- What Happens to Your Body When You Begin Eating Healthy
- Weight Loss Results Differ from Person to Person
- Immediate Changes to Your Body: Results in as Little as One Day
- What You Can Expect in One Week
- What Can Change Within One Month
- At the Six Month Mark, Things Really Get Interesting
- After One Year, You’ll Be So Proud of Yourself
- What Are You Waiting For! Let’s Begin Today …
- Got a new health routine? This is how long it will take to see results
- What happens when you eat healthy for 28 days?
- The positive effects of eating well
- Reasons why you may feel sick after eating – and what to do about it
- Keto Flu Explained: Why Low-Carb Diets Can Make You Feel Sick and Tired
- In the spirit of CARE, let’s start this conversation by having you envision a single cell in your body.
- Let’s Recap
- How To Start Eating Healthy
- 1 Day Of Eating Healthy Results On Your Body
- 1 Week Of Eating Healthy Results On Your Body
- 1 Month Of Eating Healthy Results On Your Body
- 6 Months Of Eating Healthy Results On Your Body
- 1 Year Of Eating Healthy Results On Your Body
- Eating Clean But Feeling Worse
- 1/ Too Much Cardio
- 2/ Juice Cleanse Dehydration And Nutrient Deficiency
- 3/ Under-recovery = fatigue and aches
- 4/ Not rotating your protein sources
- 5/ Not eating enough
- 6/ Adrenal Fatigue
- 7/ Longer Sessions With Fewer Results
- 8/ Wasting Times On Weight Goals
What Happens to Your Body When You Begin Eating Healthy
Let’s talk about results.
When you make the decision to change your eating habits, it can become frustrating when you don’t see immediate results. It may even be tempting to give up. “Well, I’m not getting anywhere,” you might say. “What’s the use?”
The thing is, results don’t come all at once, and they don’t look the same to all people. Some of your biggest results will be in how you feel … not just in how you look.
Weight Loss Results Differ from Person to Person
As you probably know, your weight fluctuates from day to day — and even throughout the day. You may drop water weight quickly, but unfortunately, losing water weight is not the same as losing fat. If you have hormone issues, you may lose weight more slowly than a person without issues. Men can sometimes lose weight faster than women. And many of us know the feeling of our metabolism slowing down a little as we age.
Luckily, that’s not the whole story.
As you exercise, you’re getting stronger and adding muscle. As you choose healthy foods over carb-heavy meals and empty calories, you’re improving your gut health, brain function, and energy levels! It takes a little faith. We encourage you to trust in the program you’re following and the good it will ultimately do to your body.
Here’s some information about what’s really happening to you over time as you change your eating habits.
Immediate Changes to Your Body: Results in as Little as One Day
You may not see a difference on the scale after eating one healthy meal, but – believe it or not – even one day of better choices makes a difference.
You’ll begin healing your gut … and your brain! That means that good bacteria will begin to replace bad bacteria in your digestive track, and you’ll reduce inflammation, which positively impacts your brain function.
You’ll also reduce your levels of hunger because you’re not eating junk carbohydrates that make you hungry again sooner. Instead, you’ll be fueling your body with slow-burning energy sources such as protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. It all boils down to fewer cravings … and that’s something we all want.
What You Can Expect in One Week
Within a week of eating healthier, you’ll notice that your energy level has gone up. You’ll be getting better sleep and managing all the activities of the day like a pro.
Chances are, you won’t feel quite as bloated. In fact, all of your digestive functions may be feeling a lot better. You may also lose some water weight, and your clothes may feel looser on your body even if you’re not going down a size quite yet.
Within the body, your hormones can begin to stabilize on a healthy diet, and your brain health will improve right along with them. This can translate to a more stable and more positive mood. For those who suffer from occasional depression or anxiety, this is great news.
What Can Change Within One Month
The first thing you’ll notice after a month is that your skin looks great! The skin, the largest organ in the body, can smooth out and simply glow once you begin feeding yourself with healthy foods.
Your metabolism will begin to go up, ever so slightly, the longer you eat healthy. A metabolism that’s humming along smoothly will pay dividends as you continue making your lifestyle change.
Maybe the best change of all? Eating healthier will start to be more habitual … it will start to feel normal. You’ll know how to plan your meals, prepare for going out, drink enough water, and swap out unhealthy foods for healthier choices. Won’t it be great when you can do all this – and feel like yourself?
At the Six Month Mark, Things Really Get Interesting
Get this: your sex life may improve! Energy + a better mood + feeling proud of your healthier body = va-va-voom.
Your health levels overall, including blood pressure and blood glucose, will improve. As you’re undoubtedly aware, this will translate to better health in the future. Your bones will get stronger, too, thanks to the healthy choices you are making.
After One Year, You’ll Be So Proud of Yourself
You may reach your goal weight after a year (or a little less) of eating right. This alone is an accomplishment, but think about all the other gifts you’ll have given yourself …
You’ll know how to indulge wisely. You’ll be aging more slowly. You’ll have fewer medical problems. Weight management will feel more effortless. You’ll simply be happier than you are today.
What Are You Waiting For! Let’s Begin Today …
If you’ve been waiting for the right moment, or the right group of people to support you, you’re here. At Cooking Healthy Academy, we cook together, laugh together, and truly change our lives together. We’d love to meet you. Reach out!
Got a new health routine? This is how long it will take to see results
“It doesn’t really matter how you do it, whether it’s because you reduce your carbohydrate intake and increase your protein consumption , or you stop drinking alcohol, as long as there’s a deficit, you will see short-term weight loss,” Sharp says.
However, the key here is that the results will be short-lived. A UCLA study found that while dieters can expect to lose five to 10 per cent of their starting weight in the first six months of their diet plan, one-third to two-thirds of those dieters will regain more weight than they lost within four to five years.
READ MORE: Reality check: Is pizza a healthier breakfast choice than cereal?
“If you look at people who lose a lot of weight through diet alone and compare them to those who do it through diet and exercise, the latter group has better gains,” Sharp says. “That’s because exercise increases lean tissue mass, preserves your metabolism, increases energy, reduces stress and decreases cortisol, which we know is key to weight loss.”
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With exercise alone, you’ll see results in…
This is hard to answer definitively, Sharp says, because it depends on so many factors. It is possible to lose weight by exercising and not changing your diet, although it won’t be much.
“You would see an increase in muscle tone and you might see a small reduction in weight, but you can’t exercise past a bad diet.”
Dick Thijssen, a professor of cardiovascular physiology and exercise at Liverpool John Moores University, estimates that three to four months of exercising without altering your diet would only result in an approximately two-pound weight loss.
Then there’s the issue that many people overestimate how much they exercise and underestimate how many calories they’re consuming. Combine that with the fact that exercise, especially cardio, tends to increase appetite, and the results could be the opposite of what you hoped for.
However, you may find that even if you’re just exercising and not making any changes to your diet, what lands on your dinner plate may start to change.
“When someone exercises, their stress levels go down, they sleep better and have better self-esteem. They feel like an athlete and as a result want to eat like one, too,” Sharp says.
With diet, and a combination of cardio and resistance training, you’ll see results in…
Much like the diet-only scenario, this combination will produce an immediate loss of one to three pounds in the first week, but that will escalate considerably by week four.
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READ MORE: What’s a better workout: Walking or running?
“At the four- to six-week mark, theoretically you could see anywhere from four to 18 pounds of fat loss,” Sharp says. “Resistance training and cardio combined will start to promote lean tissue building. You won’t see huge changes in your body composition , but you will lose fat.”
By following this routine, she says you can expect to see an entire percentage of body fat lost per month. Significant weight loss and muscle gains will take approximately eight weeks to see, however, even though you’re not seeing muscle definition, the benefits going on in your body and mind are considerable.
“Your clothes will fit better, your posture will be better and you’ll walk taller,” Sharp says.
Which is better — diet and cardio or diet and resistance training?
