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.
It usually takes three to four days for your body to go into ketosis because you have to use up your body's stores of glucose, i.e., sugar first, Keatley says. Any major diet change can give you some, uh, issues, and Keatley says he often sees patients who complain of IBS-like symptoms and feeling wiped out at the beginning of the diet. (The tiredness happens because you have less access to carbs, which give you quick energy, he explains.)
Some people just cut out the bulk of carbohydrates from major sources like breads, pastas, and sodas, and these people are on a Low Carbohydrate plan. There isn’t anything particularly strict about it, it’s more about being mindful of overall carb intake, often without tracking. This can be a good place to test the waters of a keto diet, though many people on this kind of plan never get into ketosis without further restriction.
Some people also experience a change in bathroom habits. Moving your bowels can be difficult with a dramatic change in diet, and can be helped by choosing specific foods over others. Cheese is well known to stop up the works, so reducing cheese can help. Making sure to include plenty of fibrous vegetables can also keep things moving, so make sure to get lots of leafy greens, celery, and other veggies. In addition, make sure to drink enough water. Water not only keeps you hydrated, but also helps keep the bowels moving.
When you’re first getting started, it can be helpful to use a blood or breath ketone meter. What these meters do is measure the amount of ketones (the energy source your body is switching to) in your blood or your breath. Knowing those amounts and seeing how they increase or decrease depending on what you’re eating daily can often be a motivating and helpful indicator of the transition occurring in your body.
Some people like to start a ketogenic diet, or restart one, with a more restrictive plan. These aren’t for everyone, since most people adjust better to slow, gradual changes. If you’re the kind of person who likes to change everything all at once, you can try one of these short term hacks to get you kick-started in keto, and maybe even help you lose those first couple of pounds, or the last couple that just won’t seem to budge.
This is one reason why tracking your food intake should be a priority. There are apps like Cronometer, MyFitnessPal, and LoseIt! that allow you to record all your foods for the day, and each has a large database of fresh foods, packaged foods, and restaurant meals, plus you can enter in your own recipes. This way you can know exactly what macro- and micro-nutrients you’re getting, with no guess work.
The ketogenic diet is based on the principle that by depleting the body of carbohydrates, which are its primary source of energy, you can force the body to burn fat for fuel, thereby maximizing weight loss. When you consume foods that contain carbohydrates, the body converts those carbohydrates into glucose, or blood sugar, which it then uses for energy. (1)
Sleep enough – for most people at least seven hours per night on average – and keep stress under control. Sleep deprivation and stress hormones raise blood sugar levels, slowing ketosis and weight loss a bit. Plus they make much it harder to stick to a keto diet, and resist temptations. So while handling sleep and stress will not get you into ketosis on it’s own, it’s still worth thinking about.
The macronutrient ratios for the keto diet can range between 65-90% fat, 5-25% protein, 4-10% carbohydrates depending on the person. Those are actually pretty large ranges, so they deserve an explanation. There are a lot of details that come into play to calculate your macros for ketosis including your current weight, target weight, exercise frequency, and more.
The ketogenic diet — a high-fat and very low-carb eating plan — can be tough to start. After all, it’s likely a radical departure from the way you’re eating now (a typical standard American diet is high in carbohydrates and processed foods). But many people are trying the keto diet, which puts your body in a state of ketosis. That's what happens when your body’s carb-burning switch flips to a fat-burning one, a change that can cause weight loss and has even been credited with controlling diabetes. (1)
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