As with anything new, we want to know what to expect when starting a ketogenic diet.
As you know, or might have read already in some of my previous posts, when starting a ketogenic lifestyle, the ultimate goal is to go into ketosis in order to achieve the benefits that you are most likely looking for. What is ketosis might be your next question. Well, let me explain that for you a little further.
Transitioning from what we know to what we want…
In general, on a regular standard diet or lifestyle in which most of us grew up, we were following a lifestyle that consisted of following the health food guide and we were thought to ensure to consume foods of all categories of the guide to be healthy. The times have definitely changed since we were consuming what we were used to as a child (me anyways). The food industry isn’t at the same place it was and the way our food is processed is as scary as the rise in obesity. Since the average weight is rising, people are looking more and more at ways to remain in a healthy body mass index (BMI) and lots of different alternatives are being tried. A lot of people are trying multiple diets and restriction in hope of shredding a few pounds and end up in the “yoyo” category of those loosing/gaining/loosing/gaining weight as they go from one diet to another. People are getting more and more impatient and want quick results that don’t require any work. Most often then not, some people want a quick pill or resolution that won’t entail them to have to restrict their foods, won’t require them to be active and exercises and that they will miraculously lose weight. As there are no magic pills, people need to realize that if what they are doing night now isn’t working, then maybe it’s because they need to do something different or they aren’t doing right. Ok, I got off topic a bit here…. So, let me get back into what ketosis is!
Old ways (high carbs) vs new ways (high healthy fats)
In the regular standard American diet, we are supplied by our carbs for our daily energy and activity. When we eat foods such as fruits, whole grains, beans and some vegetables, our body converts it into sugar aka glucose. Our body and brain use this glucose to provide us with the energy and functions we need to do on a daily basis. This results in a raise in our blood sugar and insulin levels.
Ketosis? What’s that? How does it do what it does!
(without a magic wand)
What to expect when starting a ketogenic diet and reducing our carbs to a minimum is where the magic happens. Since our body and your brain need to have energy to excel in our daily functions, the body will go into a survival mode when the carbs in the body are at a minimal and there’s no glucose molecules that can be produces from it to allow the body to function as it should. Our bodies are so interesting and smart that they will find a way to produce energy from another source. This is where your liver comes in. As there aren’t sufficient carbs in the body, the liver starts producing ketones as a source of energy from the stored fat it burns. When your body starts relying on fat as your source of energy, instead of glucose (carbs), you are now in a metabolic state called ketosis. This is what most people going on the ketogenic diet expects and wants to reach. I however think it’s important to note that consuming too many fats could be harmful. Yes, not consuming enough could result on your levels to be low, but as long as your carb intake is at a minimum, your body will burn the stored fat as energy. However, if you consume way too many fats, not only can it result in weight gain but in accumulating too many ketone bodies. This could result in ketoacidosis and is mainly seen in people with Type 1 diabetes. This is why I recommend speaking to your health care provider prior to starting a ketogenic diet, especially if you have any medical restraints or issues.
Ketones, yes please! Bring them on!
Now, you’ve reduced your carb intake and are consuming more healthy fat, but, how to know if your in ketosis? a good way to know or to tell if you are in ketosis is by testing your ketones level. There are multiple gadgets out there that you can test it out from urine strips to breath analyzer. There are also some that test your blood. It all depends on what your budget is. I wouldn’t recommend urine strips as your sole method as this will confirm you are in ketosis in a sense but will be measuring how many ketones are in your urine, which is what was eliminated by your body therefor, were extras and not required. If you’re on a budget and want to have an idea of where your situated, look here and see some urine strip options, some are less then 10$ CAN. The most reliable and effective way to test your ketone levels is by your bloodstream. These test kit might be a bit more expensive and require you to have a small pinprick. I found this breath analyzer one here on Amazon in the price range of 50$. Thought I’d share it with you as it appears to be a good deal compare to some I’ve seen in the 70 to 80$ CAN range.
Most common signs that you are in ketosis
Another sign that you might be in ketosis is you might find you have bad breath. Yes, you heard me right! A lot of people on the keto diet report having bad breath which is caused in simple terms by the excessive accumulation of ketones in your body.
As you get more and more comfortable with the ketogenic diet, you will notice that your appetite as decreased along with your hunger. If you are noticing that you are now feeling full and don’t feel like you need to eat as often, that might be because you are in ketosis.
One of the other signs you are ketosis is your increased energy and focus. As you’ve eliminated carbs which stabilized your blood sugar levels, this also improved your brain function, increased clarity and increased further your focus.
Although, when first starting the ketogenic diet, you might find it hard to focus and might feel like it’s making your brain fog worst however, give it some time. This is simply due to the fact that your body must adapt at burning fat for energy instead of carbs and your brain must start using ketones instead of glucose. You must allow a bit of time for your brain and body to start doing this process properly and as efficient as possible. Be patient! The positive outcomes of it will pay off!
Now the most common symptom, if I can call it that, is weight loss. Although at first you will find you are losing a drastic amount of weight, you should know that this is mainly water weight from the drastic reduction of carbs. As you continue on your keto journey, you will keep losing weight and burning fat. I think it’s important to note that before all these benefits that I mentioned above, you might find it hard when you first get started. I will be honest and say that some symptoms that you are on the right track might not all be positive. You might have more trouble sleeping and experience insomnia as you are just getting started. This is most likely due to your reduction of carbohydrates. You might also feel more tired and as if your performance is not up to par and even have some digestive problems such as diarrhea or constipation.
These symptoms will subside once you’re over the transition period. Make sure to eat a variety of different healthy keto friendly foods and get your low carb veggies in. You might also experience muscles cramps which again is temporary. Make sure to keep yourself well hydrated and have plenty of electrolytes.
The good, the bad and the ugly about ketosis symptoms
I hope that answers a bit more your questions on how to know when you are in ketosis and that you found this information helpful! What are signs of ketosis that you’ve experienced?
Please make sure to tell me if you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, or maybe some that I haven’t mentioned.
Looking forward to reading your comments!