Keto side effects aren’t a big deal, and fixing them is easy. Like anything new to your body, keto comes with an adjustment period. Luckily, most people only take a couple of days to a week or two to get fully keto-adapted. Once your body understands the new normal is low carb it will adjust and the side effects will vanish.
1. KETO BREATH – The ketones our high-fat diets create can combine with the proteins you’re eating to produce excess acetone (yes, the same acetone that strips varnish). This creates a breath smell that some describe as un-fresh fruit.
THE FIX: Limit your protein to the recommended percentage of around 30% of your daily calories, drink lots of water, exercise good oral hygiene -maybe add an extra brushing for a while- and use mints and gum until your system adjusts.
2. FATIGUE – One of the biggest benefits of keto is the energy boost it will eventually provide. But before you become fully keto-adapted you may feel sluggish and tired at points.
THE FIX: Water (you’ll find that good old h2o is a major weapon in fighting many keto side effects), keep track of your intake to make sure you are getting the fats you need to fuel up, start at the higher end of the carb allowance to help wean yourself off of the glucose addiction, and make sure you get the salt and electrolytes you need to retain your fluids. Like all the other side effects, this too shall pass.
3. CONSTIPATION: The keto diet, with its yummy fats and nut/seed based alternatives, can cause traffic jams in the digestive region leading to constipation.
THE FIX: Before you go the medication route, try to fix it naturally with fibrous Veggies like kale, broccoli, asparagus… the greens you should be eating anyway. Cut back on the nuts and seeds for a while to get things moving again. Soften it up in there with coconut oil and make sure you are getting enough magnesium, one of your vital keto electrolytes. And, as usual, water, water, water.
4. CRAMPS: Some folks experience muscle cramps when starting keto, especially if they couple the diet with working out.
THE FIX: This one might be the easiest fix as it usually occurs in the folks who stopped reading about the keto diet after “EAT MORE BACON.” Not getting sodium, potassium, and magnesium -coupled with not enough water (shoot for three liters per day)- are huge keto mistakes that can land you with cramps. This is an especially big problem if you are working out and shedding your fluids and salts through excess sweat.
5. ALCOHOL TOLERANCE: Drinking on keto pauses the ketone production and switches you back over to your depleted stores of glycogen. Because of this, it is way easier to get drunk while on keto.
THE FIX: First, read this to learn how to drink on keto the right way. When you start drinking, be aware of the fact that you can’t drink as much; going in knowing that and adjusting accordingly can keep you from becoming sloppy and embarrassing.
6. KETO PEE: If you paid attention to your urine before keto, you may notice that it now has a different look and smell. It can have the same overly floral/fruit smell that comes with keto breath and its color can be alarmingly bright.
THE FIX: The bright color usually indicates dehydration and that is simply a matter of drinking more water. On keto, you will need to drink more water than you’re probably used to, so be mindful of that and set reminders to drink enough. The smell happens for the exact same reason as keto breath, acetone levels in the blood have gone up. The smell is nothing to be alarmed about and will go away once you find your protein balance and wait out your keto-adaptation.
7. CRAVINGS AND BINGE BEHAVIOR: When you begin your keto journey you are stepping away from a lifetime of what your body has known and become accustomed to; essentially, you’re breaking an addiction. Cutting way down on carbohydrates will likely leave you with cravings for them. Suddenly, you want sweets and bread. These cravings can lead to binge eating and ultimately a keto restart.
THE FIX: To begin, forgive yourself. If you cave, pick yourself up, dust off the powder sugar, and get back on the keto horse. No harm, no foul.
To combat the cravings it’s a good idea to meal prep, have food ready to eat that will fill you up and distract your brain when the cravings come calling. Also, don’t keep junk food in the house. If it’s there, it’s an attractive nuisance. Get rid of it. If you need something sweet to start out -because cold turkey sounds so unappetizing- try keto treat cheats.
Keep a calendar that shows your progress. It takes roughly 30 days to kill the sweets addiction, if you keep a visual reminder of your daily progress you will be less likely to cheat and start back at square one. And finally, set up a support network. Talk to other ketoers and get reassurance from them, or come talk to us here at eatniketo.com if you need a hand staying on the wagon.
8. KETO FLU: This one is a combination of symptoms that come together to feel like an actual illness: headaches, nausea, dizziness, dry mouth, muscle soreness, etc. If you get it, just know that it’s not a real flu, it’s simply the transition your body is undergoing to switch fuel sources and it’s having a hard time letting go of the old ways. It’s also easy to correct and doesn’t usually last longer than a week or so.
THE FIX: Electrolytes: Sodium, potassium, magnesium and lots of water!!! That’s 3 exclamation points, that means it’s very important. In addition to your water and mineral needs, you can eat at the higher end of the allowable-carb scale until the flu goes away; this will help your system transition more easily.
9. FALLING OUT OF KETO UNEXPECTEDLY: Unfortunately, accidentally falling out of your hard-earned ketogenic state has happened to most ketoers. In the early stages, when you’re feeling the lifestyle out, you don’t realize how many things contain sneaky carbs that want to betray all your work. Now you have to start the multiple-day process of getting back into a ketogenic state all over again.
THE FIX: The best way to keep from getting knocked out of keto is a three-fold process: First, figure out your macro needs with a calculator like this one. Second, read the nutrition label on every item you put in your shopping cart, even if you have to stand in the grocery store and look up kale’s nutritional values on your phone, do it. Third, keep an accurate accounting of the calories you’ve consumed by using a tracking app. Do those 3 simple things and you can avoid a keto restart.