Women In Low Carb Series: Amy Berger
We continue our series covering female voices in the metabolic health space. Today we wanted to highlight the work and achievements of Amy Berger. Amy Berger is the accomplished author of several books including the Alzehimer’s Antidote, The Stall Slayer and End Your Carb Confusion. She has been a featured lecture at Low Carb Denver, SMHP in Boca among other notable conferences. She holds a Masters in Nutrition and has an accomplished blog.
Amy found her way into the low carb space, almost 20 years ago, to lose weight. She explains "I’ve battled my weight for most of my life – when I was a kid, my parents owned an ice cream and novelty shop, so I was literally “a kid in a candy store.” Amy explains that growing up she wasn’t particularly active either. As a child, she explains that “my favorite thing to do was sit in a comfy chair and read books – and that wasn’t exactly a recipe for a slender, fit child.”
She explains that as she got older she got more serious about diet and exercise but she quickly noticed that the weight never budged no matter how hard she worked or what she did … until, of course, she found low-carb.
Her life was so greatly impacted by carbohydrate restriction that she changed careers to become a nutritionist, over 20 years ago. She explains that now that she’s been eating this way for almost twenty years she is not only fascinated by weight loss but also with “all the other things low-carb and keto diets can do, like reversing type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and PCOS; getting rid of heartburn, joint pain, and skin problems; and possibly even helping with neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; and psychiatric issues like bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression.” For reference, see our previous article on keto and mental health.
Amy explains that she found low-carb the good old fashion way “long before Twitter, Facebook, IG, and YouTube even existed.” “My mother bought Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution at a yard sale!” Amy believes “it’s one of the best books to read on the topic. Dr. Atkins was a brilliant clinician and WAY ahead of his time.” We, of course agree with Amy!
Although many have heard Amy on podcasts like Low Carb MD, and seen her talk at conferences, few may realize that her first time really sticking to the low carb lifestyle was in 2003. She explains that she “needed to lose weight to enlist in the Air Force. I was above the maximum weight for my height at the time and absolutely, positively, needed to get the weight off if I was going to get in. I knew low-carb worked and now I had a stronger motivation to actually do it. I’ve been low-carb ever since.”
And 20 years later, she keeps things simple. “I’m always low-carb; sometimes keto, sometimes not. I don’t weigh and measure my food or do any kind of tracking... I eat mostly animal proteins – whatever’s on sale or whatever I’m in the mood for.” When she can, she does like to support local small business, “I’ve worked at small local farms and like to buy meat and eggs from local farms when I can, but that’s fairly expensive so most of my food comes from the regular store with occasional things added in to support the small farmers in my area.” We appreciate the small business love Amy!
She also explains that she doesn’t keep too many treats in the home whether its sugar-filled or keto she won’t stock it “its best for me to not have those things on hand in my home on a regular basis.” Alas, some of us are abstainers while others are moderators!
When it comes to pork rinds, guacamole, sour cream, nuts and nut butters, Amy was quite clear. She is an abstainer, “We all have to know our own individual trigger foods. Most of these things weren’t a problem for me when I first got started, but they are now”
She explains that even though she has maintained her diet for 20 years, she still struggles. Amy has been open about her struggles with night-time binging and her depression. She explains that while the ketogenic diet has helped her, she has still had to use some conventional approaches to tackle both of these issues and addressing her hormonal issues have helped her improve her mental health.
Amy answered a few more questions for us which we have decided to share with you:
Best advice you received (and from whom)?
I am massively indebted to my co-author on the book End Your Carb Confusion, Dr. Eric Westman. It’s a privilege to learn from one of the keto “OGs” – someone who’s been in this space for over twenty years and has more clinical experience than so many people claiming to be “experts” or authorities these days. There isn’t one single “best” piece of advice I’ve gleaned from him, more just his overall approach of keeping things simple and uncomplicated. The more you ask people to micromanage and control, the less likely it is they’re actually going to stick with this and do it for the long term. Getting a little more granular, both for my own personal diet and my work with clients, probably the best thing I’ve learned from him is that if keto “isn’t working” for someone, look for the most obvious reason first: they’re probably just eating too many carbs! Sometimes it can also be too much fat, but the bottom line is, go to the most likely culprits first. Eight times out of ten, that’s all you have to do – adjust the diet a little. Don’t worry about the microbiome, thyroid, meal timing, stress, and things like that when it’s more likely someone is simply eating too much carbohydrate. (Once the diet is corrected, if someone is still struggling, then you can look to those other things, but don’t start there.)
What advice would you provide for low carb newbies?
KEEP IT SIMPLE!
Tune out the noise. It’s great to be interested in the “latest and greatest” with this way of eating but I see so many people completely psyching themselves out and getting totally overwhelmed because they’re listening to fifteen keto podcasts every week and watching twenty videos and following a ton of people on other social media and they’re all saying something different. You’re going to be confused and frustrated and end up giving up because there’s too much conflicting and overly complicated information out there. Master the basics of just keeping your carbs very low – that alone is going to take you pretty far.
What is your favorite low-carb hack (if you have one)?
If you’re having trouble sticking to a low-carb or keto diet and gaining any long-term momentum, it can help to temporarily forget about any specific weight loss goal or staying within any specific amount of protein, fat, and carbs, or eating only a certain number of meals or within a certain period of time each day. Eat as much as you want, as often as you want – just make sure it’s all very low in carbs. You can adjust the quantity of what you eat and how often over time, but the first step is just to get your body accustomed to being without sugar & starch. People get too caught up in the details and “advanced techniques” before they’ve even mastered the most basic, fundamental thing.
What books are on your coffee table from this space?
My favorite books are a mix of the ones that I think are the most educational about the science of how low-carb diets work (so that you know it’s absolutely based in fundamental human physiology and isn’t some crazy wacko thing someone came up with out of nowhere) and the ones that give the most helpful advice on how to actually do low-carb/keto in the real world. My top few are Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living and End Your Carb Confusion. (Am I allowed to mention my own book if I think it’s genuinely helpful? Haha!) I also think Dr. Jason Fung’s books, The Obesity Code and The Diabetes Code, are fantastic.
Which accomplishment are you most proud about?
I’m honored that my book about low-carb/ketogenic diets for Alzheimer’s disease (The Alzheimer’s Antidote) has helped so many people. Research continues to emerge that Alzheimer’s is a fuel problem in the brain – and the fuel shortage is specific to glucose. Increasing evidence also makes the case stronger that insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are major risk factors, and that Alzheimer’s might be a candidate to be added to the already long list of non-communicable diseases that are metabolic in origin. (In fact, some people call Alzheimer’s “type 3 diabetes.”)
I also love that people see me as a voice of sanity, reason, sensibility, and simplicity in the keto world. I’m honored when people tell me that they look to me for rational, down-to-earth advice about this way of eating and that something I said or wrote helped them get clarity and understanding.
Is there anything else you want us to know about you or share?
Start by doing one thing: just keep your carb intake very low. That’s it. See how far that alone takes you and then add in some “bells & whistles” later on if you want to take things to another level. And above all: don’t give up on yourself! If you slip, just get right back on plan at your very next meal. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Don’t wait for Monday, or until after the holiday or some social event. One of my mentors says, “Don’t blow the day when saving the day is an option.” No guilt, shame, or self-loathing. It’s just food, and you’re always only one bite away from being back on plan.
We are so honored to feature Amy Berger. Her military service, her academic accomplishments, her publications and down-to-earth recommendations make her an invaluable addition to the Low Carb & Metabolic Health community. Check out her website here along with her YouTube channel.