Ketosis is the metabolic state in which the body burns fat as its primary source of fuel. Fat as a fuel is burned more efficiently by the body than carbs. Fat for Fuel by Dr. Josheph Mercola goes into detail about the benefits of fat and how diet can heal the body’s mitochondria. Does this mean ketosis could have a positive impact on Charcot Marie Tooth? This is the question I posed to myself before starting the ketogenic diet six months ago. I quickly learned that a healthy diet and ketosis do indeed have a positive impact on life with CMT. Ketosis targeted several symptoms of CMT.
Fatigue is a notorious symptom of Charcot Marie Tooth. Patients with CMT report being tired most of the time. I was no exception. Before following a ketogenic diet, I felt tired throughout the entire day, everyday. There were no exceptions, and things like caffeine only worked for a small amount of time before I was tired again. This haunting fatigue finally went away when I entered ketosis, and my energy only improved as my body became fat adapted.
The first day I entered ketosis, there was a noticeable difference in my energy. I woke up and didn’t feel groggy like I normally did. I got to work around the house the moment I woke up instead of dragging my feet. It was as if I was suddenly a morning person. It had to be ketosis. I tested my blood ketone level, and sure enough, I was in ketosis. From that day on, my energy improved as my body adjusted to its new energy source: fat.
Surprisingly, some of my pain was taken care of. I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up by making them think all of my pain was taken care of with ketosis. I can only assume that some of my pain was caused by inflammation throughout my body, because I noticed a significant amount of overall pain had gone away after a few days of being in ketosis. Carbs are known to cause inflammation in the body.
Muscle weakness is common in patients with Charcot Marie Tooth. This feeling of weakness isn’t just normal muscle weakness. It’s a specific feeling where muscles feel much weaker than they should. One day I could feel strong just like I’m a normal person without CMT, then the next my muscles feel half as strong or even worse. From my experience, being in ketosis has made this feeling of weakness scarce. I’m able to feel consistent strength for longer periods of time. Instead of only being able to do five repetitions on my bad days, I’m able to do a full set of 10 repetitions while I’m in ketosis, regardless of a bad or good day.
Muscle Wasting and Atrophy
Due to not feeling weakness as often and being able to exercise much more, I can only assume that my muscle wasting and atrophy have slowed. I’m not trying to write, nor am I implying that ketosis will stop muscle wasting and atrophy, or that ketosis even has a direct impact. I’m merely saying that because ketosis provides better energy and strength, I’m able to exercise more often and for longer lengths of time. I believe this means I will be building and retaining muscle longer than I would have if I hadn’t stayed in ketosis.
Poor Tolerance to Cold Temperatures
In my experience, my poor tolerance to cold temperatures was due to poor circulation. Due to low energy and inactivity, my body had grown accustomed to moving blood at a slow rate. I had a low resting heart rate, around 50 bpm or lower, and I was almost always cold. Having a resting heart rate of 50 bpm isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s not really a good sign when you aren’t an athlete.
Once I entered ketosis and became much more active in life, my poor tolerance to cold temperatures went away within a few weeks. My resting heart rate is still around the same, but my heart beats with more strength and moves more blood. My extremities no longer turn into ice blocks in the night. Both my hands and feet stay warm throughout the night. I thank ketosis for the energy it delivers in order to achieve good blood circulation.
As you can see, ketosis can directly and indirectly target symptoms of Charcot Marie Tooth. Fat burns more efficiently than carbohydrates. It’s also readily available throughout the body, so you have a steady energy source throughout the day. This takes care of fatigue. Without fatigue, I’m able to exercise more and be active throughout the entire day. This address muscle weakness, wasting, and atrophy. Stronger muscles and a stronger heart means better circulation throughout the body. This means ketosis indirectly helps keep me warm in cold temperatures.
I’m quite satisfied with my new lifestyle. I don’t see myself switching from the ketogenic diet in the foreseeable future. There are just too many health benefits for someone like me.