Let's talk about nutrition, baby! Let's talk about you and me...

When I first embarked on my journey into Keto, I'll admit I came from a path where I had already done quite a bit of research into fitness and nutrition. I'm a 200 RYT Yoga Instructor and worked alongside several personal trainers for years while I taught my classes. In 2012, I started using Couch25K and got really into running and understanding the mechanics of the body during that state. And, since 2016 I've been a pretty active amatuer volleyball player in several local leagues. I enjoy being physically active and I like to know what makes me body work best in those situations. However, I had to start somewhere... 

Common Mistakes in Nutrition with Weight Loss

Not Eating Enough Food

Bitmoji Image 
Been there, done that. 

That moment when you open the MyFitnessPal app, insert all your info and choose the "Lose 2lbs Per Week" option and all of a sudden you're allowed to eat 1,100 calories per weak... Cue #hangrymeagan

As I mentioned in my last post, some of the scariest comments I see in my Keto groups on Facebook are people posting screen shots of their carb trackers showing a calorie goal of around 1,000 calories per day in hopes of losing the most weight in the fastest amount of time. Not only is this unsustainable, but it's extremely dangerous. Restricting calories to these levels can cause your metabolism to slow, fatigue and nutrient deficiencies, reduction in fertility, weakened bones, and weakened immune systems among other things. Read more here from healthline.com

Here's how your body works in regards to calories, according to HealthLine.com: 

Your body requires calories to function and uses them to sustain three main processes:

  1. Basal metabolic rate (BMR): This refers to the number of calories needed to cover your basic functions, including the proper functioning of your brain, kidneys, heart, lungs and nervous system. Calculate yours here (be sure to choose the sedentary option to start out with unless you have a very physically demanding job). 
  2. Digestion: Your body uses a certain number of calories to digest and metabolize the foods you eat. This is also known as the thermic effect of food (TEF).
  3. Physical activity: This refers to the number of calories needed to fuel your everyday tasks and workouts.
When you're trying to lose weight you need to feed your body the nutrients it needs and the calories it needs in order to reassure it that you're safe and not in famine. When your body thinks it's starving, it will refuse to burn off any excess fat and keep it for emergencies to prolong your life. Makes sense, right? So, in order to lose fat, you'll need to feed your body. Make sure you are giving it all the nutrients and follow the info below on supplementing with electrolytes to make sure you're feeling good. 

Not Drinking Enough Water or Drinking Too Much!

You've heard it a million times, your body is made of mostly water, so you need to replenish that water to stay feeling good. According to LiveScience.com, water intake is a very intuitive part of nutrition, "The bottom line: Drink up when you're thirsty, and drink more when you sweat more. Your body will take it from there." So, listen to your body and drink when you're thirsty. You'll become even more in tune with your body as you move along in your Keto journey. 

Thinking the Diet isn't Working for You

This is one excuse a lot of people will use when they give up on their diet journey: the diet just wasn't for me. It's super important to understand that you need to put in the effort to understand the diet and follow it to the best of your ability. You cannot sit around and snack on Kraft American Singles all day and expect to feel healthy and lose weight, it's not realistic and it's not intuitve. You need to nourish your body with good, whole foods. You need to exercise (even if that means just walking the dog a couple of times per week). And, you need to monitor your calorie intake. 

A lot of people think that being Keto means you don't need to exercise or track calories and that couldn't be further from the truth! The concept of calories in/calories out is still in play (to a certain degree) and going Keto just means that you're changing where those calories are coming from (see: no more donuts, avocados instead). So, if you willy-nilly start eating all the fat in site, you may seem some gains (and not in the best way). I recommend a carb tracker app like Carb Manager to help you choose a calorie goal and set percentage options for your macros. You can use this macro calculator to help figure that step out (watch the video, too - it's super helpful). 

Repairing the Body

If you're like me, you've probably spent your life change your diet a few different times in hopes of landing on the right option to lose weight and feel good. Unfortunately, the FDA and USDA have perpetuated different dietary suggestions that have been detrimental to the health of the population. Check out this NY Times article from 2002 here, Keto is not a new idea! 

So, what do we do now? And, what's it going to be like? If you're just starting the Keto Diet and this is your first resource, great! I want you to be prepared and understand what is about to happen to your body. Here are some things to expect during your first week of Keto and how to counteract them:

1. Headaches - This comes from your body detoxing from sugar and carbohydrates. Sugar is one of the most addictive substances on the planet and it's hidden in just about everything. Your body will take some time to "get over" not having a constant supply of the white stuff (sugar, obvs). So, you may experience headaches and discomfort while going through this. This can also be a side effect of low electrolytes from water loss, see below! 

2. Lack of Energy/Sluggishness - Your body is learning to adapt to a completely new fuel source. It's been used to running off of carbohydrates and glucose for your whole life, so when you take those things away, it makes sense that your body will have a lack of energy while it searches for a new source. Be kind to yourself during your transition period, maybe take a break from working out super hard and take some baths in Epsom salt. 

3. Water Weight Loss - This is a fortunate side effect of removing or reducing carbohydrates from your diet - weight loss! At first, you could see anywhere from a couple of pounds all the way to 10 or 15 in your first week (depending on what kind of diet you're coming from). No one is going to be mad about this! However, it's important to realize that with the water loss, you're also going to be losing electrolytes and you'll want to replenish those to avoid headaches, body aches, and sluggishness. Electrolytes are more commonly known as Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium. You can definitely supplement with these, but it's always best to get them from whole foods, if possible, like fibrous veggies (spinach, kale, brussel sprouts) or avocados! I also suggest taking a magnesium supplement before bed to help with sleep! My favorite way to replenish sodium: swigs of pickle juice (Claussen is my favorite). 

Prevent these issues (or fix them once they start) check out this article for more information on what to expect and how to combat! 

Once you've made it through the Keto Flu and are on the other side, you'll likely notice the scale slowing down a little bit as your body learns to be Fat Adapted. Do not let this discourage you! According to nutritionists, it's not really healthy to lose more than 2lbs per week.  But, the expectation is really high when you lose all that water weight at first so many people get discouraged at this point. It's completely normal to lose very little or maybe even stall completely during your 6-8th weeks on Keto. Don't stray from the course! You've got this. Here's more information from KetoConnect on what's going on in your bod during this time here


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