Tag: Keto Diet

What Exactly Are Ketones and What is So Great About Them?

There sure is a TON of hype about the ketogenic diet these days! I used to be SO against the concept of low carb and especially going much further with it into ketosis. I thought it was unhealthy, a fad and for people looking for a quick fix.

Fast forward, I have been following the ketogenic protocol for almost 3 years now (with some carb cycling in there as well)! I can attest that the benefits are awesome and go far beyond fitting into your jeans better. But, rather than just take my word for it, let’s take a dive into what ketones are and just why they are beneficial above and beyond weight loss.

What we know is that when we starve our body of glucose it ends up switching to using fat for fuel and producing ketones which are also used for fuel.

What are ketones?

Ketones are an energy source. They occur when the liver breaks down fat into fatty acids and glycerol — a process called beta-oxidation. There are three types of ketone bodies {molecules} that are created in the liver once we have run out of glucose: acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetone.

Ketones are a preferred fuel source for the brain:

  • Glucose build up in the brain causes inflammation and neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s. This build up starves the brain. Ketones are a clean fuel source that the brain thrives on.
  • The ketogenic diet increases the permeability of the blood/brain barrier which provides more nutrients to our brain to increase our brain health and productivity. Although the brain uses glucose as about 30% of it’s fuel source, we do not need to get glucose from the diet in order to have it for fuel. Our body will create the needed glucose itself!
  • Ketones limit neuronal loss and preserve synaptic function. This means communication from cell to cell is more efficient and effective. This all increases brain function and clarity.
  • Ketones are a more efficient fuel source for our entire body. Fuel sources need to be converted in to ATP for our body to use it for energy. Converting ketones into energy rather than glucose is a much more efficient process which takes less effort and gives us more energy!
  • Ketones offer increased mitochondria function. Mitochondria protect our cells, regulate cell growth and death. This can protect us from oxidative damage, disease, cancer and just give us more energy in general.
  • Ketones help reduce inflammation. Eating healthy fat and less carbohydrate helps reduce inflammation. BUT, ketones add to this! Back to the oxidative stress as seen above. Ketones help reduce this oxidative stress which creates inflammation.
  • Increases adenosine which naturally fights inflammation and acts as a pain reliever (this why often people notice a reduction in joint pain). Down regulation of the inflammasome nlrp3 through the production of ketones.
  • Increased Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF is a naturally occurring protein in the brain that improves brain function and lowers risk of mental disease.
  • Cancer prevention. Cancer results when cells grow faster and live longer than they should. Ketones give mitochondria the boost they need to be able to regulate this overgrowth much more efficiently.
  • Increased GABBA. GABBA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Responsible for reducing activity in the nervous system as appropriate. Without enough GABBA we can feel depressed, stressed, anxious…Also increases our growth hormone which increases muscle and helps boost metabolism.
  • Regulates insulin and blood sugar levels beyond just low carb/high fat
  • Ketones help regulate appetite
  • Ketones help balance leptin resistance (leptin is the hormone that tells us we satisfied).
  • Ketones help balance ghrelin which tells us we are hungry.
  • Ketones will balance this leptin/ghrelin relationship.
  • Improves cardiovascular markers. Ketones has been shown in studies to increase HDL and reduces triglycerides. This will improve overall cardiovascular function and risk of disease.
  • Better mood. A ketogenic state reduces the intracellular sodium levels. This is the same thing we get form mood stabilizing drugs.
  • Ketones can increase athletic performance. Gives us more efficient access to fuel during exercise/competition.

If you are interested in applying this to your own life by following a ketogenic diet and would like some help, I offer a monthly group for Women that is run through a private FB group. I also offer individual coaching. Please email me at jessica@healthwithjess.com for more information!


My Journey from Vegetarian to Owning a Pasture Raised Meat Business

My Journey from Vegetarian to Owning a Pasture Raised Meat Business

Once upon a time I was vegetarian. Now we own and operate a pasture raised meat business. (Grass fed and finished beef, pasture raised pork and chicken all minus antibiotics or added hormones)

Quite the switch.

