Why I Choose Cyclical Ketosis

I’m an amateur biohacker. What does that even mean? Well, it means that I like to do what’s right for my body so that I can live and perform to the best of my abilities. And for me/my body, cyclical ketosis works.

Let’s back up: as I mentioned in a previous post, I used to be vegetarian… for 21 years. I did it originally because I had a crush on a girl and wanted to impress her by being vegetarian just like her (oh middle school hormones!). Then I stuck with it because I started learning about meat industry practices and decided animal cruelty was not worth the pleasure that could be derived from eating meat. I still hold this view.

However, I also believe that living with chronic anemia and fatigue is not sustainable. That was the life I had as a vegetarian. Also, I would crave carbs all the time (I remember walking into bakeries and just smelling and looking and walking out either ashamed that I succumbed to my craving or upset that I couldn’t indulge in it). Bruises covered my body. I would even wear long-sleeved shirts when it was warm out so people would stop asking me “what happened?” all the time.

I started experimenting with the low-carb diet (so hard to do while also being vegetarian– it can be done, though!) after hearing about it from my boyfriend Daniel (and every media outlet ever, really). Then we read the Bulletproof Diet book and started incorporating healthy fats and low inflammatory foods. Then I started eating meat (grass-fed beef in particular) after noticing my bruises were getting worse with weight lifting– and immediately felt a difference.

  1. Fitness: My weight lifting abilities improved. I’m now at a point where I can outlift some guys at the gym! My bruises went away, too. My energy level went up, in general.
  2. Cravings: I didn’t crave carbs anymore. Drinking Bulletproof coffee every morning is a ritual I still follow every day, and that helps tremendously in terms of not desiring food for long periods of time. I will be sure to talk about the benefits of fasting that I have experienced in a future post 🙂
  3. Ethics: All this because I was in ketosis and eating nutritious and humanely-raised meat (in moderation, of course). I am still vegetarian for most of my meals, as I don’t think I need lots of protein, especially since my fitness goal is to be lean versus bulky. I still don’t believe in animal cruelty but I think there is a way to balance my desire to be healthy with my desire to respect animal life and that’s through not eating meat all the time with every meal.

OK, so why not just stay in ketosis all the time? Well, like I said, my fitness goal is to be lean and muscular– aka, hit 18% body fat. Anything beyond that starts to look a bit too crazy to me, aesthetically.

low female body fat percentages

And I noticed that after a couple months, I was starting to plateau in terms of fat loss (measured via a DXA scan), even with intermittent fasting. I was still gaining muscle and losing fat, but not at the rate that I desired.

So I did some research and purposefully took myself out of ketosis to reset my leptin for about one day a week, incorporating sweet potato and rice and gluten-free foods, as those are less inflammatory. After a couple months of this, I tried on a size small dress and noticed it was too big on me! But my weight hadn’t changed. That means I was finally breaking through that fat loss plateau!

When I hit 18%, I will post before/after pics. I am somewhere between 20-25% right now and am not totally excited about posting my mid section quite yet so for now, you can imagine it as something in this spectrum:

body-fat-percentages-female-high

20% isn’t bad.* I don’t have low self-esteem. I’m happy and a bit of fat is actually healthy for women (see Mark’s Daily Apple, point 3 and 4).

I basically want to hit 18% to see if I can do it. In the same way I wanted to run a marathon or write a book or go skydiving– life is a challenge. Why not continue to challenge oneself and see what one can do in a lifetime?

*I think this is worth saying as a feminist: all body types are beautiful, as long as you accept yourself. If you’re facing health problems like diabetes or obesity, then definitely consider making healthier choices for yourself and for your body– but just know that your looks, regardless of what gender you are, do not determine your worth in life. All beings are beautiful!

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