What to expect when you first start a Low Carb or Keto lifestyle

Hey everyone!

Thanks for coming back for another post, today I’m going to cover what you can expect when you first move onto a low carb or ketogenic lifestyle.

Sorry to say it’s not going to be fun and games to begin with! So we covered a few symptoms that you could keep an eye out to know if you are in ketosis, those being:

  • Increased Urination
  • Dry Mouth
  • Bad Breath (Sorry lol)
  • Increased Energy & Less Hunger

Whilst these things are usually tell tell signs of your body making the switch from burning sugar to fat and reaching ketosis, the first few weeks of your keto journey might be a bit of a rough ride and you might experience something called “keto flu”.

Not everyone experiences keto flu so if you don’t count yourself extremely lucky!!

“What exactly is keto flu?!”

It’s pretty much what it sounds like, you will have flu-like symptoms which are caused by your body going through withdrawal from sugar. Keep in mind if you have been eating bread, rice, pasta and things like this for years (which most of us have been) your body will have gotten used to a constant sugar supply. If you choose to go cold turkey your body will still be looking for sugar and when it doesn’t get it…..it doesn’t always react in the nicest of ways!

Things you might experience if you get keto flu

Signs of keto flu may start to pop up a few days after you cut back on your carb intake and can vary in severity from person to person. Below is a list of things you may experience in the first couple of weeks of starting keto.

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Brain Fog or Trouble Concentrating
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Constipation
  • Workout Weakness
  • Irritable
  • Sugar Cravings

If your keto flu lasts more than a couple of weeks there are a few things you can try to speed up the process of getting rid of it.

  • Stay Hydrated: Here’s that good old water recommendation again! Staying hydrated in the first few weeks of making the switch to a low carb diet is key. It doesn’t have to be just boring water, you can have herbal teas or water with slices of fruit to give it a bit of flavour. You can also have tea & coffee without the sugar or something called bulletproof coffee or keto coffee, I’ll be doing a post on what to drink on keto later so keep an eye out for that.
  • Replace Electrolytes:  Replacing electrolytes can sometimes help reduce the symptoms of keto flu faster. When you follow a low carb or keto diet the levels of insulin in your body decrease. Insulin is what helps your body absorb glucose into your bloodstream and reduced insulin levels lead your kidneys to release excess sodium. Whilst following a low carb or keto diet salting food to taste and having lots of leafy vegetables will help you maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes and kick keto flu quicker.
  • Avoid Strenuous Exercise: Exercise is obviously great for your overall health, but in the first week or so of going low carb or starting keto your body is still adjusting to its new fuel source. While your body adjusts you may experience fatigue, muscle cramps and stomach discomfort, during this time it’s a good idea to just take it easy and let your body rest and adjust. Any intense workouts like weight lifting, spinning or running should be avoided but if you still want to keep active try things like a gentle walk or yoga instead.
  • Get Enough Sleep: As with anything you do it’s always important to make sure you are getting enough rest. If you aren’t sleeping well this will have a knock on effect making your tiredness and irritability worse, if you are having trouble sleeping try one of the following:
    • Reduce your caffeine intake: Pretty obvious I know but caffeine is a stimulant which will keep you up if you drink it too late, so try to only have it in the morning to start with.
    • Take a bath: Taking a bath is great way to unwind and really relax before you go to bed. Try adding some essential oils like lavender to the water or light some scented candles if you have any handy.
    • Get up early: This one is more of a long-term advantage, but getting up at the same time everyday can help normalise a sleeping pattern for you and improve your quality of sleep over time.
  • Eat Enough Fat: When you first move to a low carb diet you will probably be craving all the things you know you shouldn’t have like pasta and bread. Eating enough fat is essential to keeping you feeling full and reducing these cravings. If you are really struggling to cut out carbs and sugar completely just reduce them gradually and increase your fat and protein intake at the same time, this can help reduce the keto flu symptoms.

How long does it last?

For most people the effects of keto flu will only last for a week or two. Having said that everybody is different and will see different levels of severity in each symptom.

Some people can experience the effects of keto flu for several weeks if their bodies find it particularly difficult to switch to its new fuel source. If you do experience keto flu for a number of weeks keep in mind that the symptoms will gradually decrease as your body adjusts to using fat as its new energy supply.

Whilst many people experience these symptoms for a just few weeks, if you do feel extremely unwell for a prolonged period experiencing things like vomiting, diarrhoea or a fever it would be best to consult your doctor and make sure there isn’t another cause.

Is there anyone that shouldn’t do keto?

Keto is safe for the majority of people to do however there are certain groups that it may not be suitable for, such as:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Children and teens – unless being used on a medical recommendation from a professional and under medical supervision
  • Those with kidney or liver diseases
  • Diabetics – If you are diabetic and interested in trying out a keto lifestyle please consult your doctor first to ensure keto is suitable and safe for your particular needs

There we have it, keto flu as quickly as I could cover it! For me this was the worst part of my journey so far but it only lasted a couple of weeks. Once you push through it you will start to feel the benefits of a low carb or keto diet.

So far I’ve mentioned A LOT that you need to stay hydrated on keto and I know water isn’t everybody’s favourite go to drink (it certainly wasn’t mine!) so in my next post I’ll be going over what you can and can’t drink on keto.

Who knows there might even been a couple of cheeky alcoholic ones in there that you can have! See you there!



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