Lots of people adopt the Keto diet because they’ve seen just how powerful it can be. Whether you’re interested in weight loss, need to manage your blood sugar better or are trying to accommodate a food allergy, Keto offers something for everyone. But you need to get past a few speed bumps first.
Keto can be a struggle at first—especially if you don’t know what to expect. The good news is that once your body acclimates to burning fat for fuel, you’ll start to feel a whole lot better! Here’s what you might need to contend with in the early stages (and how to cope):
Insomnia/sleep issues. Keto insomnia is a well-documented struggle for those brand-new to the diet. If you find yourself tossing and turning into the wee hours, there are a few things you can try. Avoid eating three hours before going to bed, lay off coffee during the day and make sure there aren’t any distractions while you zonk out.
Muscle cramps. Muscle cramps are common on Keto if you’re not getting enough water. Especially if you’re working out, keep a water bottle handy! Plan to polish off 8-16oz of water every hour to keep your joints lubricated and your body nourished.
Headaches. Super-low-carb diets can leave people prone to headaches. This happens as a result of your body literally detoxing itself from carbs and sugars. Combat these headaches with plenty of water and some high-fat or lean protein snacks such as string cheese, almonds or beef jerky.
Lightheadedness. Many people make the mistake of cutting carbs while they’re getting into ketosis. One step at a time! It’s best to get acclimated with keto before you start scaling back your carbs, to avoid getting lightheaded and weak. If you get lightheaded, take a seat, drink some water and grab a quick keto-friendly snack.
Fatigue. Keto Flu can leave many people feeling fatigued for days. Don’t worry—it’ll pass. If you absolutely need a kick to help get you in gear, pair a keto-friendly snack with a quick cup of black coffee. If you can, get up a do a few jumping jacks to get the blood pumping and your focus back.
Racing heart. If your heart races and your hands clam up, don’t panic. Your body is still getting used to burning fat, so it might ebb into and out of fight or flight mode for seemingly no reason. Drink some water and take a few deep breaths. These instances tend to pass fast. If they persist, talk with your doc.
Bowel irregularities. Any diet has the chance to throw off your daily constitutions. On Keto, you might not be as regular as you usually are. Don’t be surprised if your once-daily sit-down turns into an every-other-day experience. It’s totally normal.
Increased thirst. If you’re following along so far, you’ve realized that drinking more water is a big part of Keto. Get into the habit of carrying a water bottle with you everywhere you go. It’s also a smart idea to check out some Keto-friendly electrolyte tablets, for those early days of the Keto Flu.
Cravings. No one gives up carbs and sugar without craving them. Steel yourself against these cravings and prepare to combat them however works best for you. Remember, even a little deviation from the diet or a single cheat meal will throw you out of ketosis!
The good news is that these symptoms—if present at all—are very temporary. They tend to fade in a few days and won’t come back unless you get kicked out of ketosis. If they persist longer than a week for any reason, it’s a sign you might need to chat with your doctor—or drink more water.
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