I get it.
You’re making a big change in your life. You don’t know exactly what to expect, so you pay attention to your body and how you feel and what changes. You are hyper-vigilant. This is good! We want you to listen to your body so that you enter the right frame of mind with which to make adjustments to your diet as you go along.
However, some people seem to begin keto with the misconception that their bodies are now a blank canvas; that they’ve wiped clean the slate containing years of poor eating, and everything that follows is a direct result of the choice to switch their lifestyle.
Day one: sprained ankle? No, you can’t blame this on keto.
That may sound obvious – and obviously silly – but we see it all the time!
Diseases and ailments such as kidney stones, gout, gallbladder woes, and Type 2 diabetes are not caused by keto. Most diseases take years to develop, and do not manifest in the first 24 hours of you switching your diet. In fact many of these complaints are things that keto has been shown over and over to vastly improve! But you have to give it a chance, and understand the realistic timeline of when you can expect improvements to happen.
Chronic and inflammatory diseases take longer to clear from your system, and keto isn’t a magic pill that will cure everything. But, in many cases, those health problems which are caused by high levels of insulin and inflammation in the body will clear up – eventually – on a well-formulated ketogenic diet.
Flu, head colds, allergies, rashes? These are all the result of bacterial or fungal infections and/or viruses, and you may simply have been exposed to these germs around the same time you started. Since your body is going through some drastic changes, your immune system may not be able to fight off the invaders, and may result in genuine illness. In other cases, and more frequently, the things that some will say is evidence that keto is making them sicker are actually proof that keto is allowing their body to release these cell-stored toxins.
I also feel compelled to mention that, when pressed, many of these plaintiffs will add that they had a cheat meal, or a cheat weekend.
You don’t get to blame keto for how crummy the cheat weekends – which I’ve dubbed retox days, because that’s what they are – make you feel.
On keto, almost all of the symptoms that people complain about in the Facebook groups will clear up. Most of them start to clear up after the adjustment phase, during which the body switches from burning glucose – going through what is colloquially known as ‘keto flu’ – to burning fat as its preferred fuel and enters ketosis. This is very temporary, usually lasting no more than a couple of weeks for those who do not go off plan once they begin. And if they retox before they have switched into fat-burning mode, they can set themselves back to the start. Sure, they may feel a relief of the symptoms, and they may be tempted to point to this as proof that keto isn’t healthy, but they are just satisfying the physiological addiction to carbs. Of course an addict feels ‘better’ if they quit their detox and resume their old ways! That’s what makes the Standard Western Diet (aka, the SAD) so insidious.
Again, I want to emphasize how wonderful it is that people who generally drown their woes in carbs are now eating better and paying close attention to the signals from their body. But it’s unfortunate that keto takes the blame for so many maladies that we already had to begin with, that were already developing and coincidentally manifested soon after switching to a keto lifestyle, or that could not be cured in one day of healthier eating.
The lesson? Don’t blame keto for what years of eating ‘carbage’ did to your body. Take it as evidence that your body needs a lifestyle change, and keto on!