In the realm of exercise, trainers will always err on the side of resistance training, because that’s what will create the most change in your body through building lean muscle tissue.
“If you were only to do cardio and diet, you’d lose weight, but your metabolism would be compromised. Resistance training has a protein-sparing effect in that it doesn’t like for protein to be metabolized for energy. Cardio doesn’t make the same distinction — if you’re running and you’ve burned up all your carbohydrate stores, your body will start leeching from your fat and protein stores,” Sharp explains.
That’s not to say cardio isn’t beneficial; it’s great for your heart and lungs, but don’t rely on it to give you a lean, defined physique.
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“Cardio is about overall health, but a combination of diet and resistance training is what will make the most morphological change.”
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
What happens when you eat healthy for 28 days?
The positive effects of eating well
What we eat can affect all the processes in the body, including cell regeneration, inflammation, digestion and sleep. So it’s no surprise that after even as little as 28 days of eating well you can expect to not only look better, but feel a whole lot better, too.
What exactly does ‘eating well’ mean?
Eating well means giving your body the nutrients it needs to function at its best. This means enjoying plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats and water, and less processed and packaged food, salt, saturated fat and added sugar. But eating well isn’t just about what we eat; it’s also about how we eat. Healthy habits such as regular meals are an important part of this, as is taking time to enjoy and savour your food, rather than shoveling it in at your desk or as you run out the door.
Changing the way you eat as well as what you eat will make a huge difference to your overall health and how you look and feel. So what changes may you expect over a 28-day period?
After 1 day
- Better concentration
Just one day in and you may feel less hungry and experience fewer cravings as you step off the blood-sugar-level roller-coaster caused by poor eating habits and a diet high in refined carbohydrates and added sugar. Stable blood sugar levels also mean better concentration and more energy, so you can power through your work and your workouts!
After 7 days
- Reduced puffy eyes
After one week you may notice less puffiness as water retention decreases, thanks to a lower salt intake. This is often most noticeable around the eyes but may also mean that your clothes start to feel a bit looser.
- No more 3pm slump
The dreaded afternoon slump should be a thing of the past now that you’re having regular meals, more protein and fewer refined carbohydrates. You may be surprised to find yourself less tempted by the office biscuit tin or your usual afternoon coffee and be satisfied by a piece of fruit instead.
After 14 days
- A healthier bank account
While you’re getting leaner, your wallet should get bigger as you spend less of your hard-earned cash on eating out, takeaways and packaged foods. Home-cooked meals are, in general, not only much better for you but also much cheaper, and ditching the packaged snacks in favour of fresh, whole foods can really lower your food budget.
- No more ‘hangry’
Some people get irritable when they’re hungry due to the brain’s response to low blood sugar levels. If you’re prone to getting a little ‘hangry’, after two weeks of eating well you may notice that you’re less grumpy than usual. Now that you enjoy a balance of complex carbs, lean protein and healthy fats, your blood sugar levels will have stabilised and, along with them, your mood.
After 21 days
- Glowing skin
Nutrition plays a critical role in the health of your skin, so by now you may be sporting a lovely glow thanks to increased vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats, which are essential for collagen formation, as well as reducing inflammation. Less alcohol means your skin will also be better hydrated, reducing dryness and adding to your healthy hue.
- Beating the bloat
An increased fibre intake and overall healthier diet means more regular bowel movements and less bloating, which in turn means a happier digestive system and a more comfortable you.
- A better night’s sleep
A poor diet and alcohol can interfere with a good night’s sleep, so by now you should notice that you’re sleeping better, which in turn means more energy, a better mood and a more radiant complexion. You may even find that you’re looking forward to exercise as well.
After 28 days
- Cravings gone
After experiencing the benefits of a healthier eating plan, junk food becomes far less appealing and you’ll automatically choose healthier foods. Poor sleep increases our desire for high-fat, high-sugar foods, so once you’re sleeping better, you’ll experience fewer of those chocolate cravings.
- Stronger immune system
A higher intake of fruit and vegies means your body is now getting the vitamins and minerals it needs that, in combination with better sleep, strengthen the immune system so you’re likely to get sick less often. Plus, thanks to the changes you’ve made, your risk of chronic disease may have declined, so you’re well on your way to a longer, healthier and happier life.
- Improved weight management
By now you should really notice a difference in your weight. Not only will you have less fluid retention, but a lower intake of fat, added sugar and alcohol will continue to pay off and you’ll look slimmer and healthier. With WW you can expect to lose up to 1kg a week, which is a safe rate that makes it easier to keep off.
Are there any downsides?
Some people find that they feel worse for a short time when they make healither changes to their eating plan. Decreasing your intake of caffeine and high-sugar foods can be difficult at first as you adjust. For this reason, it can be a good idea to make changes gradually, so you’re not overwhelmed and find yourself heading straight back to your old ways. However, symptoms tend to only last for a few days and the short-term discomfort is well worth it in the end.
Eat well 5 tips cheat sheet
1. Eat three balanced meals, plus one or two healthy snacks, tuning into your body’s hunger signals.
2. Include a rainbow of fruit and veg, complex carbs, lean protein and lots of fibre. Variety is key here.
3. Drink lots of water – aim for two litres a day. Water fills you up as well as hydrates and flushes out your system.
4. Track your SmartPoints® so you’ll feel satisified, not hungry, and stay on track to progress on your journey.
5. Reduce your intake of alcohol, refined sugars as well as packaged and processed foods.
Reasons why you may feel sick after eating – and what to do about it
Experiencing discomfort or pain after eating is not uncommon and can there can be several things that may trigger the feeling – the problem is pinpointing what that trigger is, and it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always medical.
In fact, it can often come down to the types of foods you’re eating and how our body is responding to them, experts say.
READ MORE: Signs you’re not getting enough calcium, vitamin A or vitamin D – and why it matters
“If you are experiencing stomach pain or changes in bowel movements, take action to discover the underlying cause,” registered dietitian Andrea D’Ambrosio of Dietetic Directions says. “This can be a challenge when major underlying medical reasons are ruled out.”
So what could be some causes of your upset stomach?
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D’Ambrosio and fellow registered dietitian Andy De Santis reveal some possible reasons.
Reasons your stomach may be upset
Bloating and/or constipation
According to De Santis, a high fat, low fibre meal, or many of those types of meals in a row – like burgers or pizza – will move through your system slowly and could cause constipation.
Some may feel uncomfortable with eating certain foods, D’Ambrosio says. Or, emotional triggers may disrupt how your stomach feels.
5:50 Link between carbohydrates and irritable bowel syndrome Previous Video
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD)
Also referred to as acid reflux, certain triggers like spicy food, caffeine and alcohol, may make symptoms worse, De Santis says.
Food poisoning is usually caused by a bacteria commonly found in raw or undercooked animal products like meat and eggs, De Santis explains. It could spread from these foods to other items due to poor food handling and safety practices.
“A severe, life-threatening response that involves your immune system may lead to rash, swelling and trouble breathing, but also could have digestive symptoms,” De Santis says. “Common allergen foods include eggs, soy, wheat, dairy, nuts, shellfish, etc.”
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“A food intolerance occurs when your body, for whatever reason, struggles to properly digest a component of a food,” De Santis explains. “Lactose intolerance – an inability to breakdown the sugar lactose in dairy – is the most common example.”
How to fix your upset stomach
“Digestive health issues can be extraordinarly complex and may often require further guidance from a medical professional in complex cases,” De Santis says.
In less severe cases, however, consider trying a food diary to help identify the foods that may be more likely to cause you pain, he adds.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet while avoiding trigger or trouble foods is also ideal and should be your first defense.
When the problem is medical
At other times, however, your sore stomach may be due to an underlying medical condition, D’Ambrosio and De Santis say. For example, gallstones, pancreatitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease.
With IBS in particular, D’Ambrosio says the Low FODMAP diet is often a solution dietitians suggest.
