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Starting any diet can be really hard. Let alone giving up carbs when you're starting keto.
Because come on, that's the first thing we think of when we think about starting a keto diet… am I right?
It's not the end of the world though, I promise. There are tons of things you can do to replace some of your favorite foods. Tons of swaps actually.
- Almond flour or coconut flour to replace regular flour
- Heavy whipping cream to replace regular milk
- Full fat yogurt to replace low or no fat yogurt
- Parm crisps or zucchini crisps to replace potato chips or other chips
- Zucchini hummus to replace regular chickpea hummus
- and on and on
I guess that's something I should maybe write about here soon. The different food swaps you can use for particularly carby items.
Not All Carbs Are Bad
So, what can you have then carb wise?
You can have, basically, any green vegetable, bell peppers, onions (in moderation), squashes, meats, cheeses, avocados, low carb fruits (think berries), almond flour, coconut flour, soups, stews, etc., etc.
The key to all of this is getting a lot of low carb veggies into your meal plan to help keep you full so you're not wanting any other carb-heavy items.
If you're craving something crunchy then try making some parmesan crisps or zucchini chips. They're low carb and can satisfy that darn crunch craving really well.
Just be careful with the parmesan because it's higher in protein and you can easily blow your protein count with too many parm crisps.
Starting Keto: What to Expect When You Start a Keto Diet
Here's the thing, our bodies are used to running on carbohydrates. And, if we take 90% of our carbs away and decrease how much we eat down to 20-30g NET carbs we're going to be shocking our body.
It's just a natural process that happens when you restrict your carbs.
You're telling your body to find a new source of energy – like using fat.
This isn't easy for our body, so there happen to be a few side effects that happen when starting keto. Some people experience the effects worse than others.
No one can tell you the exact effects you'll experience or the severity.
Some people might fly through the effects and be done and on to greener pastures within 3 days, but others it might take a month for their body to adjust.
Now you have to decide if the greener pastures are worth it.
What things might you experience when starting keto for the first time?
1 Headaches for a bit
One of the first things you'll notice might be headaches.
When you quit feeding your body carbohydrates you'll start to quit retaining water. This also means you'll stop holding onto salt also.
Typically, when starting a keto diet you need to actively salt your dishes. This will help to put back all the salt you're body is getting rid of now. If you don't replenish your salt then you'll start getting headaches from being deficient.
Another mineral or two you might try supplementing would be either potassium or magnesium. Just like with salt, you're not retaining water anymore (where the minerals would be held too) so all the electrolytes you're ingesting get flushed out with the water.
Just try adding a bit extra or taking an electrolyte supplement in the beginning until you get your bearings about you.
2 Craving carby foods for like two weeks maybe
The best advice I have here is to try to fill up on veggies and fats. The more fat you eat in the beginning the less you'll crave the carb-heavy foods.
If you're craving something, in particular, I would suggest looking on Pinterest to see if there is a copycat recipe.
You can find bread, chips, crackers, and so much more. Anything you might think you'd want. Just look it up.
I would jot down a few recipes so that you can make them and keep on hand for the times you get a hankering for some carb-friendly items of your old food friends.
3 You'll lose water weight first
One of the first things you might notice is your clothes fitting a bit looser. Almost like you lost 10 pounds right away. Generally, this is water weight leaving your body.
When we eat carbs our body retains water, but when we stop eating carbs it starts to flush that out of our system and our bodies will naturally decrease in weight.
Here's a good article describing glycogen stores and why the body holds water weight when we eat carbs.
The more carbs we eat the more water we retain, and thereby, the fewer carbs we eat the less water we hold.
4 Brain fog in the first few days
This is part of the whole “keto flu” phenomenon that happens when we cut carbs drastically in the beginning. It's commonly connected with headaches and any flu-like symptoms.
Generally, this happens because when the body flushes the excess water from the system you're also releasing toxins that might be held in the fat cells. And, when the toxins are released so suddenly it can cause us to feel a bit sick or under the weather.
