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Plateaus, Hormones and The Liver

Paleo Rules

One of my favorite things about the paleo community is how much information there is out there. Articles, research, and blog posts galore. Everyone sharing their knowledge and experiences. A lot of open discussions on what works for some folks and what works for others. It’s fantastic, when you’re new to paleo it’s like joining this club and everyone is really nice and they wants you to succeed.

What happens when you run into uncharted territory? What happens when you no longer see yourself being represented in the great wealth of information out there? What if you have tried all of it, and it hasn’t worked? You start thinking “What am I doing wrong?” I mean, if ALL of the experts, all of your role models say hey… THIS is how it works. Do THIS, or this and it will happen… but then… it doesn’t… what now?

Most folks come to paleo for one or two reasons: weight loss and/or health issues. Paleo has the power to help pounds melt off without starving yourself. It teaches folk to LOVE whole ingredient meals, to cook more, to nourish their bodies instead of just eating to fill up. Paleo has been known to heal leaky gut, Cohn’s, and a slew of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. This is why I ended up going paleo, I wanted both of those things.

I saw GREAT results. I lost 40lbs, I had more energy, I was learning so much. I did the autoimmune protocol and learned how to keep my autoimmune disease in remission. It’s been an amazing journey. But now I have reached the point where I’ve been at this long enough, eating like this is second nature to me. I love it. I’m active. I get enough sleep and sun. I have made it my business to stay on track… and yet… over a year has passed and my progress is still halted.

When The Status Quo No Longer Applies To You

In the last year I have tirelessly read EVERY SINLGLE ARTICLE on “trouble shooting.” All the “how you’re doing paleo wrong”, “most common mistakes on the pale diet”, “break that plateau”… ALL. OF .THEM.  Most of the time I sit there (internally) yelling at the screen or book… I already do that, tried it, nope! If that isn’t the case then I implement the advice given. I don’t pretend to be an expert on this stuff. My area of expertise is in the kitchen.  I need help just like everyone else to figure out my health.  So I read, research and listen to those who are experts. I am open, flexible and willing. Willing to learn, to change, to try.

As my frustration amounted I went to see my naturopath to get answers. While he didn’t have all the answers, my conundrum even stumped him; he suggested Dutch Test ( The DUTCH test is a comprehensive hormone test.

What I did get from seeing him; the realization and confirmation that I WAS doing everything right (for me). That it was no longer MY FAULT, that I wasn’t progressing. I think that was a very important (mental health) aha moment. It also re-energized my resolve. I practice self-love in my dedication to figuring out what is going on with my body and not giving up on my goals.

Between ordering the DUTCH test, waiting for the right time in my cycle to get the samples (you pee on a few strips), mailing it back and waiting for results… I ended up trying the keto diet. I KNOW that insulin plays a big role in balancing hormones, and I KNOW that my body is very sensitive to carbs and sugar. To the point that if I eat high carb too many days in a row or eat sweet treats too many days in a row, I get an autoimmune response. Whoa. So I went with my instincts and embarked on keto. Not a huge leap from my already low carb paleo, but a change none the less.

It’s been a month now. I got my hormone testing results back. I wasn’t surprised. In a nutshell: my estrogen levels are through the roof, my cortisol levels are fine, but my cortisone levels are really high, and of course adrenals are depleted.  My doctor wants to focus on lowering stress. Of course I want that, but I’m concerned with my estrogen levels. Again, going with my intuition here… but I feel like I’m connecting all these dots.

Self Experiment

You see, even though I have been eating keto, and as per the keto strips turning purple when I pee on them, telling me I’m in ketosis… I still feel out of whack. My energy is not consistent, my weight loss CRAWLS. My cycle really messes with me, like bad. I can tell when I begin ovulation because I feel like I have a hangover.  Yeah, WTF?!?

Before you say, but you just need more carbs… I have tried it all folks. Done more carbs, and yes helped during workouts, but wreaked havoc on my system the rest of the time.  I’m getting to the part where I say… by golly we’ve got it!

Quick insert here: yes, I do often think, even after TWO years of paleo how can my body still be so unbalanced? But all I can do it keep trying get better. On ward!

Ok, here are the dots I’ve connected… being in ketosis but still feeling without energy during my workouts means my body isn’t in fact using stored fat for fuel… which means my liver isn’t metabolizing fat… which means, there are probably some nasty toxins that my body is storing and I think my liver can’t handle it. Guess what? The liver is also responsible for eliminating extra estrogen and other hormones in the body. Paired with my crazy estrogen dominance… welp. .. that explains pretty much EVERYTHING.

