In the first week, many people report headaches, mental fogginess, dizziness, and aggravation. Most of the time, this is the result of your electrolytes being flushed out, as ketosis has a diuretic effect. Make sure you drink plenty of water and keep your sodium intake up.6One of the fathers of keto, Dr. Phinney, shows that electrolyte levels (especially sodium) can become unbalanced with low carb intake.
Ketogenic diets, like most low carb diets, work through the elimination of glucose. Because most folks live on a high carb diet, our bodies normally run on glucose (or sugar) for energy. We cannot make glucose and only have about 24 hours’ worth stored in our muscle tissue and liver. Once glucose is no longer available from food sources, we begin to burn stored fat instead, or fat from our diets.
If this diet is so tough, then why has it been around since the 1920s? For starters, there’s some evidence to suggest that ketogenic diets help regulate epilepsy, according to research in ISRN Pediatrics.Redox Biology reports the diet may benefit cancer patients. While it may be helpful for short-term weight loss, that wasn’t the diet’s original intention, and the jury’s still out on its long-term effects.
There are reasons a strange diet like this has stuck around since the 1920's. A diet like keto that is low in sugar lowers blood glucose and insulin levels has several positive effects on the body, especially in overweight or obese people. The ketogenic diet gives your body the chance to re-adjust its glucose and insulin levels. In addition, there are health benefits that will enhance daily life, as well as help treat disease. Check out these benefits of the ketogenic diet:
On a “strict” (standard) keto diet, fats typically provides about 70 percent to 80 percent of total daily calories, protein about 15 percent to 20 percent, and carbohydrates just around 5 percent. However, a more “moderate” approach to the keto diet is also a good option for many people that can allow for an easier transition into very low-carb eating and more flexibility (more on this type of plan below).
Spices are an easy way of adding more flavor, vitamins and antioxidants into your food. Furthermore, they are low in carbohydrates. Make sure that you're using fresh, organic spices for maximum flavor and nutrients. Some spices sold in packets found at the local grocery should not be used, as they often contain fillers that can increase your carbohydrate consumption, thus putting you out of ketosis.26
If you do try the diet outside of medical supervision, Kizer says it’s important to test your urine with urinalysis ketone test strips to ensure your ketone levels don’t become dangerously high. Ketone urine test strips are also used by people with diabetes to determine if they’re at risk for ketoacidosis (DKA), a life-threatening complication that occurs when an individual doesn’t have enough insulin in their body. (Healthy ketosis is considered 0.5 to 3.0 mM blood ketones.)
Lots of apps and website offer keto diet challenges—basically, a blueprint for the keto diet with a fixed starting and ending point (they typically last for a week to a month, though some may be longer). Speaking of apps, plenty of keto-centric ones are right at your fingertips (a.k.a., your smartphone), like the KetoDiet app, which can help you calculate your macros and track your keto diet effectively.
The keto diet is currently being used as a safe and effective addition to the treatment of several types of cancer and can help slow tumor growth. As an example, we’d like to point to a promising study showed the intracerebral growth of the CT-2A & U87-MG tumors (related to malignant brain cancer) is significantly decreased by about 65% and 35% (27).
I’m honestly a little skeptical about it the idea of keto permanently. My brief glance at the literature seems to imply that it can have side effects of kidney stones, skeletal fractures, and slow the growth rate of children, but that was a study on kids with epilepsy (which it treated very effectively), so who knows how that applies to adults. And the other studies I found dealt with overweight and obese subjects, so it may be hard to find something on the long term effects on otherwise healthy adults.
Over the past century, ketogenic diets have also been used to treat and even help reverse neurological disorders and cognitive impairments, including epilepsy and Alzheimer’s symptoms. Research shows that cutting off glucose levels with a very low-carb diet makes your body produce ketones for fuel. This change can help to reverse neurological disorders and cognitive impairment, including inducing seizure control. The brain is able to use this alternative source of energy instead of the cellular energy pathways that aren’t functioning normally in patients with brain disorders.
Unfortunately, there’s no long-term data on ketogenic diets versus other diets. In a 2015 Italian study, those on a ketosis diet lost 26 pounds in three months. About half of the participants stayed on the diet for a year but lost little additional weight in the next nine months. People in a 2014 Spanish study who followed a very-low-calorie ketogenic diet lost an average of 44 pounds in a year—but a third of them dropped out, possibly because it was too hard to maintain.
Use our keto calculator to calculate the exact macros you should be eating. Remember, substituting more fat for carbs or protein is almost always ok. In fact, if you’re worried about losing muscle mass because of decreased protein consumption, you may not need to worry. There has been evidence that while in a state of ketosis your body actually maintains protein better than in a standard diet.
Those issues can be part of what's known as the “keto flu,” Warren says. Other side effects of the keto diet, all of which are tied to carb withdrawal, can include lightheadedness, nausea, mental fog, cramps, and headaches, in addition to tiredness. Luckily, the keto flu doesn't usually last more than a week—which is coincidentally about when people start to see the number on the scale go down, says Warren.
The diet that worked for me was keto. Thanks for the recommendation for the keto strips- I ordered the exact ones and used my first test strip this morning- it worked great!! So I’ve got something else to keep me in check. Dropped 100 pounds after my first child (I really went overboard about eating for two- I thought I was doing something good) and then dropped 30 after my second child. Since then, it’s the same 10-15 pounds that I keep losing and gaining back. Love your mantras- I’ve written a few down in my journal and some just ring in my head like a music track- never two in a row!! Can’t outrun your fork!! With keto, it gets me fantastic and very quick results and I go with a recarb meal (not recarb day) once a week. Eat a little more carbs after workouts. Now with the strips, I can see if what I’m doing post-workout keeps me in keto. Thanks for all your resources- they are so eye-opening and so motivating (and funny)!! I did hours of research about keto- if your article had come out a couple of months earlier- it would havr saved me all that time!! Great knowing that if I feel like I need the boost with 1-1 coaching it is available. Keep up the outstanding work!
Absolutely Steve. I love ranch salad dressing, cheese, cream cheese, steak, shrimp, and some vegetables. I am making “fakery” to satisfy my sweet tooth. (Fakery is baking using almond or coconut flour instead of wheat and white flour, and Swerve sweetener instead of sugar (made with Erythritol which has no impact on GI and is good for your teeth) I am over half way to my goal already. Thank you for your article. I appreciate your dedication, knowledge and sharing with the world. (and your cute animal gifs)
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