Tips for Surviving that first week of Low Carb / Ketosis

Bacon - Low Carb SnackYep, the first week of low carb sucks.  Just totally sucks.

Making the switch from sugar burning mode to fat burning mode can be the hardest part of a ketogenic / low carb diet.  Many a person has dropped out of the pursuit of ketosis due to the first week challenges.

Cravings, low energy, fatigue, irritability, brain fog, low blood sugar, etc.  are not really all that pleasant to deal with.

So to make it to the light at the end of the first week tunnel, there are several things that I do to help me get through it.

  1. Salt and broths – due to the rapid loss of water weight the first week or two, I’ve found increasing my salt intake to be quite helpful to alleviate many of the first week issues.

    Chicken broths, veggies broths, etc. can be good sources of sodium and electrolyte replenishment.  And if I don’t have any and don’t feel like making any (not uncommon that first week), then I’ll just make sure to up my salt intake.  Sometimes I just even eat it raw, licking the salt off the palm of my hand.  Or adding extra salt to my food.

  2. Snacks – one of the most important things to me is having an abundance of ‘low carb’ snacks on hand.  Snacks that are already made and ready to eat.  Bacon, mozzarella sticks, pepperoni, pickles, olives, chicharrones (pork rinds), peanut butter & celery, baby carrots, etc.

    Bacon or just rolling up some deli meat with some mustard/mayo AND a mozzarella stick or some olives or a pickle usually gets the job done.  And I’ll eat this everyday if I have to deal with cravings and/or low blood sugar.

    There are also bars (like Atkins) while not ideal (due to chemicals and oils), but whatever it takes to get through the keto-adpation phase.
  3. Supplements – For the first week, I’ll take 1-4 Tblsp of organic virgin coconut oil or a Tblsp or two of MCT oil to help make extra ketones.  These ketones can help ward off cravings and provide some stable energy. until my body is cranking them out just fine on it’s own.

    L-Glutamine is an option for sugar cravings.  As well as chromium picolinate and 5HTP (for mood support).
  4. Water – Due to the loss of water weight (I’ve noticed around 3% of my body weight), I’ll often buy some bottled water (san pellegrino, volvic, evian, or Fiji) which contain minerals and i strive for about 3 liters per day.  Or about 100 ounces and often times will put a pinch of salt in there for good measure.  I try to get about 2-3 grams of salt in that first week or two.

    Also I might pickup a case of flavored carbonated water (with no added sweeteners or anything – something like La Croix or Dasani).  I don’t do sugar free stuff and some of the waters are just water and a fruit flavored essence (with no added calories).  But this can be good to add some flavor and variety.  It’s just carbonated water essentially = zero calories = zero sugar = zero artificial sweeteners.

    Something like a Dasani Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade to wash down the Bakenette pork rinds (which are sometimes quite drying).

So you gotta do what you gotta do.  Whenever I run into a craving or don’t feel well that first week, I’ll just eat a low carb snack.  No biggie.  Not worried about calories or anything, I just know that it’s matter of time.  If I don’t feel like cooking, then I’ll eat a fast food burger without a bun or buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.  No worries.

Because I know that AFTER the first week or so, things will get MUCH BETTER pretty quickly.  The cravings subside, the sugar and pizza withdrawals are a thing of the past, my energy and focus picks up.

I had been in ketosis for about 6 months this year and took a week off and had a ‘carb-fest’ for a week (which i do from time to time).  And when I went back to ketosis, I had totally forgotten how hard that first week is.  Yes, it sucks.

But some coconut oil and/or some bacon, olives and/or pickles ad some extra salt, and I’m good to go.  Bring on week #2 and beyond.

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