fbpx Skip to main content


“Dear Maria and Craig, I wanted to send a big thank you to you for inspiring me back into the kitchen whilst helping my health at the same time! I’ve only been doing your program for a week now and was keto adapted since January. I’m only now seeing real results in my weight loss! The suggestions for supplements have helped my overall well being and the menus are a great way of helping me learn about quantities too. I will definitely write to you again with before and after pictures once I get to where I am happy with my weight and health. Kind Regards, Claudine. (Guetersloh, Germany)”

What are your goals for today? Diet does NOT mean deprivation!

Click HERE to get started today!

Cauliflower Rice Paella

I love exercise for so many reasons. For me, it boosts my soul and makes me happy. I love my morning run in the country…seeing deer, the silence, the emotion of gratitude… It took me years to enjoy running. When I first started, I remember aiming for 1/2 mile and that was tough. Now I run every morning without hardship and I do it because I love it, not for weight loss.

I did however sign up for a marathon 6 years ago for weight loss and guess what happened? I GAINED weight! I was running 2 times a day. I would get on the scale and it would go up! ARG. I ate the same low carb way…what is going on? I was overtraining, I went beyond  excessive cardio. My high-intensity exercise  routine pushed the body’s stress response too far, which lead to a cascade of biochemical responses that can caused damage to my health.

Cauliflower Rice Paella

First, let’s be more specific, MOST people do cardio to lose weight. Some people are more focused on the number on the scale rather than “fat” loss.  The majority of “fat” in our body (over 80%) is collected in one form and stored in body fat cells.  To get rid of it, we can use it as energy which is a process called lipolysis. BUT if you are a “sugar” burner, meaning, you fuel your body with carbs before you exercise, you don’t initiate the human growth hormone to burn fat…. you just burn “sugar.”

Too much cardio stimulates a stress hormone called Cortisol…yes, you probably heard advertisements for weight loss drugs to reduce cortisol, the undesired “belly fat” increasing hormone…Don’t waste your money on these. The easiest and free way to lower cortisol is to sleep! This is why most people gain weight in the summer…not enough sleep. Anyway, cortisol is the hormone that is released when the body is under stress. Stress can be from work, family, not enough sleep, bad eating habits, and excess exercise, such as marathon training, which all stimulate cortisol. All of our hormones go in waves, like the ocean, cortisol is naturally high in the morning, but chronically high levels of cortisol increases your risk for a variety of health issues, such as depression, weight gain, sleep disturbances, and digestive issues. Also, cortisol and testosterone seem to conflict; Aerobic work = more cortisol release = less available testosterone (and you know what that does) while cortisol is elevated.

Excess cardio also affects our brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin  GABA, and dopamine which are our feel-good, anti-anxiety brain waves. Craving for carbohydrates and binge eating is associated with low serotonin levels. When you burn these out with stress and intense exercise this leads to feelings of depression, chronic fatigue and sleep disorders. A shortage of these healthy neurotransmitters negatively affect the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, which can cause serious conditions such as hypothyroidism. This is why I ask my clients if their thyroid disorder happened during a stressful event. Stress = excessive adrenal hormone output = adrenal burnout = adrenals steal from thyroid.  Hypothyroidism is known to cause weight gain, depression, constipation and digestive dysfunction along with other undesired problems. Again, stress can be from a loss of a loved one, family stress, work stress, exercise induced stress, not enough sleep and poor eating habits.

Excessively intense exercise can cause a variety of health problems, especially for those dealing with other concurrent stressors such as autoimmune disease, leaky-gut, or adrenal fatigue. On the other hand, short, high-intensity workouts are awesome for stimulating the human growth hormone, which induces fat loss.

