So why is LCHF so popular? LCHF offers quick fat loss, lower hunger levels, and stable energy. So I hear you say “what’s not to love”?
There are a number of very positive benefits, especially when a low carb lifestyle is approached in a sustainable manner. However, before embarking on a complete abstinence of carbohydrates it's worth knowing what difficulties you may encounter and what you need to do to combat the potential side effects of the diet, this way you can prepare for success rather than being confused and tempted to give up.
So here they are, LCHF’s top 8 side effects discussed:
The first major side effect that you are likely to encounter occurs approximately 2-3 days into your low-carb ‘life’. You may find yourself staring at the wall for extended periods of time, feeling half-drunk, feeling confused or being completely unproductive; this is known as brain fog and occurs as your brain and body struggle to adapt to post-glycogen (limited sugar) life.
The primary reason for this is that your brain’s first preference to energy is sugar. This is the easiest and quickest fuel for the brain. Once your body makes the switch from burning carbs to burning fat, your brain will begin to use ketones as fuel.
The good news is that if you can push through it, the cloud generally gets better after a couple of days, and mostly clears up after one to two weeks of being on the diet. Drinking lots of water is key to pushing through this stage, whilst small amounts of complex carbs are sometimes needed to retain focus whilst still allowing glycogen levels to be burnt up, however at a slightly slower rate.
2. Fatigue & Flu
Starting on a low carb diet can make your body feel like you’ve suddenly been hit by a bus and or like you have come down with the flu - this is because the typical Western diet is very carb-dependent.
Expect symptoms such as headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, and general weakness. Such symptoms can really make you feel miserable for a couple of days and for some, it may last as long as a couple of weeks.
If you are aware that this may occur, you can plan for it. Consider starting your LCHF diet on a Thursday for example, so that your worst symptoms will fall on the weekend. Then, pamper yourself for a couple of days and be free of your bosses sideway glances when he or she sees you holding your head in your hands. Again, increase your water consumption and take it easy for the first week.
Low-carb diets can make certain people irritable, especially when they first start. Don't underestimate the emotional impact of cutting out many of the foods you used to enjoy on a regular basis. If you know you may be one of these people, it may be worth forewarning your fellow colleagues, friends and family in advance so they can be more tolerant.
Ensure you eat enough fresh vegetables alongside the quality and clean proteins. The iron, manganese, and potassium in green vegetables are all important to keeping your mind clear and energy level consistent whilst helping to reduce constipation (another side-effect of the diet).
4. Strange smells & tastes
Ketones are a by-product of your body using fat as fuel and build up when reducing carbohydrate intake in a process known as ketosis.
Ketosis can result in some strange tastes and smells. Some people can experience a fruity or tangy taste in their mouths, often accompanied by strange-smelling breath whilst others can develop an egg-like or ammonia-like body odour.
Not everyone experiences this problem, however people who suffer from type 1 diabetes are more likely to and should also take more care by consulting either with a doctor or a qualified Nutritionist. Once again, if you do experience these side effects, increasing your water intake and possibly reducing the speed at which you remove carbohydrate from your diet can really help.
5. Muscle ache, body tiredness and decreased strength
Feeling a dull ache and like your body is on a no-go or slow-go? Don’t worry, this is pretty normal and will typically pass as your body adapts to the diet plan after a few weeks. However, if you're going to include intense weight training or cardiovascular exercise in your new lifestyle, consider working in some complex carbohydrates as fuel.
This ache and tiredness is often your body telling you its needs aren't being met. If you set your daily carb intake at around 100 grams per day, you should still experience fat-loss benefits of low-carb while preserving more dietary flexibility. Get Moringa to provide you with all the nutrients you need.
Because low-carb diets often cut out whole grains, beans, legumes, and sometimes even nuts, the major sources and intake of fibre (apart from vegetables) are significantly reduced. As a result many new LCHF followers suffer from constipation.
Make sure that you are getting at least 3-5g of salt per day and use olive oil at breakfast to get things moving.
LCHF diets are well known for their diuretic effect which can be pretty intense for some people. So the first time you step on the scale after embarking on your LCHF diet, don’t be fooled by the sudden rapid weight-loss, it’s most likely fluid-loss.
It’s not a big secret that the body craves carbohydrates when we are feeling down and your carb intake can truly impact your brain's serotonin levels, putting you at risk for depression and mood imbalance. But there are a number of other foods that can equally rival carbohydrates for their serotonin and feel good inducing nutrients, the best of which is turkey. So if you are feeling in need of a pick-me-up, try a turkey salad for something a little different, whilst leafy greens, oily fish such as salmon and tuna, and almonds are also nature’s answer to low moods. Gut fuel assists the changes in your gut bacteria and improves serotonin.
Be successful - be prepared!
After several weeks, many of the side effects of a LCHF diet will subside as you become "keto-adapted" and able to burn fat instead of glucose for fuel. Remember that sometimes a slower reduction in your carbohydrate intake can reduce side-effects, and make transitioning into an LCHF diet easier, whilst water is the common cure!
Understanding your possible physical reactions will help you avoid the worst of the symptoms, and keep you from quitting before you give it a real go, whilst finding a sustainable balance is the answer to long-term weight stability, wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle.
Get ZestMoringa to assist you with this part of the detox process