Episode 074: Naomi's Keto Quick Start
Back in Episode 068, I was joined by New York Times Best-selling author Diane Sanfilippo, who joined me for a discussion on the ketogenic diet and her new book, “Keto Quick Start.”
A week after that episode aired, I embarked on my own experiment following the Keto Quick Start 30-Day Meal Plan. It was my first time following a keto-focused program and in this podcast episode, I’m sharing all about my experience with it.
In this episode I take you behind-the-scenes and share:
The backstory and thought-process of why I chose to embark on this experiment
How I prepared to set myself up for success
My biggest takeaways and challenges
Answers to your most commonly asked questions!
I documented my daily eats over on Instagram which you can check out by searching for the hashtag: #naomisketoquickstart!
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Click Here to Read the Episode Transcript...
Hello my friend, and welcome back to The Live FAB Life Podcast! I’m your host, Naomi Nakamura.
So six episodes ago, back in Episode 068, I was joined by Diane Sanfilippo, who came on the show to talk about the ketogenic diet and her new book, “Keto Quick Start.”
Though I didn’t say it on that episode, I had already planned to do the 30-day meal plan in it and if you’ve been following me on Instagram, then you know that since January 7th, I followed that plan and today, I’m giving you a recap on my experience with it.
If you didn’t listen to Episode 068 and you have no idea who Diane is or what Keto Quick Start is about, let me briefly explain, but be sure to go back and listen to Episode 068 because its a good one! So briefly, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate protein and low-carb way of eating. Its a form of nutritional therapy for brain injuries, blood sugar regulation, certain type of neurological disorders and a number of other health issues. It’s become the latest trending diet and there are many ways of approaching it. Diane Sanfilippo is the New York Times best-selling author of the wildly popular book Practical Paleo and the author and creator of the 21-Day Sugar Detox, which you know that I am a certified coach for. Keto Quick Start is her latest book and like her other books, she takes a very practical, logical, easy-to-understand, non-dogmatic approach to it. And not only does the book include delicious recipes that a cooking novice like me can make, but it always has educational material and tools on how to take action and try a keto diet. Last week I finished the 30 meal plan in the book and today, I’m sharing all about my experience with it and also answering the most commonly asked questions I received while following the plan. But before I dive into my experience, I want to share with you the back story on why I embarked on this experiment and it’s two-fold:
First, the ketogenic diet is a form of nutritional therapy. It’s an effective solution to for certain clients and in order for me to feel comfortable supporting them through it, I felt that I needed to have some first-hand experience with it myself.
I do my best coaching work when I’ve experienced what I recommend to my clients, so part of my motivation in following the Keto Quick Start meal plan was for professional reasons.
But there were also very personal reasons too as it related to healing my own body.
As I’ve shared many times, a few years ago, after following a gluten-free, dairy-free diet for a while, running long distances training for marathons, and even working with a personal trainer twice a week, I found myself slow to recover from my workouts, injured often, slowly gaining weight, suffering with terrible digestive problems, and ultimately struggling with a number of hormonal imbalances.
For the next several years, I’ve worked closely with a number of allopathic, integrative and functional medicine doctors and other licensed practitioners to peel back the layers and figure out why there was so much dysfunction going on in my body.
But while doing so, my body continued to retain stubborn weight piquing with about a 40-pound weight gain.
After losing a little more than that back in 2004 doing even less than I had been doing it was really confusing to me.
Now, I understand that talking about weight can be a triggering topic, but I want to point out that this was a 40-pound weight gain when I wasn’t eating a standard American diet, when I was working out regularly with a personal trainer, and eating healthier than I ever had in my life.
No, this wasn’t a 2, 5 or 10-pound weight gain here, which was something that used to stress me about to no-end for years but now in hindsight, really wasn’t that big a deal.
This time it’s a 40-pound weight gain, which is not healthy, nor normal, especially for someone, strived to practice healthy habits.
It was scary to see the scale keep climbing, despite trying so many different things that my doctors, practitioners, and peers recommended. And it was frustrating because NONE of my clothes fit anymore, not even my stretchy workout clothes. It made me feel so self-conscious and affected my budget because NONE of my clothes fit anymore.
