I don’t do diets. The word diet in itself is evil in my book.
But, I recently tackled a 14-day low carb challenge for 2 reasons:
- To get more ‘in tune’ with my body & really feel the changes that come with updating your diet for the better
- Jump-start my journey to kicking my ex-marriage weight to the curb (we ain’t got time for that nonsense). Pre-marriage bod is what we’re striving for, here. ➡
Well, let’s just say I was successful at both bullet points above. I felt a lot of weird feelings & changes — some good, a lot bad — and lost 8 pounds along the way. I’d say that’s a good jumpstart to the new & improved, post-marriage self 😜
If you’re thinking of tackling the same low-carb lifestyle, I would first take a LONG look at these 8 very real side, life-impacting effects I experienced in these 14 days ⬇
#8 was REAL & SERIOUS for me, and not fun to experience. It’s this side effect that will likely keep me from trying this “challenge” ever again.
Usually 2-3 days into your carb withdrawal, you’ll feel an intense mental lethargy that can make you slow to react, unable to focus or remember things, unproductive at work and feeling like your half-drunk or in a permanent daze. Good news: if you can push through it, the cloud generally lifts after a week or so.
The reasoning: Your brain runs mostly on glucose. When you deprive yourself of carbs, your body starts burning fat instead of burning carbs. During which that switch is taking place, your brain starts using ketones for fuel (only after all the glycogen stores are burned up), making you feel a bit “off.”
Society’s diet today is so carb & sugar-dependent that when going low carb, you’re body can literally feel like a pile of poop for up to 2 weeks after making the switch. Think the usual flu symptoms: headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, weakness & fatigue.
I mostly felt weakness & fatigue. The drastic change in diet made it really hard to tackle a lot of my daily activities I used to do with ease. This is why it’s recommended not to try exercise that’s too extensive while your body’s adjusting to the new lifestyle.
Can we say mood swings?
Has anyone said to you: “you might want to stay away from me…I’m not eating carbs?” Well, if they have, it’s best to obey. Or else.
Irritability is one of the biggest side effects of going low carb (I’m sure most boyfriends can attest to this).
Don’t underestimate the emotional impact of cutting out many of the foods you used to enjoy on a regular basis. You’re entering a new world that, in some ways, is fundamentally at odds with the one most people around you live in. ~ Bodybuilding.com
Note to the wise: Make sure you’re eating enough fresh vegetables & lean protein – the iron, manganese & potassium in green veggies are key to maintaining mental clarity & energy levels.
You will pee a lot & your pee will smell.
Just being real.
I talked about your body burning up the excess glucose in side effect #1. Well, breaking down glycogen releases a lot of water. As your carb intake and glycogen stores drop, your kidneys will start dumping the excess water. Additionally, your insulin levels will start to drop (a major health BONUS of this diet), so your body will start to release all the excess sodium, too.
The PRO? No more bloating! It was amazing. And the scale moved fast. But, it’s mostly water weight the first few days, so don’t let it fool you.
The CON? Let’s hope you have an office near the restrooms (I don’t & got a lot of exercise <– I guess that’s a pro, too 😎).
This goes with side effect #1 & #2. The changes going on in your body leave you feeling so fatigued that there is no possible way you’re able to deadlift or run the distance you’ve been used to.
You’re making a healthy change to your body so give yourself a break on the workout front. Take a walk with your spouse (or dog in my case), do a 10 minute ab series before bed or take this opportunity to try a new yoga class. Believe me, the nutrition is working for you in these 14 days. I lost 8 pounds with only working out 2 of those days. Let the food do its job & rest the body.
Feeling a little ‘stopped up’
Thank the Lord above I did not experience this, this time around. But, I was also indulging in my sugar free coffee creamer + coffee every morning (not on the normal no-carb regimen). I think this helped me stay a happy camper, if ya know what I mean.
But, this is a very real side effect given you basically cut out all fiber — what you normally get from your whole grains, beans, legumes and nuts.
The solution: packing your plate full of veggies to keep things moving. Bring on the greens, pretty please!
The drastic weight loss you see immediately is not lost — it’s peed out (see side affect #4). Ketosis (burning ketones instead of glucose) has a proven diuretic effect that can be pretty intense. Peeing so much can leave you dehydrated if you don’t have your H2O bottle by your side at all times.
Luckily, I didn’t feel dehydrated at any point, but I also make a habit of chugging all day long.
Down in the dumps
This was the BIGGEST side effect for me. Yes, I was fatigued and didn’t have the energy to tackle most tasks, but it was more than physical tiredness. My mind was struggling. All I wanted to do was hop in bed.
It has been proven that cutting carbs can impact serotonin levels, which can lead to elevated mood imbalances, depression & anxiety.
Even though I tackled this 14 day challenge, I want to preach again what I said in my diary of the first 7 days:
I want to reiterate that DIETS do NOT work. I do not support going on low carbs diets or restricting yourself in any sense of the word. I needed this kick-in-the-butt and knew how to do it right in order to keep my mind & body in-check (and sane). Most people don’t know how to do this. Please, please, please consult a doctor, nutritionist or even reach out to me before thinking that a diet is the answer to your life problems (because it’s NOT!).
Regardless of the side effects, I am thankful for the experience. I pushed myself through the discomfort and stuck with it. These two long weeks reminded me that I CAN accomplish my goals when I put my mind to it. Sadly, I had lost sight of that ability. Having faith in myself again (and 8 pounds gone), I’m motivated more than ever to kick my larger goals in the ass.