Have you just started a low-carb diet? Is it harder than you thought?
Low-carb fans praise the diet as the easiest way to lose weight. Generally, I agree with that.
But it’s not always easy immediately. The first several days – or even weeks – can be a struggle for some of us.
You could get strong sugar cravings, extreme tiredness, or the full-on “low-carb flu”. Constant checking and counting of carbs might get overwhelming. Or perhaps you just really miss your favourite high-carb foods like bread.
If this sounds like your experience, you are probably a bit disappointed. You didn’t expect your low-carb diet to be a constant struggle!
Please don’t give up. All of these difficulties are temporary. You just need to get through the first several weeks. That’s the hardest part, for several reasons.
Once you – and your body – get used to being on low-carb, it gets so much easier. You will get to eat fantastic food and lose weight without ever feeling hungry or deprived. Weight loss will be a breeze.
So please stick with your low-carb diet. Your hard work will pay off very soon!
Here are some specific reasons why your low-carb diet gets easier with time.
1. Your body will adapt to fat-burning metabolism
In the beginning of your diet, you might get the dreaded low-carb flu (also known as “keto flu” or “Atkins flu”). Your body has been running on carbs for decades. Cutting carbs in favour of fat is a huge change. Your metabolism needs a bit of time to adapt.
This period of adjustment can sometimes cause flu-like symptoms. Fatigue is the most common one, but you could also get muscle cramps, headaches, dizziness and mental fog.
If you are on a ketogenic diet, like Atkins Induction or Keto, you are more likely to get the low-carb flu. But any sharp reduction in carbs, even on more relaxed diet plans, can lead to some of these symptoms.
This adaptation period is the hardest part of the diet. It can last from several days to 1-2 weeks. Many people give up at this stage.
It has to get worse before it gets better. Once you get through it, you will glide into that easy weight loss you’ve heard so much about.
There are also ways to make this adaptation period shorter and easier.
2. You will develop new habits
We are all slaves to our habits. Food is no exception. Going low-carb involves major changes in your standard routine when shopping for food, cooking, or eating out.
This can be a challenge. Every day, you need to override your old habits and replace them with new ones.
They say it takes around three weeks to form a new habit. But once you’ve done that, your new habits will carry you through your weight loss. You won’t have to worry, or even think about it anymore.
3. The first positive results will boost your motivation
Getting the first positive results on your diet is a huge boost to morale. They don’t have to be huge – just noticeable.
Maybe you will see a smaller number on your weighing scales. Or feel that your clothes feel loose rather than tight around your waist. Nothing motivates better than seeing your hard work pay off.
If you are on a ketogenic low-carb diet, like Keto or Atkins Induction, you might lose a few pounds almost immediately. This is likely to be “water weight” – a natural fluctuation caused by the diuretic effects of keto diet. It’s still a great feeling though.
The hardest part is getting through the initial several days, where you are dieting but not seeing any weight loss yet. Stick with it! You are likely to see your first real results within 1-2 weeks.
4. You will get used to ignoring high-carb foods
Giving up bread, sugar and potatoes is daunting to start with. How will you cope? Can you really manage without them?
In the beginning, you will notice carbs everywhere, trying to lure you in from coffee shops windows, supermarket shelves, and restaurant menus.
But it definitely gets easier with time. As your body adapts to low-carb, sugar cravings weaken and eventually disappear completely. Then you can just happily ignore high-carb foods.
After a while, you will get used to the idea that this type of food is out of bounds. And you will hardly even notice them anymore.
5. You will make fewer mistakes
When you are trying something for the first time, a few mistakes are inevitable. You won’t get everything right straightaway.
You might miscalculate your carbs, pick a wrong sweetener, or forget to drink enough water. These small mistakes can stall your progress in the beginning. But don’t worry. It is natural to make mistakes – that’s how we learn.
You will also find out what works for you, and what doesn’t. We are all different, so this can only be done through trial and error. For example, some people don’t respond well to artificial sweeteners – they cause stronger sugar cravings. Others cope just fine. You will find out after you try all the options for yourself.
So stick to your diet, keep learning, and you will soon become a pro!
6. You will discover new favourite dishes
A low-carb diet is great for food lovers. Your meals can be incredibly rich and satisfying: juicy steaks, crispy bacon, succulent roast chicken, creamy desserts…
Don’t hold yourself back. Enjoy the most scrumptious and satisfying foods. As long as they are low-carb, you will still lose weight.
You will soon figure out your new favourite low-carb dishes and treats. You can enjoy every bite, and never go hungry. That’s the beauty of a low-carb lifestyle!
7. You will feel better overall
A low-carb diet has many benefits beyond weight loss.
Once fully keto-adapted, most people have higher energy levels than before. Your digestion can get better, with less bloating after meals. Some people report better focus and more mental clarity.
Contrary to common ignorant misconceptions, a low-carb diet can actually be good for your health. Your blood sugar, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol balance are likely to improve after going low-carb.
So please don’t give up – stick with your diet! Once you are fully adapted to low-carb, you will get to experience all its amazing benefits in full.
Best of luck!