Whip Up This Turmeric Face Mask For A Complexion Pick-Me-Up

If you’re dealing with dark spots—or just need an all-around complexion pick-me-up—chemical peels or a trip to the dermatologist or spa aren’t your only options. This DIY face mask from The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council member Sophia Roe is easy to whip up at home, and helps brighten and revive dull skin and minimize hyperpigmentation.

Made with nourishing ingredients like turmeric, rose water, and aloe, it’ll leave you feeling fresh-faced and pampered.

Here’s what you’ll need to mix up this mask:
– 2 Tbsp turmeric powder
– 1 Tbsp raw manuka honey
– 1 1/2 Tbsp pure pearl powder
– 1/4 cup fresh aloe vera
– 1 Tbsp rose water
– 1 Tbsp The Vitamin Shoppe brand rosehip oil

Spread the mask across a clean face, or use as a spot treatment. Let sit for at least 20 minutes (overnight works, too!) before gently removing with water or a wet washcloth.

 

A veritable ball of energy, Sophia Roe is a wildly talented yet relatable holistic chef, wellness expert, empowerment architect, and beauty bandit whose candid videos and posts on health and mindfulness light up social media.

How I Finally Stopped Yo-Yo Dieting And Became A Celebrity Weight Loss Coach

For most of my life, struggling with weight was my identity. As early as fifth grade, I noticed I didn’t look like the rest of my peers, and at 14, I attended my first weight loss meeting. I was by far the youngest person there. The then-trendy weight loss program, called Diet Center, involved weekly weigh-ins and an extremely restrictive eating plan of bland lean proteins and vegetables. And so began my life of dieting and fearing food.

Throughout my teens, 20s, and early 30s, I lost and gained the same 35 pounds over and over and over again. I tried every plan imaginable, from the Grapefruit Diet to the Soup Diet, and read as many diet books as I could get my hands on. While I could always lose the weight, I could never keep it off.

I thought I had to follow a strict eating plan, and that if I wavered it even slightly, I was failing. So when I did waver, I became so distressed that I ate everything in sight. I fell into a cycle of restricting food, breaking down, overeating, and punishing myself by restricting all over again.

My relationship with food and my body only grew worse when I started a career as a Broadway actress and singer after finishing my Master’s degree. I knew every extra pound could be the difference between landing a gig or losing it—because agents and casting directors thought nothing of telling me I was too heavy for a role. Food, exercise, and my weight took over my life. I felt great when my weight was down and terrible when it was up. I was either eating plain grilled chicken with salad and exercising for hours a day, or chowing down on anything I felt like and not exercising at all. Healthy balance felt impossible.

After 10 years in theater, I’d had enough. As I walked away from that career, I finally felt free from the constant pressure to be as thin as possible. So what did I do? I completely abandoned exercise and gave in to every temptation, binging on all the food I’d spent a decade trying to deprive myself of. I gained 35 pounds—fast.

Again, I was desperate—but I realized I would never live a healthy, fulfilled life, or maintain a weight I felt good about, with my extreme approach to food and exercise. So, after reading about their flexible, realistic eating plan, I decided to give Weight Watchers a try. Throughout the next five months, I finally shared my insecurities, unhealthy behaviors, and fears at support meetings, which was a huge weight off of my shoulders. I enjoyed pizza, occasional desserts, and wine (all workable in the Weight Watchers program), and shed the weight I’d gained.

I felt like I’d found a family of other people who had struggled the way I did, and the positive environment helped me maintain my weight loss for the first time in my life. When a receptionist job opened up at the company, I applied, thinking it would be a temporary gig. Quickly, though, I became a meeting leader, running 17 group support meetings a week, and found myself helping launch the Weight Watchers website.

As the months and years passed, and I was able to consistently wear the same size clothing, my confidence grew, and my yo-yo ways of the past finally faded. I realized that one slip-up did not have to lead to days or weeks of binging, and that I could return to my healthy eating patterns at my next meal. My life fell into a balance: Instead of thinking of workouts as erasers of bad food choices, I exercised joyfully, savoring walks outside, jogs, and kickboxing. I packed healthy snacks (like nuts or hummus and veggies) for work, and discovered my go-to recipes (like ground turkey and tomato sauce over spaghetti squash). The more consistent my routine became, the easier it was to sprinkle in indulgences without going overboard. Finally, I realized what it meant to be healthy.

