Low-carb and KETO side effects & how to cure them
Are you struggling while starting out on a low-carb or keto diet? Do you get headaches, leg cramps, constipation or any of the other more common low-carb and KETO side effects? Use the information on this page to avoid them – and feel great while losing weight.
The main solution to the most common problems when starting low carb is to increase the intake of water and salt. It’s even better to do it preventatively during the first week. If you do, you’ll most likely not experience any of these problems, or they’ll only be minor.
Top 7 common problems when starting
- Induction flu >
- Leg cramps >
- Constipation >
- Bad breath >
- Heart palpitations >
- Reduced physical performance >
- Reduced tolerance to alcohol >
Less common issues on low carb
- Potential danger when breastfeeding >
- Gallstone problems >
- Temporary hair loss >
- Elevated cholesterol >
- Keto rash >
- Gout >
- Higher fasting blood glucose >
Induction flu: Headaches, lethargy, nausea, confusion, brain fog, irritability
The most common side effect on low carb is what most people experience during the first week, often on day 2-4. The “induction flu”, so-called as it can mimic flu-like symptoms.
Headaches are very common during this transition, as is feeling tired, lethargic and unmotivated. Nausea is also common. It’s also possible to experience confusion or “brain fog” – feeling not smart at all. Finally, it’s common to feel irritable – perhaps most clearly experienced by the rest of your family.
The good news is that these symptoms usually disappear by themselves within a few days. The even-better news is that these symptoms can often be avoided altogether. The main cause is usually dehydration and/or salt deficiency, caused by a temporarily increased urine production.
The cure: water & salt
Any problems can be minimized, and sometimes entirely cured, by getting enough water and salt into your system.
For example, try adding half a teaspoon of salt to a large glass of water. Drink it. This may reduce or eliminate side effects within 15-30 minutes. If so, this may be repeated once daily if needed during the first week.
A better-tasting option is to use broth or bouillon, e.g. chicken, beef or bone broth.
The bonus: more fat
Make sure to eat enough fat. Going low carb, low fat is a recipe for starvation and feeling hungry and tired. You should never endure hunger as you start on a low-carb diet. A proper low-carb diet contains enough fat to make you feel satiated and energetic. This can speed up the transition time and minimize the time spent feeling low when starting low carb.
So how do you get enough fat on low carb? There is any number of options, but when in doubt add butter to whatever you’re eating.
If adding salt and water (and fat) does not completely eliminate the induction flu the best option is usually to just hang in there. Any remaining symptoms are likely to be resolved within days, as your body adapts to low carb and turns into a fat-burning machine.
If necessary, it’s, of course, possible to have some carbs and make the transition to low carb more gradual and slower. This is not recommended as a first option, as it slows down the process and makes the weight loss and health improvement less obvious immediately.