Great Scott!

The key is my liver. I need to help my liver. This extremely regenerative organ has worked so hard for me, now I need to give it a little extra love. I need to help it filter out toxins and hormones probably accumulated from years of using conventional beauty products, plastic food storage, pregnancy and alcohol consumption. On a more esoteric note, I think our emotions can be manifested in your physical bodies and while I have done a lot of work to heal my inner self along the way, I think I may need to further connect with my inner self, talk to my body and ask it what it needs, as well as not judging it and being grateful for all it does for me. I’ve had to work really hard on letting go of resentment, resentment for my autoimmune disease. I was very angry with my body for turning on itself and I used to think of the life I would have had, had I not been burdened with my HS. Now I know, if it weren’t for all of it… I wouldn’t be ME, and I, despite and even because of it all, LOVE the life I have.

Now that I THINK I have (mostly) figured out my great hurdle I would like to say that I don’t know if you are going through the same thing, or what will help you. You have to do your own self experimentation.

I plan to keep digging, I need a more complete picture. I want to get labs done again. I also ordered a blood glucose meter. Last time I had labs done, a year ago, before going keto, my blood glucose tested at 70 (which is pretty dang low). So I’m interested to see where it is now, and test it regularly to achieve a really steady blood glucose level which will help my hormones.

I’m eating lots of leafy greens, duh.  I’ve added flax seeds into my diet.


Other things I am doing to help:


Ashwagandha: For adrenal support. Yes, it’s a nightshade. The supplement I am taking is made from the root and it does not cause me to flare.


Dandelion Root: detox support, helps balance blood sugar


Milk Thistle: detox support, anti-inflammatory properties


Vit B Complex: helps liver work efficiently


Exogenous Ketones: for energy during workouts


Zinc: boost immune system, helps protect against liver disease (important to consume liver to balance out Vit A and Copper)


Magnesium: Helps with all bodily functions. Soothes and energizes muscles cells.


Calcium D Gluconate: This is the heavy hitter… it’s the strongest support for liver detox, and works really well with estrogen dominance. More on why this supplement is awesome here:


I have also ordered Reishi Mushroom powder to help recover after workouts. I am also considering DIM, a compound naturally found in cruciferous vegetables which blocks estrogen production but I am going to wait on it. I am taking a lot of stuff right now. Maybe this will be my back up plan.


I’m sticking to low carb paleo for now. That may change, depending on what the glucose meter tells me. All things subject to change. I don’t think there is ONE answer. I think it is often a million VARIABLES.  Kind of like parenting, there is no manual.

I’m hopeful as I explore this new avenue that I will finally break free of this plateau and begin to see some results in loss of body fat and stabilized hormones.I feel AMAZING 80% of the time thanks to paleo, to my lifestyle choices… but I’m striving for 100% baby and I won’t stop until I get there.

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13 Thoughts to “Plateaus, Hormones and The Liver”