When I was ohhhhh around 20 (feels like just a couple years ago) and I went to Alaska for the first time (as a vegetarian), I had the privilege of spending a couple of weeks with a family who was homesteading in the middle of absolute nowhere. The nearest town was 30 miles away by dog sled or snow machine during the winter and by boat in the summer. And that “town”…well if you’ve seen the show Northern Exposure {popular in the early 90’s} then you know what kind of town I’m talking about. You know, where the “airport” and post office are all in one and smaller than my house. You get off the plane outside on the tarmac regardless of the fact that it’s 30 below outside. Oh, and the plane is half cargo. Some of the cargo was fresh produce that people living way up there eagerly anticipated once a month.

ONCE a month! Can you imagine fresh veggies and fruit only once a month??

Needless to say, when the woman of the house {i.e. cabin with no running water and heated only by wood stove} I was staying at asked, “what should we have for dinner?” my first night there and it turned out my options were moose, caribou or….well…moose, I was not surprised.

“My first experience in temperatures so frigid. No store anywhere within reach. Yup, I’ll be eating meat” was how my thought process went. Then, off we went into the “yard” with a chainsaw where she started uncovering something from under a mound of snow. There was dinner. Not even kidding.

My reasons for following a vegetarian lifestyle back then were pretty weak. I was early into my whole health and fitness journey and was very much following trends {and more interested in being skinny than anything else related to health}. So, low fat and vegetarian it was! I would go out with friends and order a pizza with just veggies {cheese was too fattening}. No joke. Thankfully I had good friends who didn’t give me too hard of a time or try to force feed me pepperoni and cheese *gasp*. I will tell you, however, the biggest driver for me was my disgust with how meat was farmed in our country and I really associated it with fast food. Yuck.

Eating meat in the far Northern regions of Alaska in the dead of winter with a family that was completely living off the land, changed my perspective.

After that experience, I moved to a small town in Alaska, not nearly as remote as Kotzebue, however the grocery store was a 2 hour drive away from where I lived (still accessible any time of the year). {I lived in Healy, just north of Denali National Park}

What I noticed when I lived up there was that people hunted and would feed their whole family for the entire year from a moose they shot; and they were SO thankful. I hunted with friends and the experience was completely different than what I expected. The word honor comes to mind. When you work hard for something versus just picking up a package at the store or ordering it off the menu at a restaurant…it makes you really understand and appreciate what you have in front of you.

This was such a far cry from what I was used to down in the lower 48. Not to mention, wild meat had SUCH a different taste.

There is a lot of confusion today with what is good and what isn’t good for you. What I find that many people overlook WHERE things come from and what that means for the integrity fo the food. I haven’t ate a burger from a fast food restaurant in ….you know I can’t even tell you how many years. But, I was still buying meat from the grocery store and not really thinking much about it until in the recent few years. Then I started getting grass fed beef locally and fast forward to now where we have partnered with Pacific Northwest farms who meet our strict standards and we are selling it!

One of the biggest reasons to go for grass fed over grain fed is that grass fed beef contains far more omega 3 than omega 6. Why do we care about this? On our Standard American Diet {S.A.D.} we eat an alarmingly off balance ratio of omega 3/omega 6. This causes systemic inflammation which is at the root cause of basically any known chronic disease in our modern culture. Meat is not the only culprit; not by a long shot. We get an overabundance of omega 6 from all the highly processed vegetable oils in our processed foods {canola, soy, corn, safflower…}.

According to holistic practitioner Chris Kresser, “Depending on the breed of cow, grass-fed beef contains between 2 and 5 times more omega-3s than grain-fed beef, and the average ratio of n-6:n-3 in grass fed beef is 1.53:1. In grain fed beef, this ratio jumps all the way up to 7.65:1”. {For more on this subject AND why meat and saturated fat are not to blame for heart disease like we’ve been told for so long, go here.}

Minus the hormones, minus all the inflammatory omega 6, minus the antibiotics, what do you get?

You get significant amounts of B vitamins, including B 12, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folate, niacin, and vitamin B6. You get vitamin D, iron & zinc. You also get a good amount of other vital minerals such as magnesium, copper, cobalt, phosphorus, chromium, nickel, and selenium. And the best part is that these nutrients from a meat source are far more bioavailable than any other sources {meaning your body will actually absorb and use much more than it will from other sources}.

I totally respect those who choose to be vegetarian. That’s not what this article is about {and I’m not interested in debates. You respect my decision, I’ll respect yours}.

