Low Carb Diet Side Effects Are Temporary

So, there you are. If you plan for them, these low carb diet side effects can be minor obstacles, and after you adjust to the diet, they should get better and finally subside. After that, you ought to be feeling pretty darned good!

Side effect

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Frequent Urination

After the first day or so, you'll notice that you are in the bathroom urinating more often. Your body is burning up the extra glycogen (stored glucose) in your liver and muscles. Breaking down glycogen releases a lot of water. As your carb intake and glycogen stores drop, your kidneys will start dumping this excess water.

In addition, as your circulating insulin levels drop, your kidneys start excreting excess sodium, which will also cause more frequent urination.

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Fatigue and Dizziness

As you start dumping water, you'll lose minerals such as salt, potassium and magnesium as well. Having lower levels of these minerals will make you very, very tired, lightheaded or dizzy, give you muscle cramps, and headaches. You may also experience skin itchiness.

Fatigue and dizziness are the most common of the low carb diet side effects, and they can be avoided for the most part by making sure you stay ahead of mineral loss. You can counteract mineral losses by eating more salt or sipping salty broth throughout the day, and eating potassium rich foods. (Dairy foods, green leafy vegetables and avocados are high in potassium).

As long as your carb intake is below 60 carbs a day, you will need to continue to eat a moderate amount of salt (5 gram/day which is about the same as the standard American diet provides). However, if you take medicine for high blood pressure, check with your doctor.

In addition, you may want to take 400 mg of magnesium citrate every night before bed. (Check with your doctor first if you have kidney or heart health issues).

It's also really important to eat at least 2 cups of raw green leafy vegetables every day. These vegetables provide potassium and vitamin K, and will also help with hunger.

Side effect

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Headaches

While your body is adapting to ketosis, headaches can manifest for various reasons. You may also feel a little lightheaded, and may experience some flu-like symptoms for a few days.  In my experience, it's usually a mineral issue. To see if it's sodium loss, try putting a quarter teaspoon of salt in a glass of water and drink it.  You should feel better in about 20 minutes.

Overall, it's important at the start of the diet to increase your salt and water intake. It will get better after 3-4 days. If it doesn't, add a little more carb to your daily total. This is one of those low carb diet side effects for which I don't have a solid explanation, and it seems to vary by person.

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Constipation

This is another one of the most common low carb diet side effects, and is usually a function of dehydration, salt loss, eating too much dairy or too many nuts, or possibly magnesium imbalances. The magnesium mentioned under the fatigue entry above will help with this. If 400 mg of magnesium citrate isn't helping, you may want to cut back on your dairy product consumption to rebalance your calcium intake to your magnesium intake, drink lots more water or cut back on the amount of nuts you are eating.

Adding 1 x Tbsp of MCT oil in your morning coffee can help as well.

 

Side effect

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Sleep Disturbances

While your body is adapting to ketosis, headaches can manifest for various reasons. You may also feel a little lightheaded, and may experience some flu-like symptoms for a few days.  In my experience, it's usually a mineral issue. To see if it's sodium loss, try putting a quarter teaspoon of salt in a glass of water and drink it.  You should feel better in about 20 minutes.

Overall, it's important at the start of the diet to increase your salt and water intake. It will get better after 3-4 days. If it doesn't, add a little more carb to your daily total. This is one of those low carb diet side effects for which I don't have a solid explanation, and it seems to vary by person.

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Diarrhea

This low carb diet side effect is not unusual, and should resolve itself over a few days. It can happen just because of the change in diet, or if an unwise decision is made to also limit fat intake on a low carb diet, which results in eating too much protein. Eating a high protein, low carb AND low fat diet will cause the loose bowel symptoms of a condition called "rabbit starvation". (Arctic explorers described getting this when only lean rabbits were available to eat.)

Make sure you replace the carbs you are cutting with more fat, preferably saturated fat such as butter or coconut oil. Following a ketogenic diet menu means you can choose fattier cuts of meat, and use heavy cream in your coffee.

To treat, try a teaspoon dose of sugar-free Metamucil or plain psyllium husk powder right before you eat a meal. The fiber will absorb the excess water in the colon and should help resolve loose stools.