After nearly eight years with Weight Watchers—during which I had two beautiful sons and successfully lost 50-plus pounds of pregnancy weight, twice—I became their Director of Brand Advocacy and National Spokesperson, appearing on programs like Dr. Oz, Oprah, and Good Morning America and collecting success stories from members across the country to be featured on our website and in our magazine. I flew from New York to Los Angeles every week to lead meetings for Jessica Simpson and a dozen of her friends and relatives, helped Katie Couric negotiate a healthier on-set buffet table as a newly-minted news anchor, and assured Jennifer Hudson that she could indeed fit Buffalo wings into her meal plan.

It was a rush, and forced me to really step up my own weight maintenance skills as I navigated constant travel, jet lag, time zone changes, and new stress. I learned I couldn’t always be perfect, but I could be consistent. I packed snacks for long flights, turned down alcohol, kept workout gear with me at all times, used hotel gyms, and stocked mini fridges with my own healthy food. No challenge could derail my healthy lifestyle!

After 11 years with Weight Watchers, I decided to take everything I’d learned about balanced living, self-love, and long-term weight loss success and go out on my own to help others get healthy and stay that way. I studied to become a certified personal trainer and nutrition exercise specialist, and have since consulted for weight loss and wellness companies all over the world, and helped all kinds of clients—from celebrities and CEOs to stay-at-home parents—achieve their health and fitness goals.

I think my personal weight loss journey has helped me better understand and support others—and just as my career develops, so does my personal health journey. As I learn and grow, I am constantly fine-tuning my strategy for maintaining a healthy weight and attitude. Maintenance is an active process, and if you want to continue to see success long-term, you have to keep your eyes open to the ever-changing landscape of your life! Sure, as I get older I may not be able to drink as much wine as I used to, or have as much for dinner as my growing sons, but these days I’m excited to find out where my next chapter will take me, and I know that health will be a part of who I am forever.

Liz Josefsberg is a weight loss and wellness expert with over 15 years in the industry, as well as a member of The Vitamin Shoppe’s Wellness Council. A mom, author, fitness enthusiast, and weight loss success story herself (65 pounds lost!), Liz consults all over the world. She loves testing every diet, exercise regimen, device, and piece of gear she can get her hands on. 

Jumpstart Your Mornings (And Metabolism!) With This Tummy Tonic

Sluggish steps and belly bloat keeping you from starting your day off right? This tummy tonic from The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council member Sophia Roe is just what you need to jumpstart your metabolism and digestion for an energized morning. Made with health-promoting ingredients like fennel tea (which can ease bloating and gas), apple cider vinegar (a vitamin-, mineral-, and antioxidant-loaded all-star), ginger (another gut health booster), and green tea extract (which is high in antioxidants and supports metabolism), along with goji berries and raw honey, it’s a delicious power-up that’s great for your gut health and your waistline.

Here’s what you’ll need to whip up this day-brightening beverage:
– 1 bag fennel seed tea
– 2 Tbsp chopped ginger
– 1/2 cup Sunfood Superfoods goji berries
– 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 1 lemon
– 3 drops The Vitamin Shoppe brand green tea extract
raw manuka honey, to taste

Drink hot upon waking or pour over ice for a punch of refreshment, anytime.

 

A veritable ball of energy, Sophia Roe is a wildly talented yet relatable holistic chef, wellness expert, empowerment architect, and beauty bandit whose candid videos and posts on health and mindfulness light up social media.

 

Why I Never Miss A Day Of Taking These 4 Supplements

When you’re balancing work, school, family, friends, and whatever else is on your plate, maintaining a healthy diet often takes a backseat. And even if you do follow a nutritious diet most of the time, there will inevitably be long, stressful days when you just can’t squeeze in all of your veggies, or end up swapping salad for takeout.

Don’t sweat it, life happens! That’s exactly where supplements come in. While they can’t replace a nutritious diet and active lifestyle, the right supplements can help you fill in nutritional gaps, and even supply certain essential nutrients you may not be able to get from your diet alone, so you can stay in tip-top shape even when things get hectic.

