So, you made the decision to embark on the low-carb, high-in-healthy-fat ketogenic diet.

Good for you!

This diet has been scientifically proven to help with a number of health issues, like obesity or excess weight.

Like any lifestyle change, however, the keto diet may seem like a significant adjustment initially.

The following tips involve what to expect and how to acclimate during the first week of the keto diet so you can ease into its dietary demands seamlessly.

How to Prepare

The standard ketogenic diet typically consists of the following:

  • 75% (healthy) fat
  • 20% protein
  • 5% carb intake

Chances are, this is going to be a moderate to major change for the average person’s diet.

This requires you to reduce your reliance on carb-based foods, which means minimizing everything from grains to even most fruits, and increasing your meat and healthy fat intake.

The following are low-carb foods that are made of or contain healthy fats:

  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines
  • Avocados (Article: Avocado 101)
  • Yogurt
  • Meat and poultry
  • Cheese
  • Butter and cream
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dark chocolate
  • Eggs

To get started…

we recommend that you create a ‘meal plan’ for the first week in order to implement structure and consistency in this new way of life—this helps keep you stay accountable and healthy.

Keeping a meal plan is a common practice not just among ketogenic diet followers but many others trying to lose weight.

After all, when life gets busy and you’re overloaded with work and responsibilities, one of the last things you might want to think about is concocting a dinner.

Your body will undoubtedly feel different and you might see some drastic changes right away.

One scientific study claims that any immediate weight loss in this new type of eating pattern can be mistaken for fat loss.

Glycogen, a substance that stores carbohydrates in body tissues, can shift around during the dieting process, particularly when carbohydrates are restricted.

Results showed that weight loss in a low-carb diet is more likely to be attributed to stored carbs and water being used up, rather than weight. After the initial water weight loss happens, fat loss should occur. [1]

First starting

Similar with any lifestyle change, you might experience some undesirable side effects when first starting out. One common keto diet side effect is called the “keto flu”.

These flu-like symptoms are the result of your body adjusting to a low carb intake and typically will arise within the first few days of starting the keto diet. These symptoms are can be mild to severe and vary by person.

Other symptoms from “carb withdrawal” can be:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Back pain
  • Irritability
  • Concentration issues
  • Dizziness [2]

These symptoms normally will last up to just a couple of weeks, but there are some ways to help mitigate them.

How to Relieve Symptoms

Spend the first week concentrating on the diet, not necessarily exercise. If you exercise vigorously, you might find yourself lightheaded or dizzy since you’ll likely be consuming less food than normal.

Try to find light exercise, like walking or yoga.

Drink water.

Of course, drinking lots of water is a common recommendation for nearly any issue. In relation to the keto diet, it can make you feel less dehydrated.

After reducing carb intake, glycogen levels decline sharply and your body excretes water. In other words, to beat water weight and dehydration issues, get your fill of water.

Get enough sleep.

You’re probably already aware of the importance of getting enough sleep, but on the keto diet, you might find that the decrease in carbs is affecting your sleep patterns.

Fear not!

If followed over a period of time, the keto diet has been scientifically proven to significantly mitigate sleep abnormalities, specifically in those who are morbidly obese. Therefore, the disruptions in your sleep are just temporary.

To counteract poor sleep experiences:

practice good sleep hygiene.

These are a set of best practices on good sleep. This means avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, or at least drinking alcohol before sleep.

It’s not a good idea to exercise too close to bedtime, and make sure you’ve done your best to reduce unnecessary noise in your bedroom or house. Also try avoiding any screens an hour before sleep and curling up with a good book.

Be sure to get the appropriate fat and carb intake.

Restricting carbohydrate intake may cause you to crave carbs more. In the same way that you plan out your meals, look up low-carb recipes on the Internet and make them a critical staple of your meal prep routine.

There are plenty of quick and easy options, like an easy low-carb tortilla option.

For the keto diet specifically, make sure you are getting enough fat so that you fill up on healthy nutrients rather than those from carbohydrates.

If you stick with the keto diet, you’ll find that this new eating pattern will suppress hunger and help you feel fuller for longer.

In a different scientific study, among other diets, researchers fed subjects low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets.

Results showed that consuming these types of diets promoted satiety. There were also larger decreases in hunger for the subjects who followed carbohydrate diet compared to those who were fed a low-fat diet.

One explanation is that high-carbohydrate foods have high energy content, which can lead to eating more than necessary and impeding weight loss efforts. [3]

Conclusion

When starting the keto diet, any unpleasant side effects or symptoms you experience should hopefully only last a week or two.

Remember, you’re making a lifestyle change so naturally your body will need time to adjust. Just stick with it and know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Related Articles:

If I Cheat on My Keto Diet, How Long Will it Take to Get Back into Ketosis?

10 Things Everyone Gets Wrong On The Keto Diet

5 Biggest Keto Diet Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid

The Keto Diet vs the Standard American Diet (SAD)

References

[1] Kreitzman SN, Coxon AY, Szaz KF. Glycogen storage: illusions of easy weight loss, excessive weight regain, and distortions in estimates of body composition. Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Jul;56(1 Suppl):292S-293S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/56.1.292S.

[2] Westman EC, Yancy WS, Mavropoulos JC, Marquart M, McDuffie JR. The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutr Metab. 2008;5:36. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-5-36.

[3] Martin C.K., Rosenbaum D., Han H., Geiselman P.J., Wyatt H.R., Hill J.O., Brill C., Bailer B., Miller B.V., Stein R., et al. Change in food cravings, food preferences, and appetite during a low-carbohydrate and low-fat diet. Obes. Silver Spring. 2011;19:1963–1970. doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.62.

 

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Jessica Cotzin is a freelance writer, web developer, and avid traveler. Born and raised in South Florida, she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Multi-Media Journalism from Florida Atlantic University and currently resides in Miami Beach. Her passions lie in reading great literature and traveling the world, bumping blindly into new adventures.

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