How a keto cleanse has changed our diet for the better

We began our journey with the Keto diet about 4 months ago with our plan to do a ‘Keto cleanse,’ which we shared about in Cleansing Your Way to Exceptional Health – Part 1. At that time, our intention was to try the diet for 2 weeks as a nutritional approach to cleansing for our bodies. We were feeling so great that we decided to keep going and ended up continuing with a strict Keto diet for much longer than planned. We are now choosing a more moderate low-carbohydrate approach and moving forward, we expect this will be our new norm. We’ve learned a lot through the process and value the awareness we’ve gained regarding the impact and effect of carbohydrates in our diet. It has increased our knowledge and powerfully shifted our approach to nutrition and food choices.

What is a Keto diet?

‘Keto’ is short for ‘ketogenic,’ a high-fat, low carbohydrate diet that has the potential to turn your body into a fat-burning machine.

The Keto diet changes the way your body extracts energy from food. When you consume carbohydrates (like bread and pasta), your body breaks down these larger molecules and transforms them into glucose. Glucose is then either used as an immediate source of energy or is converted into glycogen or fat for longer term storage. Eating more fat and minimal carbohydrates shifts the metabolic process and your body starts drawing energy from fat instead of carbohydrates. When your body isn’t getting much glucose directly from your diet, your liver starts using body fat and fat from your diet instead.  This process creates molecules called ketones which can serve as an alternative source of fuel and shifts us into ketosis, aka prime fat-burning mode.

The Keto diet is simple: eat mostly fats (about 75% of your daily calories), some protein (about 20% of your calories) and a very small amount of carbohydrates (about 5% of your calories). This is the general breakdown and will work for most people. Some people will need to adjust the numbers to be sure they’re burning fat and you can check this by testing for ketone bodies in your urine.  Do this by using ketone body test strips that will show you what’s actually happening with your metabolism.

Why Keto?

Rob and I regularly cleanse our bodies to gain some perspective around our current diet and nutrition and also to give the body a chance to boost the process of detoxification. This time we chose to try a ‘Keto cleanse’ for a few reasons. First, we’ve been hearing about Keto for a long time. Many people we know have tried it and found positive results for themselves. Second, there are a number of people online and in the chiropractic community that we respect and have trusted for years who suggest that Keto and/or low-carb diets are the healthiest diets (for many people) and offer the highest levels of performance (check out Dave Asprey at and Dr. Joseph Mercola at ). Additionally, as chiropractors and health professionals, we like to be informed about dietary practices and we feel the best way to do that is to experience them in our bodies. We’ve learned about this approach, have seen a lot of positive research coming out and thought it was time to give it a try for ourselves.

What appealed to us about this diet was the idea of having even more stable energy throughout the day. When we ingest carbohydrates there’s a spike in blood sugar levels. The more refined the carbohydrate (like sugar, which is pure glucose), the larger the spike. Less refined carbohydrates like whole grains create less of a spike because they are not as rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. These more complex carbohydrates require more processing and this creates an opportunity for the body to understand and take inventory of the amount and type of energy coming in. We can see these effects profoundly in children with the ‘sugar-rush’. Think about how kids zoom around for 20-minutes after eating a piece of birthday cake and then crash. How about when you eat a big bowl of pasta and then find yourself wanting to take a nap? This shift in energy is related to the insulin released to manage the sudden rise of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The spike in glucose creates a spike in insulin which removes the glucose from the blood and this results in a sudden drop in energy levels, also known as hypoglycemia, or a sugar crash. When calories come from protein or fat, there is no blood sugar spike and the result is a more stable experience of energy (see the following graph from ).

Rob and I found that even with a healthy and well balanced diet, our energy levels would still fluctuate and we might notice an energy dip, particularly after eating certain meals. We thought we’d give Keto a try to see the effects on this especially.

The most typical reason that people will choose a Keto diet (although not ours) is for weight loss because the body is burning the fat stored in the body (or from the diet) as fuel. When calories are restricted, the body is more likely to draw energy from fat stores. Also, when in ketosis (which is the result of getting energy from fat), there are hormonal changes that make you less hungry and also feel full sooner. These combined effects often result in weight loss, if that’s a goal. While a Keto diet may be successful for many people in terms of weight loss, often the changes are not sustainable if people return to their regular diet. This is a criticism of the Keto diet when being used for weight loss. It’s a very significant dietary change and often people don’t stick with it.

Our experience with Keto

We began our Keto diet during COVID-19, while at home and not serving in our chiropractic practice. This worked out well for us because at first it took more time than we were used to in the kitchen. This had a lot to do with trying and learning new recipes. Also, initially we were tracking our carbohydrate, fat and protein intake using an app called Carb Manage, which took more time. Additionally, we found that we were actually eating more vegetables instead of fruits, grains and legumes. It took more time to prepare the veggies and cook more animal protein, more often (as opposed to preparing multiple servings of vegetarian dishes in bulk that we would typically freeze and later re-heat). It was and still is a very enjoyable change to our dietary patterns… it’s good to switch things up sometimes!

