#MyKetoPregnancy // Edition 2
Now that we have passed the threshold of 12 weeks or 3 months aka the pivotal shift to second trimester – let’s take a moment to reflect on the first three months of #MyKetoPregnancy. From the bumps in the road to the bumps in the belly, the emotional rollercoaster and what can only be described as unleashing the ‘carb-crusher’ over the holidays, alas I settled into a healthy and clean pattern for body, mind and soul.
When we found out on December 1st that we were officially pregnant, we were still at the tail end of our fertility testing at The Ottawa Fertility Clinic. Our next set appointment was December 4th to (ironically) receive the results of our ability to conceive, and we decided to attend to get the bloodwork done to help date our baby’s conception and discuss next steps.
Talk about an eventful appointment! Not only were we indeed pregnant, dating about 4 weeks into conception by this point, but Fady’s results were staggering. To put this into context, I am going to attempt to quote (virtually verbatim) and try to encapsulate the expressions of the doctors providing the results of his sperm testing to us.
“We don’t see results like this here.”
Doctor 1: “Yes, they are substantially above average.”
(At this point, the grin on Fady’s face starts to appear covertly)
Doctor 1 elaborates: “Well, the average motility (forward momentum) of sperm is about 32%. Yours were 90%.”
(While she kept her game face, Fady’s head probably grew two sizes at that exact moment)
Doctor 1, continues: “And the count? Typically it’s about 15-20 million sperm per milliliter.”
Fady: “And mine?”
Doctor 1: “79 million”
That did it. I’ve never seen a man glow like an incandescent lightbulb with it’s own perpetual power source but I can only imagine that finding out you are the most potent man in Ottawa (I’m exaggerating clearly, but it gets better) would be a nice stroke to the ego (sorry for the innuendo).
We leave the room to see my fertility specialist directly to book our first ultrasound and discuss next steps and the icing on the big ol’ cake was, as we entered the room to sit down, her first comment:
Doctor 2: “So, did the last doctor tell you? You have Super Sperm. We should give you a cape.”
All joking aside, this became a moment of pride. Knowing that after over a year of trying actively to conceive, that we were both in the clear and it took a little less stress and the right environment for it to happen.
And yes – I had a shirt made for Fady for Christmas with the Superman logo and the S as a sperm. I love our sense of humour and that he actually wore the shirt (to family functions, nonetheless). Thanks to Leanne for her incredible work on the shirt as well as our pregnancy reveal t-shirts. Contact her for your own custom work!
Fast forward two weeks and the hormones.
Oh boy, the hormones!
For anyone who has gone through pregnancy hormonal shifts, you can relate. For those who haven’t, let me try to give some context. Within a span of three hours early on in the pregnancy, I recall in vivid detail experiencing utter jubilance and an enveloping sensation of love on one end of the spectrum to the depths of despair, complete and inconsolable listlessness and hopelessness on the opposing end. What baffled me during each of these episodes is that I was recognizing how irrational my mind was reacting to the most inconsequential moments, actions, words that offered no context for someone of clear train of thought to perceive them as anything other than face value. I laugh in retrospect and thank Fady for being a little EXTRA with me during this period. For not laughing at my expense, so sitting with me when I was sobbing and needing 11 hugs within ten minutes and to tell me it will all be okay.
In the end, the hormones began to subside as my body ramped up to take over internally and the equilibrium returned. It goes to show how incredible delicate and resilient the human body is in shifting functions to support new life and then rebalancing to bring back to homeostasis. I’m just glad that by the end of month two, I felt more like my positive, motivated and energetic self.
Let me tell you that being in your first trimester WITHOUT many aversions to food and having seven (yes, count that) family and friend functions over the holiday season starting early in the month through January was a tough go. As a ketogenic advocate, I strive Monday to Thursday to eat clean, smaller meals to stay the course. The initial shift away from practicing intermittent fasting daily for 16-20 hours and the OMAD (one-meal-a-day) method to eating upon awakening stimulated my hunger hormones early on and I found myself not only snacking, but eating far beyond my caloric needs.
Those around me were kind. The common phrases I would hear:
“Allow yourself to indulge every once in a while, you’re pregnant!”
“It’s the holidays, let loose until January!”
“You are supposed to gain weight – stop focusing on that.”
I have had triggering events with binge and restrict patterns of my food habits in the past. Leveraging food as a source of comfort or a means of escapism to mask an emotion used to be my modus operandi. Keeping this in mind, I did allow indulgences BUT instead of feeling immense guilt and shame in my decisions, I focused on allowing the less than ideal food to bring me joy in the moment, to relish the taste and to move forward. I’m human and this practice wasn’t possible every time I grabbed a slice of homemade pumpkin pie, a dollop of mashed potatoes or an extra cookie after a festive gathering. But cultivating a healthy mindset first and moving forward instead of dwelling on the past allows for less stress on body and mind (and baby!).
