Trending Now: Keto Diet

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Here’s a phrase you’ve likely heard lately, and if not, you will, and most likely while discussing the newest diet that your PureBarre and BLAST friends have started.

Keto.

Or Ketogenic Diet, to be accurate.

If you dabbled in the Atkins Diet in the 90’s and 00’s,  you are probably familiar with “ketosis,” or the phase of the Atkins Diet that indicated you were burning fat for fuel instead of sugar (as most of us do). Ketosis also came hand-in-hand with the less-attractive side effects of bad breath, mood swings and constipation.

Although similar to Atkins with its relatively higher ratios of protein and fat than the typical American intakes, the ketogenic diet, or keto diet, takes a cleaner, less-processed approach to protein and fat sources and has risen to the forefront of health due to the incredible health benefits that have been observed over decades. Some say over thousands of years, as fasting has been a religious practice since the dawn of time. (Those unpleasant side effects still hold, but only last for 1-2 weeks, say practitioners.)

Where did it come from?

Like many other diets, the keto diet was originally “prescribed” as a method to treat disease. Doctors used this method of eating to treat children with epilepsy in the 1920s. In its original form, the diet reduced carbohydrate intake to just 5% of caloric intake with 75% from fat and 20% from protein. Today, many people who subscribe to the keto way of eating alter the amounts & types of carbohydrates, protein and fat to include 30%/40%/30% respectively, all of which are clean, aka non-processed. For instance, bacon, though OK for Atkins, is not OK for keto.

So, what’s the big deal about keto?

As mentioned above, keto brings the body into ketosis where it burns fat for fuel instead of sugar, thus burning through the fat stores in the body, simulating fasting and eventually achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Weight loss and weight maintenance are not the big deal, though.

The reduction, elimination and prevention of cancer cells, recovery from diabetes, reversal of cognitive impairments, like Alzheimer’s symptoms and brain fog, and protection against heart disease risk factors are the biggest headliners of benefits of the keto diet.

Wait, it does what? How?

By reducing the amount of glucose in our blood, insulin is not released. Insulin strongly influences the chemistry and balance of our bodies. It tells cells to store as much energy as possible, which means if we don’t burn the sugar, we store it as fat. Fat storage is a result of too much sugar, not too a result of too much fat.

Therefore, by eliminating carbs (and eating the right amount of protein, which, in excess, also gets stored as fat) and by keeping the carbohydrate stores empty, we avoid a flood of insulin being released that we can’t fully utilize, which triggers insulin resistance, which contributes to diabetes AND premature aging, oxidative stress, chronic systemic inflammation, and other degenerative conditions and diseases.

The keto diet offers a solution by eating in such a way that the body is quasi-fasting, insulin is not released, inflammation and insulin resistance are avoided, and disease is prevented.

The Main Take-Away

The ketogenic diet is a proven method of eating that yields impressive results. Its focus on healthy fats and protein, much like the foundation of other blood-sugar regulating diets, allows the body to heal and repair itself, prevent disease and even reverse damage.

As with any diet, do your research, apply what feels right for you, and have check-up’s with your trusted medical professional to track the changes through blood work and biomarkers.

Additional reading:

Ketogenic Diet Boosts Fat Loss and + Fights Disease

Bulletproof Podcast: Dominic D’Agostino: Mastering Ketosis

New York Times’ Interview with Dr. Mark Hyman, “Making a Case for Eating Fat”

2 Keto Dudes – Ketogenic Lifestyle Podcast

We love to hear what works for you and how you’ve taken charge of your own health journey by actively participating and applying what makes sense to you. Tell us about it below!

Relief for Extreme Fatigue & Chronic Stress

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Extreme fatigue is no joke. In the simplest, crudest of terms, fatigue (or any dis-function) is caused by stress, and stress is stress. In other words, whether the stress is chemical, physical, or emotional, your body does not differentiate one type from the other. The stress response is triggered, and your physical health suffers. In this post, we’ll talk about the three main categories of stress and some health and lifestyle tips, tricks and techniques to combat stress – and the resulting fatigue – without turning to coffee to make it through your day!

Types of Stress Defined

Chemical stress includes exposure to toxins, whether that’s mold in the house, inhaling cleaning supplies, heavy metals in our water, or even consuming foods or drinks (or prescriptions) with chemicals that are disruptive.

Physical stress can include working longer hours than you can sustain over the long-haul without necessary breaks, spreading yourself too thinly, not getting enough rest or nutrition.

Emotional stress may be rooted in a dysfunctional work environment, toxic relationships or in a phase of reshaping your identity. It can also occur as a result of any uncertainty related to an important relationship or factor of your life (i.e. raising a teenager, diagnosis of a loved one, stress in a marriage, etc.).

