Composed: Apr 20, 2023
Press the play button to listen to the article in English
Resilience and the Carnivore Diet: Defying Lipedema
When I first started experimenting with a carnivore diet, consisting of meat, full-fat low-carb dairy, and eggs, I was not yet aware of what lipedema was. And I definitely didn't know that I had it. I started out just eating meat, dairy, and eggs (mostly meat) and not tracking or giving much other thought to macros. I had some success doing that. I definitely trimmed down in my waist and that was great. But, I wasn't able to buy smaller pants, despite my waist being smaller, because my hips, thighs, and even calves and ankles were actually bigger. This was my first clue that something was wrong.
Something is wrong
When I say something was wrong, I'm not getting down on myself. I don't hate my body, I don't hate my shape, nothing like that. I don't think that kind of negative self-talk is at all productive. It was just very obvious to me from my results that something was amiss.
Why would I lose body fat in almost all areas EXCEPT my legs? My legs actually got bigger and it wasn't muscle mass I was gaining. The overall texture (if you have lipedema you know what I'm talking about) was also getting worse.
I've seen lots of medical professionals in my life and no one had ever mentioned lipedema, so that wasn't on my radar. I even went to a nurse practitioner for thyroid testing at one point (many years ago) because, despite my best efforts, I wasn't having success losing body fat. She offered me diet pills and especially wanted me to take stimulant diet pills. No thank you.
By chance, I came across a post on Facebook that someone I knew made where she was talking about lipedema. Ah-ha! Those legs look like mine…this person's story sounds similar to mine…hmmm, maybe I have lipedema???
At that point, I had been mostly or fully carnivore for about a year. Now that I knew I had lipedema I needed to figure out what changes I could make that would yield better results than I was currently getting. So, the first thing I did was start tracking my food intake without making any changes. Once I had some data to go off of, once I was more informed on what my intake looked like from a macronutrient perspective, I could begin to experiment.
I had a lot of great results from switching from regular keto to carnivore so I wanted to stay with carnivore. I decided to take a class online that was put on by two ladies who have lipedema and who treat it successfully with a ketogenic diet. They both also are fully informed and experienced with a carnivore diet as well so this seemed very promising.
What I learned
I learned that I was eating too much protein for MY BODY. Often, when I say this, some people will quickly clap back with "gluconeogenesis is demand, not supply, driven". Yes, I am aware, thank you. I have access to the same internet of information as everyone, I also have books, can listen to interviews with doctors, and am capable of reading studies. I am aware of gluconeogenesis and its mechanisms. Reading that information in books, listening to interviews with doctors, and reading studies didn't change the fact that when I was consuming more protein I was gaining body fat.
What exactly the mechanism is that causes lipedema fat to be gained is not well understood. Lots of well-meaning people have hypothesized but there are no studies that have confirmed or denied any of those hypotheses. So, we're left to personal experimentation to figure out what works for each of us.
When I talk about a "higher" protein intake, I'm not referring to a high-protein diet. My protein intake at the higher level was still very moderate. I was consuming around 1g of protein per lb of lean mass. That resulted in body fat gain in my legs (where I am affected by lipedema).
And when I say that I switched to a "lower" protein intake, I am not referring to a low protein diet. I switched to around 0.7g of protein per lb of lean mass, which is still in the range of moderate. That change resulted in body fat loss. I didn't add any plants back into my diet but I did add a bit more dietary fat to account for the caloric reduction that corresponds to the reduction in dietary protein. So, I did not change my overall caloric intake. I wasn't eating less or more, I was just eating a different macronutrient profile.
I did not take any supplements. I don't drink ketones.
These changes resulted not only in a reduction of body fat in my legs, but the overall texture of my legs changed. They were less lumpy, bumpy. I lost fat around my knees. There is no question that what was lost was body fat, not lean mass. The pictures say it all.
I'm still in contact with those two ladies and they are amazing! Join us on Facebook if you think (or know) you have lipedema, lymphedema, or both and want to learn more about how to implement a ketogenic, carnivore, or low-carb diet to help manage the condition.