READ MORE: 8 types of food to avoid if you have irritable bowel syndrome
“The term FODMAP describes a collection of short-chain sugars that are poorly digested in the gut,” D’Ambrosio explains. “For people with IBS, poorly digested sugars can trigger symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating and changes in bowel movements when they are broken down or fermented by colon bacteria. FODMAPs cause the bowel to distend by drawing more fluid and generating more gas by gut bacteria fermentation.”
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The main point of the diet is to replace sugars that are high is FODMAPs with sugars that are low in FODMAPs, which are easily broken down by the stomach. They also relieve digestive distress and decrease the fermentation of sugars in the colon, which often trigger symptoms, D’Ambrosio adds.
If you suspect that may be the case, both dietitians recommend consulting a family physician and/or registered dietitian.
“If you are living with chronic unmanageable abdominal pain or symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation, it makes sense to seek help right away,” De Santis advises.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
There is a dark side to all that talk about healthy food and lifestyle called orthorexia or the compulsory need to eat and live “healthy”. Anorexia and orthorexia are very similar in nature. While anorexic people are concerned with the QUANTITY of food, orthorexic people are concerned with the QUALITY of food.
As a society, we strive for perfection and impeccability. We tend to live in our heads and are often disconnected from our bodies. We want to reach for the sky and spiritual enlightenment, but forget about getting grounded and rooted in the soil first. We love control and are afraid of the primal instincts (represented especially by animal foods). We want to be “clean” and free of sin. The current trend towards 100% plant-based and “clean” diets is quite symbolic for these tendencies. I am not saying that everybody who tries to eat “clean” has an Eating Disorder – far from it. But the “clean eating” movement definitely fuels already existing predispositions towards disordered eating by conveying a notion of guilt and ethical pressure. If self-esteem is weak, feeling “less than” is equivalent to not belonging and thus not being loved. It also allows to hide already existing disordered eating habits, and also other traits typical of a controlling person, such as exaggerated thrift, behind the socially well-accepted motivations of health, sustainability or ethics.
In this post, I want to call on my own experience to draw the line between an orthorexic person and someone just living by strong principles.
I believe I qualify very well to talk about this topic, since I have been there myself… As a teenager I became anorexic (eating less and less without caring about health), which then turned more and more into an obsession with eating according to my self-imposed and constantly changing food rules that I considered to be healthy (whether they really were is a different story). While I did not avoid most social activities, I did suffer enormous stress when I participated and was hardly ever present because my mind was constantly turning around the food! I basically lived to eat, to exercise and to study/work. My weight remained rather low (although you can be orthorexic without being anorexic and vice versa).
In my opinion, there are two major psychological components at the basis of BOTH disorders:
1. Lack of self esteem and self love: Even if I claimed that I only wanted to eat healthy to take good care of myself: My diet did not provide my body with enough calories and essential nutrients (especially good fats and proteins) to sustain a healthy metabolism (such as menstruation or a normal body temperature…). I over-exercised. I suffered from enormous self-imposed “eating-healthy” stress. I couldn’t easily relax at dinners or parties and partially isolated myself socially. All of those negative thoughts, emotions and behaviors were hurting me and thus NOT self-loving and healthy. They actually were like junk food to my organism!
Unfortunately, while being “sick”, I was not able to enter an honest reality-check with myself. I insisted on how good I felt, while anybody (except myself) could see that it wasn’t true…
2. Lack of trust (in self and in Life) and thus lots of fear and a strong need for control as a consequence: Life is unpredictable and can’t be controlled. Rather than enjoying this fact, the unknown used to provoke fear in me. My obsession with food was an attempt to control at least one part of my life: WHAT I ate (orthorexic) at what moment and HOW MUCH (anorexic). Unexpected events forcing a change in plans made me freak out. By choosing only “healthy” foods, I got a (false) sense of security from disease and death (the basic fears all other fears come down to in the end). What I didn’t realize is that I was being controlled by the disease, not the other way around and that all that stress was more toxic than any “bad” food could ever have been. It’s the typical case where one extreme ends up turning into the other and my fear of death and disease was slowly killing me or at least preventing me from living.
To heal, it was thus necessary to learn two virtues more than anything else (and to continue practicing and reinforcing them every single day):
1. How to trust: Life can’t be controlled. To live, to REALLY live means to accept the insecurity of not knowing what will happen in the next moment. To do so, I needed to develop confidence and trust in myself and my capacity to master whatever situation I might be confronted with in a given moment (I was surprised how much creativity I actually discovered in myself). It also meant learning to trust in my own inner voice, intuition and experience. Just because many health experts say food x is not good, doesn’t mean that this is true for ME. It also meant learning to trust that my body could handle a certain amount of “non-ideal” food. Eventually, it meant learning to trust in LIFE. It has become my foundational belief that Everything happens for a reason and is always in our best interest, even though it might not seem like that at first sight. This unshakable faith in the Universe helped me to overcome the fear of the unknown to the extent that I could even start enjoying it. Today it’s the possibility that absolutely crazy things or even miracles could happen just the next moment that makes it so much fun to live.
2. How to love myself: In her song “Greatest Love of All” Whitney Houston describes self-love as “easy to achieve”. I absolutely disagree with that statement. Learning how to love myself was the hardest, yet the most crucial thing to do. Loving myself doesn’t mean to look into the mirror and say “I love you” to my reflection. It means to accept myself with all my flaws. It means stopping to hurt myself, to judge and criticize myself, to cause myself (unnecessary) physical or mental pain and suffering. It means to minimize total stress (physical from “bad” foods, and emotional from “eating healthy stress”), while maximizing pleasure. Self-love is the basis for being able to a) accept the love of someone else (despite all MY flaws) and b) to truly love someone else (despite all THEIR flaws).
There were a few key concepts that helped me learn (self-) trust and (self-) love on a very profound level:
1. Metabolic Typing and the idea of biochemical individuality: The understanding that on a biochemical level we are all individual and that the same food can actually have completely different impacts in two different people finally allowed me to listen to my body and give it the fuels and tools that it needed to rebalance itself (from the gut to the brain).
2. Mind Body Nutrition and the understanding that the way we eat is the way we do life and that in order to
resolve our issues with food and body we need to dig deeper. Also the notion that thoughts and feelings are as powerful on our metabolism as food and that negative thoughts, fear, guilt and constant worry are actually junk food to the organism.
That being said, I still care about the quality of what I eat. However, I do so from a place of love as opposed to from a place of fear. It is important to NOT label all people paying attention to the quality of food as “orthorexic” and thus sick. Because that would only allow people not wanting to change certain “bad” habits or not wanting to take their responsibility for their choices, to hide behind the “I am just being normal” excuse: “Look, I am still eating junk food, I am definitely not a sick orthorexic!” For more on that, check out my article “The Everything in Moderation Excuse”.
As expert in the field of nutrition I can tell you that there is really a lot of bad food on the market – even in organic shops (bad = produced in a way that’s harming our bodies, the farmer, the animals and/or the planet). Many people also suffer from undiagnosed food intolerances, which means that each time they eat a certain food, they hurt themselves internally. Not wanting to hurt oneself by eating certain foods that one can’t tolerate is not sick but a sign of a self-loving character. Wanting to take responsibility for how what one eats has been produced or raised is not sick but a sign of a responsible and self-confident character.
It’s the motivation that makes the difference: fears and self-destructive behavior versus consciousness and self-esteem.
In the “healthy” case, it’s not about calories, but about how nourishing and sustainable a food is. It’s about the individual right balance between exercise and rest. It’s not about isolating oneself socially or stressing out if once circumstances are less than optimal (for example, when walking on the Camino de Santiago in 2013, I took care of my own breakfast and lunch, but joined the group dinners in the evening to be with the people and
share stories and laughters). It’s simply about making the best choice in a given moment – and trusting the body’s ability to cope if things are not ideal. It’s about being confident and assertive enough to stand by one’s principles. Instead of being controlled by a disease, it is one’s conscious CHOICE to eat a certain way and to defend that choice. There’s nothing wrong with adapting menus in the restaurant to one’s particular needs. There’s nothing wrong with suggesting ” quality ” places to friends or inviting them to cook together instead of eating out. There’s nothing wrong with just joining in for a drink, either.
