What are the most common side effects of switching to a low carb / keto lifestyle?
Anytime we change how we fuel our bodies, there is an adjustment period. Our bodies flush out and use up whatever is around the body and starts from scratch. During this initial phase, some people (not all) may experience some side effects. This article is going to go through them and how to combat them.
Keto Flu (headaches, lethargy, nausea, confusion, brain fog, irritability)
The most common side effect on low carb is what’s known as “keto flu,” so called because it can mimic flu-like symptoms. It commonly occurs during the first week or two, often starting on days 2 through 4. The good news is that these symptoms often disappear spontaneously within a few days or at most a couple of weeks. Solution: Drinking water, salt, healthy fats and electrolytes!
Muscle Cramps (legs are the most common target area)
Generally believed to be due to the body flushing minerals, eg: magnesium, during the intial weight loss phase. Solution: Drinking water, salt and magnesium.
Constipation can occur when first starting low carb / keto lifestyle as your digestive system adapts to a different balance of foods. Solution: Drinking water, salt, electrolytes, green leafy vegetables, moderated amount of nuts, MCT Oil / powder.
Bad Breath (yeah sorry guys! It's true)
As your body starts producing ketones, your breath takes on a strong fruity and almost like nail polish remover. You can have a metallic taste in your mouth. It is temporary and goes away within a week or two. Solution: Drinking water, salt, good oral hygiene, sugar free gum / mints.
Intially you may feel your energy zapped while your body switches from burning glucose to burning fat for fuel. Solution: Water, electrolytes, salt, balanced meals and a little bit of patience.
Hair Loss (temporary! Usually around the 3 to 6 month mark)
Hair loss happens for many different reasons. When you change from a high carb to low carb / keto lifestyle your body is doing a big shift and is regenerating cells, which can impact hair growth. Hair loss is also associated with many different things such as pregnancy, stress and starvation diets. Solution: Eat a varied and nutritious diet with appropriate amounts of protein. Avoid restricting food. Collegan suppliements have shown to assist with hair, skin and gut balance.
Keto lifestyle has shown great results in an improved lipid profile, suggesting a lower risk of heart disease. The typical effect of a low cabr /keto lifestyle is an increase in HDL cholesterol (often referred to as “good” cholesterol), and a reduction in triglycerides (a potentially lower risk of heart disease). LDL cholesterol test results show the profile typically shifts toward fewer small, dense LDL particles. Solution: Request a Lipid Profile from your doctor to see the real true results on your cholesterol if you are concerned.
Reducing carbohydrates has been shown to also reduce the craving for alcoholic drinks. In return, your body needs significantly less to feel the effects of alcohol. Keep in mind that when you consume alcohol, your body will prioritise that over other fuel sources. Meaning until that alcohol is burnt off, your ketone fuel power is temporarily switched off! Solution: Drink occasionally, stay hydrated (water / electrolytes) and know your limits.
As you can see, many of the 'side-effects' are short lived and can easily be avoided or rectifed. In any situation, if you are concerned you should reach out to your trusted medical professional. If you have any underlying medical conditions, you should only embark on the low carb / keto lifestyle after consulting with your trusted medical professional.