So, somewhere in my third week of Keto, I got my period and experienced some of the worst cramps I have ever had in my life. It was awful. I could hardly walk at the end of the day and crawled to our bathroom to take the hottest Epsom salt bath with lavender oil I could stand. I think I stayed in the bath for an hour before I crawled into bed that night. It was terrible!
Now, this really caught me by surprise, because I have been lucky in that my periods have historically been light and not too uncomfortable. I would get the occasional cramping and lower back pain on my first day, but all and all, my cycle has been regular and easy. So, when I got this intense of cramping, I thought, something serious is going on.
The next day, thank goodness, I woke up feeling fine and remained fine the rest of the week. So, I began a little more research into what the Keto diet means for women and how it can differ from men. Most of my resources going into this diet have been from my husband, a man, so his overall take on health, hormone balance, and diet as a man is different from me as a woman. I knew this going into the diet that we are different and might adapt differently to the Keto diet. I had also heard testimonials from women struggling at first to balance their hormones on the Keto diet, but I have to admit, it really slapped me in the face that I needed to pay more attention to my own needs as a woman going into the Keto diet.
So, I began researching the Keto diet for women and found some great resources! First I found out about Leanne Vogel, who not only has a website, Healthful Pursuit, with a blog of her experiences as a woman on the Keto diet with meal plans and how-to podcasts, but she has also published three books on her experience. I have a hold on her third book available at our public library. I’m excited to get more information about her Keto experience from a woman’s perspective.
On one of Vogel’s podcasts, I was also introduced to another resource: Beth Manos Brickey with her website called Tasty Yummies. Her website is also full of recipes, meal plans, health and well-being tips, and so forth. She is a certified nutritionist for holistic health and has a neat approach to diet, well-being, and health that is flexible and fluid and not as rigid as the Keto diet may seem. For example, while she was hiking one day, and it was a big summit hike I might add, she kept refusing to eat the sandwiches that were brought by her friends because they weren’t Keto. However, throughout the hike, she kept getting lower and lower energy levels to the point where she did not feel good, as she had not brought enough Keto foods with her. And she thought to herself, “Duh, I feel bad because I’m hungry. Eat the damn sandwich.” And so she did, and she was able to enjoy the rest of the hike. It’s not always about sticking to everything rigidly all the time. It’s about being present in the moment and giving your body what it needs at that time.
Overall, from their two websites, I was able to gather that many women may need more carb refeed days than men, and to not be afraid to try a carb meal even after three weeks of strict Keto. One day of carbs or one meal of carbs will not bring back the “Keto Flu” and it’s good to give your body a shock and something different every once in awhile. It’s ok to break away from the mold on occasion, while continuing to listen to your body and its needs.
Since this week we are testing our upper limits of carb-intake to stay in ketosis, I will wait to try a carb refeed day until next week when we hit our 1 month mark. I will also definitely plan a carb refeed day around my next period and see if that helps with the symptoms and cramping.
It is so important to carefully listen to your body during this transition. I can’t stress that enough! Definitely give yourself time to think, reflect, and listen to your body. You can learn so much by just paying attention.
Onwards to completing our first month of Keto!