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Trying the Keto Diet and Feeling Sick

Trying the Keto Diet and Feeling Sick

Some women have been trying Keto frantically before the holidays. Many want to drop some weight so they can afford a few days of the additional holiday carbs and some are planning to do a strict Keto Diet even after the holidays. Well ladies, it is time to learn a bit or two about keto so you do not crash and burn when you do it. Many women are emailing me already saying, “I am trying to do the Keto diet and feeling sick. Why is this?” or “I can’t stay Keto as I am feeling so ill.”  Well my friends, you have made a drastic change in lowering your carbs and upping your “hopefully” beneficial healthy fats and your body is essentially going through a big change; and I mean a BIG change especially if you have been living a high carb diet. Keep in mind even if you have not been eating candy bars or lots of fruit, those nibbles of snacks throughout the day, bread here and there or those “few” French fries will keep the blood sugar elevated. If you are a mom or busy executive on the run, those quick snacks to keep going just add up! You also may be finally realizing just how many carbs you have been eating at this crucial point in the switching over, especially if you are reading labels or using a carb or keto calculator. Let’s dive in and talk the talk. By the way, if you love protein ideas you can find oodles of Paleo, low carb, keto approved friendly recipes throughout my recipe pages. Just choose your category and have fun.

With lowering carbs drastically or going keto you may experience or be experiencing some nausea, headaches or irritability or feel like a cold is coming on with some sniffles or a cough.  This is not all that uncommon and it will pass. This is definitely not the time to give in. If you did not read up on keto or this “keto game”, you may give in and know in your heart that once you get those yummy carbs in your body all will be gone and you will feel back to your old self again. But don’t give in! I will tell you why.

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All that is happening here is your body is going through withdrawal from all the sugar and carb laden foods from your usual way of eating, which is what resulted in you being a bit pudgy (actual fat), overweight or feeling a lack of energy. Sounds a little similar to a withdrawal? Yes, this is somewhat like a minor addiction withdrawal, and you are feeling it.

Many will tell you that you need to drink water to flush out the toxins and I can agree to this but there is more to this water theory than most impart. First I need to mention one should always be drinking plenty of water and you may have already been doing so. So then what is the new game change here I am proposing? You my friend most likely need electrolytes! These guys are terribly important.

What exactly are electrolytes and how and why do they work? Electrolytes are electrically charged ions that help regulate fluid balance in your body (including important things like blood pressure); they’re also involved in brain function and muscle contractions. The most important electrolytes for our keto topic are sodium and chloride (usually eaten together as table salt), potassium, calcium and magnesium. I look at electrolytes as those necessary ingredients that allow one’s cells to communicate with one another. We need this to feel good, to function optimally and to be healthy.

There are a few commercial version electrolyte powders and drink formulas specifically for ketosis and one I personally love (read below). I am not in ketosis but I need electrolytes as I am quite active and in the heat and hills a lot. People in ketosis need more sodium as ketosis makes you excrete sodium faster. Being in ketosis will make your body wash out sodium faster. When your insulin levels drop, your kidneys extract sodium so it also drops. It’s easy to increase your sodium intake by adding salt to your meals and drinking bouillons or broths. In ketosis one needs more potassium as low-carb dieting is an effective diuretic, which has the unwanted side effect of flushing potassium. Potassium is the electrolyte which is most commonly deficient in diets. It can be difficult to consume enough potassium since many foods that are rich in potassium are not on any low-carb diet. Some foods that are both low in carbs and high in potassium are numerous dark leafy greens, nuts, avocados and salmon. People often feel better adding in magnesium as many people report muscle cramps or other similar problems that go away with a good magnesium supplementation. Nuts, spinach, artichokes and dark chocolate are all rich in magnesium as well as a TRULY incredible recommendation below. Magnesium deficiency may be less common on keto or a low carb diet than potassium or sodium deficiencies, but if you get any cramps and dizziness then you may want to consider increasing your magnesium intake. For ketosis purposes you obviously don’t want any added sugar with any supplements either!

Rib Eye BBQ

Many have asked me how I can hike so intensely in the exposed heat, for so long and never burn out. I honestly feel it is not just due to me being in the right “hiking” shape and my years at it. I use Emergen-C Electromix (lemon and lime flavor) on just about every hike or workout. It is sodium free, sugar free and gluten free. It contains mostly potassium, and a bit of calcium and magnesium. I personally do not need the salts or sodium as I do eat plenty (a lot) with my food and I drink a CALM each evening for the magnesium I feel I need. The high potassium supplement helps me replenish during my workouts which seems to be my body’s need and I do not get that wasted, exhausted or burned out feeling so many others get during or after.

I am all about everyone achieving their own body goals. This season you may be on a roll already, or may be considering to try keto now or later. Whatever the case may be, I hope this bit of information sheds some light on how you can be prepared and alert you to what you can do with the effects of drastically cutting those carbs out of your diet or the plan to go into ketosis.

If the Keto diet is too difficult with all that counting and calculating, please keep in mind the outcome is worth it for SO many people. There are also many people that feel eating lower carbs, adding in good quality fats and protein with plenty of organic vegetables (in essence Paleo) is sufficient or easier than keto. Please keep in mind Paleo and low carb go hand in glove and is man’s natural inclination to living a healthy way of eating but keep in mind that man was also quite active and is anatomically designed to be so.

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Many ask me if I am on a keto diet or a paleo keto type diet. Well, I am a small woman and I do not do well nor need to be in ketosis for my labs or health at this stage. I do eat more or less carbs based on my activity or how I feel. I am now able to work with my body, listen and watch it and I run the show. I do not eat a ton of carbs but some days I definitely need more for sure. My metabolism is quite high and I am very active for the sole reason that I love to move and get outdoors. I thrive on my hikes, and I have the energy I have due to my diet and how I choose to eat and when. Getting good quality sleep is also key which is my main downfall and my ongoing new year’s resolution to rectify J. I do some occasional intermittent fasting with my latest version of Bulletproof coffee in the morning, which is I simply add a heaping scoop of grass-fed collagen and some brain octane into my Vitamix with a double shot of espresso and some water. The collagen does not allow me to go into ketosis. The last two months I am enjoying it immensely. It froths up and is delicious and creamy. Many women cannot and should not do intermittent fasting in the mornings with a fatty coffee. It is a personal choice. It can really mess with one’s hormones and cause blood sugar crash or adrenal stress for some women. The caffeine alone in the morning can be a bit much for women. In fact, many days I will only have a ½ cup of my above coffee concoction. I use only fresh roasted espresso beans and I purchase them from a select pure source that is batch tested for toxins. No it is not Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof. I have not tried his new ones as of yet but I was not fond of his original roast so I will need to try his new roasts soon. I will be sharing more about my terrific coffee source in an upcoming blog.

From my kitchen to yours,

Tina Turbin

If you have any questions or suggestions just email me at Tina (at)

About Tina Turbin

I'm a cookbook-collecting, recipe-developing paleo junkie, and I live in the kitchen. I'm hooked on farmers' markets, traveling, eating healthy, and hiking until my legs scream at me. There's nothing better than hanging out with family and good friends. I have fun and sleeping is just plain boring. Read more About Tina Turbin.

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