As you begin your odyssey through the phases of Atkins, your body will need to make a number of adjustments as it focuses its priorities on burning fat. Most of these changes are completed within the first few weeks, after which you should have smooth sailing with few if any ongoing side effects.
However in those first few transition weeks, there are a few common problems people encounter, but luckily they are pretty easy to manage. First, while your shift from burning carbs to fat is in transition, don’t rush out and start new or more intense exercise routine. Give your body the benefits of 2-3 weeks to adjust before pushing out your exercise envelope.
Second, shifting over to fat metabolism and making those things called ketones, has a diuretic effect on your kidneys, which means they speed up the amount of salt and water they get rid of. Overall, that’s a good thing, because you will feel less bloated, and people with high blood pressure often see their numbers come down nicely in the first few days or weeks. But for many of us this can be too much of a good thing, particularly if you weren’t bloated or have high blood pressure to begin with.
The good news is that this is a cheap and easy problem to manage – all it takes is drinking enough water and a cup or two of full sodium broth each day. This broth, which you can make for yourself at home or from bouillon cubes, keeps your circulation primed and ready for action despite the extra fluid and salt being released by your kidneys. Get this down right at the start, and you won’t have headaches, dizziness, fatigue, weak legs, or constipation. If any of these symptoms do crop up, ask yourself, “have I had a cup of bouillon within the last 6 hours”. Most often you will find the answer is no, and when you make this your routine, these side effects are gone for good.
And yes, eating all of your vegetables from day one of the diet also helps with these issues as well.
Here are some other signs to look for,:
- Ascent weakness: You feel weak when you walk up the stairs. This can be aggravated by hot weather, when you are already losing minerals through sweat, or if you are taking a diuretic. Be sure you are drinking plenty of water and drinking the broth or salting foods to taste to help alleviate this. If you are sodium sensitive you can try slowing down your weight loss by adding another serving of vegetables to your evening meal or one to two ounces of nuts or seeds daily. Once the symptoms go away, go back to your lower level of carb intake.
- Leg cramps at night: This is due to the rapid excretion of calcium, magnesium or potassium. Make sure you are getting enough of these minerals in your multivitamin supplement or take a separate multimineral supplement.
- Withdrawal symptoms: You might be addicted to the foods you consume every day, such as high caffeine intake, sugar, wheat and other foods that quickly change blood sugar levels. When you suddenly stop eating that food or ingredient, as you may do when you start Atkins, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, which range from cold sweats, fatigue and faintness to palpitations and headaches. The good news is that the withdrawal process is usually over in about three days, and afterward you will feel fine. If you can’t make it through the withdrawal process, do it gradually by consuming progressively smaller amounts of the addictive food until you get to zero. The more severe your symptoms, the more you stand to gain by abandoning them.
Unless you are extremely metabolically resistant, you will start to lose considerable weight during Induction. The amount and rate at which you lose can vary dramatically depending on your age, level of activity, whether you are taking hormones or other drugs, your degree of metabolic resistance and other factors. The median weight loss from two weeks of doing Induction is 10 pounds for overweight males and six pounds for overweight females. But you do need to understand that initially, the weight that is lost is water weight, and Atkins is a particularly effective diuretic, so the water weight tends to come off fast. After the initial four to five days, the pounds that are lost will be primarily fat. Be patient. This first step of Induction is a natural part on your path to a lifestyle of healthy eating and feeling great. You can do this!
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Tell me about your Induction experience. Did you have any of these symptoms, and if so, how did you overcome them? I’d love to hear! Please share your thoughts with the Atkins Community and also let me know what you’d like to hear about in the future.