Great Gut Blog

What to Expect When Starting a Low-Carb Diet

Posted by Brad Dennis, Ph.D. on

What to Expect When Starting a Low-Carb Diet

Starting a new diet can be challenging. You know you have to change your eating habits and exercise, but you don't really know what to expect. All you really expect is to be able to lose weight fast. When you start a low-carb diet, for example, you know you will have to cut out a lot of your carbs and increase your protein, but you don't really understand what your body goes through when you make those changes.

 Physiological Changes that Occur During a Low-Carb Diet

The first few weeks, or the induction phase, of a low-carb diet is the toughest. Your body goes through a lot of changes as it enters ketosis. Simply put, ketosis is just the stage at which your body will start burning stored fat for energy rather than the carbs you eat. This is a good thing. It means you've flipped the switch to burn more body fat to lose more weight.

 During ketosis, you may experience some unwanted side effects. The following is a list of things you may experience, each of which is normal at this stage of the diet:

  • Weakness. It's common to feel weak and shaky at the beginning of a low-carb diet. This is basically due to low blood sugar.
  • Muscle cramps. The lack of minerals in your body can cause your muscles to tighten up.
  • Mood swings. You can easily become irritable when starting a low-carb diet. The brain stops regulating serotonin, the feel good hormone, when you cut back on carbs.
  • Headaches. You may experience headaches as a side effect. It can feel like the flu or cause you to feel lightheaded.
  • Cravings. The cravings get bad during the first few days of the low-carb diet, as with any restrictive food plan.
  • Frequent urination. Extra trips to the bathroom are also common. S your body burns stored fat, it releases the extra water weight.
  • Fatigue. It's not uncommon to feel tired during the first phase of the diet. S is most likely due to the minerals you lose when you shed the excess water weight.
  • Constipation. The lack of magnesium can make you feel constipated.
  • Diarrhea. If you cut both your carbs and your fat intake at the same time, you'll likely experience diarrhea. Simply replace the missing carbs from your diet with healthy fats.
  • Bad breath. You may experience an unpleasant fruity smell on your breath and in your urine at first. This is caused by a ketone called acetone. Similarly, you may develop ammonia breath from an increasing your protein intake.

There you have it. That's the bad new about what to expect when starting a low-carb diet. What's the good news? Well, each of these side effects is temporary. They only last the first few days to the first few weeks while your body adapts to the changes. You want even more good news? The low-carb diet work. It helps you shed weight and inches quickly. Once you get through the sluggish initial phase, you'll feel great and full of energy while increasing your metabolism and shedding pounds.


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