If you’re trying a high-fat, low-carb diet, you’ll find your body begins to adapt to its new fuel source—fat rather than carbs. Over time, it will start to break down more of the fat you have stored in your body, using that for energy rather than blood sugar.
Increased fat breakdown can cause your liver to produce more ketones, a byproduct of the fat-burning process. High levels of ketones can put your body in a state called ketosis. Here’s how to recognize the signs of ketosis more clearly:
Ask any Keto dieter, and they’ll tell you that “Keto breath” is a very real and very unpleasant thing!
When your body first starts producing ketones as a byproduct of the fat breakdown process, it takes time to adapt to this extra-high level of ketones. It tends to expel them not only through your urine, but also through your breath.
“Keto breath” is very unpleasant-smelling, and it can be irritating both to you and those around you. Thankfully, the problem is short-term—it will go away or diminish as your body adapts to its new fat-burning regimen.
If you want to deal with the bad breath, try brushing your teeth more, or add mint or eucalyptus leaves to your water bottle. A few drops of lemon juice or lemon essential oil in water can make an excellent breath-improving mouthwash.
When in ketosis, your body expels a lot of water via your urine, which is its primary vehicle to expel ketones. You’ll find that you end up using the bathroom a lot more, and you’ll pee more than normal.
If you’re not careful, this can lead to dehydration!
Thankfully, your body has a built-in thirst mechanism that tells you when you need more water. You’ll find yourself feeling thirstier than normal all day long. Listen to your body and drink as much water as you feel necessary to stay hydrated. It’s critical for healthy dieting and helping your body get through ketosis.
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For the first week or two after switching to the Ketogenic Diet, you’ll find yourself grappling with fatigue. This is the result of changing up your primary energy source from carbs to fats.
Slowly, as your body adapts to its new fuel source, your fatigue will go away. But while you’re in ketosis, it’s fairly common to experience increased fatigue. It can take as long as 30 days for your body to get past ketosis and get accustomed to burning fat for fuel. Prepare for a few weeks of drowsiness and decreased cognitive performance!
High fat intake can throw off your digestive system, which has adapted to the average person’s high-carb diet throughout their life. Keto dieters often experience diarrhea and/or constipation during the first few weeks of the Keto diet.
This is actually a GOOD thing, as you’ll end up eating less while you’re in ketosis.
When your body produces ketones as a result of the fat-burning process, it will send signals to your brain to reduce your appetite. You’ll feel less hungry throughout the day—though you can expect some pretty savage carb cravings.
The downside to this decreased appetite is that you may not consume enough calories to keep your body fueled. Try to stick to a healthy food intake even if your appetite decreases as a result of ketosis.
The best way to know if you’re in ketosis is with a blood test that measures ketone levels in your blood.
There are special ketone meters that analyze your blood levels of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). BHB is the main ketone produced by your body when you enter a state of ketosis, so when its levels increase, it’s a clear sign of what’s going on.
Don’t want the invasive blood test? Try a urine test instead!
Urine ketone tests use a stick (like a pregnancy test) that will change colors according to the levels of ketones in your body. In this case, the urine test isn’t as accurate as the blood test, but it’ll be a back-up plan to keep close track of your ketone levels to know if you are in ketosis.
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