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How to Avoid Side Effects of a Keto Diet
Eating low-carb is an awesome way to lose weight and improve your overall health. When you start to burn fat instead of sugar (carbohydrates) your body needs to adjust to its new energy source and you may experience some short-lived side effects.
Power through this phase with our top tips to avoid the low points of the low-carb diet.
While not as restrictive as the ketogenic diet, most people eating a low-carb diet stay within a range of 50-130 grams of carbs per day. This activates ketosis and your body starts metabolizing fat instead of glucose. Ketosis is often accompanied by temporary symptoms similar to the flu.
In the first few days, you induce (hence, the name “induction flu”) these side effects but they generally don’t last more than 14 days. Dehydration and loss of salt are the main culprits.
The solution is a solution: Drink more water and increase electrolytes. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to your water (maximum twice per day) and ensure you’re getting sufficient potassium and magnesium.
Drink bone broths (chicken, beef) for more flavorful beverages. Kettle & Fire is a great brand.
Leg cramps are common and unpleasant (though temporary) when you’re eating low-carb.
Once again, use the remedy for induction flu. Increase hydration with some additional salt and supplement with magnesium and potassium.
Try slightly increasing your intake of carbs, at least temporarily.
A low-carb diet can cause constipation because your fiber intake drops.
With less fiber, you may need to increase fluids and add more salt in order to avoid constipation.
Increase healthy dietary fat sources.
Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup non-starchy vegetables or salad to your breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Try adding avocado, chia seeds, coconut oil, flaxseed meal, psyllium husks, or ground flax.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Add salt to your fluids as discussed in “Induction Flu.”
Low Energy and Exercise
When you start a low-carb diet, your energy levels typically change gradually at first and then taper off after about one to two weeks. If fatigue continues, add a few more carbs to mitigate this condition.
If you have a regular workout routine, be prepared to lighten up until your body is used to burning fat for energy. The process may take a while so be patient and listen to your body.
Eventually, when you have transitioned to fat burning, you will find your energy levels restored and your stamina may increase.
Another side effect of a keto diet is bad breath (halitosis). This is a common and temporary symptom when you start eating a low-carb diet.
When you restrict carbs, you activate ketogenesis and your body produces ketone bodies (acetone, acetoacetate, and beta-hydroxybutyrate) that are used for energy instead of sugar.
Your breath may smell like nail polish remover but don’t be worried. Acetone, the main ingredient in nail polish remover, is one of the ketone bodies you’re producing. Hence, the odor.
Rather than being disconcerting, take this symptom as reassurance that you’re transitioning to burning fat instead of sugar.
🙌 I say YES to this 🙌
To mask this unpleasant smell, use mouthwash, chew sugarless gum or mints, drink plenty of fluids, and add extra salt.
Elevated Heart Rate
As your body adjusts to ketosis, you may experience a temporary rise in heart rate. This is typical and nothing to be concerned about unless there are additional symptoms of chest discomfort, weakness, or dizziness.
We may sound like a broken record but hydration and extra salt should alleviate heart palpitations.
It is important not to let an elevation in heart rate lead to excess anxiety. If the increase continues for more than two weeks, see your physician for further evaluation.
Less Tolerance to Alcohol
People on low-carb diets provide considerable anecdotal evidence that lower quantities of alcoholic beverages can impair them more quickly than when they were eating high-carb foods.
Research corroborates the experience of intoxication after fewer drinks.
With nutritional ketosis, you have a low level of glycogen in your bloodstream. The alcohol is delivered to your liver and converted to acetaldehyde, which is metabolized more quickly.
The bottom line: You’ll get drunk faster.
Granted, it may be cheaper but your hangover will be worse.
Slow down and alternate sips of wine or hard liquor with water. This will help you avoid dehydration. Avoid high-carb beverages like beer and high-sugar drinks.
To help you select keto friendly low-carb wines we have developed a simple guide when you want to imbibe.
A small amount of hair loss is possible if you are not properly following a healthy low-carb diet. The good news is that this side effect of a keto diet is completely reversible.
When you activate ketosis you are increasing stress on your body. That means that you need to get adequate sleep (7-8 hours per night) and you may need to moderate your exercise regime.
Often, when people restrict carbohydrates they make the mistake of consuming too little protein and an inadequate amount of calories.
Ensure that you consume sufficient protein along with biotin-rich foods. Biotin (vitamin B-7) is vital to a healthy head of hair.
Improved Cholesterol Levels
A low-carb diet will usually increase HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce LDL (bad cholesterol. Normally, we associate increased fat intake with high LDL but this has been proven by studies to be a myth for most people.
Some individuals, however, do experience an increase in LDL, and in these cases, levels should be monitored closely. You can purchase FDA-approved home kits to test your own levels.
If you have concerns, see your physician.
To minimize the risk of a rise in LDL, ensure that you are eating sufficient healthy, unsaturated fats. Avoid processed foods and refined sugar.
Move Forward on Your Low-Carb Journey
Switching to a new diet regime low in carbohydrates will help you reach your weight-loss goal.
In the early stages, the transition may cause some temporary side effects but with the correct strategies, you can overcome these obstacles and progress to your target weight while improving your overall health.
If you need support, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always here to help you on the path to your better self.
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MEDICAL AND NUTRITION DISCLAIMER…Please note that I am not a medical or nutritional professional. I am simply recounting and sharing my own experiences on this blog. Nutritional break downs are done using a commercial nutrition calculator. Nothing I express here should be taken as medical advice and you should consult with your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program. I provide nutritional information for my recipes simply as a courtesy to my readers, this should never be construed as medical advice.