What can I expect after I start a ketogenic diet?

Within the first week you may experience what we call “carb withdrawal.” You may lose energy, get headaches, cramps, and the like. It is not recommended that you exercise during this period. In fact, if you are obese, you might want to put hard exercise on hold, especially running or jogging, as you can actually hurt yourself. Withdrawal symptoms typically last a few days to a week, and are to be expected. Just like an extra in a play, it’s just a stage you’re going through. <ba DUM dum>.

After you get through withdrawal symptoms, you will most likely continue to lose quite a bit of weight. And then, the dreaded stall. Atkins called this PISS (Post-Induction Stall Syndrome). Some people actually gain weight in the first few months. That is entirely possible. However, if you feel better, there’s no reason not to continue. In fact, you will most likely see Non-Scale Victories (NSVs) such as inches lost around your middle, increased muscle mass, and loss of other maladies.

Once you get to your first plateau, and you are not hungry – generally, the next phase is to attempt a dinner-to-dinner fast, or an Intermittent Fast (IF). That’s right. Stop eating. Drink only water, black coffee, or black tea. You may get hungry at about hour 18. If that happens and you can’t stand it, have a bit of bone broth (½ cup, perhaps) or just some hot salty water. One strategy is to fast lunch to lunch. If you do that, you will most likely be asleep during the 18th hour hunger pang, and you won’t even notice it! After one day of fasting, you might feel so good (your energy level will go through the roof) that you might continue for another day, and perhaps a third. 3 days is the optimum length for an extended fast (EF). After that, your metabolism will most likely slow down. There is so much science around fasting, and the thought leader here is Dr. Jason Fung. His book, The Obesity Code, is a must-read. https://intensivedietarymanagement.com/the-obesity-code-available-for-pre-order/ You can read his excellent Fasting FAQ for a quick intro.

The biggest benefit of fasting is lower basal (fasted) insulin levels and increased insulin sensitivity. These effects tend to last. That means, every time you fast, you increase your body’s ability to deal with dietary glucose. Lower insulin means more fat burning power.

After you’ve made it through your first fast, whether one day, two days, or three, you have so many options. You can now figure out what eating pattern works best for you. Some eat one meal a day – lunch or dinner. Some still eat when hungry and stop when full – whatever time of day that happens to be. You have options, and that’s a good thing!

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