What this is about is my own journey, and digging deep into the science behind health rather than just following trends.

It sure feels good to know exactly where our food comes from, to know that they are happy, healthy, well cared for cows! And I will say that I feel like a happier, healthier, more cared for human being having much more nutrient dense food in my diet every day.

Why the KETO Diet Might Not Be For YOU

Why the KETO Diet Might Not Be For YOU

There really is no one size fits all approach. We all know that.

There are some key ingredients to any kind of “plan” out there that I would argue are essential for anyone, though:

  • Based on whole foods
  • Includes a good amount of healthy fats
  • Eliminates (or at least drastically reduces) processed foods
  • Gives your body what YOUR body needs (this is where things get confusing)

So. This list really leaves a lot under its umbrella. I consider this a good thing.

We all have different needs, but also different values surrounding our diet and lifestyle and different things we just plain are or are not interested in.

It’s no secret, I am a big fan of the ketogenic lifestyle. I’m also a big fan of the paleo lifestyle. Why do I promote KETO so. darn. much?? Because I have seen it help people over and over again, get to a place they JUST COULDN’T no matter what they did. It allowed them to start burning fat for fuel and reduce inflammation and FEEL GOOD.

My goal is to share how to follow a keto diet focusing on a whole foods approach AND my programs are targeted toward women. This is HUGE. We are so very different in how our bodies operate then men. You just can’t put your body on the same exact protocol as your husband or boyfriend and expect things to go well.

“Aside from all of this stuff, how do I know it’s the right avenue for me?” Is this what you’re thinking? Well…let me share a few ways to know when it’s NOT right for you:

1) You’re just doing it for some quick weight loss
You need to do your research. The ketogenic diet is not something meant for just dropping a bunch of weight fast and then going back to the standard American diet. This should really be thought of as part of a lifestyle: teaching your body how to burn fat for fuel and creating habits that are sustainable and that promote a healthier overall you.

2) You’re not ALL IN
The ketogenic diet is not something you can “sort of” do. You’re either following it 100% or you’re not. Now, there are big benefits to eating a higher fat/lower carb diet of any kind. However, the ketogenic diet is very specific in terms of how much fat and how little carbs in order to get into ketosis. If you’re not willing to fully commit, it’s not for you.

If you are married to your excuses more than your desire to be healthy: not for you.

3) You’re vegetarian
Ok hold on here: before you get ready to send me a nasty-gram, hear me out. I am not saying that you CANNOT be vegetarian on the ketogenic diet. But, if you are, it will be DIFFICULT. If you are dairy free on top of it…10x harder. Lots of people are dairy free and do amazing on KETO {in fact some people say it’s absolutely necessary but I disagree}. BUT, dairy free AND vegetarian…different story.

I am a big fan of seeing people include good grass fed, hormone free, organic meats in their diets. The ketogenic diet is NOT high protein, but moderate. And those protein sources are important. I also don’t like to see women try to meet their protein needs with soy based products do to potential hormone disruption.

Here is some further information on the topic: red meat in particular.

4) You’re mourning over the thought of giving up your sugar and fast food.

Okay. I’m not saying the ketogenic will NEVER be for you. However, a much better plan if this is you, would be to taper down. Start with Paleo, which cuts out the sugar and processed foods and go from there.

Truly, there is A LOT of tasty food you can eat on the ketogenic diet that makes it pretty easy for people to follow compared to other plans. But, if you have not yet pried your little fingers off the convenience foods and sugar, it will be harder.

5) You feel like you’re “all in” but you don’t want to worry about the “details”

Well, you’re going to have to worry about the details if you want good results AND if you want to feel good doing this.

The ketogenic approach is not just any old “diet”. Think of it like this: your body has been used to a certain kind of fuel for quite awhile. That means at a cellular level your system has adjusted and adapted to what you feed it. Truthfully, the ways in which it has adjusted and adapted are very likely NOT IN YOUR FAVOR! But, any change, even good change, takes some deliberate effort.

Changing the type of fuel your are giving your body will mean changes big and small from the outside in…all the way down to your individual cells.

This is why the type of fats & proteins are crucial. This is why {you will hear this in my programs} electrolytes are CRITICAL. This is why you HAVE TO BE PURPOSEFUL.

Okay, I know I probably made KETO sound like a big scary, hairy, overwhelming thing to jump into: but it’s not.