Another issue when women complain that they are feeling more tired, losing their hair, and not losing weight with exercise is that they are most likely low in iron. About 90% of women are low in iron due to menstruation, a diet filled with gluten which inhibits iron to be absorbed, and excess cardio. Cardio causes you to also lose iron. Fat loss is all about oxidation… if you lack iron you have a hard time carrying oxygen to the mitochondria of you cell, which is where you burn fat. SO, if you are low in iron, fat burning is hard to accomplish. The problem comes in when we push ourselves too hard and we deplete our body even more of this mineral each time you step onto that treadmill. I have a whole chapter about working out for your menstrual cycle in my book: Secrets to a Healthy Metabolism for more tips on how to burn fat efficiently. 

Cauliflower Rice Paella

I am still very active, I run in the morning, lift HEAVY weights, practice yoga and walk with my boys after dinner, but I no longer HAVE to run or workout. I do it because I love it.


 Cauliflower Rice Paella

To find this recipe, click HERE.


Traditional Paella = 736 calories, 35g fat, 55g protein, 46g carbs, 2.9g fiber (43.1 effective carbs)
“Healthified” Paella = 531 calories, 32g fat, 55g protein, 3.8g carbs, 1.3g fiber (2.3 effective carbs)



Maria Emmerich

Maria is a wellness expert who has helped clients follow a Ketogenic lifestyle to heal and lose weight for over 20 years. She has helped thousands of clients get healthy, get off medications and heal their bodies; losing weight is just a bonus. She is the international best selling author of several books including "Keto: The Complete Guide to Success on the Ketogenic Diet.".


  • Dana Seilhan says:

    I’m suspicious of that whole serotonin racket, that it doesn’t go down quite the way most doctors say it does.

    Serotonin is part of the trypotophan-to-melatonin cascade that helps us sleep at night. Right there I have a hard time believing that it relieves depression. Depression is not a sad feeling, although sadness is usually a part of the disorder. It is a stuckness, an unable-to-move-ness. Just the opposite of happy and perky. I would not expect serotonin to produce “happy and perky,” because it comes from tryptophan which makes you sleepy (by way of 5-HTP) and then turns into melatonin which knocks you the heck out if it’s dark enough in the room. It’d be weird if you went from snoozy to happy and perky to conked out, wouldn’t it?

    I’ve heard it said that most people’s problems with depression, where it’s caused by neurotransmitter screwups, is *too much* serotonin rather than not enough, and that the reason SSRIs work for depression is that depression is associated with a slowdown of cell turnover in the hippocampus region of the brain. This explains why in most people for whom SSRIs work, the drugs don’t work immediately even though they do increase available serotonin right away. It takes about a week to two weeks for the hippocampus to ramp up its new cell production.

    When I think of “the happy neurotransmitter” I think of dopamine. You don’t want too much dopamine, because it will increase impulsive behavior and tends to give you a hair-trigger temper. People with bipolar disorder often have an overage of dopamine during their manic phase. But in the right amount it would do wonders for mood in a person who is habitually, mentally “stuck” as in depression.

    Or, as you say: get more sleep. Serotonin is converted to melatonin so you need to get enough sleep in a dark room to “burn off” the extra serotonin you produce. So aside from helping the cortisol issue, you’re helping your mood as well.

    And yeah, I know, doctors will argue with me about this, and I’m not an MD so what do I know. On the other paw, I don’t see any of them testing for serotonin levels before putting their patients on SSRIs, and I have a few choice words to say about that, but this ain’t my blog and I don’t think you’d appreciate my language. 😉

    BTW, those who claim that low-carb diets are unhealthy use as one of their arguments the claim that you need to eat carbohydrates in order to produce serotonin. The argument is that increasing your insulin levels triggers production of that neurotransmitter. But think about how many cases of depression you see in carb addicts. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

    • I deal with depression quite a bit. It isn’t as easy as popping a pill. I get people off of their depression medication all the time. We use natural ways of increasing mood, such as high amounts of fish oil (or brain is 60% fat) and lots of probiotics. Our nervous system goes from our gut to our brain.

      Carbs do increase serotonin, but not without consequence. It becomes a vicious cycle of addiction, because what comes up must come down. So when your blood sugar falls, so does serotonin, and you need another fix.

    • Loved this post. I especially love the picture of your feet. Not in a fetishy way. They have been places, and work hard, and I think that is beautiful.

