One of the major advantages of the ketogenic diet is that those starting can begin seeing results very quickly. While these immediate gains might not be sustained at the same pace through your entire time on keto, most find that some early momentum can be really beneficial in keeping them committed in those crucial first weeks. Seeing some weight fall off even in the first two weeks of the diet can give you the motivation you need to stick with it, even if the cravings might be telling you it’s time for a cheat day.
However, there are some obstacles you’ll bump up against along the way when starting out, and it’s useful to know what to expect so you can calibrate your expectations and stay motivated. Here are four things that might challenge your mindset and test your patience, even when with some early positive results.
Tiredness and the dreaded ‘keto flu’
The ‘keto flu’ has become almost a rite of passage for those starting out or returning to a keto diet. The thing to remember when going keto is that you are forcing your body to undergo a metabolic change. Removing sugar an cutting down your carbohydrate intake means your body has to go in search of alternative fuel sources. Since carbs are responsible for retaining a significant amount of water in the body, cutting your carb intake will result in more stored water leaving your body.
This is why at around the two-week mark, a lot of people report feeling tired, dehydrated, and experiencing aches or flu-like symptoms. These usually don’t last more than two days, but they can be a bit demotivating if you don’t know why you’re experiencing them. These effects can be managed by increasing your hydration and electrolytes. Some use electrolyte supplements to help get them through this period, but if you do find that the ‘keto flu’ is getting you down, just remember that it’s a sign your body is starting to adapt to the new diet.
Cravings that make you want to cheat
If you’re someone who likes dessert and carb-heavy Italian cooking (honestly, who doesn’t?) then be prepared to experience some fairly strong cravings. The useful thing about keto food is that it does usually leave us feeling full and satisfied, but expect your body and brain to start sending you some persuasive signals. Cravings are normal on any diet, especially one that involves removing sugar. It helps to have keto dessert recipes handy for when you do feel the need to indulge. KetoBake’s mixes are also ideal for this 😉. Will power can always get you through, but effective dieting means establishing sustainable habits that won’t break us. Some well-planned keto treats can save us a lot of shame and painful rebuilding later down the track!
One thing you’ll never be short on is information telling you how best to optimise your keto diet. The basic science behind keto is easy to understand, but you can quickly find yourself heading down the rabbit hole. The problem for those on the keto diet is they tend to be curious and knowledge-thirsty people. Add to that a desire for self-improvement and it can be tempting to try and learn as much about keto and its variants as possible. Knowing the basics is essential when starting out, but overloading on information isn’t always useful.
Start by developing simple and flexible meal plans with the right macronutrients and ensure you’re getting the right number of calories. There’s plenty of time to start mixing up your recipes, experimenting with different keto variations, deep-diving into the science and trying different fasting cycles. All this can come later. The important thing is to establish a foundation for a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. And you’ll be surprised how much of your subsequent learning will keep bringing you back to the basics.
More energy and mental clarity
It’s only appropriate to finish on something positive. Undoubtedly keto is a challenging diet, but it won’t deprive you of many of the things you love to eat and ultimately the benefits you get out of it are well worth what you give up. After a month on the diet, the tiredness and the cravings will have ebbed away, and what you’ll discover is that you never needed all that sugar in the first place. The energy you get from the diet and the feeling of waking up fresh will give you a sense of wellbeing you may not have experienced for some time.
Of course, life will still throw us curve balls, and the keto diet won’t give us a bullet-proof remedy to stress and sadness. But it will put us in the best possible position to deal with these things, while helping get the most joy and satisfaction from our lives. So keep pushing on! It’s worth it.