Weight Loss with PCOS 101: What is Keto?

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I get asked how I lost almost 100 pounds all the time. I answer ‘keto’ and people look at me like I have two heads.

{Keto (full name: Ketogenic Diet) is the short answer, of course. Over the last 2.5 years I have come to realize what works for me and will spend Fridays for the next month or so discussing the other aspects of my weight loss, but today I will focus on just Keto.}

So what is a ketogenic diet {known as “keto”}? Well, I’m no scientist/nutritionist/diet guru so I’ll give you the dummy version: basically it’s a diet of high fat and low carb and medium protein. Its ratio is different than the typical low carb diets from 10-15 years in that it’s not all about the protein. In fact, it’s “all about” fat. The goal of a keto diet is to make your body burn fat as its fuel {instead of glucose}.

By decreasing the glucose in your blood stream keto has other benefits–mainly female hormone problem reversals. I have zero doubt that keto is what caused me to get my fertility back and get pregnant with Lawson. You can read a research study abstract and results here {it is so interesting!}. The study states:

“This pilot study showed that adherence to a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet led to improvement in body weight, percent free testosterone, LH/FSH ratio, fasting serum insulin, and symptoms in women diagnosed with PCOS over a six-month period.”

Keto made my blood sugar so low that I had to get off of the Metformin I had been on for five years. In fact, in the past 2.5 years the only time my blood sugar ever got out of the 70s or 80s was when my OB-GYN made me drink that horrible icky sugar drink to test for gestational diabetes. {Note/disclosure/whatever: I still had gestational diabetes, but it was NOTHING like with MM. I naturally have insulin resistance with PCOS so I would have been absolutely shocked if I didn’t have gestational diabetes again. But instead of four insulin shots and it STILL being uncontrolled {like with MM} I was on one insulin shot (at night, just for fasting–again totally “normal” for PCOS with insulin resistance) Β and it was completely controlled with diet & exercise. And the proof is in the {no carb, haha} pudding: MM was 8.0lbs when she was born at 37weeks 5days and Lawson was 6lbs 6ozs at 37weeks 5 days when he was born. I never thought I would be so happy to have an “average-sized” baby (for that gestation)!}

What is so crazy to me is that I wasn’t trying to get pregnant (we weren’t preventing either–when you have ten years of infertility prevention is not something you think about anymore) when I did. I had stopped temping, charting, ovulation predictor kits, fertility meds–all of it! The only thing that I was doing differently than all those years trying desperately for babies was following keto. I started it September 17, 2014 and got pregnant on December 6, 2014. In less than three months I had lost over forty pounds (YEP!) and my fertility had returned (unbeknownst to me!).

The Basics:

Well, it depends on what you’re trying to do. Most people do it to lose weight–and oh my goodness, you WILL lose weight!–but some do it for health reasons. It helps with PCOS, yes, but it has also been shown to lower triglycerides (even with all that fat–crazy, huh?) and increase your good cholesterol. I’ve also met people who used it to treat epilepsy and constant chronic pain (I don’t know about any studies on the effect of that though).

If your goal is to lose weight you need to decide how many calories you need to eat to be in a calorie deficit (taking into account your gender, current size, age, and activity level). I stick to around 1,200 calories/day when losing weight. Then you need to figure out your general ratios. For me and my PCOS, the lower the carbs, the better. When losing weight I keep my carbs under 20 grams a day. A DAY. And y’all, there are carbs in everything! Of course in bread and cake…but also tons in bananas and beans…and even in some things like broccoli! That’s why having an ap on your phone like MyFitnessPalΒ {it’s free!} is a necessity! It can tell you calories/carbs/fat in all sorts of foods–even pre-packaged foods or stuff from restaurants.

Based on my activity level {I am ridiculously active!} my goals were as follows:

1200 calories/day

100 grams protein/day was my goal, but 70-100 grams is okay too

20 grams carbs/day

80 grams fat/day, but I’m “allowed” up to 203 grams fat/day

I’m in maintenance right now so I eat anywhere from 2000-2400 calories/day now and don’t gain weight.

Here is an online tool to help you find your right ratio on Keto (also known as “macros”).

Where to Start:

I would buy a book first. There’s tons out there, but the one I used to get an idea on ratios and sample recipes was The Ketogenic Cookbook. It’s where I first learned how to make cauliflower mashed “potatoes” and cauliflower fried “rice”. Oh my goodness, yummy.

Here are some other good starter Keto books with good reviews from others (they also come in Kindle-format):

The 30-Day Ketogenic Cleanse

Quick & Easy Ketogenic Cooking: Meal Plans and Time Saving Paleo Recipes to Inspire Health and Shed Weight

Bacon & Butter: The Ultimate Ketogenic Diet Cookbook (how awesome is THAT title?! it’s also less than $10)

Next, I would join some Facebook groups on the topic for support. There are tons out there and some are friendlier to newbies than others, but all are a wealth of knowledge.

Here’s a link to a few: Keto-AdaptationΒ {this is the one I’m in–come find me and say hello!}, Ketogenic Success, Keto Recipes, and Keto Mom (plus about a bazillion more).