You just have to have a good talk with yourself and do your homework before deciding if this is a good fit for you or not. No one wants to try a program without being fully committed only to walk away feeling like they failed. Again. I sure don’t want that for you.

Did you make it through the list and you’re STILL interested in KETO? You’re saying: “heck YES. I went through that list and I know: I’M 110% READY!!” Then I want to invite you to join one of my upcoming programs OR, if you’re the person who has done gobs of research and you just need a meal plan and a little jump start: I have an option for that too!

Starting January 1st my KETO for Women Groups are starting {I run them monthly}! Find out more and/or sign up here.

I hope you all had a FANTASTIC Christmas and that NO MATTER WHAT you do with your health and fitness, that you do it with purpose and intention and that you FEEL AMAZING! <3

5 Basics You Need to Get Started on the Ketogenic Diet (psst: it’s pretty simple!)

You’ve been spending months pinning keto recipes on Pinterest, reading blogs and watching YouTube videos all on this high fat way of life. You’ve even made yourself a bulletproof coffee or two. It’s time, you’ve decided, to jump in with both feet!
Now what?

Here are a few basics that I HIGHLY recommend to anyone getting ready to embrace this awesome lifestyle!


Please let me take a minute to let you know that this whole keto thing does NOT have to be complicated! It really doesn’t! You can easily get overwhelmed and tripped up by all the differing opinions and perspectives out there. But if you take ONE piece of advice from me let it be this: YOU DO YOU! You decide how you want to do Keto and let everyone else do it in their own way as well.

What do I mean by this??

Some people like to track macros, some don’t. Some include dairy and peanut butter, some don’t. Some people test their ketones, others don’t…. and on and on. You get it. There are only truly a few MUSTS for success on the ketogenic diet.

Here are my recommendations:


This is a FREE APP you can download on your phone & it makes it super convenient to TRACK YOUR MACROS.

Do you have to track? NOPE. But, I would recommend doing it in the beginning if you are totally new to this whole thing. Why? You will be surprised with what foods have carbs and how high they can be! If you truly want to get into ketosis, it is important to figure this piece out early on.

Do you have to use myfitnesspal as your tool of choice? NOPE. But, it’s FREE and pretty easy to use. There are others out there. If there’s something else you prefer: go for it! Remember: YOU DO YOU. I just caution against making things too complicated for yourself.

Do you need to purchase the PAID version of myfitnesspal? NOPE. Don’t need it. Everything you need you get with the free version.


They are important for everyone, but EXTRA important when you’re following a ketogenic protocol. When you are starting out with this new way of eating your kidneys will shift from retaining water & sodium to getting rid of them at a faster rate. Of course our bodies will work to keep everything balanced and due to this our blood volume shrinks to maintain sodium blood concentration. What does this feel like? Irritability, brain fog, headaches, fatigue, constipation…KETO FLU

But don’t worry! We can do something about it! ??

Making sure you are getting enough electrolytes will help stave off these keto flu symptoms! You need:

  • Sodium (5000-7000mg)
  • Potassium (1000-3500mg)
  • Magnesium (300-500mg)

SODIUM: I use sea salt & Himalayan salt & just make sure to use it on my food. If I am having a day where I am particularly fatigued, irritable, having brain fog…I’ll put some in my water with lemon. I also take a little pinch before a workout & it helps with stamina.

POTASSIUM: You can typically get what you need from potassium rich foods (listed below) & you do need to be careful that you do not overdo Potassium as that can be dangerous.

  • Spinach
  • Avocados
  • Mushrooms
  • Meat
  • Blackberries
  • Broccoli
  • Radishes
  • Kale

You really need to supplement for this. Over 80% of Americans are magnesium deficient which causes a whole host of issues. When you are following a ketogenic diet, your levels will drop even further, as mentioned above. THIS IS IMPORTANT!!! You MUST supplement in order to feel good and replenish your electrolytes!

You can find a pill form or powdered drink. Also, soaking in a bath for 20 min in Epsom salt is an excellent way to absorb magnesium into your body {magnesium also helps with muscle fatigue & cramps, constipation and sleep}. What I recommend and use {a couple different options}:

Natural Vitality Natural Calm Plus Calcium Magnesium Anti Stress, Organic, Raspbery Lemon, 16 oz

Triple Calm Magnesium – 150mg of Magnesium Taurate, Glycinate, and Malate for Optimal Relaxation, Stress and Anxiety Relief, and Improved Sleep. 120 Capsules.


