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Low carb diets aren’t for everyone, especially not ketogenic diets. The rules are limiting, it can be difficult to find suitable foods on the go (especially if you have food allergies!), and then there’s the whole panic stirred up in the general media from time to time about which diet will kill you and when and how. Yeah, low carb diets got the short end of the stick in that last scenario a few too many times.
But anyway, despite the swirling negativity that seems to surround low carbohydrate, sugar-free living, I know that this diet – or rather, this lifestyle – works for me.
It’s not about weight.
I can’t stress enough how not-about-weight eating a low carb high fat (often ketogenic) diet is for me. I’ll admit that years ago, I did begin this way of eating to see if it would help me maintain a healthier weight. It did. Shortly after starting, however, I realized how much further the benefits extended.
Low carb = better digestion (for me!)
Like most people, I’m prone to candida overgrowth. What’s candida? Well, it’s a yeast in your small intestine, and when it grows out of control, it’s bad news bears. What can keep this in check? Good bacteria (yeah, that microbiome I keep obsessing about), and limiting sugar. Good bacteria functions in a way that helps to control the yeast population by keeping things in balance (it’s an ecosystem, basically). And reducing sugar eliminates a fuel source for the candida. Fabulous!
Candida overgrowth brings with it myriad symptoms (fatigue, brain fog, recurring yeast infections/UTIs), in varying degrees of “blah,” and so reducing the fuel source, and curbing the growth of this yeast can bring about dramatic improvements. I’ve noticed that with myself at least!
Low Carb = Reduced Inflammation
Inflammation in the body is another way of saying “fluid buildup.” Now, in addition to making you feel gross and swollen, inflammation can lead to joint pain, tightness, stiffness and general soreness. When I eat a high carbohydrate diet, I notice that my inflammation increases. My joints become sore, my fingers feel stiff, and my skin very easily adopts “sock lines” and takes on imprints of whatever is near it – a sure sign of edema (water retention), and inflammation.
But, inflammation goes beyond our joins and skin – this water retention occurs everywhere, and can put pressure on important systems in our bodies, reducing our ability to function and feel good. Boo!
So, why is sugar so inflammatory? It basically comes down to sugar leeching key nutrients from your body, and generally wreaking havoc. Sugar consumption also leads to water retention. All in all, no good.
Low carb = Improved Immune Symptoms
I’ve got some autoimmune conditions that continually pose a bit of a challenge, between endometriosis, Raynaud’s syndrome and PCOS, my body has enough to deal with. Sugar, in part due to its inflammatory nature and hormone disruption, exacerbates all of my symptoms. While my symptoms don’t go away eating a low carb or ketogenic diet, they certainly diminish. And that’s really exciting! Not eating sugars can mean the difference between me spending days in bed with nauseating cramps that are so bad I think I’m going to pass out, and me barely even realizing my cycle is about to begin. Huge difference.
Low carb = Improved Mood
Sugar consumption creates an insulin spike. Insulin is a hormone, and all hormones are connected. When your hormones are out of whack, it impacts mood (see: PMS), hunger, satiety, and general well being. Feeling tired and worn down? Depressed? Irrationally angry when you don’t eat? Try giving up sugar and starchy carbohydrates for a while and notice the changes!
So, while everyone might have a different reason for sticking with a low carbohydrate diet, this is a brief introduction to some of mine!
Keep calm and keto on, friends.