Update: Follow @SeekingHealthLifeBalance on Facebook to see me go through the transition this week! I’ll post weigh-ins, ketone strip results, and what I’ve consumed.
Tom and I just spent a wonderful 4th of July weekend with our family up in Oregon. And we cheated. Bad. Not only going back to a high carb diet, but adding the extra desserts and alcohol splurge of a holiday weekend. It was fabulous and we feel awful. Not guilty awful, but physically awful. We have let go of being ashamed or guilt-ridden from a splurge. It happens and you are allowed to let it happen. It’s a vacation. But our stomachs and bodies feel terrible and we want to recover as fast as possible.
I think the most important part of a situation like this is the ability to accept it and let it go. No guilt, just move forward. Guilt will sometimes lead to continuing down a path that you don’t want to, rather than saying “oh, well”, and getting back on track. After four days of poor choices, we are ready to focus on getting back into ketosis and to feeling amazing. One of the things about the keto diet that I like compared to a Whole30 diet is that you don’t have this precisely timed setback. In Whole30, if you have a small little screw-up (accidently ingested some dairy), it sends you directly back to square one and you (supposedly) have to start all over because you’ve ruined any good that you’ve done and shame on you. Keto doesn’t have this progress-ruining theme to it. Just get back onto the meal plan and keep going, no reversal. So embrace what a fun trip or meal out with friends you had, and eat properly the next day. No big deal.
During the Cheat:
Knowing this trip was going to be bad for our bodies, I started taking extra ketones (enter link here) as a supplement. The primary reason is the unqualified theory that having ketones floating around in the body will make the transition back into nutritional ketosis easier. I’ve been taking a larger dose that I take at home since I knew this weekend would be rough (keto-wise). Tom chooses not to take ketone supplements, so it is definitely not mandatory.
We’re on the plane home as I write this and we have given ourselves permission to eat what we need to in order to not be nauseous. Because air sickness is no fun and who cares if that delays ketosis by a few more hours. If pretzels handed out by the flight attendants keep you from getting ill, then so be it.
Before we left Houston (actually three weekends ago), we pre-planned our dinners for this week in order to make returning on a Sunday afternoon easier, but we’re re-thinking them in order to lower our carb intake this week back to levels that take us into deep ketosis. We also put together a shopping list in advance to help us get through that unpleasant and mandatory post-trip errand. We’ll have adjust a few items on there, but it should be close to complete.
Recovery Week: Goal to Achieve Deep Nutritional Ketosis
To achieve deep ketosis, we will (try to) restrict our carb intake to 20 grams a day this week. We normally let it float up around the 50g range, but for recovery, we’re shooting for the strict ketogenic diet definition of 20g or less of carbs in a day.
Our breakfast shakes typically have 100g of strawberries or blackberries in them. This week, those will be cut out in order to spare 8 grams of carbs. 8 grams of carbs is a lot when you only get 20 g for the whole day. MCT oil in coffee, eggs and bacon, and afternoon cheese will definitely stay in our lunches as there are zero carbs in all of those. For lunch, we’ve mixed up our salad dressing again. We’re back to a homemade Greek salad dressing of olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice with some dill, which we prefer because we know every ingredient that goes into it. The salad itself has a justifiable number of carbs (~5 g) from vegetables that add good nutrients to our diet, so we won’t mess with that. The only questionable portion of our work food is the afternoon snack of almonds that we include. They have 3 carbs in them, so they’ll probably stay.
For my second afternoon snack, my pre-workout snack, I’ll probably have a second protein shake. It’s easy and I know I’m staying within the bounds of keto-friendly foods. Coconut milk has zero carbs, so that works perfectly. Put some Kiss My Keto Chocolate Protein powder in it and you have a Mounds bar for a snack and plenty of energy to teach Jazzercise and then attend Vinyasa Power Yoga.