In order to stick to this, you need to set yourself up for success! Remove the garbage from your house & keep a basic supply of keto foods stocked at all times so you don’t find yourself reaching for things that will derail you.

As a holistic health coach, I encourage people to buy things that don’t just match the macronutrient profile you need to aim for, but also are free of chemicals, hormones, preservatives, nitrates & nitrites & pesticides, etc.


All of these artificial and harmful substances in our foods cause underlying issues that have HUGE long-term impacts on our health. Everything from hormone disruption, chronic inflammation and autoimmune conditions to neurological conditions. I sure hope your goals in regards to your health go beyond just looking good in a bathing suit.

Where can you shop and not spend a FORTUNE??

The good news here is that a lot of grocery stores are starting to carry healthier options that are free of all the crap. This is AWESOME! However, if you’re like me you A) like a good deal and B) love convenience.

If this is you, I invite you to check out Thrive Market online! They offer TONS of amazing options that are organic and HEALTHY at a fraction of what you would pay at most grocery stores. Their mission is to make healthy foods more accessible to everyone both financially and by delivering them right to your door {I know not everyone has a grocery store in their that offers good options}.

With Thrive Market you pay a yearly membership fee {like Costco}. HOWEVER, you get to try your first 30 days FREE! Also: shipping is always FREE on orders over $49 {HELLO…do you EVER walk out of the store with less than $49 worth of groceries when you go for more than just a couple of items?? Me neither!}.

Use my link for Thrive Market here and get 25% OFF your first order!

Some of my favorites from Thrive: macadamia nuts, NuCo wraps {coconut wraps}, coconut oil, Lily’s dark chocolate, pink Himalayan salt, Swerve, Primal Kitchen mayo & dressings…to name just a few!


There are 3 ways you can test your ketone levels:

1. Urine Strips: super cheap but I would NOT RECOMMEND this.

When your body starts producing ketones at the beginning of your journey the urine strips will indicate this by showing you a color on your strip that lets you know what level of ketones it detects. HOWEVER, in the beginning your body spills ketones out through urine because it is not efficient at using ketones for fuel ⛽️. Weeks and months down the road your body becomes a pro at using ketones for fuel {yay!! ?} but then they won’t be as prevalent in your urine. DO NOT mess with your head by using urine strips!!! ? You could be deep in ketosis and not know it with these because we need to know what your ketone level is at in your BLOOD, not urine!!!

2. Breath meter: measures acetone in your breath. New machines are becoming available for this as we speak. I personally do not have experience with them so I cannot recommend either way. Research suggests that the level of acetone in your breath is a good indicator of ketones in your blood.

3. Blood ketone meter: ❤️
This is what I personally prefer & recommend. I want true measures of ketones in my blood therefore I love this method ?? There are spendy devices out there but I found one that is very affordable! {They also offer helpful tutorial videos which I watched to help when I first started and to be SUPER HONEST: I was scared to prick my finger ??‍♀️ But the video really helped calm my nerves and it’s truly no big deal now. Plus, the guy has a cool accent and somehow that just makes it all better. I know I’m not the only one thinking this.}

KETO MOJO is what I use. Any other device I found was well over what I was willing to spend. I bought mine for $49.99! AND the ketone strips are .99 right now {if you get in on their founders club offer} rather than $3-4/strip! NO JOKE.

SIDE NOTE about testing your ketones. Is it an absolute NECESSARY thing in order to be successful?? NOPE. Is it helpful YES! This is totally a personal choice and I started out not testing, but it sure does help keep me on track and teaches me a ton about how my body responds to certain foods and even exercise in terms of ketones.


When your body produces ketones they are considered “endogenous” ketones. When you consume ketones and take them into your body, they are considered “exogenous” ketones.

Considering the fact that you are reading a blog post about the ketogenic diet, it is highly likely you’ve heard of exogenous ketones and have seen advertisements for them. Let me give you a little insight into exogenous ketones:

Are exogenous ketones necessary to have success on the ketogenic diet? NOPE {are you surprised?}. Are they useful? They sure can be!