  • Stacy says:

    In reference to the spirulina, I bought “Spirulina Crunchies” and added them to your 45 calorie pudding recipe. They added a nice crunch to the pudding and the pudding in turn masked a little of the spirulina grassy flavor. I just had to really brush my teeth afterward – my mouth was GREEN. Have you ever heard of this product?

  • Kim says:

    Would you just sprinkle Spirulina on your food? Like the rice or chicken? How else could you get this in? Thanks!

  • Even am going to try this maria.Thanks!

  • Cassidy says:


    I have taken Spirulina supplements in the past (from Trader Joes) and they broke me out in red patches all over. I had the itches like crazy. Is there any other supplement that is similar?? Maybe Klamath??

  • Megan Napier says:

    I just finished reading your book “Secrets to a Healthy Metabolism”. It was very informative. It is startling how bad wheat is for our bodies. I never knew! After reading your book I picked up “Wheat Belly” By Dr. Davis. I am now on the gluten free band wagon. I am glad that you have lots of recipes that are hearty and healthy. It has made the transition easier. I made paella last week and loved it. I froze half because it makes a ton. I hope it freezes well.

  • hey,

    love all your tips and recipes!! i was just recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes im trying to figure this whole thing out… your recipes have been so insprining and have given me new hope!! thank you!! now im trying to figure out portion control. I wanna lose a little weight and still be on your recommened amount of 50 carbs a day(i think i read that somewhere?. im trying to figure out if i should be looking at the calories and the carbs, or just the carbs on your recipes? im 5″7 and weigh 139. my belly is where all my extra weight goes! thanks much!

    • I reccomend limiting carbs as much as you can and staying below 30g of carbs a day. I find that the more fat I eat (while eating less carbs) I am less hungry and eat less overall. 🙂

  • Thank you for your awesome recipes!!!! I love your adoption story! I read that you limit your daily carb intake to 20. Can you give me an example of what a typical eating day looks like for you. Does it change depending on activity? How did you decide on 20?

  • Lisa says:

    Is Spirulina the best choice for preventing carb cravings? Tonight I’m just dying for a pizza and came on here to try to find the best way to prevent this. If so, how much should I take?

  • Susan says:

    Hi Maria. I’ve just discovered your website and story. It is fascinating! I recently had an IgG food test done which resulted in a low sensitivity to coconut. Do you have any other recommendations for fueling during long runs? I too run marathons and am looking for an alternative to gel packs. Thanks!

  • Chris says:

    I have been diagnosed with Ménière’s disease and the vertigo came back this weekend. The dr. Said it was because of the sodium content of the food (bacon) that I had been eating tryinG to do a keto adapted diet. Cam someone like me do this diet? I need to lose over 100 lbs and I don’t want this vertigo to keep coming back. Can you help me?

    • cemmerich says:

      I don’t think that is the case. I think this diet would be beneficial to you once you get keto adapted. 🙂

  • Mais says:

    I’m new to your blog but after reading just a few posts I’m hooked! My question is regarding running; how do you marathon train without getting into “chronic” cardio, or over training? I’ve been low -carb for several years, with a few months using nutritional ketosis last year (thinking of trying it again, especially after finding your blog), and I love racing! I have run distances from 5k-marathon, but my current goal is to BQ. I tend to gain weight when I’m training for marathons, but I, like you, LOVE to run so it’s not something I want to give up. I also don’t want to gain fat. I read Ben Greenfield’s book and feel that his minimalist training approach seems healthiest for me, but I’m still a bit at a loss on how to put this all together to increase my performance without burning out. Any advice? Thanks!

    • cemmerich says:

      I run 5 miles a day (mostly because I love it) and am always in ketosis. Never did more than that before the marathon and did great. 😉

  • Kristine says:

    Maria, do you have suggestions / tips on making saffron cauli-rice? I loved saffron rice in my former lifestyle and this is really the one dish I miss more than any other. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Free Email Updates

Don't miss any of our free content or sales!

We respect your privacy. We never share your information with anyone.