  1. Dora
    Cristina, I just love your post and it makes me happy to hear that I'm not the only one that is asking herself "Why am I not getting any results when I'm doing everything right?". My issues are similar to yours up to a point. I'm dealing with Hashimito's, SIBO and hormonal imbalance (low estrogen, high testosterone, high free cortisol). Before I used to go to traditional MD's who would prescribe me from contraceptive to diabetes meds...or just tell me that It's all in my head. I'm also happy that I'm not the only "crazy" one that does so much research to figure out how to get to an optimal health. This gives me hope that I'm not fighting in vain and I should just not give up! Thank you and I'm looking forward to hear more about your journey! Dora
    1. I think there are a lot more folks like us out there with something OTHER holding us back from seeing results, despite putting the work in. We'll figure it out! The important thing is not giving up.
  2. Ana Paula Parker
    Thank you for sharing. Im going through the same. I have tried many things and different approaches. I can't wait to move back to Miami and consult with my chiropractor which is also a natural path doctor . I struggle with my cycle. Im 49 and still have it and its always heavy and it lasts for DAYS . I don't have my thyroid glands so thats another bummer. And I'm diabetic,type 2. Ive done low carb/high fat with dairy, done paleo,no carb,high carb ,weight watchers....and so on. Im tired. My downfall is sweets. Ugh . Thanks for sharing .I still have tons to learn. Ana
    1. Hi Ana! By any chance is your doctor Daniel Bravo? Also, read that estrogen dominance can cause heavy flow. Mine is similar, long and heavy, something about making the uterine lining thicker. Hope your doc can help you. xo
  3. Elsa Hirsch
    Hi Christina, I too can say ditto to alot of what you've experienced. One thing that finally balanced my homones was accupuncture. First time I tried it was in 2000, I was 38 and only did it a couple of times with great results each time. About 10 or 11 years later after the onset of the auto-immune and the slew of symptoms & issues that came with it, I began to have heavy periods again (one lasting a month long) during what I believed was the onset of menopause. I tried accupuncture again, and sure enough, again it balanced my hormones, stopped the heavy bleeding, the pain, mood swings and night sweats . Went back one more time 6 months later (when it got heavy again) and it completed my cycle for good. I was thrilled to have had menopause over with within a years time! Woohoo! (Although I can say it felt like menopause my entire life since the onset at age 14, lol). I know your much younger than I but thought the info might help. Blessings, Elsa
  4. Love this Cristina! I know you already know about the issues I'm having with crazy acne and trying eliminating foods to see what's up ~~ but also feel like I'm probably having issues with estrogen dominance as well, which would obviously create all the cystic acne I'm seeing on my chin...crazy ridiculous (and so painful) ~~ I may look into that dutch test you mentioned. Although, my cycle is pretty much whacked since I'm full on into pre-menopause stuff and only had a handful of periods last year...hormones are a crazy thing aren't they!!!! Thanks for sharing all your feelings and so much of yourself with us...this community is so wonderful! Virtual hugs cute lady ~~ mwah! ~Michelle
  5. Dora
    Cristina, I'm currently reading the Adrenal Thyroid Revolution by Aviva Romm and I'm finding it really interesting for many conditions. (I have a Hashimoto's, adrenal fatigue and SIBO - great combo, right?) The first part of the book it was boring to me because it was talking about eliminating foods - and I was ok, been there done that! But after passing that part it became interesting. She has a 21 day protocol that will take you out of the "SOS" - what she calls when you're in the fight of flight and not coming out of it. In the book she's talking about ways to manage your cortisol but also has a bunch of herbal recommendations (I'm keeping the book now as a guideline especially for this). From my understanding you're having issues with the hormones (adrenals, sex hormones). Have you tested your thyroid (free T4, free T3, TPO antibodies)? Insulin resistance, weight gain without explanation, wacky sex hormones (I'm the opposite though: high testosterone and low estrogen) resonates so much with me that I have to ask :). For liver detox I found that NAC worked really good with me and is one of the best.
    1. Hi Dora! Thanks for all the info. I feel especially lost today, since the last book I was reading didn't have answers for me. My problem is that whenever I read these books... I am already doing all the "right things! And still stuck. My thyroids have been testes, usually in the normal range, on the low side. I have military health insurance so it's a bitch to get labs done. Thanks for all your input again, will definitely look into it.
      1. Dora
        Cristina, I understand you so well! I'm not saying that this will give you the answer (it didn't give me either) but gave me some guidelines and interesting information, especially about herbal supplements, adaptogens, etc.. If your thyroid is in the low spectrum I would suggest you check it more. I'm saying that because my thyroid is normal based on the standard tests (TSH, free T4, T3) but when I did a more detailed test, TPO antibodies were elevated which lead to my Autoimmune condition. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I work with an online functional med practitioner so all the tests I have to pay full price, nothing goes on the insurance. Anyway, if you decide to try exploring more the thyroid, the test I was given is a home kit (blood spot) made by ZRT Labs (it's $180 though...)
        1. I just ordered the DIM supplements... and will give this whole liver detox another 60 days... I spent about a grand over the holidays on out of pocket medical care... it wasn't 100% fruitless... but I can't spend any more right now. I need to see some of these things through before pivoting. Thank you again! I will definitely put a pin in this and keep it in my files as an options for me.
          1. Dora
            I hope you'll the to the bottom of this! Keep believing :)
  6. Tiffany
    What are your lab levels for free t3 and free t4? This Web site literally saved my life. Your free t3 needs to be high in range and free t4 midrange. I have hypothyroidism and have been thru the ringer. There are Facebook groups for the above and they are so helpful and for those with hashi, Adrenal issues, I have those too.
    1. I will look into that website. I need to get them re-tested, it's been over a year. Thank you!

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