The effects of low carb dieting
If you've been on a low carb regimen for even a few days, you've noticed a few changes. Yes, your clothes are beginning to fit a bit more loosely, and you're feeling clearer-headed.
Maybe you're to the point of feeling more energetic. Good for you! But you might also be noticing a few untoward effects, too. With a little common sense, ingenuity and adjustment, however, you
can surpass these minor annoyances.
One of the very first effects of the diet you'll notice is that your rings are getting looser. They're sliding a little, and maybe spinning around on your fingers in a most annoying
fashion. No, you're not losing weight per se in your fingers – but you are letting go of a lot of water you've been retaining.
Consider that carb consumption and excess insulin in the body promote water retention and now that you're cutting carbs and your insulin levels are stabilizing, your carbohydrate stores are
vanishing along with the fluid they retain. Plus, if you're drinking ample quantities of water, as most low carb diets advise, your body's fluid balance is better: Water goes in, water
comes out because your well-hydrated body has no need to hang on to it.
So how do you keep those rings from flying off your fingers? Look for ring size adjusters (aka snugs, sizers, guards), which are small, vinyl or metal inserts that keep your rings snug. You'll
find them at lots of websites, such as The Walter Drake Company's Easy Comforts
Frequent bathroom visits
Another effect that's logical but surprising in its intensity is frequent urination. This is a good sign, actually. If your urine is pale in color, that's a good indication that
you're well hydrated. And hydration means health for a body that's up to 60 percent water.
How to deal? Simply make a few strategies part of your daily routine. For example, always make a potty stop before leaving the house. Know where the bathrooms are in the public places you visit.
Carry a travel-sized bottle of antibacterial hand gel and packet of flushable wipes for public facilities that are not well equipped.
Not-frequent-enough bathroom visits
No, this is not the opposite of the effect just discussed. Especially in the first days and weeks of a low carb diet, you might find yourself a bit "bound up." That's due to a few
reasons. First, you're eating higher-quality food with less "filler." Second, if your body has entered ketosis, your appetite has slacked off, so you're eating less
altogether. Third, the carbs you do eat are higher in fiber, which absorbs fluid like a sponge – if you're drinking enough, things should be moving along well. But if you're not,
you're bound to get bound up.
Try drinking more water, for starters. Exercise can work wonders in waking up a sluggish system. Make sure to eat enough fiber in the form of vegetables and fruits. And if all else fails, ask your
doctor about an over-the-counter stool softener, such as Colace, or a fiber supplement.
It's true: The more water you get used to drinking, the more you crave. In simple terms, that's because your body – now well hydrated – is no longer in preparation mode for a
drought. The more water available, the more freely it will move through your system – meaning you'll have to replace what you've lost. If you've embarked upon or beefed up
your exercise routine (hurray!), you're excreting more water and therefore are more thirsty.
This one's easy to fix: Drink more! Keep a couple bottles of water in your car, in your desk, in your gym bag…anywhere you might be when thirst strikes.
Leg cramps and headaches
That cold, hollow, seizing pain in your legs might be caused by a mineral imbalance, specifically involving potassium. For this reason – and to maintain your overall health – make sure to
take a vitamin and mineral supplement every day. Leg cramps can also be a sign that you need more water, so drink up.
Many people who embark on a low carb diet notice that their headaches disappear (these headaches likely stem from fluctuating sugar and insulin levels). So why do headaches sometimes return? Because
you may not be drinking enough. (Noticing a common theme in this article yet?) Dehydration – even mild – can cause not just headaches, but leg cramps, too. According to doctors at the
Mayo Clinic, dehydration can also bring on fatigue, dizziness and lightheadedness.
The obvious solution is to drink more, and do it more frequently. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and other substances that exacerbate dehydration. And drink even when you're not thirsty. Chances are
if you sense thirst, you're already dehydrated.
Here are a few essential low carb links
SheKnows low carb forum
– join other low carbers who can relate to your low carb lifestyle
SheKnows online magazine LowCarb
– tips, tricks and recipes for low carb living
More low carb articles!