Now, I know how overwhelming it can be to find the right supplements for your goals. You could easily fill two medicine cabinets with all the pills and potions out there! That’s why my philosophy is simple: Make just a few superstar supplements part of your routine so you can start on the path towards better health with minimal effort required. Here are a few of the supplements I take every day—and why.

1. Probiotics

A good probiotic supplement can give you a lot of bang for your buck. Probiotics help boost the beneficial bacteria in your gut, and a healthy gut influences just about every other aspect of your health. Upping your intake of probiotics can promote proper digestion, support immunity, and keep your gastrointestinal tract healthy. And, a review published in ISRN Nutrition suggests probiotics may also protect against seasonal issues and support healthy cholesterol levels, as well.

Pro tip: Pick a probiotic that contains between 25 and 50 billion CFU per serving, and five or more strains of bacteria to supply your gut with a good variety.

2. Bone Broth

From supporting gut health to keeping your joints healthy and strong, bone broth is a powerful supplement that boasts a wide range of benefits. It contains important minerals, like magnesium and phosphorus, as well as collagen, a type of protein needed to build our skin, bones, joints, and muscles. Studies have shown that supplementing with the collagen found in bone broth may help boost joint health and skin elasticity, and support immune health.

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Pro tip: Unfortunately, much of the bone broth on the shelves of your local grocery store is produced using artificial meat flavors and pumped full of additives and extra ingredients that aren’t so great for your health. I recommend making bone broth at home or buying it from a trusted health store to ensure you’re getting the best quality. You can also find bone broth in powdered supplements (like Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein), capsules, and protein bars.

3. Greens Powder

Even the most balanced eaters have days in which they can’t squeeze in all of the recommended servings of fresh produce. Adding a quick scoop of greens powder to your daily smoothie (or even a glass of water) is an easy way to get in an extra dose of key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and round out your diet. Certain greens, like spirulina, have even been shown to support healthy triglyceride levels, blood pressure, blood sugar, and immune function.

Pro tip: For best results, opt for an organic product with a good mix of greens (like spinach and kale), as well as other health-promoting ingredients (like acai and elderberry). Combine it with plenty of nutrient-dense fruits, veggies, and superfoods in a smoothie and enjoy.

4. Digestive Enzymes

If you suffer from any digestive issues, including bloating, leaky gut syndrome, acid reflux, or ulcerative colitis, digestive enzymes are a must. They help break down large food particles into smaller, more easily-absorbed molecules so that you’re able to extract the important nutrients from your diet, and can help prevent nutritional deficiencies and boost regularity to keep you feeling your best.

Related: The Term ‘Leaky Gut’ Is All Over The Internet—But What Is It Exactly?

Pro tip: To further support healthy digestion, look for a product that also provides other gut health-enhancing ingredients. Some digestive enzymes, for example, are paired with probiotics to simultaneously support proper digestion and improve gut health, giving you double the benefits in every serving. You can also find digestive enzymes that include a blend of herbs, like peppermint and ginger, which support digestive health.

Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., D.C., C.N.S., is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist, author, and member of The Vitamin Shoppe’s Wellness Council. Dr. Axe operates one of the world’s largest natural health websites, sharing healthy recipes, herbal remedies, nutrition and fitness advice, and information on essential oils and natural supplements. Dr. Axe founded one of the largest functional medicine clinics in the world, in Nashville, TN, and has served as a physician for many professional athletes.

Think You Can Handle Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Workout? Try For Yourself

Whatever your politics, you can’t deny that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one strong woman. Not only is the 85-year-old one of just three women presiding over the Supreme Court, she’s also a pancreatic and colon cancer survivor—and, oh, she can do 20 pushups.

Yep, in addition to regularly making monumental contributions to women’s rights and law in the U.S., RBG works out for an hour twice a week with her trainer Bryant Johnson, C.P.T.

In the past two decades of working out with Johnson, the Justice has perfected bodyweight strength moves like one-legged planks and assisted pistol squats. The legend of her fitness prowess has spread so far and wide that Johnson even wrote a book—aptly named The RBG Workout—about it.

