Can a Disabled Person Lose Weight with a Keto Diet?

A little about me.
I am a disabled person living with a neuromuscular disease called Charcot Marie Tooth Disease (CMT). I have some of the rarer complications than many individuals who live with this genetic disease. I use a cane, walker, or power-chair depending on the weather conditions or activity I will be participating in. I also know I must lose weight if I am to continue to remain mobile.

I have extremely poor balance, and since birth I have experienced a slow progression of the loss of strength in my muscles, starting from the feet upwards and the hands upwards. This loss of muscle strength is due to my peripheral nervous system no longer functioning the way it was created to do. I wear orthopedic boots and braces whenever I leave my home.

I also have Gastroparesis which is a condition in which the spontaneous movement of the muscles (motility) in your stomach does not function normally. This form of Gastroparesis is probably related to CMT as my esophagus’ ability to squeeze food down to the gullet is affected as well as a lack of coordination in my swallowing mechanism. I don’t have any of the severe pain that many people have with these conditions. Thank goodness!

I underwent gallbladder surgery over 25 years ago, resulting in a minuscule bile production.  Bile is what our bodies use to help break down fat during digestion.

As a disabled person, I realized that if I wanted to continue to be able to stand and walk, I needed to find a safe way to ensure I lose weight gradually. I began researched Ketosis Dieting after my friends and relatives lost a significant amount of weight on the Keto Diet. They saw a marked improvement in their health.

When I researched the Keto Diet lifestyle, I discovered that this diet is often suggested to those with neurological disorders. About ten years ago, I was able to lose weight, over 130 pounds in all, but I did so in not the smartest of ways. By extreme dieting and starving myself, I dropped the weight but didn’t learn the life skills to keep the weight off. I found by following a Keto Diet; you learn how to maintain a low-carb lifestyle once you lose the weight you wish to lose.

Here are a few things I have discovered during the first nine weeks of living a Keto Diet Lifestyle. I have lost almost 18 lbs, and I’ve dropped a pant size. I have significantly more stamina while standing and working in my kitchen. At the beginning of this diet, I would have to sit every few minute due to the difficulty I have in keeping my balance while doing mundane tasks. I now only have to sit if I need to write something down or read a recipe. Yes, I want to lose weight, but I also want to live as active a lifestyle as I can.

Here are a few other things I have learned about myself in these nine weeks.

What works for ME and what doesn’t work for ME might not work for YOU.

First what works:

1. I remind myself to EAT MORE FAT. Fat in itself does not make me fat. It helps me feel satisfied. Feeling satisfied cuts my cravings, helping me to lose weight. Unhealthy fats such as oils that are chemically altered (trans fats) are fats I avoid. I use Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Cacao Butter, Animal Fats, and Butter as my main oils. I use dairy fats, such as heavy cream and cream cheese, in moderation.

2. I am forgetting about worrying about calorie deficits for now. Within two weeks of this diet, my body self-regulated and now tells me when I have had enough. I have a lot of weight to lose (80lbs at this point). When I get closer to my goal, then I will need to pull in the reins, but for now, I am not going to worry. I am by no means eating anywhere near what I used to eat in a day! I’m feeling quite satisfied at the end of every day. I made a self-imposed rule that my kitchen closes for business, outside of water, at 7:00 PM each evening. I have not yet been tempted to break that rule.

I eat under 20g of net carbs a day; I eat a moderate amount of protein a day as well. I used this calculator to figure out my daily macros.’ Macros are basically the amount of fat/protein/carbs that are recommended I consume each day. The Keto Diet dictates that 20g of carbs a day helps your body burn the fat you are storing. Too MUCH protein can cause your body to convert that extra protein to glucose which will stall weight loss as well. I have learned my digital food scale is my best friend for meal prep. Who knew grams were so much easier to calculate than cup measurements?

Net Carbs –  Look at all packaging of anything that goes in your mouth. By law, they have to list the carbs and/or sugar.  Take that number per serving (and serving sizes are always ridiculously small on any package. They are always way less than the average person would consider ‘a serving’.

Subtract any fibre listed from that first number. That is your net carb. You are allowed 20 net carbs per day for this diet to work.  If you go over that, the high-fat diet will just make you fatter. But sugars, both natural and added, is what made me fat. Cutting ALL grains (rice, wheat, oats, barley, quinoa, etc etc)  and starchy root vegetables dramatically made the difference.

3. I try to eat or drink most of my fat by mid-afternoon, and I have a lighter meal for my last meal.

4. I drink at least 80 oz of water throughout the day, and I don’t count coffee as a liquid.

5. I keep my carbs down to about 15g-20g net per day. I don’t freak out if I go up to 22g a day. It won’t throw me out of ketosis. Net carbs are calculated by just subtracting the fibre carbs from food from the gross carbs listed in the nutritional value of anything you consume. I use Cronometer an excellent online program that also has apps for IOS or Android. You can keep track of your calorie, fat, protein and carb intake and it will tell you how well you are doing in getting enough vitamins and minerals. I love the recipe feature, I’ve created a whack of personal recipes, which Cronometer stores, so I don’t have to be figuring out carbs every time I make something.

6. I make sure to get enough salt! I had to give up my repulsion of salt, My father was a salt addict and died of a massive heart attack due to his carb addiction combined with an abnormally high salt intake. I also take a potassium supplement and a magnesium supplement, daily.

7. I LISTEN TO MY BODY even when it is telling me something different than what armchair ‘experts’ on the Keto Diet would try to say to me.

What doesn’t work for ME

1. Eating too much bacon or any fatty food in one sitting is/was not good for my digestive system.(wah!!!)
The current digestive issues I experience from consuming too much fat at one meal will be fixed soon. I will be taking Ox Bile and another digestive aid. I had no idea I was supposed to be taking this! When I had my gall bladder out years ago, my doctors didn’t advise me about life without a gallbladder or follow-up on a diet plan. Many medical doctors now recommend that those without a gall bladder take this supplement with every fatty meal. Fortunately for those with ongoing gallbladder issues, there are medications and natural treatments that can help manage gallbladder issues that were not available to me 25 years ago.

2. I discovered that I cannot practice Intermittent Fasting, a common practice for many Keto dieters to help lose weight. I cannot fast beyond 15 hours a day. I have very slow motility (the rate your food moves through your digestive tract) due to a mechanical issue not related to weight issues. Eating one large meal a day made me sick to the point I had to broth fast for 24 hours.

As I progress in this new lifestyle, I will keep you up-to-date! While I want to lose weight, I want to gain knowledge!

©2016 Katherine Walden

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