A ketogenic, or “keto,” diet is a popular weight loss craze that many people have been talking about.
The idea behind this diet is to make your body safely transition from relying on carbohydrates as your main fuel source and use ketones (a product of fat metabolism) instead. According to The Keto Beginning all forms of carbohydrate increase your body’s blood sugar levels.
As a response, it releases insulin to control the increase in glucose by pushing the glucose back into your cells. This results in feeling hungry again. This cycle of blood sugar spikes causes your body to experience endless hunger and cravings.
In a keto diet, you will limit yourself from eating carbohydrates and replace your nutritional requirements with high-fat foods and adequate protein. This diet switch will alter your body’s metabolism into a state of ketosis, which is the state where your body burns fat for its energy source instead of glucose.
This change in your diet can cause significant effects to your body since it is used to rely on carbohydrates for energy.
As your body slowly adapts to this new, ketogenic state, you will start to feel a lack in energy and may even become sluggish. This is a normal occurrence as your body adapts to a ketogenic state, thus using all your glycogen stores; this commonly occurs during the first week of dieting.
During this time, you may feel bouts of headache, dizziness, and mental fogginess. It is also during this time that it is highly advised that you constantly drink water and keep your sodium intake up to counter the diuretic effect of this diet.
Side effects of a keto diet
Keto diet results vary from person to person, but usually, the common side effects are related to dehydration and the lack of micronutrients (vitamins). These side effects, although uncomfortable, are relatively minor and should go away after some time.
During the first week of being on a keto diet, most people will experience the “keto flu” which are symptoms that mimic the common flu. Headache, lethargy, feelings of nausea, confusion or brain fog, and irritability will be felt.
There are a few reasons why some people experience the keto flu, primarily dehydration and lack of vitamins and minerals. Being on a keto diet has a natural diuretic effect. This is why you’ll find yourself urinating more frequently. This contributes to loss of fluid and electrolytes.
This is also a sign that your body is slowly adapting to the diet. Because your body is used to consuming moderate to large amounts of carbohydrates on a daily basis, switching to a very low-carb and high-fat diet will require it to adapt by creating enzymes to meet the new demands.
Plus, your brain relies highly on glucose to function, and since it’s short of supply, transitioning can cause your brain to lag a bit, causing grogginess, headaches and nausea.
Solution: You can help ease the transition by initially following a moderate to low-carb diet before actually shifting to the standard keto diet.
Keep your body well-hydrated by drinking lots of water. Adding salt to your diet can also help alleviate the symptoms, aside from adding salt to your meals, you can also add half a teaspoon of salt to a large glass of water before you drink it.
Alternatively, you can replenish lost sodium and fluid by drinking bouillon broth (i.e. chicken, beef, bone broth). Make sure that you have an adequate fat intake when you are on a low-carb diet; an easy way to do this is by adding butter to whatever you’re eating.
Again, as a natural diuretic, a keto diet results in loss of minerals when you frequently urinate, in this case magnesium.
Solution: You can reduce the effects by increasing your water and fluid intake. Adequate salt and adding magnesium supplements can also help. As a last resort, you can slightly increase your carb intake initially and taper it down slowly; however, this can result in a slower transition to ketosis.
Changes in bowel habits
Constipation and indigestion are common side effects of a ketogenic diet. This is a normal response of your gut bacteria since it will first need to adapt to the drastic change in the food you eat. Normal bowel habits should improve after a couple of weeks.
Solution: Increase you water intake and your fiber intake. Choose low-carbohydrate but fiber-rich vegetables and include them in your meals as much as you can
If you notice your breath (even your sweat or urine) having a distinct fruity smell to it, similar to how nail polish removers smell, then it’s a sign of ketosis.
This smell is from acetone, a ketone body, which is a result of your body burning fats and converting it to ketones. It leaks through your breath or sweat. Usually, this goes away after a few weeks, but for others, the fruity breath stays.
Solution: Drink enough water not only to hydrate your body but also to keep your mouth moist. A dry mouth can easily be a good breeding ground for bacteria which can cause bad breath. Properly maintaining your oral hygiene will also help, although it won’t take away the smell.
Using a breath freshener can help mask the smell. If you are really uncomfortable of the smell, you can introduce a bit more carbs back into your diet to lessen the effects of ketosis.
These are just some of the effects of being on a keto diet. In general, with proper guidance, the benefits that you can get outweigh the side effects. The Keto Beginning provides tons of great information about the keto diet.
This comprehensive guide will assist you during the induction phase, until you achieve the results you’re aiming for. You will be guided in preparing your meals, buying your groceries and in calculating those macros. All these and more information awaits you when you purchase the guide.
Beneficial keto diet results such as faster weight loss, controlled blood sugar levels for diabetics, improved mental focus, a fitter body and an overall healthier you—these are all attainable when you start your journey using The Keto Beginning as your guide.