So, these guys are awesome in several different circumstances, but once again, it is a personal choice as to whether or not you use them.

1. Getting through the dreaded keto flu. Exogenous ketones can really help boost your energy and stamina through this period! If you are good about getting your electrolytes in, then this will add one more awesome tool against keto flu!

2. Mental clarity. I personally like using my exogenous ketones when I have a project to focus on or if I have had a crappy nights’ sleep and need that extra energy. What I LOVE about ketones is that you don’t get that caffeine high and then crash. It feels like natural energy…because it is! Our bodies LOVE ketones for fuel!

3. Before a workout. Exogenous ketones can offer that extra energy source for an intense workout.

4. To help get you back into ketosis. So…for my birthday I chose to indulge with my favorite meal: fish & chips and a hard cider. (Excuse me as I drool.) The next morning I took my exogenous ketones AND got right back on my keto plan with a bulletproof coffee!

IMPORTANT: Exogenous ketones are NOT meant to replace following a ketogenic diet. This is not a tool to use so that you can eat whatever you want. It does NOT work that way and you will cheat your body out of becoming a fat burner {and your results {or lack thereof} will show this. If used correctly, exogenous ketones can be a fantastic tool in your tool belt on your keto plan!

What I use & recommend {and WHY}:
I have tried several different exogenous ketone brands. I LOVE Perfect Keto because they were created by a functional practitioner (Dr. Anthony Gustin) who aims to provide a product without all the unneeded “junk” in it. He also purposes to have a more affordable product (there are some EXPENSIVE ones out there!) that you can easily access by just ordering online. I like simple. I like effective. I like functional. We have a winner!

Now for a plan…

If you are going to be successful with a ketogenic protocol, you need to be committed. Make sure it’s the right time for you. Make sure you are ready to dive in and not let distractions derail you {life will ALWAYS bring distractions: its ultimately up to you}.

If you’re ready but need some extra tools I would like to offer some of mine!

For $19 you will receive:

  • A list of keto friendly foods to stock your kitchen with
  • My very own list of staples that I personally always keep stocked in my kitchen
  • A 4 week meal guide complete with recipes that you can use & modify to help you start out on the right food

**please note, part of how I support this blog and my desire to help people with their health and fitness goals is by partnering with companies that I personally use and recommend. Therefor, there are affiliate links on this post. One of which includes: healthwithjessica.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to “www.healthwithjessica.com” (amazon.com, or endless.com, MYHABIT.com, SmallParts.com, or AmazonWireless.com).

Beyond Your Jeans (and Your Genes)

If you would have told me even a year ago that I would be headed into my 5th month of following a ketogenic protocol I would have laughed.
Although I started out with a Paleo approach, I still really preached “balance” and that meant “all things in moderation…every day”. Because I was still keeping my weight where I wanted it, I felt that I could still have my ice cream, crappy coffee creamer and wine EVERY NIGHT and it had nothing to do with my sleep issues, hormone issues, blood sugar issues or adrenal issues {ignorance isn’t always bliss}.

Well, I guess the blessing in disguise was that life got more stressful for me and my body decided it would try to get my attention by putting on a few pounds and NOT LETTING THEM GO. Now, a few pounds {and literally I mean just a few} might seem like nothing to some. However, we all have our happy place, our set point, the spot where everything fits just right. And when you are a whole 5 feet 4 inches tall, a “few pounds” can quickly move you from that happy place. So, not sleeping well, PMS symptoms I hadn’t had since I started my period eons ago, sever adrenal issues and now the pounds. Cue the white flag! I surrender!

Isn’t it funny how things work? Just as I am surrendering and needing to find better solutions to my health issues, the ketogenic diet starts taking center stage in the health and wellness world. I don’t mean it just started showing up on facebook and in fitness magazines {which I don’t even read anymore}…I mean health professionals who I respect and follow started talking about it. People who base their profession on science were in the keto camp and I was astounded! My only impression of keto {which was super negative} came from the Atkins craze. I was not at all impressed and the word keto was a FOUR LETTER WORD as far as I was concerned!

What I didn’t realize, but thankfully took time to find out, was that a true ketogenic diet is not like Atkins. Atkins is higher in protein, doesn’t prescribe as high of fats and really allows far too many artificial ingredients. This is just some of what I don’t love about that plan.