Our dinners will be lean, because we want to calorie restrict to work off any additional pounds we picked up on our trip (I’m afraid to step on the scale). Since we didn’t have this past weekend to meal prep and Sunday afternoon/evening will be filled with unpacking, playing with our dogs, running to the store, and lunch prep for the week.
We had pre-planned on eating zuchinni noodles with spaghetti sauce that we made and froze a couple weeks ago, but that’s relatively high-carb, so we’ll push that leftover out a week or two, and focus on the very low carb. Our other pre-planned dinner was some old leftover carnitas that have perhaps been in the freezer a bit too long. We’re good on carbs there as those carnitas as they are made from a fatty pork shoulder and we can put them with lettuce and green salsa (nearly zero carbs) and our low carb tortillas. Perhaps served with a side of coleslaw and avocado.
Fortunately, I had the foresight to put an extra meal idea on the list that we can now move in to replace the spaghetti. I keep both a paper notebook of meal ideas as well as a list on my phone (for when I have ideas away from home) which is helpful to review when struggling for ideas of what to cook. So, brats and onions are on the list! Paired with coleslaw and an avocado to round out a full meal. Finally, we’ll have one night of fish or shrimp, which we keep handy in the freezer.
If we get a sweet tooth, we’ll have a small bowl of Rebel brand ice cream. If you haven’t tried Rebel, it’s wonderful. It’s made of real cream and sugar alcohol, so it’s very low carb (like 5-8 g for the WHOLE PINT depending on the flavor) and very creamy. It’s available in select grocery stores, our local HEB being one of them, but you can also order it online. I haven’t tried online ordering yet to see how delivering ice cream in the summer in Houston works out, but online delivery is available.
Our food plan may sound like a typical series of meals, but we’ll be cutting some key carbs that we enjoy when we’re not in recovery mode. This coming week (or two) we’ll be skipping the dark chocolate and raspberry dessert which adds about 10 g of carbs, the strawberries in our morning protein shakes (8 g of carbs), and at least one serving of almonds (3 g of carbs) every day.
Recovery: Other Tricks to Transitioning
One of the most important elements of recovery is hydration! As we transition back into ketosis, it is absolutely necessary to stay well hydrated and to keep our electrolyte levels balanced. Two of the main causes of the keto flu that people experience is dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Drinking plenty of water and adding some electrolyte mixes or supplements into it will help keep those nasty side effects away. If the keto flu is something you fear, definitely purchase some electrolyte mixes before starting the transition. We like two different drinks. Tom likes the Kiss My Keto Electrolyte Mix which is berry flavored. It’s good, but berry flavored drinks aren’t my favorite. I prefer the Ultima Lemonade mix. There are different levels in the electrolytes between the two drinks, so do carefully read labels when chosing one and be aware that you might need to drink more of one brand that you would of another.
The next best thing to do for the transition is to exercise! The more you exercise, the more glycogen you burn, the faster you move into ketosis. I’ve got my classes all scheduled in order to expedite my transition.
The one other extra thing I will do is continue to take ketone supplements every morning to get that extra boost and to have ketones running around in my bloodstream even when I’m still burning glycogen. I want those ketones already feeding the body parts that prefer them, like the brain, before full ketosis.
How Do We Know when We’re in Ketosis
I’ve transitioned in and out of ketosis a number of times. My biggest clue that I’m re-entering ketosis is the frequency that I have to go to the bathroom. As all your carb stores (glycogen) are used up and not replenished, your body releases the water that was bonded to those glycogen molecules. That makes you pee a lot, like every half hour or so for me. Although annoying, it is satisfying knowing you are crossing into ketosis and will be back to your fat burning self soon.
We’ll also be using our ketone testing strips for validation that we are in ketosis. We’ll take that daily each morning an see how deep we can get. We’re looking for the dark purples this time. They’re a cheap way to check or validate whether you really are in ketosis or not.
I loved being on vacation and seeing everyone and spending time with them, but I am looking forward to getting back into ketosis in order to feel more energetic, less muscle soreness and random pain, less inflammation, and a leaner stomach as the carb bloat goes away.
Thanks for reading!