It doesn't usually last long (3-7 days), but it's a big deterrent for folks that are wanting to start the diet.
My recommendation is to slowly decrease your carb intake by 20g per day to help you in your transition.
You can also try a nootropic like Perfect Keto's Keto Nootropic formula. It helps with brain function and mental clarity. It will help get you through that tough period in the beginning, but also help you stay super clear by supporting brain function!
You'll notice clearer thinking after the flu has passed you and it will feel amazing.
5 Decreased energy and strength
Another part of the flu symptoms would be a decrease in energy and strength. It's not forever, but it will happen over the first few days.
Take it easy during workouts and just know that you might not be at full speed or strength during this time. Your body is actively trying to figure out how to fuel your energy sources.
Whether you're just starting keto or you've been keto for a while, I love using Perfect Keto's Exogenous Ketone Base to help boost the ketone levels in my blood. This isn't necessary, but it does help move things along a lot faster than normal.
Want to get into ketosis faster? Order the Exogenous Ketone Base to use when you're starting that way your body will know to use ketones for fuel rather than glycogen.
The faster you hit ketosis the faster your energy will shoot through the roof.
6 Potential digestive issues: constipation or diarrhea
I've never experience constipation on the keto diet, but I've heard of many people who have. The best thing to do would be to increase your foliage intake to help move things along in this department.
If all else fails, I would get a fiber supplement to help you go.
On the other hand, if you're experiencing diarrhea then I would back off on the fat just a little. Adding too much fat too soon can be a slippery slope to travel down – if you get what I mean. So, try adding more fatty foods rather than oils to your diet.
Either add more fiber or decrease the oil consumption when you're starting based on your current predicament.
7 A bit of irritability
Naturally, we're going to be a bit cranky when we start the keto diet. We're cutting out those comfort carbs we're used to, we're being plagued with the keto flu and our head just won't quit throbbing.
All the advice above? Yeah, combine that stuff and take care of yourself.
Make sure you're drinking loads of water. For real, if you think you've had enough, maybe drink some more water.
Staying hydrated, eating extra salt and taking some electrolytes will help to keep you less irritable and quickly help pass the flu symptoms.
If you find yourself feeling irritable try looking at where you might be skipping on some things to see if it helps calm your crankiness.
In the beginning, you might not sleep well due to the keto flu, but in the weeks after that, your insomnia might be caused by increased energy.
The energy increase from your body efficiently burning fat is one of the key benefits of starting a keto diet, but it can also cause you to be too energetic.
Here is an article that talks about the different ways your body can be affected by insomnia when you're starting a keto diet.
It's usually a short-term effect and you should start to sleep better once your body has adjusted.
But, Is the Keto Diet Worth It?
Honestly, that's a choice you have to make on your own.
Not everyone can brave the keto flu knowing full and well what it may or may not feel like for them. Even with the knowledge that it's temporary and the benefits the keto diet promotes.
Some people will say, “I can't afford to feel like crap for a week when I have to work.”
My response is that people should slowly cut carbs if this is a diet or lifestyle choice they think will work for them. It will minimize any effects you might experience. But, you'll enter ketosis slower than someone going cold turkey.
It's all about your desires and reasons for considering this lifestyle. Starting keto isn't for the faint of heart, but if you're wanting to feel great then I'd give it a shot.
In the end, if you hate being on the keto diet you can always just start adding more carbs back into your diet.
No harm, no foul!
Here Are More Posts You Might Like:
- Starting a Keto Diet
- 7 Easy Keto Breakfast Ideas
- 4 Keto Mistakes to Avoid for Beginners
- Keto and Low-Carb: What's the Difference?
- Best Keto Items to Buy at Walmart!
- Ketogenic Diet: Your Guide for Starting a Keto Diet
- What Is The Keto Flu? + How to Beat it
- 14 Simple Keto Crockpot Meals You Can Make Ahead
- I Cheated On Keto
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