The Bottom Line:

I will say this: it feels so weird at first. In fact, it feels quite naughty! I grew up in 80s and 90s with diet soda, margarine, low-fat everything so actually getting to eat butter or full-fat dressing and not feel guilty? Well, it’s hard at first! But as you see the weight drop off–I was serious when I said I dropped forty pounds in less than three months!–is unbelievable. And to see my fertility come back {and all my ovarian cysts go away}? Well, it feels like a miracle.

This is one of my favorite memes out there and something I tell anyone starting their weight loss journey. It’s so true.

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Do not give up hope, y’all. Keep taking it one day at a time and one day you’ll look in the mirror and won’t recognize the person on the outside {much less the person you’ve become on the inside!}. Because, let me tell you, you are stronger, braver, more determined, more beautiful, more amazing, and smarter than you realize. You CAN do the hard things. Pinkie promise, cross my heart.

Questions?

If you have any questions feel free to comment on here or FB or IG and I promise I’ll answer. If you want to hear more about food plans or how to know you’re in ketosis {or even what is ketosis}, just let me know. I wasn’t sure how in-depth to go today. πŸ™‚

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8 Responses to Weight Loss with PCOS 101: What is Keto?

  1. Sarah Beth Toms February 17, 2017 at 9:13 am #

    Love this! I lost 17 lbs in just three weeks on it and wasn’t being that strict. Just stayed under 20 carbs! And I’m hoping ( praying !) I may be pregnant again! I’ll keep you up to date on that! Ha!!!

  2. Gayl kirkpatrick February 17, 2017 at 10:53 am #

    Very. Informative! May adopt this eating plan!

  3. Natalie February 17, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

    Thanks for commenting, Gayl! πŸ™‚ Have a great day!

  4. Natalie February 17, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

    DO WHAT?!?! You *better* keep me updated!!

  5. Carla Porterfield February 26, 2017 at 5:46 pm #

    Natalie, you are killing it my dear, just killing it!!!! You look so good and you should be so proud of yourself! Lifting you up high cause you deserve it!!! I came across you on Instagram and honestly just soaked it all in, amazing changes in your life! I decided to check out your blog and I’ve followed you in the past, not sure why I stopped getting your blog posts so will have to resubscribe, anywho, I’m back and following! You’re a natural teacher and explain things so well, thank you! I too have not “loved” myself enough and have given little pieces of *me* to everyone except myself. Having done so, and being a foodie and emotional eater, I’ve gotten 40 lbs. overweight for my 5’2″ frame. I am MISERABLE with myself!!!

    But, no longer!!!! You have inspired me!!! I’m going to get started as I’m like you, I just don’t think my body does well on carbs. I’m hypoglycemic so taking a big detour from high carbs will probably serve me well!

    I’m going to get started so I’ll be asking you a ton of questions, please be patient with me as I learn! Of course I know you will be, it’s your nature, you have such an awesome heart! I’m interested in the intermittent fasting, however I’m going to take your advice and work through the keto first.

    I know I’ll be sluggish in the beginning, fun! So, when did you really begin going into the gym and what did you begin doing? Treadmill, just walking? When did you begin Zumba? Where do you attend classes?

    So I’m excited, scared, confused and tired of myself, so let me know and I’ll be following! So sorry for the long a** comment on your pretty blog!

  6. Natalie February 27, 2017 at 10:34 pm #

    Girl,
    I am SO SORRY I’m just now replying. WordPress (how I run my site) thought this was spam so it went in my spam folder and I barely found it. πŸ™‚

    I am so excited for you! Not for the losing weight part (just an added bonus), but for the realizing your value part. How is it we love everyone else more than ourselves? We give a little of ourselves a way at a time until we don’t even know who we are anymore. ::hugs::

    And 40lbs overweight? Girl, I was 100lbs overweight. YOU GOT THIS!

    For your questions: I’ve always been a gym lover. Even at 250lbs I was in the gym six days/week. Losing weight is about what I eat. So when I tell you what I do know that I do it ’cause I love it not to lose weight. πŸ˜‰
    I work out an hour a day right after work five days/week (I have about an hr between getting off work and picking up Mo from preschool). I do elliptical, stair climber, bike, whatever I feel like.
    On Monday and Thursday nights I go back for Zumba in the evenings. I also go Saturday mornings.
    I go to yoga on Wednesday nights as well. Sometimes I’ll go Sunday afternoon, but 9 times out of 10 I take Sunday off.
    I go to RPM/spin Saturday morning 50% of the time before Zumba.
    I go to Energy Fitness in Buford off Buford Hwy, right across from the post office.
    I am so glad you found me on here! Please feel free to comment or email me whenever you want! πŸ™‚

  7. preeti jha July 24, 2017 at 12:21 pm #

    Dear Natalia,

    Hi, I am Preeti from India. I don’t know for how long I am having cyst and it has been ages since I am fighting infertility. Your blog has given me hope.

    Lots of love from India

  8. Stephanie October 14, 2017 at 5:43 am #

    Hi Natalie! Thank you very much for sharing your inspiring story. I really want to free myself of PCOS and of course lose weight in the process. Do you think it’s possible to do the Keto lifestyle/diet and do it with little to no meat? If so, could you please share some of your favorite, easy recipes. Thanks again for all you do

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