So, imagine, this girl who was hardcore on the “low fat” train listening to all of this “high fat” stuff! But, wow, I was intrigued. What really gets me is all the neurological benefits and how much it can help reduce inflammation in your body overall. I really was not aware of how much carbs can contribute to brain fog…something I am all to familiar with. I think what I might have expected was some kind of caffeine induced kind of feeling when I got into ketosis…but that’s not it. I just feel…clear. Clear and like my energy is consistent. Having been on a blood sugar roller coaster for some time, this has been quite a welcomed state of being.

In addition to this mental clarity, something I was very drawn to when researching the ketogenic approach was how it can help with depression and anxiety. This stuff runs rampant in my family & I am pretty sure I am the only one in my immediate family not on medication. Now hear me out: I know medication can be super beneficial and NEEDED for some. However, I am not that person. I know that I can lean toward depression and anxiety genetically and have learned how to manage and maintain and not fall into those holes so deep that I can’t pull myself out {by God’s grace, truly}…but I have to remain aware and proactive. Not only do our brains love ketones for energy, but pushing glucose to the side really helps reduce inflammation in the brain {and throughout the body}. This is such an excellent thing when it comes to mental health issues whether it be mood disorders, attention issues, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, etc.

So, although I appreciate the physical outcomes of the ketogenic diet, the things that happen beneath the surface are even more worth it!

If you have been contemplating the ketogenic diet, I would encourage you to check it out. However, a caveat: understand that you need to commit to this approach. The ketogenic diet is about switching from burning glucose to burning fat {ketones}. This won’t happen if you just “dabble” and don’t fully allow your body to transition. If you aren’t serious about it and don’t really follow a true ketogenic diet you will likely a) feel like crap, b) not lose weight, c) possibly gain weight {if you are eating tons of fat but also too many carbs and not in ketosis}.

If you are ready to check it out and would like some guidance, I am currently taking clients and am happy to schedule a 30 minute FREE consultation with you to chat about setting you up on a plan. I also run monthly private FB groups for women and that is another option! Email me for more information or to schedule a consultation: jessica@healthwithjess.com

KETO: My Story

The first time I heard anything about the Ketogenic diet was in the late ’90’s. Well…I thought it was the Ketogenic diet. It was Atkins and it was all the rage {more about this later}. I was just on the brink of turning 20. I had bounced around with my weight a lot since my first “diet” {no coincidence it’s a four letter word} in the 7th grade. I had lost 20 pounds on my first diet following a very strict plan resembling something like: dry toast & plain tea for breakfast, salad with cottage cheese and 6 walnuts for lunch and chicken and veggies for dinner. It was tough but I managed to stick to it and lose my adolescent chub. However, I am sure anyone reading this knows that the plan I was on was not in any way sustainable. Nor was it likely good for long-term metabolism vitality. The calories had to have been ridiculously low, which it’s no wonder my body adapted and then struggled later. I was a stereo-typical yo-yo dieter for a long time after that {Atkins was one of many diets I tried}. Lucky for me, I was into sports and that led me to seek other activities that helped keep me active after high school {step aerobics anyone?!}. I still struggled with being super over the top with my exercise regime…but I did find a healthier balance…eventually.

Fast forward to September 6, 2016. I turned 40 on this day {cue scary music}. In all seriousness, 40 doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is what happened when I turned 40. Aside from the fact that I swear to you that very day I suddenly needed reading glasses for the first time {funny but so true} hormone issues became something real to me rather than something “other people” deal with that I somehow believed I would always be immune to.

In between my 20th birthday and 40th birthday quite a lot happened. I took on the title “runner” more seriously than I had as a high school athlete and it became a huge part of who I was. I went through treatment for an eating disorder and learned how much food was a drug for me and that I needed to deal with the underlying issues in a healthier way. I got married, had a baby, got divorced, finished my bachelors degree, then my masters degree sometimes working 5 different jobs to support myself an my kiddo. I was always engrossed in science and research having to do with health and fitness as I pursued my degree, made friends with food and became a fitness instructor.