In the foreword of the book, Ginsburg writes that she hopes her workout will “help others to experience, as I have, renewed energy to carry on with their work and days.” (And trust me, I know firsthand that this workout is no joke. I tried it for myself live on Facebook and sweat buckets.)

So, want to be like RBG? Johnson, who’s also a member of The Vitamin Shoppe’s Wellness Council, shared a sample gym session with us so you can put your fitness to the test. After warming up with a few minutes of cardio and a quick full-body stretch, you’ll be ready to jump right into RBG’s full-body routine.

It’s all about having strength, stability, and mobility for life—and it’ll kick your butt! Think you’re ready for it?

Diggin’ What’s Good? For more essential health facts, tips, and inspiration, join our Facebook communities, Eating Healthy and Staying Fit, today!

The Truth About Saturated Fats

 For decades, we’ve been told that saturated fat is the enemy, and that to keep our cholesterol levels down and our arteries clear, we need to steer clear of red meat, egg yolks, and milk.

Saturated fat’s bad rap is mostly based on a study called the ‘Seven Countries Study’ by scientist Ancel Keys, which identified a link between dietary fat, serum cholesterol levels, and heart disease after looking at the dietary patterns of countries around the world, and prompted many organizations to begin recommending low-fat diets with minimal amounts of saturated fat in an effort to prevent heart disease. Though many of us are still under the impression that saturated fat is unhealthy, this initial evidence used to justify these claims is incredibly flawed. Keys actually studied more than 20 countries, but chose to only include seven, skewing the resulting data.

In recent years, however, a growing body of research has proven that saturated fats may not be so bad after all. Although some studies suggest that swapping out saturated fats for unsaturated fats in your diet may protect against heart disease, other evidence shows that saturated fat does not cause heart disease, as was once assumed.

Furthermore, certain types of saturated fat can actually improve several aspects of health, with benefits ranging from lowering cholesterol to increasing insulin sensitivity and beyond. Here’s what you should know.

The Different Types of Saturated Fat

There are many types of saturated fatty acids found in the diet, and each has unique effects on health. They are generally categorized as short, medium, or long-chain fatty acids based on the number of carbon atoms they contain, and are absorbed and metabolized in the body in different ways.

Long-Chain Fatty Acids

Palmitic acid is the most common type of saturated fat in the diet and was once estimated to account for over half of the total saturated fat intake in the United States. Found primarily in palm oil, red meat, and dairy, palmitic acid has actually been shown to increase levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol in some studies. However, these studies look at the effects of isolated palmitic acid, an ingredient most of us don’t exactly have sitting on our kitchen counters. In food sources, palmitic acid is usually found in combination with other types of fatty acids, which may actually help minimize its effects on cholesterol, research suggests.

After palmitic acid, stearic acid is the second most commonly consumed type of saturated fat. It’s believed to be one of the healthiest saturated fats, with research indicating that it can actually lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Although most commonly found in animal fats, stearic acid is also found in plant products, including coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter.

Medium-Chain Fatty Acids

Compared to longer-chain fatty acids, medium-chain fatty acids (a.k.a. MCTs)—which include caproic, capric, and caprylic acid, to name a fewdiffer in the way they are absorbed and processed in the body. Instead of being metabolized and transformed in the intestines like long-chain fatty acids, they are rapidly broken down and sent straight to the liver, where they can be converted into fuel. Because of this, studies show that MCTs can help increase insulin sensitivity to keep blood sugar in check and promote weight loss. Supplements like MCT oil provide a concentrated amount of medium-chain fatty acids, but plant sources like coconut oil and palm kernel oil also supply a good amount.

One medium-chain fatty acid, lauric acid, has been associated with a number of health benefits. It’s been shown to increase levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol in the blood, which can help optimize heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease, and also has powerful immune-boosting properties, which can provide protection against harmful pathogens. The richest natural sources of lauric acid include palm kernel oil and coconut oil, both of which are made up of over 40 percent lauric acid.