To Be, Or Not To Be Active
Oof – let’s discuss the matter of mobility and staying active during pregnancy. For those who aren’t aware, I am a certified personal trainer who built my own business on promoting movement for a healthier and better quality of life. That being said – the first 8 weeks of my pregnancy kicked my butt. My energy wavered, I found myself having midday naps and all the best intentions planned couldn’t get me off the couch and into my gym only paces away.
Being that this is my first pregnancy, I also was very concerned with having a miscarriage by ‘doing the wrong things’. I avoided my regular, intense training and omitted any core work for nearly a month. I strived on getting in a walk with the dogs for about an hour every other day, walking on incline and bodyweight workouts when I had the energy. The sugar intake during the holidays didn’t help with motivation for wanting to exercise. It further demonstrated to me the significant connection between the foods we consume and our mood, energy, and overall tendency towards lethargy or intrinsic vitality.
I realized after emerging from my fog that working my core, transverse abdominals, practicing my usual HIIT routine and being conscious of the weights and form I practice are all fantastic and essential to keeping me healthy and fit. I let my early onset overprotective parent to kick in and want to protect the development of this little fetus at all costs. In turn, depriving my body of my routine led me to fall out of habit and take a little longer to get back into my natural rhythm.
My advice to new mommy’s-to-be is to simply listen to your body and don’t push yourself beyond your limits, but do strive for some light activity when your energy is up. It will help to boost your mood, to lessen the stiffness of your joints and even 30 minutes of continuous activity per day will amplify how your body functions and your mindset tenfold.
Nearly the ten week mark, and I felt a very distinct shift in my attitude, my vigor, stamina and concentration. With hormones stabilizing and the placenta beginning to give my body a little relief, a noticeable change to my outlook gave me the feeling that I was back in my control of my body. My workouts ramped up, I started to track my macros more diligently, and my productivity soared.
I’m excited to be chronicling each week of progress via this forum and my YouTube channel with food, workouts, moods, progress, ins and outs milestones, fun facts and more!
My first major YouTube video will come out on Tuesday at the 12 week, 6 day mark and every Tuesday subsequent to that! Stay tuned.
Let’s Play a little Q & A
Engagement. I am LOVING the influx of questions that have been coming in lately about my lifestyle, and my purpose of this goal isn’t simply to chronicle and document my experience, but to have interaction and engagement from those who are reading and watching to help answer any questions on your mind!
Some of the most prominent ones to date are surrounding ketogenic lifestyle as a safe and healthy option, my KETO//OS supplements, what I’ve cut or added to my lifestyle, the type and duration of my exercise, birthing option and baby gender preferences! So for this first installment, let me answer a few of them for now and probe you for more!
Are you doing still eating a ketogenic diet while pregnant?
Of all the questions I have received to date – this is the most prominent one. When it comes to the health of myself and my baby, I am confident that the foods that I consumed prior to pregnancy and into my pregnancy are healthy, safe, and aiding in the development of my fetus while keeping me fueled. In fact, I attribute the boost in my fertility post cancer-treatment to be amplified from the internal health that I achieved by introducing the ketogenic lifestyle over the last three years.
When I made the conscious decision to switch over my standard Westernized diet to consuming high-fat, low-carb and moderate protein lifestyle, I was seeking a means to mitigate the recurrence of cancer cells from metastasizing after having stage 2 papillary thyroid cancer and pre-cancerous cells removed from my uterus. After a three hour sensational and informative podcast with Tim Ferris and Dr. Dominic D’Agostino about starving cancer and the presence of ketones to biohack your body, I decided to delve into my own quest for education and empowerment of my epigenetics and fueling my body the most efficiently as possible.
Prior to pregnancy, a typical macronutrient profile for me would be 1800-2000 calories, with a ratio of 75-80% of my daily caloric value coming from health sources of fats, 20-25% from protein and 5% (typically under 30g net carbs) from carbohydrates. My emphasis was not only “fitting my macros” but striving to try new vegetables, varying my meals and my sources of proteins throughout the day and getting in my vitamins and minerals mostly through nutrition.
I would take digestive enzymes with ox bile to help support my liver when consuming very fatty meals, magnesium glycenate for muscle function, better sleep and bowel movements, omegas and DHA to increase my brain fuel, and vitamin D for my daily dose of sunshine.
My favourite foods are avocado (I will have 1-2 per day), eggs (9 out of 10 essential amino acids – superfood!), fermented foods like pickles and sauerkraut, bacon (nitrate and sugar free) and nut or coconut butter.
I practiced intermittent fasting quiet avidly, with a daily routine of 16:8 model and often extending to 18-20 hours, occasionally with the OMAD (one meal a day) method. I would conduct bi-weekly 24 hour fasts and monthly nutrient supported 60 hour fasts with my ketone supplementation and bone broth.
Morning KETO//KREME or a ‘bulletproof’ style coffee with ghee/mct would be a regular morning regiment, with an additional one at times in the early afternoon.
