Switching to a low-carb diet can be the quickest way to get the trim figure that so many of us seek: it’s the fastest way to burn fat and gain muscle mass. However, a sudden switch to low-carb comes with side effects; dieters should be warned that they will start to feel worse before they feel better.

Here’s what you can expect from the low-carb switch.

1. Lack of focus

Called the “brain fog” by many bodybuilders and other low-carb eaters, an inability to focus, an almost drunken feeling, happens to most people a few days after making the switch. If there is enough sugar in the body, the brain will run solely on glucose, so the rapid change causes it to depend on relatively small amount of glucose until it’s ready to use ketones as fuel instead.

2. Flu symptoms

The switch to ketones confuses the body as well, causing it to feel run-down and experience flu-like symptoms. Nausea, headache, and the like will follow the “brain fog.” Plan to switch mid-week so the symptoms fall on a weekend, and you won’t have to miss work because of your diet.

3. Irritability

Expect some increased irritability after starting the switch: food has an emotional as well as physical impact on the body. Consider caffeine as a substitute at first, to ease that “short fuse” feeling.

4. Weird smells, weird tastes

When the body runs on ketones, they build up just like glucose did with your previous diet … and a build-up of ketones can cause some strange scents. Many people report a change in body odor, and odd tangy tastes in their mouth. Keep hydrated and chew gum to make it through this stage.

5. Decreased endurance

Despite all the protein coming into the body, many people don’t respond immediately to all that building energy. If you experience weakness due to lack of carbohydrates and need energy for work or to continue doing endurance or intense strength training at the gym, consider including some carbs on days when extra energy is essential.

6. Dehydration

Don’t be fooled by all the weight lost in the first few weeks of a low-carb diet. Those pounds were primarily peed out. Ketosis, or the build-up of ketones, has a duiretic effect: it causes increased urination and potential dehydration if you don’t stay hydrated.

7. Depression

Any change in diet can alter the way the brain chemistry works. People who are particularly sensitive should be wary of a depressive effect due to the lack of sugar and carbs. Some people need more carbs in order to keep up serotonin levels, so be careful and consult a physician if you suffer from a depressive disorder and would like to start a low-carb diet.

All the aforementioned symptoms are fleeting for most. In the end it is about choosing low-carb foods that are high quality and good for physical and emotional sustenance. Choosing tasty snacks is one of the best ways to boost morale during the difficult periods, and low-carb dieters know that those times can be frequent at first.

But remember, ketosis is gradual and it can be great for the body, if you have the patience to give it a try.


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