Short-Chain Fatty Acids

Other less common types of saturated fatty acids include butyric acid, propionic acid, and acetic acid, all of which are found in relatively small amounts scattered throughout our diet (in foods like ghee, raw milk. and parmesan cheese). Certain types of short-chain fatty acids are also produced within the colon when dietary fiber is fermented by the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Short-chain fatty acids have been associated with a number of health benefits in animal studies, ranging from increased fat-burning to enhanced insulin sensitivity, giving you all the more reason to get in your daily dose of fiber!

Saturated Fats And A Healthy Diet

When consumed along with plenty of fruits, vegetables and wholesome sources of protein, a few servings of saturated fats—one serving is an ounce of feta cheese or a tablespoon of coconut oil—per day can absolutely fit into a healthy diet, and can even help bump up fat intake on diet plans like the ketogenic diet. However, that doesn’t mean you should start loading up on the bacon and processed meat. In fact, the most recent Dietary Guidelines still recommend limiting saturated fat to less than 10 percent of total calories, and unhealthy sources of fat coming from heavily-refined vegetable oils, processed meat, processed junk food, and fried foods should be limited as much as possible to minimize the risk of heart disease as well as other chronic conditions, like cancer.

Related: What You Need To Know About The Ketogenic Diet Trend

Instead, opt for nutrient-rich sources of saturated fat, like coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, eggs, and dark chocolate, which also provide antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

And just because saturated fat is back on the table doesn’t mean you should forget about other healthy fats! Unsaturated fats, like extra-virgin olive oil, avocados, and omega-3-rich foods like fish, nuts, and seeds, boast plenty of health-promoting properties and can also be nutritious additions to your diet. On an average day, I try to include a good variety of both saturated and unsaturated fats in my diet to get in my fix of healthy fats. Some of my favorite sources include grass-fed butter, coconut oil, almonds, chia seeds, and wild-caught salmon.

Keep your saturated fat facts straight with this handy infographic:

Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., D.C., C.N.S., is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist, author, and member of The Vitamin Shoppe’s Wellness Council. Dr. Axe operates one of the world’s largest natural health websites, sharing healthy recipes, herbal remedies, nutrition and fitness advice, and information on essential oils and natural supplements. Dr. Axe founded one of the largest functional medicine clinics in the world, in Nashville, TN, and has served as a physician for many professional athletes.

 

Everything This Weight Loss Expert Eats In A Day

In my 16-year journey as a weight loss and fitness expert, I’ve tried just about every diet in the book, from bodybuilder-style macro-counting to high-fat keto. Though some experiments have proved more sustainable than others, each has helped me find the eating style that works best for me.

These days, my eating philosophy is to really listen to my body, eat whole foods in their whole forms (as little from packages as possible!), get enough satiating fat, and love what I eat. I keep a list of my five favorite healthy breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks, and a binder of all my favorite recipes—like slow cooker chicken chili—to make healthy eating easier when life gets busy. (And, trust me, it does when you have two kids, two dogs, a full-time job, and a hubby who works opposite hours than you do!)

Here’s what a full day of healthy—and delicious—eating usually looks like for me.

On a typical day, my alarm clock goes off at 5:20 in the morning and I enjoy the quiet with a cup of coffee—usually a cappuccino made with lots of whole milk and cinnamon—and my pup, Angus. I feel best following a modified intermittent fasting regimen and delaying my first full meal, so my frothy beverage usually counts as my breakfast.

Then I usually meet with a client in my gym, get my kids ready for school, and do a workout (often kickboxing or a run) of my own. From there, I’m off to work, running from private clients to speaking events to consulting meetings all over the place. I don’t eat my first real meal until around noon, but when I finally stop long enough to sit down and eat, I usually go for breakfast food, my favorite of which is an omelet (or some sort of egg dish).

I stuff two full eggs (the yolks contain all those vitamins, like choline) with vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, and onions—and, of course, cheese. I try to use seasonal veggies and different cheeses (like cheddar and goat cheese) and herbs to keep boredom at bay.

There are some days, however, that I’m crunched for time, so I go for a one-two punch of portable fruit and protein: yogurt parfait plus a banana and packet of nut butter (like Justin’s almond butter).