And the fact that nothing I did seemed to help and my doctor was confused by this, left me feeling helpless, worried and stressed.
Then one day, about five months ago, I was working out at the gym while listening to the Balanced Bites podcast, specifically Episode #364 with Amy Medling, who’s known as the PCOS Diva.
Now I know what PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is, but I didn’t have a lot of its traditional symptoms so it’s not something that I or my wellness team considered as something I might be struggling with. But in that episode, Amy talked about atypical symptoms of PCOS and much of what she described, was what was happening to me!
I’m not an overly emotional person, and certainly not a crier, but as I was listening to her, I started crying in the middle of the gym while doing deadlifts because I felt a mixture of relief that there was might actually be answers to what was going on with me and that there was someone on this planet who understood and could relate to what I was going through when everyone else was scratching their heads in confusion. This is going to sound weird, but it was a welcomed relief.
Now I need to clarify that I haven’t been clinically diagnosed with PCOS and to be quite honest, I don’t think I need to be because when we take a functional approach to heal, no matter what conditions you’re diagnosed with, there are commonalities in the first steps that we take, in what we call Tier 1, to address it, of course with a few tweaks here and there depending on each person’s individual situation.
And what I mean by this is that we back things up, going back to the core basics - diet, hydration, sleep, community, resilience, etc.
Now while I had been working with my wellness team, I a ton of lab work done: food sensitivities, stool tests, SIBO lactulose breath tests, thyroid panels, organic acids, heavy metal testing, non-metal toxins testing, you name it.
And what we concluded from a number of the lab results was that I was showing signs of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. For whatever reason, I had higher levels of glucose in my blood, meaning blood sugar which was confusing for me because I don’t eat added, processed or refined sugar!
There is a strong history of metabolic syndrome in my family but I thought I had taken great strides to avoid it for myself. Now, another symptom that I’ve never shared with anyone is that I was to get skin tags, some of which were painful, which is also a symptom of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
This scared the crap out of me!
Now being a 21-Day Sugar Detox coach, I pretty much eat 21DSD-compliant most of the time. On occasion, I will have rice, especially when going out for sushi. It's rare to have gluten-free pasta or grains but from time-to-time, I will have it. I do not tolerate dairy at all, but as those of you who know me well, you know that I do enjoy my Pressed Juicery freezes, which if you don’t know what a Pressed Juicery freeze it, it’s essentially a 5-ingredient juice put through a soft-serve machine. It gets me through the hot summer.
I also like my Paleo-friendly snacks, Simple Mills cookies and I absolutely love a good pop tart from Mariposa Bakery, a local gluten-free bakery.
So while I may be gluten-free and dairy-free 100% of the time, I was probably sugar-free about 85%. Whether it was a better source of sugar, sugar is sugar and all sugar turns to carbs which then affects your glucose - your blood sugar which then affects your insulin and how it functions in your body.
One of the recommended nutritional therapies for insulin resistance is a ketogenic diet because it is low carb. In fact, I have several peers who tried it and made phenomenal progress in their healing.
So last year, I thought, “I’m going to do it!” And I got two books to get started with. I kid you not, I found the books very overwhelming. The information was presented in a way that felt very complicated, I mean, not being able to tolerate dairy, I wondered if I could actually follow this diet. I could not get past the first chapter of either book. Womp, womp.
But shortly thereafter, Diane announced she was writing a beginners guide to keto and I could not have been more ecstatic because I know her work and I know how she presents information and how she approaches things. I mean, after all, I coach clients based on her work. So I told myself that I’d wait for it to come out.
I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of the book a few weeks before it came out and I really dove into it. During the holidays I tried a few recipes out - and then picked January 7th as my starting day.
Why not January 1st? This is a question I got a few times -- Truth? Because I don’t like to do what everyone else does. That’s it. No other reason.
When January 5th and 6th rolled around, I was super excited to get started because in truth, the last time I followed a meal plan like this was the first time I did the 21-Day Sugar Detox a long, long time ago, and the last time I did a program for this long was the first and only time I did Whole 30.
