Ketogenic Catastrophe


It is crazy what nutrition can do for you, isn’t it? 🙂

The following goals of mine had been met so far:

  • Get rid of the excruciating sciatic pain that three doctors, one chiropractor, one sports rehabilitating clinic and two epidural shots could not do.
  • Lose the body fat that made me feel bulky – especially in my hips, stomach, and quads.
  • Strengthen my stabilizers and weaker muscles that get dominated by the obvious – improved and am still working towards.
  • Build my posterior chain, core and shoulders and put on about 5 pounds of muscle – was my next progression.
  • Find the best macro percentages for my body and goal – continuously working towards.  I tried a Ketogenic diet which I will discuss:

When I began ‘Gainz mode’ as we like to call it – or lifting heavy to build my glutes, hamstrings, and define my abs – it was April 26, 2016.  I had worked my way to a ‘Ketogenic diet’ or macronutrients (macros) that were high fat, moderate protein, and low carb (75% fat, 15% protein and 10% carb when I started).  I read books before I started this diet – including cookbooks and testimonials.  There were not many valid ones, but enough to be intriguing.

Onward glutes – grow:


Some of my foods included the following:

  • Bacon
  • Eggs
  • Progenex whey protein
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Sour cream
  • Cream cheese
  • Cheese
  • Olives
  • ‘Special Sauces’ that were high fat and 0-1g carb
  • Macadamia nuts/Almonds
  • Avocados/Avocado oil/Guacamole
  • Miracle Noodles
  • Coconut butter/oil
  • ‘Fat boms’ – bites of high fat food

A few days later my body decided to throw some wrenches into the plan.  A surprise cycle, dizzy spells and I was abnormally tired.  I figured this was the ‘Keto flu’ everyone talked about in which my body was going through carbohydrate withdraws and trying to switch to using ketones (fat, basically) for energy rather than glucose.  I tested ketones in my urine (using Ketone strips that I ordered from Amazon) and never saw myself ‘get into’ ketosis.  The strips were always showing ‘none’ and sometimes I would lull myself into thinking it bordered ‘trace’.  They were starting to make me mad and they had fallen all over my bathroom floor at one point.  An omen…

About two weeks after the start of Gainz mode, we increased my calories by 200 and moved my macros to 80% fat, 15% protein, and 5% carbs.  That is not a lot of carbs – that was basically residual carbs that came from cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, or food that was super high in fat.  I was careful not to chew gum because of the fear of ‘getting out of ketosis’.  I felt like I was going through ‘Keto flu’ already and did not want to revisit.  Talk about living in fear.

Since a Ketogenic diet is nutrient deficient, essentially, I was also dousing my food with sea salt and drinking chicken broth to keep my sodium levels up which we thought would help my dizziness.  We were adjusting my zinc supplement which was competing with magnesium and potassium through the same active transport mechanism.  Charlie horses in the night – we were reactive in the day.  Thank goodness for my coach.

Since my coach does things the correct way, I had blood drawn every few months to check on how my body was responding and he interpreted them.  This time, my blood results showed us that my cells (due to a lack of heme-based iron) were deficient in the part that carries oxygen and one can not feed tissues or burn fat without oxygen so – I increased red meat.  (That explained why I was dizzy in the mornings and after standing too quickly – it wasn’t the ‘Keto-flu’).

If you do not know me already – I stopped eating red meat a few years before I was pregnant with my daughter (5 years ago).  Eating red meat was a big change for me but I was willing to do whatever it took for my body to function correctly.  This was fatty red meat since my fat percentage was so high.  I joked that I had basically became a vampire.  My coach had to tell me to stop cooking my meat so long and I learned how to grill/bake/order rare to medium rare.

The people around me continued to joke that it was strange to see me eat so much red meat (annoying at most times).  It is hard for people to fathom that someone would do whatever it takes to make their body function efficiently.  Food for thought..

My food before my workout became something like below – steak, butter, eggs and cheese in a paleo wrap:


About two weeks later, we increased my calories by 200 again (you cannot gain unless you increase calories), and a week later I progressed to a Poliquin lifting method for heavy squat, increased my calories by 200 and adjusted macros to 70% fat, 20% protein and 10% carbs.  We felt as though my body demanded more protein and was not building well with a Ketogenic diet.

It is documented that a person usually needs a gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight to maintain, let alone gain.  Therefore, we were waiting to see if I gained using the Keto-hype.  As my coach says, and is, be REACTIVE.

With my coach’s help, I fixed my squat form and activated the CORRECT muscles with the correct form and tempo.  Hello glutes, hamstrings and abs – welcome to the game for the first time in my life.

I had put on 2 pounds during Gainz mode and 7 pounds during the 3 week Poliquin squat phase.  Most people would freak out right?  We did not – our plan was to gain in my desired areas and one cannot do so without gaining in some other areas.

You can see the gain here (see my stomach, waist, adductors, obliques and smaller quads):


My butt was trying to grow and my hamstrings were still not developing:


Right before I started the Gainz mode (on the left) vs during the Poliquin squat phase:


However, I started feeling bloated, noticed fat gain in my stomach and waist, skipped my scheduled mentrual cycle and was having symptoms indicating hormonal shock…

This change is fully attributed to anabolic hormone signaling.  The downside of anabolic hormones is that they are extremely inflammatory.  So in their case, less is usually more.  Now I have officially experienced why it is “unhealthy” to gain more weight that quickly and this is an example of ‘Gainz mode’ gone bad.  Whomp whomp.

We also came to the realization that a Ketogenic diet was not a good plan for my goals.  Itmay work for those that want to lose weight but not for those that want to eventually put on muscle.  There may be research indicating that it helps endurance, but there did not seem to be any supporting muscle growth.  Therefore, if you love Keto – let it go.  It may not work for everyone. 🙂

The hardest obstacles with this progression:

  • Everyone has an opinion and feels like they can/should express it to you – move on – ignore them – take it with a grain of salt.  Eat the salt – I needed it.  These were my goals – be reactive to what works and what does not.
  • Watching my body gain fat and inflammation was hard during Gainz mode but we had to figure out what worked for my body and what obviously did not.
  • Learn everything you can about what you are doing – I did this through recommendations of books from my coach and my coach himself.  Without his knowledge – we would not be continuing to progress.  SEEK HELP if you need it.  Do not be afraid.  This is your life, you body to live in, help make it function as best as possible.  Do not latch on to the latest diet fads.  They are bull.  Stop it.
  • One does not do the same thing every day or stick to the same routine and expect to get somewhere new – they call that insanity.  Stahhhhp it.  Are you doing crazy cardio every day expecting to lose weight or somehow build muscle but not adjusting your nutrition or looking into your hormones, blood work, exercise, etc?
  • Your body will change – if it does not – what the heck are you doing?  My body seems to change quickly (even though I have no patience) so we progress to the next stage…

To bring you up to speed on my current situation – I have not lifted since the 10th of June.  Stay tuned for my next post to find out why and how we fixed it…

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