Don’t abandon the plan without trying this first.
By David Perlmutter, M.D.
There’s a great reason the ketogenic diet was the number-one health-related search term on Google in 2018. Adopting a keto diet can absolutely be transformative to your health, helping you drop and keep off weight, improve cognitive function, and can potentially be therapeutic for a host of chronic conditions, including joint pain, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and depression.
As is the case with adopting any new lifestyle plan, choosing to go “keto” may come with some side effects. These three issues arise most, but they all have solutions:
You Get “Keto Flu”
It’s not uncommon when to feel run down, achy, and generally not well when beginning the ketogenic diet. The solution may actually be fairly straightforward. When ketones are produced, they induce diuresis, meaning increased urination. This causes the body to lose important electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Simply restoring these electrolytes is often enough to put an end to the keto flu. One effective and convenient product I like is LMNT Electrolyte Drink Mix from LMNT Labs.
You Get Constipated
This is, in my experience, the most common complaint when people first adopt the ketogenic diet. And it’s the easiest thing to explain. Keto constipation arises when people go all in and cut their carbohydrates to really low levels. This is absolutely a mistake because in doing so, dietary fiber, which is indeed a carbohydrate, is reduced or eliminated completely. It’s important to focus on net carbs. That is, while dramatically reducing carb consumption is critical, it’s important not to include dietary fiber in this calculation. Net carbs means total carbohydrates less carbohydrates from dietary fiber. Lots of good dietary fiber not only helps with bowel function, but also helps to nurture our 100 trillion gut bacteria, allowing them to keep us healthy.
You Get Overwhelmed
Finally, many people, myself included, tend to want to aggressively jump into things with both feet from the start. So when you choose the keto diet—a diet that is focused on changing the body’s metabolism away from using carbohydrates as a fuel source to one that is burning fat—not everyone can make this dramatic shift easily. So, it isn’t reasonable to expect that everyone’s going to easily adapt to the keto diet overnight. We are all different based upon our genetics, body morphology and dedication. In some people it may take as long as two weeks, and adapting to this new way of eating may best be achieved by making the shift to higher amounts of healthy fat and lower levels of carbohydrates over several days.
DAVID PERLMUTTER, M.D.David Perlmutter, M.D., is a board-certified neurologist, a fellow of the American College of Nutrition, and a New York Times bestselling author.