One day, though…things just hit me in the face. I was pretty convinced I was balancing my life very well. Yes, I had a lot of stress if you looked at my life on paper…but to me I managed well. After all, health and well-being was my field of study. I worked hard, but I was deeply connected with my friends, church family and I even had a moms group that I ran. I felt like that all balanced out rather nicely. Why, when I was one of the healthier people I knew, did I have ZERO energy? Was I lacking in vitamins & essential nutrients? Was something seriously wrong that I needed to figure out? It really didn’t make sense. So, I went to a holistic practitioner for the first time {as I was not interested in someone listening to me for 5 minutes and then handing me a prescription}. I had learned enough to connect the dots with how EVERYTHING in our lives, physically, biologically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, are very strongly connected. I was not interested in a band-aid. Well the doctor came in, sat down and started asking me about EVERYTHING, including my childhood, sleep, stress… I was impressed. He also really opened my eyes to what I was unknowingly doing to my body.

Even though I felt I had great balance even in my busy, stressful life… I rarely asked for help. Sleep was not something I felt I needed much of. When I was exhausted or not feeling well, I would exercise anyway. Too much sugar for sure. Likely too many environmental toxins….and the list goes on.

So what did this all mean? I was dealing with adrenal fatigue. This is a whole big issues that I have covered before and will cover some more in another upcoming post. The point is, I was running myself into the ground in ways I didn’t give enough value to. As time went on I am sorry to say that I did not take enough steps to get myself back on track.

This brings us to present day. I got remarried last summer, started and then closed a business. We moved out to the country and have started building a {tiny} house. My husband totally changed up his job situation. We are now both working from home. Is it any surprise that in the midst of all this and turning 40…last summer this “runner girl” couldn’t run? Literally my body would not allow it. I had adrenal fatigue worse than EVER. My immune system tanked. I actually had bronchitis when we got married {had it for a month}. I ended up coughing so hard I tore a rib muscle and was prescribed an inhaler for the bronchitis induced asthma I suddenly had. *whew*

SO. I dove deeper than ever into research with all of this.

{I have to share that during this time my mom was also diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. That lit a fire under me even more.}

I’ve learned so much more about listening to your body… What inflammation means… What causes inflammation… How this plays into hormones… How stress is related to all of this… How critically important sleep is… How I thought I was avoiding crap food, but really not nearly enough… How toxins in your environment can affect you mentally & physically {all our artificially scented stuff we use for example!}… what a lie the whole FAT FREE era was…and on and on…

My hubby an I decided to go Paleo after doing a lot of research and really being encouraged by how healing it can be. We LOVED it! We had so much fun trying new recipes and cooking together. We both felt pretty good. But then after a time it seemed perhaps it wasn’t enough. Not for us. I for sure was still really struggling and my sleep was just crap.

This is when I started taking a closer look at the Ketogenic diet. I admit, I had been super turned off by it back in the day when Atkins was all the rage. Seriously, it lasted like 2 days for me. I thought it was so lame. I gained weight and really didn’t understand it. Now, I realize that it was not what I needed at all. I wouldn’t characterize it as ketogenic. It was higher in protein and honestly, the foods that company markets I would NEVER eat! FULL of chemicals and preservatives! Not at all what our bodies need to operate at their optimum level of health! I finally decided to give the Keto concept another glance after hearing so many health professionals that I respect and admire and who are science and research based in their perspectives advocate for it.

The more I learned, the more intrigued I was.

So, my hubby and I dove in. Honestly, after living Paleo for a time, it wasn’t a hard adjustment. Some things we have LOVED: more energy, my sleep went back to normal {hallelujah!}, better mental clarity {people talk about it…but it’s really a thing!}, WAY less cravings {this is the sugar princess talking…and I am telling you I NEVER crave sweets like I did! Give me one of my hubbies homemade jalapeno poppers ANYTIME over something sweet!}. We even went on vacation and lost weight which was pretty amazing to us. Our appetites are way down as well. That’s just what happens as your body adapts …and it’s pretty great! Oh, and you may have seen one of my social media posts recently: my nails are amazing! They have been a mess for so long and I couldn’t figure out why. Healthy fats for the win!

I have also integrated essential oils into my life. I love that not only are they amazingly beneficial: the simple act of removing harmful chemicals, cleaners, artificial scents and other junk from your home and body and using theses natural products is quite the gift to your overall health and that of your loved ones.

If you are interested in trying the Keto approach yourself and/or if you have any questions {same goes for essential oils}, please shoot me an email: jessica@healthwithjess.com I would love to help!