What Happens When You Fall Out of Ketosis During Dieting?

While you've probably heard of the keto weight-loss craze, you might not be aware of its complexity. Consuming even a small amount of the wrong foods can take your body out of ketosis, and symptoms can include increase appetite and sugar cravings.

Falling out of ketosis while dieting can lead to weight gain, bloating, increased appetite and cravings.
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Falling out of ketosis while dieting can lead to weight gain, bloating, increased appetite and cravings. You might also experience fatigue and irritability.

Read more: Is Keto the Right Diet for You? Here's What You Should Know

What Is Ketosis?

Ketosis is a physiological state that causes your body to burn fat as its primary fuel. To achieve ketosis, a person must follow a diet very low in carbohydrates — less than 50 grams per day, according to Mayo Clinic. For comparison, the National Academies of Sciences recommends 130 grams of carbohydrates per day, or 45 to 65 percent of your daily calorie intake.

According to an August 2018 study published by Current Nutrition Reports, nutritional ketosis is an effective way to lose excess body fat while maintaining lean muscle tissue. Ketosis can also improve insulin sensitivity, helping to regulate blood sugar levels.

Transitioning into ketosis causes some not-so-pleasant side effects, such as bad breath, temporary fatigue, insomnia and changes in your bowel function. Signs that you fell out of ketosis can be equally uncomfortable.

Out of Ketosis: Symptoms

Eat a big plate of pasta and you'll find yourself falling out of ketosis overnight. If you jump back on the keto bandwagon, you might not have any noticeable symptoms. But, if you continue to eat carbohydrates, there will eventually be some obvious signs that you fell out of ketosis.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, transitioning out of ketosis too quickly can cause rapid weight gain. Eating more carbs causes your blood sugar levels to spike, leading to fatigue and irritability. Your appetite will increase and your sugar cravings will likely return. A fast transition out of ketosis can also cause bloating and bowel changes.

Read more: Ketogenic Menus & Meal Plans

Embrace the Process

In order to minimize the negative side effects of falling out of ketosis, the Cleveland Clinic recommends that you make a gradual transition over a two-week period. Choose carbohydrates that also contain protein and fiber, such as beans. These foods take longer to digest and have less of an impact on your blood sugar levels.

Sugar cravings typically return with a vengeance after ketosis. Avoid eating foods with more than four grams of added sugar during your transition period — including naturally occurring sugars from foods such as fruit and honey. These foods cause a sharp rise in blood sugar, which can trigger cravings.

Focus on lean proteins, healthy fats and staying hydrated, as you come out of ketosis. The Cleveland Clinic advises that dehydration can cause a false sense of hunger, and can lead to increased irritability.

Keep up your physical activity to help burn excess carbohydrates, and control the amount of weight that you regain during your transition out of ketosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, per week. Add in at least 2 days of strength training to round out your fitness routine.

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