That weekend before I looked over the plan, took inventory of what groceries I already had, made a list of what groceries I needed, ordered them online - yes, I grocery shop online from Good Eggs and have my groceries delivered to me - Quality Time is one of my love languages and anything I do to save me time is what I’m all about.
I also printed out the tracker worksheets that she uses in the book and I was all set to get started!
The first week was AMAZING! Seriously it was because - and this is perhaps the number one thing I loved about eating this way is that I WAS NEVER HUNGRY!
Let me explain.
Yes, I work from home, and my desk is just a few steps from my kitchen. But that doesn’t mean I’m able to eat all day. There have been so many days where I simply did not have time for lunch because I didn’t have leftovers and didn’t have time to put something together.
There have been many other times where my meals just weren’t well balanced, too carb heavy and not enough protein and fat, which is what satiates us, and I found myself hungry in between meals and looking for snacks. Because keto a high-fat low carb with lots of protein way of eating, satiety is something you can look forward to! Throughout the entire 30 days, I never felt hungry. And that is something that astounds me.
From this, I learned to truly check in with myself. During that first week, I would mosy on into the kitchen looking for something to eat because it was “time” to eat. Usually, after a conference call I’ll hang up and then go and look for a snack but I truly had to check in with myself and ask, “Am I really hungry right now?” and the answer was always no! I was looking for food out of habit, not hunger.
Another thing I realized is that tracking for me serves a purpose.
I have an unhealthy history with counting calories and it triggers a lot of unhealthy behaviors and mindsets in me, but using the Savvy tracker, which does not count calories, I was able to identify days when I was really undereating in when it came to protein and fats and I could correlate that to how I felt that day.
Now let me say because I was asked this a lot, I did not measure myself to see if I was in ketosis. I have the monitor that measures both blood sugar and ketones, but I find it pesky and annoying and when I’ve used it in the past, I always had to keep repricking my finger, which is never fun.
So in terms of measuring and tracking, all I did was use the Savvy Tracker to ensure that I was eating enough grams of protein and fats and just enough carbs for what my specific goals were. And the book helps you calculate what your targets are.
So the tracking helped me see how it held me accountable, which is something I realized in later weeks when I didn’t track - I definitely realized the value of it then, but it also helped me see how underfed I was and how unbalanced my diet was.
One question I got asked a lot about was keto flu.
I didn’t experience this at all. Perhaps its because I already practiced a real foods diet and was mostly sugar-free? I don’t know. But I didn’t feel any effects of it.
I do want to touch on the fact that I was already following a real foods diet. Remember diet is just a way of eating.
So there weren’t huge changes to my diet that I had to make, but the ones that I did make were significant for me. For example, no more Pressed Juicery freezes. While it was sugar-free, it wasn’t carb free. And I mean, I LIVED for PJ freezes. The closest one to me is only about 15 minutes away but with traffic, and you know the San Francisco Bay Area has some of the worst traffic, I’m typically only able to go to Stanford, where Pressed Juicery is at on the weekends. But man did I take advantage of the weekends - Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I’d justify it by saying, “Well its not every day.” But when being a Pressed Juicery member, I’d get their membership deals and end up with five or six juices at home, so yeah, it was every day. This made me realize that there is a huge difference between eating for nutrient density versus eating to avoid bad foods. And this is a topic that we’re going to get into in two episodes.
Some other tweaks to my diet were: No kombucha. I’m sure I could have fit it in by limiting how many grams of it I drank, but other than one night when I only had four ounces of it, I avoided it altogether. This was huge for me because I realized I drank so much of it, it was becoming a problem. Again, kombucha is good for you, until it isn’t. I also avoided plantains, sweet potatoes, potatoes, gluten-free buns - again, better carb options, but carbs none the less.
These were not hugely difficult changes, but still, things I had to adjust to. And it was a good reset that I very much needed.
So after one week, I’d lost three pounds. You guys, this was huge for me. After not being able to lose a single pound and in fact gaining 40 over the span of a couple of years, the fact that I lost three in one week was eye-opening.