We also needed to find ways to ingest more calories through fat and would often have a ‘fat bomb’ to increase our caloric intake. Check out our favorite in our blog here: Chocolate Almond-Butter Fat Bomb. We’ve also added medium chained triglyceride oil (MCT oil, or ‘brain food’) to our diet. We’re still learning about the different types of fat and which ones feel better and are healthier than others and has been a great resource for that.

Very soon into our Keto diet, we began to experience a shift in our energetic state. We didn’t feel the usual dip after meals and weren’t as hungry leading up to meals. One time we even forgot to eat lunch (which for me is unheard of!). We also noticed a significant shift in mental clarity. We were more sharp, more able to focus, more creative and had more mental stamina. We now feel that this increase in mental clarity was more likely the result of adding MCT oil to our diet, rather than the just effects of being in ketosis.

Generally, we found that our bodies adapted fairly well to being in ketosis. One of the challenges many people experience is known as a ‘Keto flu’. When the body shifts to using ketones for energy and the glycogen (energy) supply that is stored in the muscles and the liver is depleted, there can be a number of symptoms that result. We did find that we were very thirsty and generally had a bit lower physical energy for the first week. I also experienced some muscle cramping, a symptom that never did resolve for me while in ketosis, while Rob did not.

Once our bodies had adapted more fully to the diet, we found our levels of physical energy improved to beyond where they started prior to the diet. We found that our physical and mental energy levels were very stable throughout the day and also that we had more energy at the end of the day. A great change for me was that I was sleeping better. In particular, I was falling asleep faster. Another change that was significant for both of us was that we found our perspectives to be more clear and an ‘edge’ or irritability that was sometimes present had virtually disappeared.  At a time when we might have been struggling and fearful because of the changes in our life and chiropractic practice (due to COVID-19), we found ourselves feeling more inner harmony as individuals and also within our relationship. We believe that this was in part due to the changes in our diet.

We had intended to do this ‘Keto cleanse’ for 2 weeks, however we felt so good we just kept going! It turned into 10 weeks of being on a Keto diet, with the exception of only 2 days for social convenience.

Our Keto inspired diet upgrades

Recently we’ve transitioned into a more moderate low carbohydrate diet and are now gauging how that feels. We’re aware of how our diet feels energetically inside and also noticing our relationship with food and the enjoyment we get from eating. We’re finding there are other relevant factors when making food choices that are important for us that are not addressed with a strictly Keto diet. Firstly, eating vegetarian is important to us for many reasons including our love for animals and the earth.  Legumes, which are a great source of vegetarian protein, are also fairly high in carbohydrates and not an option on a Keto diet.  Second, there are fruits and vegetables that we enjoy eating and also want to eat for nutritional purposes. Fruits and vegetables that are higher in carbohydrates are also not options on Keto.  Finally, we love food and enjoy the freedom to eat whatever we want without counting carbohydrates or concern about what would ‘kick us out’ of ketosis.

Our current diet still has a low carb focus with more fat than before. We’re eating legumes again and lower carbohydrate fruits (like apples, peaches, and berries). We’ve also reintroduced some higher starch vegetables (like carrots, beets and squash). Although we’re eating vegetarian protein again we’re still eating more animal protein than we have in the past.  We’re now eating about 100g of net carbohydrates per day as opposed to less than 50g while in ketosis. We generally continue to avoid sugar, grains (which were a big part of our diet before), and high carbohydrate fruits and vegetables (like bananas and potatoes).

Our bodies are no longer in ketosis and we’re still feeling good, although there is a noticeable difference.  Now, on days when we do have sugar or more carbohydrates, we can really feel the effects on our bodies. With more contrast, we really notice the lethargy, body discomfort and/or lack of mental clarity.  We’re grateful to have experienced this shift by making these changes to our diet and to better know and understand the effects of consuming carbohydrates on our body.

When it comes to diet there’s so much information out there, a lot of it is conflicting and it can be difficult to make sense of everything. We recommend that people try things out to see how it feels – there’s no substitute for experience. We hope this might inspire some of you to give a Keto or low carbohydrate diet a try. Maybe you would like to try a nutritional cleanse (see Cleansing Your Way to Exceptional Health – Part 1)? Maybe you want might want to try going vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian for a while? Having a healthy diet that works for you is one of the best things you can do to optimize your health. Combine that with regular chiropractic care for a clear and healthy nervous system and who knows how great things can be and the places you’ll go?