There’s nothing wrong with any (self-imposed) “rule”, as long as it is not based on fears (which you can easily detect by tension in the body), but on true self-love in combination with a sense of responsibility and the consciousness that what is best for myself, will ultimately also be best for the farmers, the animals and the planet. Still, the ultimate goal should always be to minimize total stress (physical + emotional). Only you can judge what is appropriate in a given situation.
If you need help breaking free from Food Prison, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Keto Flu Explained: Why Low-Carb Diets Can Make You Feel Sick and Tired
Lots of people these days are interested in the ketogenic diet: It’s one of the most Googled weight-loss terms, and celebs like Kourtney Kardashian have touted its supposed benefits. But the high-fat, low-carbohydrate eating plan is not without its drawbacks.
Experts warn that the diet is extremely restrictive and not sustainable, and that it can lead to nutritional deficiencies, high cholesterol, or a serious condition called ketoacidosis. But even before long-term problems set in, many people who try the diet report other unpleasant side effects. These side effects even have a name in the weight-loss world: keto flu.
Keto flu is an unofficial way to describe how many people feel shortly after starting a ketogenic diet, and it can include both physical and emotional symptom—like nausea, cramping, lack of energy, and irritability, to name a few. It’s what happens when the body and the brain are forced to adjust to a sudden carbohydrate deficiency, says Abbey Sharp, RD, a Toronto-based nutritionist and blogger at Abbey’s Kitchen.
Proponents of the keto diet say that these flu-like symptoms are only temporary, and that certain remedies can help reduce or eliminate them altogether. But is it really worth subjecting yourself to, even if just for a short time? Here’s what our experts say.
RELATED: Keto vs. Atkins: Which Is the Better Low-Carb Diet?
Keto flu symptoms
There’s no scientific definition of keto flu, but it’s often described as flu-like symptoms that start soon after a person cuts carbohydrates largely out of their diet. (To enable “ketosis,” a sort of starvation mode in which the body burns fat rather than glucose, the ketogenic diet allows for only 2% to 5% of a person’s daily calories to come from carbohydrates.)
“Very often, people don’t feel well when they’re on the ketogenic diet, and it tends to be worse in the early period,” says Edward Weiss, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University. “This is something largely anecdotal—we don’t have studies on this—but it’s probably very real.”
A sudden drop in carbs can lead to a drop in energy levels, with some dieters reporting unusual fatigue, confusion, or brain fog. “The symptoms are from your brain needing to adjust to the new source of energy, while also trying to deal with a drop in electrolyte levels as you lose weight,” says Sharp. It can also cause nausea, stomach pain, cramping, and constipation, as well, due to the diet’s high-fat and low-fiber makeup.
Keto dieters also sometimes report bad breath or foul-smelling sweat and urine. “The smelly factor comes from the fact that acetone, a byproduct of ketone metabolism, seeps out of your body,” says Sharp. (Ketones, a type of acid, are byproducts of fat breaking down in the body.)
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health’s contributing nutrition editor, says that many of her clients who have tried the ketogenic diet have also reported irritability and changes in mood. And while people don’t necessarily feel hungry on the keto diet—thanks to its high allowance for fat and moderate amounts of protein—some do report serious sugar cravings.
Adopting a ketogenic diet may also hamper athletic performance, says Weiss, even though many athletes try it, thinking it will have the opposite effect. In a recent study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, Weiss and his colleagues found that after four days on a keto diet, participants performed worse on anaerobic exercise tasks—which involve short bursts of intense activity—than those who’d recently gone on a high-carb diet.
“Our participants were right in that period of feeling terrible,” says Weiss. “They were tired, hungry, lethargic.” But he and his colleagues suspect there’s a biological reason they performed worse, as well: They had higher levels of acid in their blood, a result of their bodies burning ketones.
RELATED: 6 Really Good Things That Happen to Your Body When You Quit Sugar
How long does the keto flu last?
“Most people find that you will feel better in a few days, or up to a week, once your body adjusts,” Sharp says. “Whether or not you want to put your body through that is a personal choice.”
As for athletic performance, the participants in Weiss’s study weren’t followed long enough to see if theirs improved after more than just four days on a ketogenic diet. But other research suggests that acid levels in the body tend to normalize after a few weeks, he says, while performance remains compromised.
RELATED: 13 Keto Breakfast Recipes That People Are Loving on Pinterest
Keto flu remedies
Keto blogs and weight-loss websites recommend taking precautions—like making sure you’re staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep, and finding ways to manage stress—to reduce the unpleasant effects of the ketogenic diet on your body. Some also recommend electrolytes, ketone supplements, or bone broth (which is high in sodium and other minerals) to replace some of what the body is missing in the early stage of the diet.
Certainly, prioritizing sleep, hydration, and overall healthy habits can keep you from feeling even worse, whether you’re on the keto diet or not. But the experts we spoke with agreed that avoiding ketosis altogether is a smarter way to feel good while you’re trying to lose weight, rather than putting a Band-Aid on something that could have more serious consequences down the road.
“I don’t really recommend the keto diet in anything other than clinical disease management settings, because it is incredibly restrictive,” says Sharp. (The diet was originally used as a treatment for epilepsy, and scientists are also looking into its potential benefits for people with diabetes or insulin resistance.)
Research on low-carb diets has also shown that while people do tend to lose weight faster in the beginning, there is no long-term difference when compared with other diets of equal caloric intake. “In other words, if you enjoy carbs, a balanced diet that includes them can lead to just as much weight loss,” Sharp says.
RELATED: 6 ‘Bad’ Carbs That Are Actually Good For You
How to avoid keto flu
It is possible to cut back on sugar and carbs—and, yes, lose weight—without experiencing these nasty symptoms, says Sharp. “While you cannot achieve ketosis without a significantly reduced-carb diet, you can absolutely reap a lot of the potential glycemic benefits of a low-carb diet—without some of the downfalls, like keto flu—simply by choosing the right carbs,” she says.
The key is making sure the carbs you do keep in your diet are rich in fiber, like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. And when you do eat those carbs, Sharp adds, pair them with some fat or protein; this slows their glycemic impact even more, preventing the blood-sugar spikes (and subsequent crashes) that lead to cravings and crappy feelings.
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Sass agrees: In a 2017 column, she recalled one man who became irritable and had trouble sleeping after adopting an ultra low-carb diet. “Those side effects subsided after he added back fruit, pulses, whole grains, and starchy vegetables to his diet,” she wrote.
In the spirit of CARE, let’s start this conversation by having you envision a single cell in your body.
Cells look a lot like a pin cushion. Their surfaces aren’t smooth at all, but rather, are full of individual receptors (the pins). These receptors are critical to influencing how that cell behaves.
Depending on what the receptor communicates to the cell, that cell could start making more of something, it could start making less, it could speed up or slow down – and your overall health, risk of disease, and how you just plain feel that day depends on this activity.
So what determines what the receptor will communicate to the cell?
This includes, but is not limited to, what chemical nestles right onto the top of the receptor or how much of different chemicals are available in your blood.
These chemicals can include good-for-us substances like:
- and neurotransmitters
Or they can be not-good-for-us substances like:
- excess caffeine and alcohol
- food additives and colorings (like MSG)
- or excess sodium or glucose/sugar
Every minute of every day your cells try to make the best decision based on the ‘information’ or tools that you provide them.
Overconsumption, excess intake of food chemicals and drugs, and high stress all contribute to lots of not-good-for-us substances available in the blood. These substances wreak havoc on the information available to those receptors.
The old saying of ‘garbage in, garbage out’ applies here. When you only give your cells garbage to work with, you feel like garbage.
But interestingly, over time you start to build a tolerance to how this dysfunction feels.