It’s important to understand the ways stress can manifest in your life, so you can begin to identify them, then manage them accordingly to avoid long-term problems. Any combination of these stressors, particularly experienced over a long period of time, takes a BIG toll on your body.

Breaking the Cycle

The more tired you are, the lower the threshold you have for any stress. Your stores of mental, emotional and physical energy are depleted, and you cannot function. The less you can function optimally, the more stressed you’ll feel, which will further exhaust you, causing more stress. What a vicious cycle!

Here are a few tips that can help you manage extreme fatigue and chronic stress:
  1. BREATHE.
    Deep breathing is going to be your active stress management partner forevermore. It activates the relaxation nerve (vagus nerve) and gets the parasympathetic nervous system online, giving the sympathetic nervous system (the fight-or-flight response one) a break.
    When you’re feeling stressed, or you feel your blood pressure rising or your chest tightening, breathe. Focus on the area that is tight or otherwise talking to you, and breathe into that area. Mentally picture your breath flowing into that area. If you can close your eyes, and do this for 1-2 minutes, you’ll feel the difference.  Do this for 10-20 minutes a day, and you may accidentally develop a meditation practice. 🙂
  2. Take inventory.
    What are your stressors? List them.
    What can you let go of or delegate? Which items or activities can you postpone, avoid or say no to?
    What can you reframe in your mind to give you peace? Is there a belief, attitude or assumption that crops up in the moments you feel most stressed that would be in your best interest to change?
    Be aware of the underlying causes and take steps to change them.
  3. Tend to your stressors.
    What jumps out at you from the list that you feel most compelled to address? Trust your judgment as a guide to what to let go of, what to say no to, etc.
  4. Consider a few lifestyle changes.
    • Clean up your eating and upgrade your diet of processed, non-whole foods (i.e. soda, “diet” versions of food, crackers, candy, etc.) for better choices. Focus your grocery buying on the areas of the grocery store that are along the wall, i.e. produce section, fresh meats/cheese (go as cage-free, free range and organic as you can afford), etc. Minimize the amount of boxed or bagged foods you buy, particularly if the shelf-life is longer than two months. By fueling your body with better nutrients, you will allay some of the stress that might be caused by what you ingest while also giving your body the building blocks it needs to better combat the stress in other areas.
    • Cut back on sugar, caffeine and alcohol, which are counterproductive to reducing stress and anxiety.
    • Swap traditional cleaning and gardening supplies for better, non-toxic alternatives. Breathing in the fumes, vapors and chemicals in traditional cleaning products can contribute to auto-immune and allergic responses and hormone disruption.
    • Cultivate healthier relationships with friends and family who leave you feeling better when your time together is done. Speak up about your needs and allow loved ones to help you, even if that means cutting you some slack when you turn down invitations.
    • Find social or community outlets that allow you to learn new skills, like meditation, yoga, knitting, etc.
    • Talk to your doctor about critical nutrients you may be missing, like omega-3’s, B12, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Iron levels, all of which, when too low, lead to fatigue and brain fog.
      • Take a good quality multi-vitamin as a start, along with probiotics, which improve gut health. Mental stability and immune strength start in the gut; take care of it, and it will take care of you!
      • Look into adaptogenic herbs that help support the adrenal glands, like ashwaganda, holy basil, and rhodiola.
    • SLEEP! Good gracious, you need sleep more than ever, and it’s ok to go to bed early, say no to happy hours and take a nap on the weekends! Listen to your body and balance the need for social and community support with your need for rest.

The Main Takeaway for Fatigue & Stress Relief

Life can be stressful, and those stresses can take many shapes. Your individual tolerance for stress is unique to you, as are the ways to find relief. Take what you can from this list, apply it and tweak it as you learn what works. You are the most qualified to assess what you need.

One last thought: Avoid comparing yourself to others to determine what is “normal” or what you “should” be able to handle. Listen to your body and your instincts when you’re hitting a threshold. Ask for help, and be kind to yourself in your thoughts and activities.

If you don’t feel right after cleaning up your diet and lifestyle after a few months, see your doctor and ask him/her to offer more than medications to help you navigate this phase of fatigue.  Reach out to a health coach, who can help you translate any diagnosis into tangible, actionable steps, so you are stepping into optimal well-being without a slew of Rx’s.

Know someone who could use some stress relief? Share this post with them! We love our community and the knowledge you share with us. If you have a favorite stress tip, drop it into a comment below.

Wishing you a life filled with greens and grace … and peace in your mind and body!

Additional Reading: