It fluctuates with the training/adventures I'm doing, life demands and also my female cycle.

I've learned to really deeply listen to what my body's asking for, and answer its wishes. As such I don't find myself mindlessly snacking or chowing down at all hours of the day. Ya, maybe sometimes I eat beyond satiation when I cook a good meal, but that's because I also love food. And if you're good at balance and/or 80-20 you can be flexible.

But there's a catch:

Intuition only works when you don't overrule it with your brain by doing something other than what your body is asking for. 

...That said, there have been times when I've overruled my intuition--because I still get stubborn--and that's when I get in trouble. This usually happens when I let my old tendencies get the best of me--overly stressful kinda stuff--and there are times when I get this crazy idea that I can go even lower carb and keep it going even with more training added on... As such, my body may look great and I may even feel revved up (sympathetic state overload), but it's not healthy for me. I think that's what happened this last time--I was doing things that didn't align with what my body needed to thrive. So I stepped in and fixed it--fast. I'm totally back on track. Dodged a bullet. Learned more lessons. I think now I have even a better feeling of when my body is teetering on the fine line of wanting to "shut down" and go haywire vs. when it's wanting to thrive. It is literally is a feeling, and when I am thriving I just feel strong and sturdy like I can take on the world; when I'm about to shut down I feel weak, fragile, and emotional.


Ok let me tie this up.

I'd try not to lump keto and LCHF into one. They're not synonymous. There are many reasons why I'd recommend avoiding and/or being very cautious with keto (like the podcast covers) but LCHF tweaked to your needs can be a secret weapon. If you're trying and having trouble getting off the high-carb life there's a reason. Get to the bottom of it. We need to be in control of what we're eating instead of it controlling us. Climb that ladder of optimization.