There is a lot of information out there, and we know it can be super overwhelming to take in all the information available online and find what is uniquely relevant to you.
Through our online Keto Club and network of athletes, we want to make the process of understanding the keto diet as simple as possible. We have compiled a collection of some of the most frequent queries we have received from our community of athletes.
Some people experience increased muscle cramping, particularly at night, on a keto diet.
Make sure you drink plenty of fluid and consume enough salt. Once sodium levels become quite low, the body will start to sacrifice magnesium and then potassium in order to preserve sodium levels. The first line of muscle cramp prevention is to make sure sodium levels remain stable.
Try to maintain 10g of total salt intake per day.
Take a magnesium supplement. Many people formerly fuelled by carbohydrates, are magnesium deficient this can be made worse if sodium intake is too low.
- Magnesium bisglycinate or malate, 400 mg once a day to start.
If muscle cramps continue, verify the dose, method, and regularity of magnesium supplementation. Increase the dose if necessary.
Some people, when switching from burning glucose to burning ketones, feel cold, especially when fasting. This is normal.
Take an extra 15-30 grams of fat a day, which is approximately 1-2 tbsp of olive oil or coconut oil. This will help to maintain your metabolic rate during this period of transition and help speed up the process of converting you to fat burner.
This does not usually last longer two months, and may flip a few months later, to intense feelings of warmth. This is a sign that you have become fat adapted.
Lethargy and fatigue
This is often due to lack of sodium and water. You need to ensure you are taking on enough salt each day around 10g daily. This will be more than you are used to and above the standard recommendations
On a keto diet, especially in the transition period, more sodium and water are necessary. This is because insulin tells the kidneys to retain water and salt. If less insulin is circulating, the kidneys will start flushing out more water and more salt. If you are exercising too this sodium and fluid loss increases.
Fatigue may also be from people who have reduced their carb intake but not added in enough fat in their diet. It does take a few weeks for your body to increase its fat burning (fat oxidisation) to maintain energy levels and activity.
In the switch to a keto diet, some people experience disrupted sleep.
The main reasons are:
- Dehydration: increase salt and water
- Low magnesium: a magnesium supplement at night can improve relaxation and sleep.
- Excessive energy: some patients experience such a surge of energy with a low carb diet, they feel revved up at night. This will improve with time, usually within 2-4 weeks.
Changing the way and what you eat will mean a change in the gut microbiome. Some adjustment to bowel habits and regularity might occur.
If you find you are struggling with constipation, taking lots of water and salt and magnesium supplementation, particularly magnesium citrate. You have also add in extra fibre or MCT oil.
Diarrhea is report for some people especially those that have been eating a very low fat diet for many years.
- People who are not used to eating a lot of fat or when they are consuming MCT oil can experience diarrhea. Fats especially MCT oil, may need to be started in small quantities and progressively increased.
- Using a lot of sugar alcohols, such as the sweeteners erthyritol, xylitol, mannitol, and sorbitol in low carb baking, treats or drinks.
- Drinking large quantities of broth or coffee, particularly during a fast.
Headaches usually arise during the transition to burning ketones as part of keto flu, but may occur anytime due to lack of salt and water, excessive coffee consumption and stress. A few shakes of salt into a glass of water can often relieve a headache within 10 to 15 minutes.
Some People report experiencing a strange taste in their mouths or foul breath once they start a strict keto diet and go into ketosis. This is the result of the ketone body acetone, being produced and over produced to support energy requirements, this is a good and shows your body is burning fat.
Not everyone experienced this and will only last a couple of weeks while your body normalises to using ketones as energy.
If you feel uncomfortable reduce the level of ketosis by increasing carbs a bit and then slowly reducing again.
Total cholesterol/LDL is rising
A Keto, high-fat diet usually results in improved cholesterol profiles.
Typically HDL cholesterol increases while triglycerides decrease and LDL particles become larger and fluffier. All three of these changes statistically reduce the risk of future heart disease.
However, LDL cholesterol might go up on a ketogenic diet. Sometimes the increase is not significant, other times, especially with lean people, it can skyrocket. LDL is a weak risk factor, for cardiovascular disease. LDL increases need to be put in context with other risk factors. LDL is only dangerous if it is oxidised, oxidisation of LDL occurs in the environment of a high carbohydrate diet.
If you are new to Keto or training very hard, wait three months and redo the test.
What if my blood sugar levels are increasing or staying high during the day
Higher blood sugars are usually only observed during periods of weight-loss. There are pockets of sugar in fat cells. As fat cells empty, they can cause transient increases in blood sugar levels. It takes time to normalize.
If BG remains high keep a food journal and check for hidden carbs, excess protein, snacks, and drinks. Focus on time restricted feeding and intermittent fasting.
Weight is stalling or increasing
The scale is not a good measure of success especially on a day to day basis. Water retention is often the problem, and this can change day to day depending on a number of factors, weather, sleep, hormone changes ect. Waist measurements of the fit of clothing can be a better indicator.
If your weight is definitely increasing, do an evaluation on the points below:
- Eating snacks between meals. If so, cut them out.
- Consuming lots of nuts, dairy and or excessive fat. Cut out or reduce consumption.
- Eating close to bedtime. Stop eating more than 3 to 4 hours before sleep.
- Drinking daily alcohol. Reduce consumption.
- Consuming too much protein. Reduce protein amounts.
- Eating beyond satiety. Eat slowly, with small portions. You will need to eat less with Keto as the meals are more calorie dense and keep you satisfied. This can take some practise.
- Under a lot of stress or not sleeping well. Try to get a good sleep routine and environment.
Some people think that going Keto is too expensive and they may have a low income or have a small food budget. Eating Keto can be done on a low budget, especially if intermittent fasting is done throughout the week.
While there are many fancy recipes online with expensive ingredients, like almond flour, erythritol, maple extract, MCT oil, it is not necessary to bake or cook anything elaborate. When the two baskets of groceries are compared (Keto vs High Carb) it is always noted that there is less items in the Keto basket. Avoiding refined and processed foods and junk foods can reduce food bills, too. Rice, Pasta, potatoes, coke, chips, flour and the list goes on and low nutrient foods that won’t make you full and will make you sick. Choosing foods like butter, fatty cuts of meat and organ meats are low cost and very high nutrient and calorie value.
Breakfast can be a hot beverage, like coffee or tea, with or without added fat. Lunch and dinners can be a portion of meat or fish with vegetables and a source of fat, and some salt.
There are many cooking videos online for different meat, fish and eggs that can expand the meal repertoire and lower the price. Green vegetables can be purchased frozen —and used as needed without going bad.
Intermittent fasting is quite economical, and the money saved can be reinvested in healthy ingredients, such as fresh vegetables, meat and nuts, and the occasional Keto treat!