The following week I lost another three. And in addition to that, I felt like a surge of energy that I had not felt in about ten years. It truly was amazing and served as a testament to me that this approach is what my body needs right now.
What I also loved was seeing how much money I was saving because Pressed Juicery and kombucha are expensive. So just not having those two things alone saved me so much money every week.
Plus, I didn’t eat out. In the entire 30 days, I only ate out once, when I usually either dine out or get takeout 1-3 times a week. My only instance of a non-homecooked meal was ordering takeout from Roam Burger, which is a local burger place. Eating only home-cooked meals wasn’t intentional, but in following the meal plan, it just turned out that way. So that was also a money saver.
One tip that I’ll share with you that helped set me up for success came by just sheer coincidence. When I started Keto Quick Start on January 7th, I had just received my bi-monthly subscription of Butcher Box. If you’re not familiar with Butcher Box, it’s like Amazon’s subscribe and save but for animal protein. You pick how often you want a box delivered and what goes in your box. Using it is a cost saving for me so having my freezer stocked with ground beef, chicken, steak, pork, and I also had a delivery from Vital Choice which almost the same thing but for really high-quality seafood, I think was huge in helping me stick with the program.
The most challenging time for me came in the third week. I think it because I got away from using the Savvy Tracker. I got lazy and I lost the acute awareness that came with tracking. That’s when I found myself to take corners. Not to higher carb foods but to skip meals and start to under eat again. That was the most challenging time of the entire process for me.
So to summarize:
Altogether I lost seven pounds in 30 days which is unbelievable considering what I struggled with for the past few years. I felt more energized than I had in a decade. I had more clarity - I feel like I’d been lifted from a fog I slept better, although sleep continues to be a struggle for me But all of these things have helped me to feel more productive - to get the gym more often, to be more effective and productive in my work and everything feels lighter and brighter.
Now I want to shift a little and answer some of the questions I got during and after the 30 days:
- Why are you following a fad diet? You should try mindful eating?
I think by now you understand what my intentions were for doing this program and that it wasn’t to follow a fad diet. There’s a quote in the book that I love, “Trying something new isn’t a fad; it’s being open-minded and experimenting to find out what works best for you.” Isn’t that how you learn how to be mindful? I have a lot of thoughts on mindful eating that I’m going to be addressing in an upcoming episode, but what I have to say is, if you don’t know what works for you, how can you be mindful of it?
I was terrified of trying keto. Three years ago when I was still suffering from digestive issues, my stool test came back indicating that I wasn’t digesting fats very well and I took Lypazyme, a digestive enzyme for months while working on my gut health. I truly didn’t know how my body would react to eating keto given that history, but given the other things in my body I’m trying to heal, I had to give it a try and I’m so glad I did. Because now I know it works for me at the time. Will it work for me forever? I don’t know, but I can only focus on right now and it works for me right now.
- Is Keto safe/ok if you have high cholesterol? I just had my physical and my cholesterol is elevated (in the borderline range), but my HDL is pretty good (could stand to be higher).
There’s a lot of myths out there about cholesterol and this isn’t the episode to get into the details of it. But if its something you want us to have a discussion on, go ahead and let me know and I’ll be happy to dedicate an episode to this. But what I will say is that some cholesterol is essential for your body to function. And eating saturated fats and cholesterol will not raise your cholesterol. Health and lifestyle factors that may impact your cholesterol markers are:
- Active/chronic infections
- Oxidized fat
- Excess alcohol
- Excess body fat
- Excess carbohydrates and sugar
- Food sensitivities/allergies
- Heavy metal toxicity
- Hormone imbalance
- Micronutrient deficiencies
- Poor gut health
Just to name a few. So I would say following Keto Quick Start would be safe because you’re not eating gluten or sugar, low carbs and eating recipes with foods that are very nutrient dense - so it could actually help.
- What was your favorite meal from keto quick start?
Oh, this is such a hard question because there’s so many to choose from. I think I’ll have to go with the Meat and Greens bowl because it is SO easy to make, it’s quick so its great for a weeknight but it also reminds me of spaghetti which was such a comfort food for me, and it tastes really good!
