We started the new diet on August 31st. The plan was to stay on the low-carb, ketogenic diet until November 1st... at which point I would lose 23 pounds and my husband would lose 15 pound loss and lower his blood pressure & cholesterol levels. All we had to do was eat under 20 carbs a day to keep our bodies in a state of ‘ketosis,’
“Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body uses fat and ketones rather than glucose (sugar) as its main fuel source.”Ketones are produced in the liver, and you can test your ketone levels with urine test strips that you can purchase just about anywhere.
Besides weight loss and control of food cravings, research revealed that this diet resulted in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels in some people, which was great news for my husband, and proved to be a preventative step in combating dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, which was good for me since Alzheimer’s runs in my family.
It seemed like nothing but good would come from this diet. Being a popular plan with all kinds of variations, and recipes galore available for free on the internet, what would it hurt to try it for a short period of time?
Having both entered into ketosis by the end of the first week, we continued monitoring our ketone levels in the weeks following, noting changes in how much we produced depending on what foods were eaten.
At first, the diet was really hard for me to get used to, as revealed in The Big Fat Diet. I experienced nearly 2 weeks of keto flu while my husband enjoyed an increase in energy and a love for all the favorite foods he had missed over the years.
By the third week, I was getting into the groove, and we were both enjoying eggs and sausage, cheesy hamburgers, fatty steaks wrapped in bacon, and even a weekly Big Mac! Oh… the joy of tasting all of these wonderful foods after being on a low-calorie diet for so long. I had never felt more satisfied, and I didn’t crave anything… not even CHOCOLATE!
In the last update, 4 weeks in… A Big Fat Update , the diet had resulted in an 8-pound loss for me, and a 10 pound loss for my husband. Comparing this plan to a low-fat diet, I felt more satisfied, but the weight loss wasn’t nearly as much as the braggarts touted. More significant, my 23-pound loss by November 1st was falling further and further from my sights.
At this point, I felt strongly about switching back to low-carb eating, but when my husband revealed he wanted to stick with the plan, I dug my heels in and planned to see it through until November 1st.
The Camel’s Back
At first, there were a couple episodes of what we decided was ‘food poisoning’ after eating fast food burgers. We didn’t really think much of it until it kept happening.
Research offered tips like replenishing your body with electrolytes and sodium since the diet would deplete your body of these at a fast rate, but the electrolyte drinks and bouillon didn’t help with what my husband described as “lava ass.”
I don’t think I need to explain more than his eloquent 'term.' Just note that a daily probiotic solved his issue right away, thankfully!
But what about this feeling of being worn out? I really thought, we BOTH needed to exercise even though any exercise that increased your heart rate over 130bpm would knock us out of ketosis.
Having been exercising every single day since the first of the year, it has been very difficult NOT to exercise while on this diet. But everything I had found on the internet stated to be very careful about adding exercise, as I already knew the hard way that it took a week to get back into it.
Knowing we have been losing muscle mass on a daily basis since turning 30, and the rate of loss increases every year after that, it was imperative we BOTH get back to exercising whether it knocked us out of ketosis or not.
At this point, I wondered if this diet was worth it. Especially being how EXPENSIVE it was!
The Last Straw
The last straw came the following week at our doctor’s checkup.
Requesting a full blood screening to be made on both of us, I was hoping to see that both of our cholesterol levels were down. Having had my blood drawn in mid-July, I knew exactly where I stood.
Within two days after the fasting blood-draw, the results were in and the nurse was calling with terrible results.
Not only had my cholesterol gone up 25 points in 3-months, my liver enzyme levels went up about the same. To top that off, my husband’s liver enzymes were so high they were nearly off the chart!
THIS WAS NOT GOOD!
After more research about liver enzyme levels and how they are elevated with keto diets, we dumped the plan and are now hoping to fix the damage done to our system, pronto-quick! Unfortunately, it takes longer to fix it than it did to cause the damage, according to a medical study dated January 2020.
The findings stated, “The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that can induce weight loss and improvement in glycemic control, but poses a risk of inducing hyperlipidemia, elevation of liver enzymes and onset of fatty liver disease.”
It took the woman in the study a full year to return back to normal levels after adopting a low-fat/low-carb diet with LOTS of fruits and vegetables and aerobic exercise 3x per week.
Climbing back aboard the low-fat diet bus, I purged my kitchen of all offending items and hit the low-fat cookbooks once again for our go-to favorites.
So far, the food doesn’t taste nearly as good, but I’m hopeful that our tastebuds will adjust sooner rather than later, and our Big Fat Failure won’t make any lasting issues to deal with.
In this post, I wanted to share a very bad outcome we experienced in adopting the low-carb, keto-style diet. Although there may be circumstances where this lifestyle is beneficial to some people, I would highly recommend a person considering this plan to be constantly monitored by a health professional who is very knowledgeable in the nuances of this diet so they may identify ill-effects before something detrimental happens to your health.
Thanks so much for reading!
Anekwe, Chicka V., Chandrasekaran, Poongodi, & Stanford, Fatima C, January 8, 2020, Ketogenic Diet-induced Elevated Cholesterol, Elevated Liver Enzymes and Potential Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7008768/
Spritzler, Franziska, RD, CDE & Scher, Bret, MD, The complete guide to ketosis, https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/ketosis
Volpi, Elena, Nazemi, Reza & Fujita, Satoshi, January 12, 2010, Muscle tissue changes with aging, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804956/