In this ironic twist, eating too much and too many chemically-based ‘foods’ actually does make you feel better.
This is no different than a smoker. The first time a smoker puffs on a cigarette, the reaction from the body is severe. There is violent coughing, immediate lightheadedness, some GI discomfort. But by that third or fourth day, those selfless receptors have adapted to being bullied by nicotine nestling right on top of it. Having nicotine there (even though harmful) becomes its new normal. It creates workarounds and compromises ideal functioning, but you now interpret this as ‘feeling good’.
That cigarette no longer makes you cough, it makes you feel pleasure.
Until you remove it…
This picks up the story with our subject of why we temporarily feel worse when starting to eat healthy.
You (meaning your receptors and cells) have adapted to higher amounts of not-good-for-you substances in chemical-based foods and overconsumption. This has become your new normal.
You, in that ironic twist, feel better here.
Until you remove them…
Just like the smoker, your receptors adjusted to dysfunction.
Their normal is now defined by access to these substances. When you remove them, you change the information available to them again altering how each cell responds. Initially, that feels bad – even though it is good.
How long it takes for those receptors and cells (and ultimately you) to recover depends on so many factors (genetics, nutritional status, environment, social and physical stress, how many changes you made at once), but on average in as little as three to four days you will start to feel better from eating healthier.
Timeline of what happens and why you feel worse when starting to eat healthy:
- Removing chemical ‘foods’ and overconsumption means that your cell receptors no longer have access to those not-good-for-you substances.
- Many of these chemicals stimulated cells (like with MSG) or amplified the releases of feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. This alone will affect mood, energy levels, and sleep.
- Increased circulation from more activity and better hydration (which increases the availability of oxygen and nutrients) combined with the removal of excess chemicals in the blood (like glucose and sodium) can create vascular changes (even if good for you) that can result in a headache.
- Healthy changes also decrease the total stress burden on the body. Your efforts to increase physical activity and decrease chemicals, including caffeine and alcohol, will result in decreased circulating stress hormones, like cortisol, which is a natural steroid that has anti-inflammatory properties (just like the prescription). Short-term, good for us. Long-term, bad for us. Bringing stress hormone levels down will initially alter the immune system which you could experience as getting a cold or just feeling lousy. This happens often when people go on vacation – they finally reduce their stress levels and then get sick right away.
- The liver, kidneys, and skin are all involved in and responsible for the natural detoxification of all these changes to hormone levels (like cortisol and insulin) and other chemicals. And as this post by the American Acne Foundation points out, the liver, kidneys, and skin respond leading to breakouts or skin rashes, which can be assuaged with creams for a time.
The Great News
The great news with lifestyle changes, like increased nutrient-richness, increased activity, and increased stress management and recovery, is that these changes are the foundation needed to make more challenging healthy changes (like quitting smoking). Our cells thrive quickly when we remove chemicals and give them tools to heal versus harm.
- Receptors will become more sensitive to things like insulin, sodium, and hormones which over time will regulate blood glucose and blood pressure.
- As blood glucose is better regulated and consumption moderated, metabolism gets more efficient at utilizing stored adipose tissue (fat) for energy.
- The decreased burden on the liver results in better regulation of lipids (like cholesterol) and sex hormones.
- The increased circulation and vascular changes move from causing headaches to decreasing risk of heart disease and improving cognition.
So how do you make it through (temporarily) feeling worse to feeling good?
Use this time to increase awareness of your body; increase mindfulness.
- Continue eliminating the not-good-for-you substances
- Continue eating a nutrient-rich, whole foods, produce-based diet – one balanced and portioned to support your health goals; get help from a program if you need guidance (our free program option introduces a balanced plate and therapeutic checklist to help you get started)
- Continue moving
- Stay hydrated
- Have a plan so you can consistently do these things; find internal versus external motivation this time
- Spend time finding a lifestyle that really fits you like a glove this time; get off the exhausting hamster wheel of ‘being on a diet’ or ‘being off a diet’; there really is a middle ground to be enjoyed
Appreciate the calming feeling of these lifestyle choices that we often misinterpret as sluggish or low energy. We are a society that spends billions of dollars to override our natural cues to rest. Our right hand spends billions for stimulants while our left spends billions for relaxation and sleep aides. We can’t even distinguish between the two anymore when we remove all chemicals and overconsumption.
This time, appreciate the calm.
Appreciate that you feel sluggish because your body is finally putting resources into healing. Finally, let your body rest and heal. You will be rewarded with greater strength than you thought possible.
Teri Rose, CARE Nutritionist and Program Director
- Find out what happens to your body once you start eating healthy
- After a day
- After a week
- After a month
- After half a year
- And after a year
Health is more than wealth. A strong and healthy body translates to a fuller, happier life. So while switching to a healthier diet is not easy, the benefits are definitely worth it.
Now your next questions must be: 1) What are these so-called benefits of eating healthy? 2) How long does it take to actually see the benefits after you start eating healthy? However before answering these questions, we need to clarify something important. Which is what ‘healthy eating’ really means and how you should go about staring it.
How To Start Eating Healthy
Healthy eating is not a diet. It is a way of living that does not require you to starve yourself nor to eat anything that you don’t want to. Healthy eating can become a habit, just like drinking your morning coffee or going to bed at 10 pm every night. It won’t be an easy ride, but once you manage to make it habit, it will come naturally.
Here’re the 5 most important things that you’ll need to pay attention to for turning healthy eating into your next best habit.
Healthy Eating Checklist
1) Processed Foods: NAY, Whole Foods: YAY
Whole foods means everything that is unprocessed or has gone through only a minimum level of necessary processing. You can think about them as foods that you could pick up from your little farm (if you had one) and put straight on the dinning table after cooking.
So things like vegetables, fruits and whole grains belong to the whole foods category. While your favorite cheat meals, like truffle fries or strawberry cheesecake most definitely don’t.
Processing usually diminishes the nutrient contents of food and increases ingredients that your body does not need, like sugar and sodium. Hence, as a general rule of thumb you should minimize processed foods in your diet and eat whole foods instead.
2) Don’t Just Count Your Calories, But Your Macros As Well
Counting your calories is a great start as it gives you an indication on how much you should eat. But you should not get fixated on calories.
Your macronutrients intake is just as, if not more important than calories. Because all calories are not created equally, 100 calories of chocolate won’t give you the same energy as 100 calories of broccoli.
Make sure you monitor your progress to stay motivated. Check out how in our Ultimate Tracking Guide.
First of all, the quantity of 100 calories of chocolate is a lot less than 100 calories of broccoli. Secondly, and most importantly, the quality of nutrients gained from broccoli highly surpasses that of chocolate.
3) Don’t Drink Empty Calories
Sodas and pre-packed fruit juices are the sneakiest calorie and sugar sources. The reason behind this is that most people would be very surprised how much sugar and how many calories are hidden in a single glass of them. And of course it’s really easy to chug couple of glasses when you’re thirsty.
Plus we also tend to assume that the words ‘fruit’ and ‘healthy’ come hand in hand . Well, the said truth is that they don’t. Supermarket shelves are stacked with artificial fruit juices that are pumped up with refined sugars and other flavor enhancers. These obviously won’t do any good to your diet.
So my #1 health-conscious advice in this department is water. Water is the single best cure for thirst and the only liquid that comes with 0 calories and 0 unhealthy additives. And if you crave something with more flavor, go for a cold-pressed juice or everyone’s favorite, a cheeky little LaCroix.
4) Avoid Snacking
Snacks are just like sodas. You can easily get to a couple hundred calories by simply eating a little piece of this and that every hour or so. Because a handful of peanuts won’t do any harm, right? One might not, but when that one handful becomes 3 and then 5, the calories easily add up.
So instead of jumping on anything you see in the snack cupboard, be conscious about your snacks and prep something healthy in advance. Veggies, like carrots or celery are always a good choice. Low in calories, high in nutrients.