My body composition, energy, vitality, health markers, hormone levels and mental clarity were at an all-time high. Three years in, and no plans on stopping anytime soon!
What have you cut out or add to your lifestyle?
Since finding out that I was pregnant, I consulted with my good friend and holistic nutritionist about my protocol and discussed what – if anything – I should supplement, cut, add, or change about my lifestyle.
I stopped intermittent fasting deliberately, and focused on eating smaller, keto-friendly meals and snacks to consume every few hours to stay fueled. It was a difference in the model that I had adopted and at first, I noticed that my hunger hormones began to be triggered at the onset but like anything, your body will adapt once you practice for long enough with consistency.
I have reduced my caffeine consumption to the recommended dosage of under 200mg, thus I have one morning coffee per day from a quality source (Kicking Horse is brand of choice) that I typically infused with my KETO//KREME, infusing healthy fats into the first drink of the day. Sometimes, I do a decaf (more for flavor and habit) so that I can consume a caffeinated version of my KETO//OS Max in the afternoon (more on that momentarily).
I previously never consumed fruit. Fruit have many benefits from anti-oxidants to vitamins but the high sugar content and general reduction of all of my sugar consumption, I didn’t need or crave anymore. This is the biggest change that I have currently practiced, is adding a moderate amount of seasonal berries back into my regiment. I typically will consume ¼ cup of raspberries or blueberries in a smoothie or with organic yogurt (great for gut health) as a snack or treat.
I consume magnesium as normal, folic acid, a BComplex supplement, my Omegas, and the occasional digestive enzyme. I also have a grassfed source of collagen that I put into a smoothie with avocado, cacao, nut butter, almond milk and ice for a delicious and quality sourcing of protein in my daily intake.
I strive to get in a tablespoon or more of a gut-friendly, flora-balancing food (such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt) in every meal to keep my gut in check on top of my caloric needs.
In my second trimester, I now consume about 2100-2300 calories, focus on sugar-free, high-fat items but focus less on achieving a constant state of ketosis nutritionally and hit 65-75% fats, 25-30% protein and 5-10% net carbs. My carbohydrate intake has increased to up to 50g net per day, but I still stick within the optimal food lists prescribed for the lifestyle and my body.
I will continue to share my journey, the meals I’m eating and how I’m feeling as well as some science backed information on why I do what I do!
Are you still drinking ketones?
A fervent advocate for exogenous (taken from outside of the body) ketones, that is another big question that I get. Will you continue to take your ketones? Are they safe for your baby?
It’s a valid question as a lot of traditional supplements are derived from chemical compounds that could promote adverse side effects. The pure therapeutic ketones that I consume daily from Pruvit are bioidentical to ketones that we can naturally produce in our liver as a byproduct of breaking down fats, creating the blood ketone molecule called beta-hydroxybuterate or BHB.
The BHB ketone molecule is the primary ingredient in the KETO//OS supplements, allowing your body to achieve ketosis in a short span of time as your body will always resort to choosing the energy source that’s most readily available. Typically, if you are living a typical Westernized lifestyle, carbohydrates are your fuel source as they are consumed, broken down into glucose and converted to energy. Ketones are created when carbohydrates are reduced drastically to the point where the body must use your stored bodyfat or the fats you consume to breakdown into energy. The magic behind KETO//OS supplementation is that infusing BHB directly into the body will be absorbed into the bloodstream quickly, signal to the rest of the body AND the brain (crossing the blood brain barrier) to be an optimal fuel source to provide sustainable energy, lift brain fog, promote fatloss as it preserves lean muscle mass and even aid with better sleep.
That’s great that you understand the benefits, but it begs the question – is it safe for a pregnant woman?
The KETO//OS products contain NO artificial colours, additives or preservatives. They are also sweetened with natural sweeteners that register 0 on the glycemic index, meaning they will not raise blood glucose or spike insulin production (using Stevia and Erythritol). They contain fermented amino acids such as L-leucine and L-taurine which can promote protein synthesis and preservation, very important for any body to maintain.
The best part – it’s water soluble. If your body does not use the natural ketones for energy, you will excrete they remaining energy molecules in your urine. It’s the ultimate dual fuel source that has given me the opportunity to bridge gaps in my exhaustion of pregnancy, in my erratic sleep patterns and provided more clarity when my hormones were raging.
I continue to consume them daily, and I have shifted to the DECAF version of the MAX and NAT formulas to stay under my limit of caffeine and use more as an elixir for my afternoon energy and to boost my exercise regiment.
Will I stop?
Absolutely not! I’ve done my due diligence in research and like my diet, am confident that they are safe for consumption and will continue to thrive in my ketosis!
Speaking of exercise, in my next blog post and my upcoming YouTube video, I will touch on the workout type, duration and intensity I’m currently practicing!
This is has been a wrap up of the First Trimester plus a little Low-Carb Lowdown! Stay tuned for more coming each and every week and please leave your comments, feedback, follow my YouTube channel and ask your questions.
- Genevieve Castonguay