Yesterday I endured the shift from hell.
Nursing is rarely easy, but there are some shifts that make you want to run away and never come back to the floor. Last night was one of them. The only thing that kept me there, and believe me I was tempted to flee, was the personal obligation I felt to both my patients and the company I work for. If I left, my patients wouldn’t get the care they needed, and someone would have to cover for me.
At any rate, I had absolutely no time to eat during what turned into a 10 hour shift. It was all that I could do to stay hydrated.
And you know what…I never, not one moment during the shift, felt hungry. I never got hangry and my mood stayed stable all night.
I had my last meal at 1:00 in the afternoon and my next meal at 7:00 the next morning. That’s 18 hours without food and no issues. (AND, I’m having my period!)
I’m not kidding. I woke up at 5:30, drank my coffee and ate breakfast at my normal time.
Here’s why I was able to do this…
I’ve been working hard for the past 6 months to become more metabolically adaptable.
Meaning, my body is able to burn whatever fuel is available. If there’s no food and glucose coming in, then it quickly and easily turns to fat stores for fuel. Even with a low body fat percentage, I have plenty of fat on my body to fuel me through that shift.
Getting to this point wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t that difficult. It just took some time and awareness.
I found my starting point. When I began my path to becoming more metabolically adaptable I tracked my intake for a week. I learned that while I don’t eat a lot of carbs, generally less than 100 grams, I made up for it with protein. When you eat more than your body needs, protein is converted to fat and has an impact on blood sugars. Both too much protein and too many carbs can contribute to weight gain and blood sugar highs and lows.
I made gradual changes. I began tracking my intake with a focus on eating more fat and less protein while also making sure my carbs, in general, stayed below 150.
I experimented. I also experimented with my carb intake. I would intentionally have days where I ate less than 50 grams of carbs and days where I ate 150. I put myself into ketosis for a week and experimented with how much it took to pull me out of ketosis.
My goal was to find my personal “sweet spot” for carb intake. I was looking for the place where I was able to eat the veggies I wanted, and my body needed, where I had energy for CrossFit workouts and life, and where I felt my blood sugar levels were able to stay level. I found that between 60-80 worked well for me. I need to point out that I do not follow a ketogenic diet. That’s not sustainable for me and I don’t have weight loss goals.
My goal was to become metabolically adaptable, so I could do what I needed to do without having to make sure I had food every 3 hours. That was my previous reality and my poor husband can tell you stories about me standing in the grocery store after a long hike or a long day of rock climbing and I’m just sobbing. I’d be so crazy hungry and mentally spent that I couldn’t function.
That is no longer my reality.
Intermittent fasting. I also experimented with intermittent fasting and exercising while hungry. I would go on a 10-mile run when I was hungry just to test my flexibility. It worked. I was able to run, come home, and wait an hour or two before I ate.
Moving forward into a realistic lifestyle. After six months of experimenting and tracking my intake, I no longer track. I eat when I’m hungry and I am aware of what foods and amounts feel good to me.
The experiment has been worthwhile. I wouldn’t have been able to make it through a truly disastrous 12-hour shift without food otherwise.
The Benefits of Being Metabolically Flexible and Experimenting with Keto
- Fat burning. Whether you’re consuming fewer carbs or you’re trying out intermittent fasting, you’re teaching your body to burn fat for fuel.
- Balanced blood sugars/no cravings/no mood swings. I don’t really need to say more, right? I didn’t lose my shit AND I was having my period. It’s a freaking miracle!
- It’s kinda cool to know that you don’t have to always worry about food. You can skip a meal and not suffer.
- Mental clarity. My brain works better when I keep my carb intake within my sweet spot.
- Clearer skin. I have always had sensitive skin and struggled with acne. Even at 47, I was getting zits and making the morning decision about whether I was going to fight wrinkles today or pimples. UGH! Balanced blood sugars and a more flexible fuel system has resulted in better skin.
Taking the plunge and a quick and LOUD caveat
I absolutely feel the need to stress that carbs are not bad. Veggies are carbs and they absolutely must be the foundation of your diet. Bagels are carbs too and while I occasionally enjoy one, they are not the foundation of my diet. If you’re restricting carbs that means you’re not eating starchy carbs, but you ARE eating veggies. Please eat your veggies, it can save your life.
Okay, now about taking the plunge and trying keto and intermittent fasting…
If you want to try keto or become less dependent on the whims of your pancreas and blood sugar levels, then my first suggestion is to track your intake for a week or two. Just see where you are right now. How many carbs, fats, and protein to you eat every day?
From there, you can begin to make adjustments and experiment. Find your sweet spot. Yes, this takes time and yes it takes awareness, but it is absolutely worth it. If you have questions, please connect with me. Send me an email or visit me on Facebook.
To your amazing health!!!!