5) Eat Smaller Portion Sizes
Finally, portion sizes are another tricky issue, especially in the US. Packed food sizes, meal sizes in restaurants and even plate sizes tend to get bigger and bigger exceeding the recommended serving sizes by far. As your brain adjusts to these increased sizes, your body also gets used to eating more. And the end result of this little chain is overeating.
However you can say no to the excess calories and teach your body to get used to the recommended healthy portions. There are a couple of tricks to do this starting from using smaller plates and putting away the extra food to skipping appetizers when eating out. But the most effective method in our opinion is ‘Mindful Eating’.
Learn About Mindful Eating Now
Now that we laid down the basis, it’s time to look at how your body changes once you start eating healthy!
1 Day Of Eating Healthy Results On Your Body
Constant hunger is not a pleasant feeling, but a quite common “side-effect” of dieting. One of the reasons behind constant hunger is an inefficient diet that subsists on empty carbs. Food filled with empty carbs burns up in your body quickly, which causes your body to crave substance faster. Hence, making you hungry shortly after you finished eating.
If you start tracking your macros alongside counting calories, you’ll finally start paying attention to eating nutrition-full foods. When you start to fuel up on these slow-burning sources of energy like complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats, you’ll start to experience fewer cravings throughout the day.
You’ll be amazed to find out that you can eat so much food without gaining weight. And before you think it’s magic, it’s really now. It can simply be explained by the fact that eating healthy means being more conscious about the types of food you eat.
Increasing the consumption of foods such as sumptuous fruits and fresh vegetables will nourish your body better. And because not all calories are created equally, these fresh and nourishing foods will usually contain less calories in the same amount as processed foods. Meaning that you’ll be able to eat more without increasing your calorie intake.
1 Week Of Eating Healthy Results On Your Body
You will experience a higher level of mental focus and have more energy in general. Meals high in sugar, saturated oils, and starch bring about immediate sleepiness, sluggishness, and bloated feeling. All you ever want to do after a big Mexican meal is go home and sleep.
By switching to healthy food choices, you will have all the energy needed to accomplish many other things for the rest of the day!
A poor diet can easily result in sleep quality drop. When you only consume foods that digest quickly and leave you hungry, you can disrupt your sleep cycle with middle of the night hunger. Once you start eating healthy, you will sleep more soundly. You will also fall asleep easier and won’t wake up so much throughout the night.
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When your body gets used to a healthy diet, you will experience a lower amount of bloating and discomfort. As a result you may notice that your clothes are feeling looser than before.
Furthermore, your body will be shedding all the excess water you have retained from high sodium intake and highly processed foods that you were consuming before.
As you start eating healthy, you’ll notice you have less ups and downs throughout the day and may even start to feel more empowered. If you had depressive thoughts before, these may be starting to weaken.
Read How Your Body Changes Once You Start Exercising
1 Month Of Eating Healthy Results On Your Body
When it comes to your skin, what you put in your body may matter more than what you put on it. Good nutrition is a fundamental building block of healthy skin.
As you provide your skin with all the nutrients it needs for repair and growth, you’ll notice a new glow to your skin. The natural ingredients in food help to speed up the pace of exfoliation, protect the skin from UV damage and much more! You will look more radiant and appear younger!
As you start eating healthy and at regular intervals, you will notice your metabolism speeding up. Lots of water and fiber equals a very regular digestive tract. And if your metabolism is faster that means your body burns calories at a higher rate. This will lead to shredding those pounds more easily instead of piling up your fat storage.
Eating healthy will now require less effort. After doing something for 21 days straight, you will find that you do it without thinking. Making smart choices will start to feel like second nature! You will stop to crave certain foods that are not good for your body.
You can learn more about how to prevent giving in to cravings by understanding the science behind cravings.
7 TIPS TO BUILD LIFE-LONG HABITS
When you work out you tear your body down, damaging muscles, and ligaments. The most effective way to accelerate recovery and reduce muscle soreness is to eat nutrient dense foods. So once you start eating healthy, you’ll help your muscles to recover faster.
6 Months Of Eating Healthy Results On Your Body
That’s right! When people look and feel better about themselves, they are more open with their bodies. Confidence can lead to amazing results in the bedroom.
Your blood pressure may decrease, lowering your risk of heart diseases and stroke. Your blood glucose levels will also be under much better control, reducing blood sugar fluctuations and lowering your risk factor for diabetes.
It is also worth noting, however, that your blood pressure should not get too low. Curejoy give 9 effective remedies for treating low blood pressure.
Your bones will be getting stronger, reducing your risk of stress fractures and breaks. While this is something you cannot see, it is happening!
1 Year Of Eating Healthy Results On Your Body
You’ll be enjoying all the benefits listed above as these benefits will persist for as long as you continue to eat healthy!
You’ll be at your goal weight – a bodyweight where you feel healthy, strong and confident. What’s more, unlike quick-fix diets, this is for the long haul! Eating healthy will let you stay healthy and sexy for many years to come!
By this point you will know how to indulge wisely. You understand that a single cookie or two won’t hurt you. You can now treat yourself and not fall right off your healthy plan entirely.
Well-balanced nutrition and mental health are basically tied together. As we all know a happy body makes a happy mind. Eating nutrient-dense foods at regular intervals will help you feel more positive and energetic. With a well-fueled body and mind, you’ll also be better equipped to deal with the inevitable stresses of life.
You don’t have to eat unprocessed for a whole year to reap the benefits. Eating healthy is not about being on a short term “diet” that is overly restrictive and leaves you hungry all the time. Instead, find a way of eating that can be sustained for the rest of your life, where you eat healthy most of the time and allow for occasional splurges.
Sure, the change may be slow but these benefits make it all worth it. Try it for a day, a week, or a month. You don’t have to do it all, or all at once. But you can start today.
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Eating whole and healthy foods does your body good. But if your body is used to refined and processed food, a transition to healthy foods can be difficult. Indeed, it isn’t uncommon to experience gastrointestinal symptoms and even vomiting during this transition. Discover why this occurs and how you can work to make your transition more bearable.
It begins at the cellular level
The surface of cells is full of receptors responsible for binding with signaling molecules and then transmitting those signals inside the cell. The signals that are received inside the cell determine the cell’s behavior. Whether a cell makes more or less of something, your overall health, and your risk of disease depends on this activity. Each signal triggers the formation of action plans that improve or harm your health.
So what exactly are these signaling molecules that regulate our health? Several molecules can interact with these receptors and their influence on cellular behavior and overall health is largely determined by how many of these molecules are present in your blood.
Some molecules can produce positive results:
- Nutrients — vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, etc. — from whole foods
- Dietary supplements
Other molecules are not as good for us and can produce harmful results:
- Synthetic food additives (MSG, aspartame, trans fats, sodium nitrite, etc.)
- Excess sugar, alcohol, or caffeine
Stress also triggers the release of signaling molecules (cortisol, adrenaline, etc.) that can adversely affect the way you feel. The reality is, your cells continually make decisions based on the signaling molecules that are available in the blood. If your cells are constantly bombarded with rubbish, you will quickly feel like rubbish yourself.
Your body was masterfully designed to adapt to a variety of situations. It relentlessly strives to maintain balance and homeostasis regardless of what is thrown at it. However, we can reduce the body’s workload and make it easier to thrive by a few simple healthy behaviors. Your body’s initial reaction the first time you bombard your cells with greasy, fried food, sugar-laden soda, and empty refined carbohydrates may be severe. Your cells gradually adapt to these signaling molecules and adopt them as the “norm.” Eventually, the severe responses also stop.
Indeed, your cells and body may actually feel “good” or pleasure in response adopting this new norm of negative signaling molecules. That is until you remove the pleasurable signaling molecules or introduce positive signaling molecules. Just like your cell receptors adapted to the dysfunctional regimen, they need to adapt again if you change to healthier options.
Your body has the same response to the new signaling molecules — whether reducing what it was used to or introducing healthier molecules — the same way it initially did to the bad signaling molecules. This change of available signaling molecules feels bad at first, even though it is a positive change to reduce the availability of bad molecules and increase the healthy molecules.
You will continue to feel bad — digestive discomfort, nausea, headache, mood swings, low energy — until your body adapts to the new normal. How long this process of adaptation takes depends on your current state of health, lifestyle factors, stress levels, genetics, and nutritional status, but on average it takes from 3 to 7 days.
Another factor that can leave you feeling sluggish, moody, and even anxious when changing what you eat, is modifications in dopamine levels. Foods loaded with sugar, fat, and salt trigger the release of dopamine (a “feel-good” neurotransmitter) that activate the brain’s reward center. This is one reason why eating highly processed foods is so enjoyable. However, when you remove these dopamine-triggering foods, you can experience withdrawal symptoms.
Changes in gut flora (the microbiome)
In addition to adapting to changes in signaling molecules, your gut microbiome (balance of healthy to unhealthy bacteria) rapidly changes in response to what you eat. Recent research reveals that the gut microbiome begins to change within hours and dramatically changes within three to four days after switching what you eat. (1) In other words, what you eat feeds different types of bacteria.
This is one reason that adding prebiotic foods (chicory root, artichokes, dandelion greens, raw onions or garlic, etc.) or high-fiber foods like beans and lentils can increase in gas and bloating. If your body isn’t used to these foods, the gut microbiome undergoes a significant transformation due to the feeding of different sets of bacteria. The result is a few to several days of excess gas until the new normal gut microbiome is fully established and accepted.
Too much sugar, saturated fat, and not enough fiber can alter the gut microbiome enough to trigger immune and inflammatory responses and increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease. (2) Other studies suggest that your gut microbiome impacts your risk of allergy, asthma, and arthritis. (3) These modifications to the gut microbiome also increase the risk of digestive discomfort such as diarrhea, nausea, and bloating. (4) The overwhelming evidence suggests that we need to provide our gut foods that feed healthy bacteria and even supplement with a good probiotic to maintain overall health.
Toxins released during dietary changes
Changes in eating patterns, particularly those that result in weight loss, releases toxins from fat stores and into the blood. The body preferentially stores toxins in fat tissues rather than vital nervous and muscle tissues. During weight loss, fat breaks down and toxins are discharged into the bloodstream. An increase in oxidative stress — an imbalance in reactive oxygen species and the body’s ability to neutralize them — may occur as a result of a large number of toxins in the blood.
Oxidative stress increases the production of free radical and peroxides that damage cells and disrupts cellular signaling. Indeed, a host of diseases (cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, eye diseases, and abnormal fetal development) are linked to oxidative stress as well as the aging process. Symptoms of oxidative stress include fatigue, muscle or joint pain, headache, and brain fog.
Recent research suggests that eating smaller frequent meals (4-6 daily) with 20 to 25 grams of protein at each meal may help the body deal with this release of stored toxins. This eating pattern, called Protein-Pacing Caloric Restrictive Diet reduces calories (1,200 to 1,500 calories daily) to promote weight loss but also aids the bodies normal detoxification processes. Other solutions to reduce a toxic attack on cells is to drink plenty of water to flush them out, get sufficient antioxidants from your food, and use essential oils that aid normal detoxification processes (lavender, frankincense, Eucalyptus radiata).
The difference between an allergy, intolerance, sensitivity and an adjustment
Some people may experience an allergy, food sensitivity, or food intolerance rather than an adjustment. Food allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to a food or substance in a food. It is estimated that up to 8% of children and about 3% of adults are affected by food allergies.
When an allergy occurs, the food or substance is identified by the immune system as a threat, which triggers a protective response. Eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, shellfish, and fish account for approximately 90% of all food allergies. Allergies affect multiple organs in the body and cause a wide range of symptoms. The most common signs and symptoms of a food allergy include: skin reactions (hives, eczema, itching), tingling or itching in the mouth, respiratory trouble (difficulty breathing, wheezing, nasal congestion, repetitive cough), pale or blue coloring of the skin, swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, or face, dizziness, and gastrointestinal problems (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain).
Food sensitivities and intolerances are more common than food allergies. Food sensitivities trigger the release of chemical mediators (like histamine) into the blood causing a delayed and less obvious reaction to the food. They may take days to occur and can involve the skin and respiratory system just like allergies. The primary difference between an allergy and sensitivity is the time it takes to occur. Allergies appear within minutes to as long as two hours, whereas sensitivities generally take days for a reaction to occur.
Unlike allergies, food intolerances don’t involve the immune system. Instead, your body is unable to properly digest the particular food. They may occur due to insufficient digestive enzyme production, chronic stress that causes sluggish digestion, or an overreaction to a food additive (MSG). Depending on the type of food intolerance, people may be able to eat small amounts of the problem foods without a reaction. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea or constipation, gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. Food intolerances are generally less severe than allergies and limited to the digestive system.
The gastrointestinal system is affected in a similar way by adjustments, allergies, intolerance, and sensitivities. Unfortunately, adjustments can mimic allergies in some ways beyond digestive problems. The general fatigue and headaches, and mood swings may make people think they have a food allergy. It is important to distinguish allergies, food sensitivities, food intolerances, and adjustments because there are common symptoms and a severe allergy can be life-threatening.
Rapid reactions that involve the skin and respiratory system following the consumption of a food or substance are likely allergic reactions. If you experience chronic respiratory symptoms (runny nose), long-lasting skin issues (eczema), frequent headaches, or poor appetite it suggests a food sensitivity. Food intolerance is almost always isolated to digestive problems. Food intolerance symptoms generally occur fairly quickly and when many foods or enough of the problem food is consumed.
How to make transitions to healthier foods more bearable
- Ease into it. You wouldn’t try a 180-degree direction change in your vehicle at 70 miles per hour, so why would you do this with what you eat? Your body will adapt better if you slowly introduce healthy foods and gradually eliminate unhealthy foods. Try to eliminate one unhealthy food or add one healthy food for 4 to 7 days before making the next change.
- Eat whole foods. Whole and real foods are the best signaling molecules for your body. These foods contain vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients that your body readily recognizes and can use to function optimally. Real foods with fiber and protein are particularly important for breakfast so your cells begin the day with the right nutrition and signaling molecules.
- Eat frequent smaller meals. Eat the same amount of calories — or fewer if you’ve been eating an excess amount — but in more frequent smaller meals. Don’t let more than three hours pass without having a meal or snack. This helps to control blood sugar levels, maintain energy levels, and improve mood.
- Stay hydrated. The majority of your body is composed of water and it is essential to convert food into energy and helps your body absorb nutrients. Drinking enough water is essential to carry out wastes and toxins produced during metabolism. In addition, optimal hydration supports body weight goals by triggering the release of fat for energy and producing a feeling of fullness. (5) Water should be the primary beverage you consume.
Nutritional transitions aren’t always easy but the temporary discomforts are well worth the vast health benefits you will realize. Stick to it and focus on the benefits you’ll see on the other side. Your body, mind, emotions, and spirit will thank you — eventually.
Eating Clean But Feeling Worse
How is it possible to feel worse once you’ve ditch the Frosted Flakes and french fries for kale and chia seeds?
After following health blogs, impressive Instagram accounts and Facebook Pages that offer daily nutrition tips, you’ve decided to say adios to the processed foods in your life and begin eating clean. The gorgeous visuals of real, whole food seem to pretty much guarantee massive amounts of energy, a lean physique and a new way of life.
You’re sold! From now on, it’s green smoothies twice a day and veggie based meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Quinoa cupcakes and raw hemp seed cookies become your new norm. You’ve done a 180 in “cleaning up” your diet- and good on you. You’ve made some huge, fabulous changes.
But.. you don’t feel so fabulous.
Instead, you’re bloated and tired. Where’s that energy everyone is talking about? Why aren’t you feeling the way you’re supposed to feel by eating life-giving nutrients at every meal? You may have even started to see your skin break out, or, what’s more confusing is that you’ve gained a little bit of weight. What the !*@#^!?
