So you’re on the keto diet plan. Things are working out great for a couple of weeks but you notice that you still can’t seem to shake some of the annoying symptoms of ketosis. The persistent stomach discomfort and dry mouth just won’t go away.
Does this mean that the keto diet isn’t for you? Absolutely not. It just means you need to try a few workarounds to remedy the symptoms of ketosis.
This article will detail some handy pointers to show you how to fix the top 5 symptoms of ketosis. Initially, let’s take a look at what ketosis is and why ketosis symptoms happen in the first place.
When you transition to a very-low-carbohydrate diet plan (AKA keto diet plan), your body shifts to utilizing fat for energy rather than sugar/glucose. Fats act as your body’s main source of long-lasting fuel reserves.
However, when you take in carbs every day, your body hardly taps into its fat reserves for energy; this is due to the fact that when glucose is available fat becomes a ‘backup’ kind of fuel.
Hence, by limiting carbs via the keto diet, your body will start burning fats as fuel instead of carbs; after a few days of this, you will enter into nutritional ketosis.
Ketosis is the natural metabolic procedure your body goes through when it’s substantially lacking carbohydrates from food sources and instead uses fats for energy.
As a by-product of fatty-acid metabolism, your body produces simple organic substances referred to as ketone bodies/ketones. When you are in ketosis, numerous physiological advantages occur, especially enhanced cognitive function, increased energy, faster weight loss, and lower risk for type-2 diabetes.
Ketone bodies are also strong craving reducers, thus you experience fewer urges to overeat throughout the day (even when calories are minimal).
What Are the Symptoms of Ketosis?
That’s all pleasant and peachy, but to reap the health benefits of ketosis your body has to go through a minor withdrawal stage from carbs (which is the keto flu).
Here is a list of keto flu symptoms (aka carb ‘withdrawal’ symptoms) you may experience throughout the initial shift to the ketogenic diet plan:
- Cravings for sweets
- Incapability to concentrate
- Extreme irritability
- Gut pain
- Muscular pain
- Difficulty falling and remaining asleep
Naturally, you may fret that the keto flu is a bad thing to go through. In actuality, the keto flu is a great thing due to the fact that it implies your body is experiencing a withdrawal (which can be easily remedied). In this sense, it’s comparable to a drug withdrawal.
Per example, some people might tell you that symptoms of keto flu feel similar to withdrawing from caffeine. Considering that your body is adjusting to a new fuel source (fat), it comes as no surprise that you experience a bit of a withdrawal from carbohydrates.
Sugar is like a drug, and now you’re quitting that drug by following the keto diet. While the keto flu may have you reconsidering your ambition to go low-carb, know that the keto flu is an ephemeral phenomenon and it will pass quickly. (Especially if you follow the guidelines in our keto flu article.)
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top five symptoms of ketosis that might linger after you pass the keto flu.
Top 5 Symptoms of Ketosis (And How to Fix Them)
These top symptoms of ketosis can be awfully nagging if left untreated. Thankfully, there are rather simple remedies for them which you can read about below!
Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)
Dry mouth, also known as “cotton” mouth, is the result of poor saliva flow. When you lack adequate saliva flow bacteria can build up quickly in your mouth, leading to foul-smelling breath. More worrisome is that dry mouth can be harmful to your oral health, causing teeth to decay quicker.
It is unclear what exactly about ketosis causes dry mouth, but it possibly arises from frequent urination and dehydration. Many medications, especially antihistamines, can cause dry mouth as well.
How to fix it: The best remedy for a dry mouth on the keto diet is to chew sugar-free gum or use a dry mouth rinse, like Biotene. Both of these options will help stimulate saliva flow in your mouth.
Halitosis (Foul Breath)
Similar to dry mouth, halitosis typically results from inadequate saliva flow. When you don’t have enough saliva in your mouth, bacteria and small food particles may build up, leading to unpleasant breath.
Moreover, ketone bodies (particularly acetoacetate) aren’t exactly pleasant smelling either.
How to fix it: As with the dry mouth remedy, chewing sugar-free gum and using mouth rinses can help. However, you should also be sure to brush your teeth at least 2-3 times per day, preferably with a fluoride-based toothpaste. You might also want to cut back on any coffee/caffeine you consume, as this can decrease saliva flow.
Ketones are strong appetite suppressants, which is great for helping weight loss. However, for people looking to gain weight (muscle) on the keto diet, having a low appetite isn’t necessarily a positive thing.
How to fix it: If you find that being in ketosis limits your ability to eat enough for muscle building, try making protein powder smoothies for an easy-to-digest alternative to whole food. You can get creative and add some healthy fats as well, like coconut oil and almond butter.
Arguably the most common symptom of ketosis is being dehydrated (and constantly thirsty). It goes without saying that being dehydrated is not conducive to feeling and functioning your best.
How to fix it: The remedy to this isn’t always as simple as drinking more fluid, either. Being dehydrated from ketosis might arise from low electrolytes in your body, meaning you should focus on getting more sodium, potassium, and calcium. Be sure you also consume at least 80 ounces of water per day.
A final symptom of ketosis many people experience is excessive flatulence (or possibly diarrhea). There are a variety of things that may cause this on the keto diet, but if you’re consuming large amounts of MCTs and exogenous ketones, chances are you might have a few visits with the toilet since they pass quickly through your gastrointestinal system.
How to fix it: Don’t consume more than 14 grams of BHB salts daily and limit your MCT oil consumption to 3 tablespoons per day. If necessary, start with lower amounts of exogenous ketones and MCT oil then slowly increase intake to help your body adjust.
Where to from here?
Now that you know some simple fixes to the top 5 symptoms of ketosis, head on over to our Top 5 Tips for Keto Diet Success article!