Have you ever switched up your eating habits — when you eat, what you eat, how much you eat — and despite the health benefits you know you’re bound to reap, could not get over the stark hunger pains clawing at the insides of your stomach? Making any kind of dietary change can affect your hunger one way or another, but did you also know the spontaneous swap can leave you downright parched, too? According to health and wellness practitioner Richard Purvis, the keto diet can make you thirsty during the initial adjustment period, so if you’re looking to go keto, it’s in your best interest to keep a water bottle handy.
Now, I know myself and, generally speaking, I rarely meet the Food and Drug Administration’s recommended 64 ounces of water in a day (except that one time I drank 64 ounces of water every day for a week). Still, even though I don’t feel particularly dehydrated, I know I could probably benefit from sipping more fluids. At the same time, I don’t follow a diet that causes a diuretic effect — aka an increased production of urine — like the keto diet will (at first, anyway).
Purvis tells Elite Daily that the process of ketosis causes that seemingly unquenchable thirst when you first start adjusting to the new diet.
Let’s talk about what’s actually going on in your body when it reaches a state of ketosis. In an interview with Elite Daily, Kristoffer Quiaoit, co-founder of Keto Kookie, breaks the diet down in simple terms: According to Quioaoit, the keto diet is, essentially, a low-carb way of eating that forces the body to “switch from using carbohydrates as your primary source to fats.” During this transition, Quiaoit says, those following the diet can expect rapid water weight loss. What does switching energy sources have to do with water, you may ask? A lot, actually.
Because glucose — aka sugars extracted from carbohydrates during digestion — is typically your body’s go-to source for energy, the body is made to switch gears and start pulling energy from stored fat. When this happens, Grace Derocha, a registered dietician and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, tells Elite Daily that the body will expel kerotens (which are basically just organic compounds that your body doesn't need) through your urine. In other words, you’re going to be running to the little girls room a lot when you first switch to the keto diet, and the more you go, the thirstier you’ll be.
You see, according to Dr. Josh Axe D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of DrAxe.com, and creator of Keto 360, glucose requires up to “three to four times its own weight to be stored,” and that’s where water weight comes in. Once you’re no longer storing energy in glucose, he tells Elite Daily, “you’ll generally just lose more fluids than you would out of ketosis,” leading to an even stronger thirst.
Obviously, you should be drinking plenty of water to make up for the loss (and, you know, in general), but experts have a few more tips up their sleeves to quench that keto-diet thirst.
Drinking water is a given, guys, so you knew I wasn’t just going to suggest downing more H2O and be done with you, right? But while we’re on the subject, if you really want to up your water intake, Purvis suggests scoping out alkaline ionized waters (think Essentia water bottles or using a PUR2o filter). Piggybacking on that front, Dr. Axe recommends water that's rich in electrolytes (CORE, for example, is my personal go-to for this).
Now, let’s shift our focus on the not-so-obvious hydrating staples. Dr. Axe tells Elite Daily that foods high in electrolytes, such as bone broth, nuts, avocados, mushrooms, salmon, spinach, artichokes, and leafy greens, will help replenish your body. Plus, he explains, leafy greens are super alkalizing, meaning they can “help offset the natural acidity of ketosis that can contribute to excessive nutrition.” In other words, eating more salads with spinach and kale might save you one (or a few) trips to the bathroom.
While we're on the subject of green veggies, Purvis is a fan of plain, organic celery sticks for keto dieters, because they're a) basically just made of water, and are therefore super hydrating, and b) an excellent way to combat dry mouth. Plus, if you're making sure to add things like cold-pressed coconut oil to your keto diet to keep your energy levels on the up and up, Purvis tells Elite Daily that can also help contribute to your overall hydration.
Every body responds to ketosis differently, so while your mom might be dying of thirst once she makes the switch, you might feel only slightly thirstier than usual jumping into this new way of eating. As long as you go into it knowing you'll have to up your fluid intake a bit, Dr. Axe says, the thirst should be manageable. However, Derocha points out that, on average, "the state of ketosis will kick in after three to four days of maintaining the diet," so these symptoms could linger anywhere from three day to a week. As always, the best way to know for sure how this diet will affect you as an individual is to check in with your own doctor about it.
My advice? Drink up, baby.