What To Expect When Going On A Keto Diet
By now, you’ve probably heard about the popular low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet. But you may wonder who to believe and what to believe about the diet. Yes, sometimes the feedback about the diet can be very divisive.
Your neighbor might say he shed off a lot of pounds, but your co-worker might say he stopped following the diet after a week. Now, if you might be wondering who or what to believe about the Ketogenic, this article is for you.
This article will help you explore everything you need to know and expect when going on the ketogenic diet.
What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The Ketogenic diet started in the 1920s. However, the ketogenic diet was primarily used as an alternative treatment for epilepsy back then. Over the years, however, scienced-based research made it possible for us to know the broad benefits of the diet. Among the help of the Ketogenic diet is its effect on energy levels, weight loss, in managing type I & type II diabetes, insulin levels, and blood sugar.
The Ketogenic diet is one of the extreme low carb diets. As such, the ketogenic diet works by restricting your body of your typical carbohydrate intake and increasing your healthy fat intake. The goal of the ketogenic diet is for your body to enter the metabolic state of Ketosis.
How does it work?
A typical person’s source of energy is carbohydrates through your glycogen stores. However, the ketogenic diet works to change this. The ketogenic diet necessarily works to restrict yourself from your carb intake and increase your healthy fat intake. Necessarily, your body will not have enough glycogen stores and will instead source energy from others. Since this diet requires you to increase your healthy fat intake, your body will now source fuel from those fats, converted into ketones. When your body successfully does this, your body will now enter the metabolic state of Ketosis, which is the goal of the ketogenic diet.
There are different types of the ketogenic diet, each with varying ratios of macronutrient. However, a standard keto diet has the following macronutrient ratio:
- 70-75% fat
- 20-25% protein
- 5-7% carbohydrates
What You Need to Expect When Going on a Keto Diet
Now the question stands: who and what should you believe about the ketogenic diet? Well, both sides have part truth to their own stories. Like any other diet, it is worthy to note that the keto experience varies from individual to individual. So what may have been their experience may be different or similar to yours.
But if you’re thinking of following the ketogenic diet, there are agreed expectations medical experts have about the diet. So if it’s your first time to follow the keto diet, you best set your mind and self up for success by knowing and preparing for what lies ahead.
1. Entering the metabolic state of Ketosis quickly
As you know, entering the metabolic state of Ketosis is the ultimate goal of the ketogenic diet, where your body burns fat as a fuel source than carbs. Ketosis is why the diet plan is configured to be very low in carb, moderate in protein, and high in fat.
When you start the ketogenic diet and strictly follow its restriction, you can expect your body to enter Ketosis in 24-48 hours. Note that this all depends on your discipline and carb intake. If you’re lax in this area, then it will necessarily take you longer than the average time your body enters Ketosis.
Also, you should know as early as now that the keto diet is not just another diet where you avoid sugar and grains. No. A keto diet necessarily entails you saying goodbye to fruits, legumes, starchy vegetables, and most dairy for you to hit those super low carb targets. Considering how easy it is to consume more carbs than we plan to, it’s important to start tracking your carb intake religiously. If you find manual tracking inefficient and inconvenient, there are many carb trackers you can find online for a more seamless and efficient carb tracking.
2. Feeling awful at the start
Remember your neighbor, who said he shed off weight with the keto diet? Well, that might not be the entire story. He might also have had his fair share of awful keto experience beginning the diet, otherwise known as the keto flu.
What is this keto flu? Is it dangerous? What happens to my body?
“the keto flu is less of an illness and more of a feeling of lethargy”.
The keto flu is one of your body’s signs of resistance to change. You may be used to the high-carb diet all your life. If this is true for you, your body is also used to source its energy from carbohydrates. The moment you slash off your carb intake and increase your healthy fat intake, your body finds it hard to supply the power you need as quickly. During the transition phase, your body will struggle to adapt to the new changes you want to make. During this interim, your body manifests its discomfort to its new standard of doing things, and discomfort usually comes from a Keto flu.
3. The Keto Flu
The Keto flu refers to a broad set of symptoms individuals may experience when starting the keto diet. However, these symptoms are usually a minor and short term, lasting between a few days and weeks.
Here are the common symptoms of the keto flu that you should look out for:
- difficulty tolerating exercise
Does everyone who starts the diet experience keto flu? No. If you’re used to a relatively low-carb diet even before starting a keto diet, then your body may have already adapted to a new way of doing things.
Should I be worried when I experience symptoms of the keto flu? Again, no. The symptoms you may feel maybe your body’s natural response to change. However, if these symptoms persist, it’s always best to consult your trusted medical expert for developments.