My yogurt bowls consist of two-percent plain Greek yogurt topped with raspberries, blueberries, two tablespoons of sliced almonds, and a tablespoon of sunflower seeds. I always recommend going for fuller-fat dairy because it’s more satisfying and swapping sugar-laden granola for nuts and seeds, which provide healthy fats, protein, and crunch. The bowl is low in sugar, but high in fiber and protein, so it really holds me over.

With that first meal, I take my supplements: a multivitamin to keep my nutritional bases covered, a probiotic to support a healthy gut, turmeric for an antioxidant boost, and collagen to keep my skin glowing and hair and nails strong.

I’m usually satisfied until late afternoon, when I grab a snack.

My afternoon munch pretty much always includes some dark chocolate, but I do have a few other staples, like apple slices and raw mixed nuts, hummus and sugar snap peas, a clementine and a cheese stick, and apple slices and nut butter. My criteria for a great snack: It must contain a fruit or vegetable for vitamins and fiber, and it should also provide some fat and protein. To make travel and portion control easier, I buy pre-made serving-size packets for nuts, nut butters, and hummus whenever I can.

Once work and after-school activities finish up, my family sits down together for dinner. So much research shows how vital this time can be for families, so we fight for it! We keep the TV off and put our phones away so we can focus on each other and eating mindfully.

Often, we all eat a slight variation of the same theme. My kids might have Italian-seasoned ground turkey over pasta with red sauce, while my husband and I might eat it over spaghetti squash, zucchini, salad, or steamed broccoli.

My goal at dinner is to fill half my plate with produce. Then I add a solid four-ounce serving of a lean protein like chicken or shrimp and some healthy fat like avocado, a drizzle of olive oil, or even a little melted butter. I always use a small plate to keep my portions in check.

During my own weight loss journey (I shed 65 pounds before starting my career in the industry), I realized that I snacked at nighttime just out of habit, and consumed hundreds of extra calories just to keep my hands busy while watching TV. These days, I don’t usually eat after dinner, and make myself a mug of one of my favorite teas—like decaf chai or Earl Grey, or Trader Joe’s Candy Cane green tea—instead.

If I’m truly hungry, though, I’ll go for a snack made of whole, natural foods, which are hard to overeat! My favorites are a sliced apple with a tablespoon or two of almond butter and baby carrots with hummus.

My personal eating style has evolved so much over the years, and right now this way of eating really works for my lifestyle, but I always keep my eyes open for areas where it might need to be tweaked. I truly believe that being willing to try new things and staying inspired are the keys to eating healthy long-term!


Liz Josefsberg is a weight loss and wellness expert with over 15 years in the industry, as well as a member of The Vitamin Shoppe’s Wellness Council. A mom, author, fitness enthusiast, and weight loss success story herself (65 pounds lost!), Liz consults all over the world. She loves testing every diet, exercise regimen, device, and piece of gear she can get her hands on. 

I Put On 12 Pounds Just So I Could Try Keto

I was raised on low-fat diets, Weight Watchers, and the idea that eating fat makes you fat. Despite the decades of experience I have as a weight loss professional, some of these ideas from my own weight loss journey (I lost 65 pounds before making health and fitness my career) have been hard to kick.

So you can imagine my surprise (and slight anxiety) to see how popular the high-fat ketogenic diet has become throughout the past few years. Super low in carbs (we’re talking like 25 net grams a day), this trendy diet requires eating between 65 and 85 percent of your daily calories from fat in order to shift your body from burning glucose from carbs to producing and burning ketones from fats (a state called ‘ketosis’). That means saying goodbye to carbs like grains, starchy veggies, and most fruit—and loading up on fats like nuts, avocados, olive oil, and butter. The exact opposite of what the mainstream diet world has been telling us for the past three decades!

But with so many people boasting the energy and weight-loss benefits of the keto diet, I had to say: I was intrigued. I wanted to try it!

So, I did what any curious health and fitness expert would do: put my fears aside, purposely gained 12 pounds (yes, really!), and gave keto a shot.

Getting Started

I pored through the internet (relying heavily on Mark’s Daily Apple, Dr. Axe, and even keto Reddit boards) to gather information and plan out some easy meals for my first week.