- Since you’re dairy-free, did you find it difficult to adhere to eating Keto?
While dairy is a part of a ketogenic diet, I can’t tolerate it, so I did not have it. It wasn’t difficult for me because Diane writes her recipes to accommodate for common modifications that people may need to make.
So every recipe in the book that did include a dairy ingredient had a tip on how to modify it to be dairy-free, so no, I didn’t find it difficult.
I’m also used to eating dairy-free so I know common substitutes, like nutritional yeast. I used it in a few recipes that called for cheese.
- Do you think this is a sustainable way of eating for you?
I do think its a sustainable way of eating for me. As I mentioned, there were just a few tweaks I had to make and it really reset me from eating too many Paleo treats.
That being said, if I want a Pressed Juicery freeze, I’m going to have one. I may not have it on Friday, Saturday and Sunday while bringing home 3 Blue Lemonade juices and 3 Chocolate almond juices, but I may have a freeze, and for those of you familiar with the freezes, a size 2, always, once a week.
I also won’t feel guilty eating a piece of fruit from time to time. After quitting sugar, I actually don’t eat a lot of fruit anymore anyways, other than berries, but I won’t feel guilty having an orange or an apple now and then.
Now that I’ve done this exercise, I am more aware and have been able to collect more data as to how my body feels and reacts to this way of eating which then now allows me to eat more intuitively. But how could I be intuitive and mindful if I didn’t go through this exercise to begin with? How would I know if it was in fact truth versus my ego telling me how I want it to feel?
- What’s the most surprising thing you learned about how your body tolerates keto?
The most surprising thing was that I was able to tolerate higher amounts or I guess more concentrated amounts of fats in my diet. As I said, I wasn’t tolerating or digesting fats very well just a few short years ago. And I could tell because there would be fat deposits in my stool. Remember, your poop tells you a lot about what’s going on in your body and my stool test indicated this digestion problem. So with a lot of gut healing and taking digestive enzymes to help with that, its gone a long way to healing my gut so I was pleasantly surprised to learn how well my body tolerated the lower amount of carbs replaced by fats and protein.
- What has been the most surprising then you’ve experienced doing keto?
The amount of energy I feel. I’m not kidding when I say its like I’ve awakened from a haze. I don’t remember feeling this energized in ten years. It’s amazing and with that refound energy I’m able to work out more, be less grouchy and show better for myself, my work, my people. It’s astounding.
The other thing is not feeling hungry. I just can’t tell you how huge this is for me. I’m someone who’s always thinking about my next meal and sometimes felt like so much of my life was centered around food. Always having to have snacks in my handbag when I leave the house, always making sure something was being defrosted to cook, so just to feel satiated all the time was a way of finding food freedom and for those who know me, you know that freedom is one of my most valued gifts to have and this was one way of finding more freedom.
- If you could go back a month and give yourself advice on Day 1, what would it be?
Keep up with the tracking. I got lazy and stopped for a little over a week but I see the value in it and my behaviors “slacked” when I didn’t use the SAVVY tracker.
I would also say to pay a little closer to attention to some of the recipes because there were a few days where I didn’t plan appropriately and had to modify at the last minute.
Oh and modify the recipes to adjust the serving size. There were some recipes that I ended up eating for days because I had so much of it.
So that’s it - that’s my experience doing the Keto Quick Start 30-day plan.
Again, if you’re curious about who this is ideal for and who it’s not or you just want to hear the thought-process and genesis of how this book came to be, go back and give Episode 068 a listen.
Then go get the book, give it a read and if you think it’s a good fit for you, give the 30-day plan a try and then come back and tell me about it!
Once again, thank you so much for listening! Quality time is one of my love languages (along with Words of Affirmation), so you taking the time to listen to me every week means so much to me and I so appreciate it!
I’ll see you right back here next week!
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Naomi Nakamura is a certified Holistic Health Coach who takes a holistic approach through functional nutrition. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, coaching programs, and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with acne and other chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop! Connect with Naomi at: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest.