Although everyone would benefit by keeping track of what they are eating and how much water they are drinking, this habit is especially important for those on the Keto diet.
This is because the Keto diet drastically changes the way your body processes nutrients. Fats replace carbohydrates as your body’s main source of energy. This change reduces the presence of certain nutrients in your body, resulting in lower water retention.
For this reason, one of the most common side-effects of the Keto diet is feeling thirsty more often. Keep reading to find out how the Keto diet allows you to lose weight and why it makes you feel more thirsty.
How does it work?
Let me give a small introduction to the Keto diet for those who are learning about it for the first time. The Keto (or ketogenic) diet is followed by many for weight loss. You cut down your carbohydrate consumption so that it is only around 5-10% of your diet and increase your fat consumption so that it is up to 75% of your diet. This usually means that you consume less than 50 grams of carbohydrates each day.
Within the first 4 days, your body uses up all of its stores of carbohydrates (that is, your blood glucose). Then, you enter the ketosis phase, when you start using fats and proteins for energy. This results in weight loss, as it takes more number of calories to convert fat into energy than it does to convert carbohydrates. Moreover, fats and proteins may also keep you sated for longer than carbohydrates so you consume fewer calories than usual.
Because of the way ketosis works, dieters tend to get dehydrated faster and more severely. The next section will talk about exactly why this happens.
Why does keto make you so thirsty?
At least at the beginning of the diet, you may have a dry mouth and experience an unquenchable thirst. This is only natural, but why does it happen?
As I’ve explained, one of the key features of the keto diet is reduced carbohydrate consumption. This is one of the main reasons why you feel more thirsty on keto. Carbohydrates retain water such that for each gram of carbohydrate in your body there are four grams of water. When fewer grams of carbohydrates are stored, fewer grams of water are also stored.
This is because the keto diet changes the levels of insulin you produce. High blood sugar triggers the production of insulin. The insulin in your bloodstream then signals your kidneys to retain more water during the excretory process. The keto diet reduces the amount of insulin produced by your body, which also drains your kidneys of water. This puts your body at a risk for developing kidney stones, which is why it is highly important for keto dieters to stay hydrated.
At the beginning of the diet, your body also runs through its supply of carbs very quickly, which also in results in a rapid loss of water. Moreover, a large part of cutting down on carbs is cutting down on processed food such as bread, canned vegetables, and meat. Since all of these foods are high in sodium, being on keto also reduces the amount of sodium (or salt) in your body. As sodium is another nutrient that retains water, this results in further water loss.
Furthermore, the process of ketosis- the process of breaking down fat for energy- results in the production of compounds called ketone bodies. As these compounds are not useful for your body, they are excreted out along with water.
It is also important to notice if you are consuming any nutrients that are diuretics (substances that increase the production of urine in your body). One example is caffeine. Cutting down on carbs but not on diuretics will only result in stronger and more frequent feelings of thirst. Therefore, you would benefit from removing diuretics from your diet.
Increased feelings of thirst are a common effect of the keto diet. Usually, they only last during the transition period- the first 3 to 4 days when your body is emptying its stores of carbs. Many experts also say that this is a sign that the diet is properly working. Generally, there is nothing to worry about as long as you ensure that you are properly hydrated. However, if you are experiencing the symptoms of severe dehydration, it is important to consult a doctor immediately.
That being said, what can you do to ensure that the keto diet doesn’t affect you negatively? The following are some suggestions:
● The most obvious habit to develop is drinking water consistently. Make sure to replenish the water that you’ve lost in order to prevent dehydration.
● In order to increase water retention, you can also add a little bit of salt to your water. This will also manage any electrolyte imbalance.
● There are also specific brands that sell water rich in electrolytes. You may want to check them out.
● Coconut water is rich in electrolytes and other minerals without contributing too many calories. Therefore, you can also drink coconut water regularly during the diet.
● There are many vegetables that are low in carbs that can help increase the water and mineral content in your body. Some examples are avocado, spinach, kale, celery, and mushrooms.
Any significant change in your habits- be it a change in your diet or your exercise routine- will have side-effects on your body. The Keto diet forces you to adapt to a completely new process, which would come as a shock especially to those who are new to the diet. It alters the mineral and hormone composition of your body, which is the main reason why you feel thirsty more often and more severely. However, this is not something to worry about, as it is an effect that only lasts during the initial period of adaptation. It is even a positive sign that indicates that ketosis is happening. As long as you make up for the lost water and minerals, the diet will be effective and beneficial.