Among all the fads and various ways of eating, we have recently noticed the birth of a new category of products labeled “keto”, “healthy fat bombs”, cookies or “keto” desserts.
All these products have been designed to be included in a diet that today has many followers: the ketogenic diet
We are going to dedicate the following lines to reviewing the basic concepts of this style of eating, with special emphasis on the mistakes that we usually make when we try to translate theory into practice. Take note ;)
Often, we find ourselves in consultation with people who directly and anarchically experience this style of eating without prior research or adequate knowledge of the changes or unwanted side effects to which it can lead.
After years of depending on carbohydrates as the main source of energy, drastic changes in metabolism occur, the result of the transition to the ketogenic diet
during the stage in which we teach our body to use its fat reserves to obtain the necessary energy .
It is important that we understand that these physiological changes do not occur overnight
. Our body requires an adaptation period when starting a keto diet so that all the enzymes and various energy systems begin to use fat.
1.1. "Keto Flu"
During the first two weeks of complete withdrawal from dietary carbohydrate sources, symptoms
, commonly known as “keto flu” or “keto flu”,
These symptoms, which we will go into in depth, are due to the fact that we will have a low availability of glucose to feed our muscles, brain and other organs of our body. Furthermore, the liver is not yet capable of producing ketones or extracting energy from ketone bodies.
When blood insulin levels drop (a hormone responsible for allowing glucose to enter the blood), the body reacts by excreting more sodium in the urine along with fluids. This explains why you will probably urinate more often during the first week of carb-free eating. This great loss of water and sodium is the "culprit" of the following events occurring during these first weeks:
- Accelerated weight loss during the initial phase
- Nasty “keto flu” symptoms
Although the response to the transition to this type of diet varies greatly from each person, the main symptoms
that we usually observe are the following:
- Brain fog, known by its acronym in English "brain fog"
- Feeling fatigued and low energy during the day
- Obstruction of sleep and daily rest
- Muscle cramps
- Cravings and anxiety for sweets or carbohydrates
- Poor exercise recovery
- bad mood, irritability
- Bad breath
I WANT TO SEE IT
2. Coping with "keto flu" symptoms
The symptoms mentioned above normally disappear on their own over time, thanks to our body's ability to "keto-adapt". But it is unnecessary to have to go through it and you can take a series of precautions to avoid them:
2.1. Salt and water intake
Increase the consumption of salt and water:
as we have pointed out, the loss of sodium and water is the main cause of the "keto flu" in most people. Increasing your consumption considerably reduces these sensations, you can simply drink a glass of water with ½ teaspoon of salt or take 150 ml of seawater diluted in fresh water.
2.2. Bone broths and bouillon
Include bone broths and/or consommés in your lunches and dinners:
it is a somewhat more appetizing alternative, as well as being very good for the intestinal microbiota.
23. Two liters of water daily
Consume at least 2 liters of water on a regular basis:
this includes the consumption of coffee and tea. Try to keep your caffeine
intake slightly moderate (no more than 3 cups per day) since a high amount of coffee can increase water and sodium
2.4. include fat
Be sure to include enough fat in your diet
to give you enough energy – using exogenous ketones could ease the transition period into ketosis. Decades of information that have sustained over time that fat is unhealthy have meant that people fear its consumption when they lower carbohydrates, prioritizing increasing protein intake. If you limit yourself to reducing carbohydrates without increasing the consumption of fats, the body will be in a state of alert, being able to generate malnutrition and mainly alter your hormonal health and sexual appetite
. Include essential fatty acids in your diet, such as those from coconut oil, it accelerates the production of ketone bodies in your body, consequently minimizing the aforementioned symptoms.
2.5. transition from calm
Make the transition from calm and progressive:
if none of the previous recommendations have alleviated the “keto flu”, I always recommend slowing the transition to ketogenic eating, following a moderate low-carb
diet that includes between 20-50 grams of net carbs per day depending on the person and always from whole sources with a low glycemic load such as cereals or pseudocereals.
2.6. Your relationship with food
Take care of your relationship with food.
The ketogenic diet is, for most people, a very satiating diet as it is high in fat. I have also found cases in which a lot of anxiety is produced due to glucose dependence, in such a way that the anxiety itself due to the desire to eat generates a state of physiological stress in the organism that causes constant glucose decompensations. That is why you should know that a ketogenic diet is not for everyone
or for any context. Hence the key to individualize
and invest time in self-knowledge
2.7. emotional context
Another issue that, from the comprehensive approach we have to take into account, is the emotional context
and relationship with the person's diet. Carrying out a strict diet, such as this type of protocol, implies running the risk of generating an obsessive picture and fear of eating certain foods; making the person a slave and limiting their social life and relationships with others. It seems to me crucial that the professional who accompanies the person take these aspects into account so that the cost of losing a few kilos does not cross and go beyond the social and emotional barrier of the person.
These types of consequences are much more frequent than we can imagine. Let's remember that we are people with body, mind and soul
. Taking care of health implies paying attention to our emotional situation and not leaving it aside.