the 3 phases of low-carb living part 1: the honeymoon phase


WELCOME TO THE LOW-CARB LIFESTYLE

This 3 part series will dedicate an article to each of the three phases of becoming fully adapted to the low-carb way of life:

  • The Honeymoon

  • Becoming Fat Adapted

  • Becoming Fully Keto Adapted

Here in article one, we will look at the first phase of switching to a low-carb diet, the Honeymoon. Typically consisting of the first 7 to 10 days of the diet: the honeymoon is a time in which your body makes its first adjustments to a radically new way of eating and using energy. (1)

What follows is a how-to guide on what to expect and how to deal with issues if they pop up.

EARLY SUCCESS

Weight Loss

Whoosh! It seems strange, but this funny onomatopoeia sound is closely linked to the honeymoon phase of low-carb dieting.

The “whoosh” comes from the almost immediate weight drop that results from adopting a low-carb life. Many people report losing 10 pounds, some as much as 20, in the first ten days of low-carb dieting (2).

It’s a great instant result that reinforces the choice to go low-carb, but what many don’t understand is that 90% of that weight is water loss. Carbohydrates help cells retain massive amounts of water, and when carbs are cut, the stored water goes with them. Only about a pound, maybe two, is actual fat loss this early on (3).

The reason it’s important to know this about the honeymoon phase is because when some low-carb practitioners move into the next few weeks and don’t see a continued, rapid weight loss, they get discouraged and quit right before the real fat-burning begins.

Go into low-carb eating knowing that you will receive a massive weight drop, but don’t let it fool you into thinking that the next few weeks are a failure.

Remember that when burning off stored fat, it’s only safe to lose a maximum of 2.5 pounds per week of actual fat. Any more than that and you are losing precious muscle that’s much harder to get back.

So just keep reminding yourself that the fat will come off and patience is a must.

The most important thing to know about the whoosh is that the loss of water takes electrolytes with it: salt, potassium, and magnesium (4). This can lead to the dreaded keto flu.

To combat this, re-hydrate by drinking 3 liters of water per day and getting leafy green veggies into your diet ASAP so they can help replenish your missing electrolytes.

Energy

A portion of new low-carbers will experience the positive energy effects of low-carb eating right away (for the rest of us, we have to wait until the next phase: Fat adaptation).

For those lucky few, their energy levels will sky-rocket and stay there. That means they are following all of the tips and tricks needed to run low-carb in its most efficient form. Good work.

But for a larger portion of us, energy will temporarily drop off before jumping back up in phase 2. This is another moment of adaptation your body needs to fight through, don’t let it be a reason to make you quit. It won't effect your day to day ability to function or even exercise, (5) but it can leave you feeling groggy. Fear not, your energy levels will bounce back even higher. Just trust the process and keep on low-carbing.

HONEYMOON PHASE PITFALLS

Why is it called a honeymoon if I’m getting headaches, nausea, dizziness, and constipation? Marriage jokes aside, the honeymoon phase is the first step into the world of low-carb eating, and many come in ill-prepared.

Reading the extensive library of low-carb articles here at niKETO will educate you enough to know how to avoid the keto flu, constipation, bad breath, and cravings that will sabotage you.

Eating low-carb is a massive adjustment for your body that’s used to an abundance of carbs. If you aren’t careful, and you jump into a low-carb diet without learning the proper way to do it, you’re likely to make mistakes and end up leaving the diet before you see any positive results (6).

HERE is a list of the issues that plague most low-carb newbies and an explanation of how to avoid or correct them.

The important thing is, you’re here, reading about low-carb and doing your research to make sure you’ll get the most out of it.

Keep going, follow the links above to the articles that will save you from the pitfalls of low-carb eating’s first week, and try to enjoy this new undertaking. Low-carb living can be a fun, creative time, and there is a whole community of people out there who want to see you succeed like they have.

So feel free to join in and ask questions.

Be sure to catch next week’s article about The Fat Adaptation phase where things get serious.

REFERENCES

(1) Antonio Paoli,1,* Gerardo Bosco,1 Enrico M. Camporesi, et al. Ketosis, ketogenic diet and food intake control: a complex relationship. Front Psychol. 2015; 6: 27.

(2) Howard AN. The historical development, efficacy and safety of very-low-calorie diets. International Journal of Obesity [01 Jan 1981, 5(3):195-208].

(3) M H Sigler. The mechanism of the natriuresis of fasting. Published in Volume 55, Issue 2 on February 1, 1975 J Clin Invest. 1975;55(2):377–387.

(4) R A DeFronzo, C R Cooke, R Andres, G R Faloona, and P J Davis. The effect of insulin on renal handling of sodium, potassium, calcium, and phosphate in man. Published in Volume 55, Issue 4 on April 1, 1975 J Clin Invest. 1975;55(4):845–855.

(5) Paul Urbain,Lena Strom,Lena Morawski. Impact of a 6-week non-energy-restricted ketogenic diet on physical fitness, body composition and biochemical parameters in healthy adults.Nutrition & Metabolism201714:17.

(6) D'Anci KE, Watts KL, Kanarek RB, Taylor HA. Low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets. Effects on cognition and mood. Appetite. 2009 Feb;52(1):96-103. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2008.08.009. Epub 2008 Aug 29.

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