4. Feeling thirsty all the time.
Are you experiencing the keto dry mouth? Does your mouth feel like it is sand of dessert? Do not worry as this is a common side effect when you are in a keto diet. Changing your diet by increasing your high-fat diet intake to about 80 percent of your daily calories and reducing your carb intake below 50 net grams per day can really have a significant impact on your body’s dehydration.
As you change your diet, your metabolism also changes. This also influences your body’s electrolyte and fluid balance. That is why you sometimes find yourself feeling excessively thirsty. Also, you may find yourself frequently going to the washroom. Once you feel these symptoms, always make it a daily habit to increase your water intake and other carb fluids to alleviate your thirst.
Another cause as to why you feel thirsty all the time is because you are reducing your carb intake. Reducing your carb intake means your body is losing another water storage source. As you eat carbohydrates, your body converts these carbohydrates to glycogen. These glycogens help store water in your body (about 3 grams of water). Consequently, these glycogens are burned to be your body’s fuel source. This means that your body is not burning for energy alone and reduces the amount of water in your body. Furthermore, when you are in a keto diet, you reduce your carb intake, your body’s glycogen stores are steadily depleted without any replacement. This causes a drastic shift in your body’s electrolyte and fluid balance.
There’s another reason for keto dry mouth: changes in your body’s insulin levels. The pancreas releases insulin once you take in carbohydrates and sugar as an energy source. This will trigger the kidneys to hold onto water and sodium. However, if you lessen your intake of carbohydrates and sugar, the insulin level in your body falls. The kidney will then release the stored sodium and water, which will result in a reduced water level of the body prompting you to feel thirsty.
5. Feeling feel full most of the times
Contrary to what the word diet connotes, entering into a keto diet does not mean you’ll feel hungry, or you’ll make yourself hungry. Most of the time, you’ll feel extremely full despite the fact that you are on a diet. This mental shift is surprising, considering the general notion of diet – being restrictive. The keto diet comprises mostly of fat. Fat, as described, allows you to feel satisfied synonymous with feeling full. As such, when starting your keto diet, you might not meet your carb allotment or target quickly since it would be tough to eat the expected fat intake due to you always feeling full.
6. Feeling of deprivation
Despite the general feeling of being full all the time, some who enter into the keto diet may feel deprived. This is not a surprise since diet as a practice means restriction- carb restriction, changing the allowed foods your body intake, and cutting back on foods not covered by the diet. When shifting to a diet, the body needs to be comfortable during the adaptation period. During this time, you might feel deprived of all the food you enjoyed before. However, one of the strengths of the keto diet is that the diet allows you to eat what you want or any of your food choices as long as it falls within the carb intake restriction.
You might ask: why would I feel deprived if the diet allows discretion on my food choices or on what to eat? This is because not everyone is the same. While the diet indeed allows for discretion, as long as it falls within the carb restriction, some cannot eat their favorite or the food they so crave at the moment because it falls over the carb restriction and target. In a sense, you still feel deprived despite the general feeling of being full and having discretion on what to and not to eat. It would be best if you still hit the target on your carb allotment or restriction.
7. Staggering lifestyle shock
When you decided to venture into the keto diet, it does not mean that all you have to do is cut back on your carb eating or allotment or your total calories. Cutting back on your previous meal plan to suit the keto diet plan is just one of these changes.
The process changes how your body produces insulin level or water, to name a few. It does not only affect your physical state but also your mental state. You should enter the diet with mental clarity and plan – what you want to achieve and what your expectations are. It might be a challenge as you go through your adaptation period, and that is okay.
Entering into this diet means that you have to be firm with the changes you might feel. Always remember that these are not permanent and are only the instant response of the body. This is where it might feel overwhelming and will take you to a state of shock. However, these are all part of the process. You have to be fully prepared and not undergo drastic changes without a plan (good plan).
The primary indicator when the diet is for you is that at the end of the day, you feel satisfied. If you are constantly feeling deprived, fatigued, and uninterested in eating, these are some indications that there are some things in the diet you should reconsider or reassess or even reassess your keto diet entirely. There is no prohibition for you not to change things up when you might feel like the diet is falling. Search well and experiment on food combinations while assessing their total carbs, saturated fat, and other elements. Do this until you feel the set-up being best for you.
This does not mean that the only concern you should have when entering into the keto diet is to lose weight or your goal weight. At the end of the day, you want to attain a sustainable diet that makes you feel satisfied, refreshed, and healthy. A sustainable diet and healthy eating habits should embed well in your lifestyle. The diet should go well with your desired and loved activities, fitness level, and pace.
Disclaimer: This content provides general information only and not a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your registered dietitian doctor for more details.