When I first started exploring the ketogenic diet I quickly found out that there are a lot of different opinions on whether or not women should eat carbs.
One side of the fence clearly states no. The other clearly states yes. And there’s a whole bunch of grey area in between that will tell you it’s best to eat some carbs every day, or every week or once a month or whatever.
I heard that carbs are good to get you past weight stalls, and I also heard that carbs were the very thing that would stop you losing weight. I found it all very frustrating.
You Need to Figure Out What’s Right for You, Each and Every Day…
I spent a long time trying to figure out what the right answer was. I wanted to know definitively what was the best way for me to eat for optimal health, energy, and weight loss. I wanted to know the EXACT number of carbs I should be eating so I could just stick with it.
I started out with a month of pure keto, keeping my carbs under 20g every day and not an ounce above. And I felt great. Really great. And then I fell off the wagon (which I did so many times in the beginning!).
When I started eating keto again, by the time I got to day 9 I was a complete mess. I felt stressed, wired, and basically like I wanted to punch somebody. Something seemed to have gone wrong, yet I was doing the same thing as before.
This is when I realised that our diets are not separate entities to the rest of our lives. You see, in that first month I didn’t have a lot of work deadlines, it was summer and I was sleeping well. However when I got back on the wagon and tried again, I hadn’t been sleeping well, I had a lot of work stress to deal with and various other things.
My life was different and so my body reacted differently to my diet.
Eat What You Need
I started to understand that we need to tailor our diets to our lives and not just to some mythical numbers.
With the help of Leanne Vogel, I created a way of eating for myself that was a reaction to my life as opposed to something that came before my life.
I started eating according to my needs.
At the time, because I wasn’t sleeping well and was dealing with a lot of stress and some adrenal fatigue, it became imperative for me to add a few carbs to my evening meals 2-3 times a week or I just wouldn’t sleep. Now, I can go for weeks eating pure keto – that is, keeping my carbs under 20g a day. But if for one reason or another my stress levels are going up, I know that it’s best for me to add in a few carbs here and there to keep me at optimal health.
The great thing about all this was I discovered that it’s so much more fun and relaxing to eat in a way that is all about listening to your body, being aware of your life circumstances and nourishing your body accordingly. I love the fact that I can take advantage of the low carb, fat burning state on a daily basis, but, I can also have a sweet potato with butter now and then in the evening to soothe and comfort my system if I need it.
Much of my recent keto journey has been about letting go of obsessive measuring, counting, and weighing, and instead, tapping into my intuitive knowledge of my body and my health. And I’m so much happier for it.
If you’re in a position of trying to determine what carb levels are best for you right now, Chris Kresser has an excellent article on his site which covers this. You can read it here.
And this is a video from Leanne telling you the signs to look our for that could mean it’s time to have a carb-up.
Essentially, what I have found is that women are more likely to benefit from adding some carbs to their diet now and then. We have a very complex hormonal balance which can go awry quite easily in times of stress. That’s not to say that every woman needs to add carbs now and then, but a lot do.
If you want delve more deeply into intuitive keto eating, I highly recommend Leanne Vogel’s Fat Fuelled Eating plan.
The bottom line is, it’s not just a case of finding THE best way for you to eat. It’s having the ability to be flexible so that you can live your life in optimal health no matter what your circumstances.