My everyday diet embraced healthy carbs like yogurt, fruit, and potatoes, but shied away from too many fats, so I knew I’d have to do some meal prepping to make this massive change stick. I decided to make egg cups (eggs, cheese, bacon, and spinach baked in a muffin tin) for easy grab-and-go breakfasts, spinach salads topped with avocado, bacon bits, cheese, and ranch dressing for lunches, and cheese- and bacon-wrapped chicken for dinners. Lots. Of. Cheese. I snacked on macadamia nuts, enjoyed small pieces of dark chocolate, and even made ‘fat bombs’ (frozen balls of coconut oil, nut butter, and cocoa mixed together) to keep me satisfied and ward off cravings.

I loved the food (I mean, who doesn’t like smothering things in ranch and butter?), but I still worried I would gain a lot of weight.

To my surprise, though, my weight dropped those first few days. I learned that these quickly-lost pounds came from water (which is stored alongside carbs in our bodies), not body fat, but I wasn’t complaining. Plus, all the newfound fat in my diet was so satiating that I simply stopped feeling hungry. Within three days, my cravings disappeared and I felt balanced and energized.

Attack Of The Keto Flu

And then, around the end of week one…the ‘Keto Flu’ hit! A common experience for new keto eaters, the keto flu occurs your magnesium, sodium, and potassium stores become depleted as your body shifts from using carbs to fat as its main source of energy. (These vital electrolytes regulate your heart beat, balance fluid levels in your body, and perform many other important functions—and losing too much of them can be dangerous.) I couldn’t believe how quickly it came on. I felt extremely lethargic and thirsty, needed naps in the middle of the day, and couldn’t even get through a workout.

Related: 5 Mistakes People Make When They Go Keto

Following the guidance of my online gurus, I picked up a magnesium and potassium supplement (like Country Life’s Magnesium Potassium Aspartate), and started drinking chicken Boullion cubes (which contain more than a gram of sodium a pop) to replenish my electrolytes.

The struggle lasted on and off for about two weeks—and it seriously knocked me out.

Smooth Sailing

Once my body got used to being in ketosis and I nailed my electrolyte intake, the ‘keto flu’ passed and all of the perks I’d read about finally started raining down. I had incredible amounts of energy, zero cravings, and slept beautifully. My workouts got back to normal, too.

As the weeks passed, I experimented more and more with my meals. Eggs continued to be my go-to breakfast, but I tried out all sorts of recipes for lunches and dinners, including ‘meattza’ (pizza using a layer of ground beef as the crust) and Hasselback chicken (chicken breasts stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach). I enjoyed my broccoli with melted cheddar cheese on top, ate a lot of cauliflower (it’s relatively low in carbs), and loaded up on spinach (which provided much-needed potassium).

It's like Where's Waldo… can you find Gertie in the photo? 🐶🐾

A post shared by Liz Josefsberg (@lizjosefsberg) on

I lost weight steadily throughout those two months. By the end, I’d lost 15 pounds total, and my body fat percentage had dropped from 36 percent to 29 percent, meaning I shed fat but kept my precious muscle. (The only other time I’d seen such a significant body fat drop was during my high-protein bodybuilding days!) My results confirmed everything I’d read online: Once your body adapts to burning fat, it will turn to your fat stores for energy.

As impressed as I was with how keto changed my body, though, I don’t think it’s something I could maintain long-term. Since the diet is so restrictive and takes such an immense amount of work and attention to follow, I found it difficult to fully live life while on it. Knowing just one misstep could throw me out of ketosis and back into burning sugar, I stressed about social situations and eating out. Plus, I really missed fruit and wine.

I’m glad I did it, though! Keto taught me that fats are awesome—and I’m truly sorry I avoided them for so many years. Since my experiment, I’ve continued to eat a lot of healthy fats—and even though I’m not all-out keto anymore, my meals are more satisfying and my weight has been easier to maintain. It’s amazing how far a little whole milk goes in a cup of coffee!

 

Liz Josefsberg is a weight loss and wellness expert with over 15 years in the industry. A mom, author, fitness enthusiast, and weight loss success story herself (65 pounds lost!), Liz consults all over the world. She loves testing every diet, exercise regimen, device, and piece of gear she can get her hands on.