Most people don’t realize how deep carbohydrates have curled their hooks into our brains until they try out a low-carb diet like Atkins or keto. But it makes sense…carbs are your body’s main source of energy, so it’s understandable that a large portion of your cravings would center around them.
But denying this satisfying macro is just one of the many struggles that pop up when attempting the keto diet, which only allows about five percent of your daily calories to come from carbs. The rest of this diet is made up of about 75 percent fat and 20 percent protein.
The realities of the battle with your body (and brain) on a ketogenic diet — which is intended to put your metabolic system in to ketosis where you primarily use fat for fuel instead of carbs— can be tough to handle. Strange and unexpected changes can occur, and sometimes it’s just nice to commiserate with fellow carb cutters.
7 Struggles That Are Way Too Real On the Keto Diet
Here are some struggles that you’ll only understand if you’ve ever been on the keto diet.
1. Carb Cutting Just Isn’t That Fun
Only when you start hardcore cutting out carbs will you grasp their diabolical hold on our brains and bodies. On the keto diet you only get about 20-30 grams of carbs a day, which is the amount in one large apple. Want a sandwich on two slices of hearty bread for lunch? Forget about it.
On the keto diet, your waking hours will be filled with thoughts of crunchy chips, soft donuts, and chewy cookies, and your nights will be haunted by visions of piles of pizza and mountains of mashed potatoes.
2. You Feel Weak As a Kitten
An alarming side effect of cutting carbs to the point of ketosis is the feeling of lethargy that can wash over your body.
The loss of energy is due to the lack of glucose in your blood stream (aka blood sugar), which is what you’ve been using for your primary fuel for most of your life. That’s why your muscles may feel like they are made of wet noodles and fighting off anything bigger than a puppy would be impossible.
3. You Encounter the Dreaded Keto Flu
Another odd thing that can hit you on the keto diet is that you may feel like forging a doctor’s note and telling your boss you’re taking a sick day. The “keto flu” can be a very real occurrence, thanks to your body drastically switching from using carbs to fat as your main fuel source.
Flu-like symptoms including vomiting, headache, muscle cramps, insomnia, and stomach pain could have you yearning to curl up in front of “The Price is Right” and sip on ginger ale all day.
4. You Have to Say Goodbye to Beer
If you’re been a big fan of the craft beer renaissance or just love quaffing pints of brew with pals after a hard day at work, you’re gonna have to quit that along with cake.
On the keto diet—with it’s carb-focused kibosh—beer is out, since the average 12-oz brew contains about 13 grams of carbs…which is about half your daily allowance. On the plus side…a nice, crisp vodka and soda has zero carbs! Hey, at least it’s something.
5. Your Heart Rate Might Speed Up
No, those heart palpitations you’re feeling aren’t due to watching a British baker create lemon and coconut meringue cakelets on TV. This is yet another possible side effect in the first few weeks of a keto diet. Although there’s not exactly solid science behind this, it has been reported that some people experience an elevated heart rate when they slash their carbs. Deep breaths!
6. You Probably Need a Breath Mint…or Five
Who doesn’t love the feeling of a chalky and dry mouth that makes a sucking, rasping sound every time you crack it open to comment on some stupid TV commercial? Your partner, for one. The bad breath that comes with a dry, cracking mouth probably won’t buy you many passionate pecks during your low-carb endeavor.
7. You Become Very Acquainted With The Restroom
Though going on a keto diet probably won’t necessitate stocking up on an 84-count pack of crinkly adult diapers at Costco, you’ll likely have the urge to relieve yourself quite often.
Dehydration can be a side effect of the keto diet, so you want to make sure you drink lots of water. And as it goes, more water equals more trips to the restroom.