How is it possible to feel WORSE when you have been eating clean and healthier than ever?
Yes, there can exist a time where eating a ton of plants doesn’t feel so sexy. And if this sounds familiar to you, I get it. There’s no logical reason why you should be feeling worse when you’re giving your body proper nutrition.
But, the body is smarter than all of us, and indeed there is a perfectly logical reason.
Changing your diet for the better is a big transition. Like any adjustment in life, it takes time to get used to change. Changing your diet is just like starting a new job and going through the training process to become an expert in your new position. Just as you need time to review the training and apply what you’ve learned, your body needs time to adjust to digesting and metabolizing the nutrient dense, whole foods that it may have never seen before.
It’s during this adjustment period that you may experience digestive distress such as bloating, fatigue and even weight gain. Since fruits, vegetables and whole grains are fibrous foods, they have properties to help the body detoxify, which is why you may notice a change in your skin for the worse.
At this point, you may be thinking all of this holistic nutrition talk is a load of crap and things seemed so much better before you made the switch. And I get it, girl. But before you throw the towel in, let me assure you of two things:
1. This is temporary. When you’re used to eating a certain way for a long period of time, your body needs time to adjust to the changes. The length of the transition period varies for everyone but I promise you- it will pass.
2. There are things you can do right now to help make the transition easier and reduce the intensity of symptoms. Here they are:
If you’ve gone veggie happy (meaning you’re having veggies with every meal) keep the veggies, but reduce the portion sizes. Ideally your main fruit and veggies will come from a small (roughly 1 cup, not a whole blender full) green smoothie in the morning. Blending is easiest on digestion.
Incorporate small amounts of the foods you used to eat. When your body doesn’t recognize the foods you’re eating, it can think it’s going into starvation mode and elicit a stress response.
So yes, as a nutritionist, I’m telling you to occasionally (as in once a week) have that muffin or pastry you were used to. Eventually you won’t want or need it, but it can help you ease in to the transition to eating clean and maintaining a healthier diet.
Give your body digestive support. Dandelion tea with lemon and ginger is an excellent digestive remedy, and so is good ol’ plain room temp lemon water.
Listen to the signs. This is so important because we often think that what is healthy is good for us. And while it will feed our cells proper nutrition, if it’s causing you to feel bloated, heavy or tired, your body is having issues digesting it. Pay attention to what these foods are by writing down the food and respective symptoms. These are the foods you will need to incorporate very slowly.
How many of you feel like for all your virtuous behaviour, you could do with feeling a bit more of the well in your #Wellness mission?
Well, you’re not alone.
Why is it that despite all the yoga lessons, gym sessions, kale smoothies and protein shakes, you spend most days feeling run-down and uncomfortable?
We spoke to Lee Brooks a Tier 3 Equinox trainer about those habits you think are helping, that may be making you feel worse.
1/ Too Much Cardio
There are a number of reasons why over-doing the cardio can make you feel less than your best.
Doing nothing but cardio can lead to injury with muscles getting tight, or worse, not building at all. That’s why it’s essential that you balance it out with resistance and strength workouts.
Lee Brooks at Equinox explained, gaining muscle should be your goal as much as burning fat; ‘If you gain two pounds of muscle and lose two pounds of fat you will be smaller and fit into that dress or pair of jeans more easily.’
Not only that, building muscle will make your more efficient in your workouts and therefore less likely to sustain and injury.
‘I’ve been working with a female client (who’s goal was to be pain free, not to lose fat). Over a 12 month period she has increased her lean muscle by 5kg and lost 5kg of body fat. She’s smaller, stronger, leaner, more defined and has no pain at all now as she’s a more efficient machine.’
You body also gets used to cardio training more quickly than resistance work, so you may start to feel deflated as you stop seeing results.
2/ Juice Cleanse Dehydration And Nutrient Deficiency
Juice cleanses may seem like a quick fix but the loss of complete food groups can be the root cause of feeling horribly drained, especially if you keep working out.
Lee said: ‘People who detox cleanse purely from juices will see weight loss but this is normally mostly water. Once they finish the detox they go right back to the bad eating habits that made them try such an extreme method to solve their problems.
‘Food is our fuel source and is crucial to how we feel, perform and look. If you want to detox your body from cakes and alcohol that’s great but replace those calories with natural food sources high in protein, good fats and complex carbohydrates.’
READ: Your Body On A Juice Cleanse
3/ Under-recovery = fatigue and aches
One of the things we are probably all guilty of is under-recovery.
We try to push ourselves like professional athletes, while juggling a full time job. How many of you spend as much time and money on physio and sports massages as your training sessions? Come on, hands up.
‘Despite the cliche of “no pain, no gain”, you don’t always need to ache to be achieving something,’ Lee explains.
‘You should track your progress in the gym or with you PT, and as long as you are progressing towards your goal then whether or not you feel muscle soreness the day after is irrelevant.
‘Saying that, it can be nice sometimes to wake up and feel what you’ve done the day before. Basically there is no overtraining, just under recovery.’
And perhaps that’s why Equinox recently launched Roll & Release – a 45-minute foam roller class – and Stretch Lab, the place where people who run out of the gym without stretching, has popped up in LA.
4/ Not rotating your protein sources
‘If you’re so sore you walk like John Wayne after a long horse ride then maybe increasing protein will help.’
That said, certain proteins aren’t for everyone: ‘Some people don’t fare well with cows whey but when they try goat whey protein they’re fine. I think it’s also good to rotate your protein sources.
‘If you have the same foods or protein shakes daily all year round your body builds up an intolerance.’
An intolerance will not make you feel good.
READ: The Best Vegan Protein Powers Around
5/ Not eating enough
If you’re focussed on weight loss it’s easy to think less is best, but if you’ve stepped up your fitness game you could be trying to make your body run on empty – unsurprisingly this will lead to serious fatigue and muscle soreness.
‘This is the biggest thing I see when looking at a clients’ nutrition. If you starve the body for so long by cutting calories it will slow down so the next year you might burn say 400 less calories a day.
‘I see people who have messed up their hormones, recovery, immune system and general well being.
‘It can feel strange at first to be eating more as that goes against the instinct to cut back, but I’ve recently increased daily calorie intake for a few clients that I’m working with and they’ve lost body fat. They can also perform and recover better.’
6/ Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue is a potential result of not eating enough and the hormone imbalances that creates. While people are still trying to fully understand it, the theory is simple – it will make you feel tired.
‘Adrenal fatigue is also a big topic which comes from calorie restriction for too long throughout the year.
‘Calorie restriction is fine for short periods of time but unfortunately people are looking for body fat loss 12 months a year and the body hates that. Your body is smart and will adapt, so goals become very hard to reach in that state.’
READ: How To Fall Asleep In 60 Seconds Every Night
7/ Longer Sessions With Fewer Results
If you stop seeing results you’re bound to feel downhearted and the reality is, ‘if someone is doing a weights/resistance session for 90 or 120 minutes then they could probably have lifted heavier in the first 30-60 mins to induce more fatigue.’
Also if you’re trying to fit in hours and hours at the gym, the one thing you’re most likely to lose out on is sleep.
‘Sleep is crucial as is reducing stress. Good quality food, sleep and relaxation can help recovery from training immensely.’
8/ Wasting Times On Weight Goals
Focusing on reaching or maintaining a certain weight will often just make you feel depressed and or lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.
‘Only fighters like boxers etc need to have weight goals.
‘The general population who want body fat loss shouldn’t worry about the scales as they want a visual change or for their clothes to feel looser.
‘As I mentioned before, muscle weighs more and one pound of it will have a lot less mass than one pound of fat. So your weight might not change or it could change a little but if you’ve built a small amount of muscle you’ve probably lost fat and look better.
‘Use photos over the scales any day, they don’t lie.’
Lee’s training takeaways: Rest is sexy, real food wins and weights will not make you look like she-man.
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