To lose weight, many people attempt several weight loss programs. While different programs will work for some people and not for others, lack of information sometimes hinders others from seeing success. Take, for instance, the ketogenic diet; this popular weight loss program has some side effects that, if not fully aware of, can easily make you give up before success.
The ketogenic program causes the body to burn fats for energy because it focuses on a low-carb, high-fat diet. On a ketogenic diet, one’s body gets to undergo different biological adaptations. As the changes begin, your body enters a phase called ketosis, which is accompanied by keto flu.
It is unfortunate that many individuals who get on the program are never aware of when they enter a state of ketosis. And this becomes one of the main reasons many people end up quitting before seeing results.
What Is Ketosis?
The human body gets its energy from breaking down dietary carbohydrates into glucose. However, when there are insufficient carbohydrates, the body turns to fat stores. It then begins to burn the fats stored in the body for energy. What you get as a byproduct of this alternative process is known as ketones.
Ketosis happens after people start the diet or a few days after starting it. This state of ketosis is basically the body adjusting to burning fat for energy instead of the usual carbohydrate. Instead of having glucose as your source of energy, ketones become the fuel source for the body during a ketogenic diet.
What Is Keto Flu?
The symptoms that characterize ketosis are often called the keto flu. These unpleasant symptoms can last for some days or even weeks, and they are usually minor. Most people will tell you that the keto flu has flu-like symptoms that vary in severity. They include nausea, vomiting, poor concentration, diarrhea, headache, constipation, difficulty sleeping, muscle cramps, irritability, sugar cravings, weakness, stomach pain, dizziness and muscle soreness.
Signs and Symptoms of Ketosis
It is essential to consult your doctor before undertaking any diet. It’s of greater significance when you have a health condition.
That said, several signs and symptoms accompany ketosis. Below are some of the symptoms to expect:
Experiencing headaches is one of the commonly reported symptoms of ketosis. Switching to a ketogenic diet calls for the consumption of less carbohydrates. This abrupt change causes headaches, as the body tries to adjust to the new normal.
The headaches from ketosis last from one day to one week in most cases. Seek medical advice if the problem persists beyond the one week.
The first days after switching to the ketogenic diet are usually characterized by fatigue. The reason you may feel weaker than usual is that fats don’t provide a burst of energy like carbohydrates. And as earlier mentioned, ketosis occurs as a result of the body adjusting from burning carbs for energy to using fats.
Rapid Weight Loss
Dieters who enter the ketogenic diet experience both short and long term weight loss. The short-term weight loss happens the first week after you start the diet, while the long-term is the gradual weight loss you experience by continuing to create the calorie deficit. Experts suggest that, for the first week after you start the ketogenic diet, rapid weight loss occurs as a result of the body using up its stored carbohydrates and water.
Increased ketones in the blood are one of the most prominent signs that one is in ketosis. To test this, you can do it at home using a specialized meter which calculates your blood beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB).
If you opt to have the ketones tested by a doctor, they can either draw out blood to test, do a urine test, or perform a breath test. One thing to note is that, when a person is on dietary ketosis, their blood ketones levels should range from 0.5–3.0 mmol per liter.
Digestive issues are a common side effect when there are any dietary changes. These gastrointestinal complications may also happen when a person starts the ketogenic diet.
Digestive hurdles during ketosis include constipation, stomach aches, and diarrhea. These side effects are experienced only during the ketosis, which is essentially the transition period. After the body adapts, your digestive system should go back to normal.
Nonetheless, there are measures you can take to alleviate these symptoms, like taking plenty of water, eating non-starchy vegetables, and including high fiber foods in your menu.
Muscle Cramps and Spasms
Muscle cramps and spasms occur when there is a deficit in electrolytes in the blood. Electrolytes are essential in muscle contraction, nervous impulses, regulating body pH levels, and hydrating the body.
The ketogenic diet restricts the consumption of carbohydrates; you must substitute this group of food with items that will still supply the body with sufficient electrolytes. Some electrolytes found in the human body include sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium and others.
Agitated sleep and insomnia are amongst the prevalent results of ketosis. Initially, dieters experience disrupted sleeping patterns. The disruptions can be in the form of insomnia, waking in the middle of the night, or difficulty falling asleep.
However, many people who have continued with the ketogenic diet report that, after the first weeks, they experience better sleep than before they began the diet.
Understanding Your Symptoms
Understanding your health journey is very important in guaranteeing success. And it also helps to be aware of the fact that every dietary change will require the body to go through a transition period. In ketogenic, the transition period means enduring some minor discomforts. With these signs and symptoms, anyone on the ketogenic diet can find out whether or not they are in the ketosis state or if what they are feeling is the keto flu.
Nonetheless, monitoring the ketones level in the blood, breath, and urine is a better and more accurate way of identifying a state of ketosis. If the symptoms persist past the reasonable expected period, seek medical advice.