If you are considering the ketogenic diet or have already started down this carb-free road, you may wonder what you can expect. Here's the thing. Ketosis looks different for everyone, but I will share many of the most common symptoms with you today. If something other than what's listed here is happening to you, just do a quick Google search for that symptom and keto. You should be able to find what you're looking for!
Symptoms of Ketosis:
The Early Signs:
The early signs of ketosis vary from person to person. The biggest impact on how quickly you notice the symptoms of ketosis will have a lot to do with how you ate before you started the diet. If your diet was very high carb, you might get hit pretty quickly and furiously with what we like to call the "Keto Flu." This can last anywhere from 3 days to a week or more. Once your body has adapted to burning ketones for energy instead of glucose, you'll be golden so don't give up!
Here's what you can expect within the first 2-3 days of starting the Ketogenic Diet:
Fatigue & Weakness (lack of concentration)
Metallic taste or sweet taste in your mouth (I experienced this, and it tasted like blood in my mouth)
Lightheaded / Dizzy upon standing
Hunger / Sweet or Carb Cravings
Dry Mouth possibly paired with "Keto Breath."
Stomach Discomfort / Mild Nausea / Cramping
Trouble Sleeping or Staying Asleep (early waking)
Water weight loss (perhaps an excessive loss of weight within the first two weeks)
Allergies or cold like symptoms may flair up
For the ladies:
Period issues: You may experience a longer, shorter, earlier, later period because of Keto. Seriously it causes all of that. Each woman is different, and I have experienced every one of those issues with my period since starting keto. Don't worry you will get back to normal but be prepared at all times, just in case!
Hair loss/growth: This one is a weird one, but I have seen it on both sides. When I first started keto I could have sworn the white peach fuzz hair on my face was getting longer (maybe I was paranoid) but I was also losing so much hair from my head that it was starting to worry me. Thankfully that usually stops after a few weeks so don't be too worried if your hair starts acting wonky. This diet and our diets, in general, are greatly linked to our hormones, metabolism, and everything else going on inside our bodies so if you're dealing with any female issues you should find that being in Ketosis is like medication for all that ails you! Before keto, I would break out every month with hormonal acne, get ridiculously bloated and feel like total crap. Now my shark weeks are 100 times better, and I can't imagine going back to that. Yay for no acne!!
I personally didn't eat a ton of carbs before starting keto and when I knew I was going to start I stopped eating bread a few days before to prepare. For those reasons my initial induction into ketosis were pretty painless. I did have a mild headache and was tired for 2-3 days but after that I was good to go. I also deal with the occasional light-headedness even now, but I attribute that to not drinking enough water (which I still struggle with).
After Your Body Adapts To Ketosis:
Once your body adapts to running on ketones you can expect to experience any of the following:
Better more even sleep cycles
Possible Euphoria (This was the most fabulous part of ketosis for me)
Fat Loss (you'll start to notice the number on the scale drop along with the inches)
Dealing with the Symptoms of Ketosis:
Anything worth doing hurts (at least a little). Please whatever you do, don't give up or give in. You can do this. Here are some tips that helped me get by when I was dealing with the early stages of ketosis.
Drink lots and lots and lots of water. Don't be crazy about it, but drink at least 100oz a day. This will help with the headaches, fatigue, and even the keto breath.
Remember why you're doing this. This is a forever change. Yes the diet will change as you make progress but you're changing your life forever and a few days are totally worth forever right?
Exercise helps too. I know you're tired but even spend 10 minutes a day working on those abs will be enough to motivate you to keep going. One healthy thing leads to another and the next thing you know you've reached your goal and are inspiring others to do the same.
Get some keto strips and test yourself daily. Now these strips don't always work but early on you should be fine. You may notice trace amounts of ketones in your urine within three days. Trust me that will keep you motivated!
Start keto with a friend or join a group on Facebook. Having support is so important and finding like-minded people to help you when you have questions or push you when you need motivation is paramount!
Start by eating smaller meals more often. Be sure to track everything and stay within your ranges, but eating a little throughout the day can be very helpful when you're first starting out.
A word of caution here. Be careful who you tell about your new lifestyle and make sure you fully understand how this diet works and why you are changing your lifestyle. You may experience some push back from close friends and even family because everyone is skeptical when they hear the word diet, especially when it comes to low carb diets. Also, know that some may misunderstand Ketosis and compare it to Ketoacidosis which is completely different and very dangerous. So know your terminology and teach them a thing or two!
My experience going into ketosis is documented week by week here on the blog along with the foods I ate during the week. You can check those posts out here:
If you ever have any questions about what you're going through, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. If I don't know the answer, I can help you find it. Also, (I have to say this) please talk to your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program. I am not a doctor nor am I a scientist (that would be so rad) so I can only tell you what I have learned and have experienced myself.