Conquering the nuisances of being on a low-carb/ketogenic diet is easier done than said. Although not serious, it’s good to know what those nuisances are and what is expected to happen before you start your journey to your athletic, smart, calm, healthy version. I promise you the minor annoyances can be easily managed. I’d hate to see people give up on the lifestyle, thinking it’s not for them when in reality, it is for everyone if they learn what to expect and how to sail.
To know if you’re in ketosis or not without investing in expensive gadgets that measure blood ketone levels and without using urine strips is what I’m about to share with you. Urine strips are inaccurate and unreliable, not to mention that urine splashes everywhere when passing the strip through the urine stream, especially if you’re a man. Oh well, also, if you’re a woman who urinates while standing. So instead, just listen to your body, and it will tell you when you’re in ketosis.
Digestive changes are pretty standard to occur after a few days on a low-carb diet. The entire system adapts to a new way of eating so does the gut and the gut microbiome. Some people get constipated while others get diarrhea; it’s usually short-lived.
The dreaded “keto flu,” misnamed as someone suggested shifting into ketosis, causes flu-like symptoms, which usually happen two to five days after starting a very low carb ketogenic diet. It’s not that bad when you know what to expect and when you know you’re on your way to feeling fabulous. Most people get a slight headache, a little bit tired or depressed with poor concentration. Calling it flu is a bit extreme; it’s nothing compared to catching the flu. Your body is starting to burn fat as its primary fuel source, and it’s just not used to that. It takes a little bit of a period of adaptation. If you follow the Smart Protocol lifestyle, you’ll encounter this every week, but I promise you it’s well worth it. A little price to pay for reaching and maintaining the athletic version of you all year round.
It takes some adaptation time for your body to get used to the new fuels
Next is “keto breath,” which some people notice as the levels of ketones in the bloodstream begin to rise. Ketones escape in the form of acetone which we breathe out. Not everybody can detect the smell of such low acetone concentrations in their breath. Acetone also escapes in urine, and you might notice a strange smell while urinating.
Decreased exercise performance is a tell-tell sign. If you’re not an active person who performs activities requiring glycogen, you might overlook this one. But if you’re a regular gym-goer, mainly if you’re doing weights, then you’ll definitely notice it. You won’t be able to lift quite as much as you usually do, and the plates, while racking and unracking, will feel heavier than usual. If you try to sprint, you’ll notice you cannot reach your maximal speed or maintain the effort as long as you normally do. The explanation for this is simple, first of all, you burn through your short-term energy stores when you go on a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet. Your body is used to depend on glucose derived from glycogen released from the liver and stored in your muscles. The glycogen concentration in your muscles is what determines power output in activities such as resistance training and sprinting. Such activities are the ones that will give you the obvious sign as you’ll notice a measurable difference. Another reason for the decreased exercise performance is that your body is not accustomed to burning fat and ketones as a primary energy source. It takes some adaptation time for your body to get used to the new fuels and that will show up in your exercise performance.
Insomnia is another sign. When on a ketogenic diet, up to 70% of the energy your brain utilizes is derived from ketones. It is an entirely different energy system, and therefore it’s very common for people who are not used to being on ketogenic diets to experience insomnia.
Reduced appetite, so you’ve created the conditions in your body where you can now access your stored body fat energy. Therefore, you’re going to be less hungry as you’re getting consistent energy from your fat stores. This is a significant positive sign, and it’s very often that people decide they do not need breakfast anymore. I always advocate starting with 4 to 6 weeks of strict ketogenic dieting before adding intermittent fasting and a free day on the weekends. The fact that you’ve reduced hunger and your system adapted to using fatty acids, and ketones mean the transition to intermittent fasting will be much easier. That’s one of the reasons I often recommend people start a low-carb diet before experimenting with intermittent fasting. Stable blood sugar and stable low insulin would greatly assist in appetite suppression. You’ll naturally advance into intermittent fasting and the weekends’ refeeds. Dumping carbs is the way to go.
You just don’t get tired from routine activities such as walking or standing
My personal favorites are mental clarity, the razor-sharp focus, inner peace, and serenity. It’s just incredible, and it’s well worth being on a ketogenic diet purely for that. It outweighs the weight loss and improved body composition for me. Ketones are the best fuel for a bright, calm brain. You might get excessively talkative, so be warned.
Improved overall physical energy levels are a clear sign. You just don’t get tired from routine activities such as walking or standing. The reason is you’ll have access to your fat stores as your primary energy source delivering stable energy throughout the day. You don’t get those afternoon carb crash slumps anymore. When the beginners’ insomnia clears up, your sleep will become of higher quality, and you’ll feel more refreshed than ever. Many people report needing less sleep.
Last but not least, the number on the scale dropping is the most obvious sign that you’re on the right track. Well, that is if your current goal is to lose weight which should be if you’re overweight. Health comes 1st. My advice is not to get obsessed with weighing yourself. It’s about how you look and how you feel. It’s about discovering your hidden talents, how creative you truly are and what you can accomplish. Just trust the process and enjoy your new lifestyle. Start your journey. Dump the carbs!
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