The initial stages of adopting a ketogenic approach can sometimes lead to significant sodium loss, which can produce hunger, short-term headaches, temporary fatigue, and weakness due to transitional issues related to fundamental energy substrate changes prior to becoming fully keto-adapted. This is easily remedied by adding more full-spectrum salts to the diet, preferably Himalayan sea salt.
– Nora Gedgaudas
When hunger pangs come on strong, the foods we crave tend to be processed carbohydrates. Instead of giving in and indulging in carbs, try feeding your body dietary fat instead. Nothing will zap hunger more quickly than fat (and maybe a little bit of protein, too)! One of my favorite ways to stop hunger is to eat a slice of full-fat cheddar cheese rolled up with a few pats of butter in the middle.
For people who are used to the dieting world, shifting to a low-carb, high-fat, ketogenic diet can be difficult. Most don’t eat enough fat or food to completely satisfy their hunger. Skimping on fat will result in more hunger and cravings, and all the other side effects we’ve described already throughout this book.
It’s the perfect way to set yourself up for failure, so before you blame the diet, heed the advice in chapter 7 and eat more fat. You’ll find that your hunger is completely satisfied, and of course you can’t get into and sustain ketosis without eating enough fat. Ditch your fat phobia once and for all.
Failing to eat enough food when you are starting a ketogenic diet can also—unsurprisingly—bring on hunger pangs. So when hunger hits, it’s time to eat up and enjoy the bounty of delicious and nutritious foods that are at your disposal on a low-carb, high-fat diet (a list of these satiating and mouthwatering foods is included in chapter 19).
After you consume a meal like this, don’t feel like you have to eat again the next time a “regular” mealtime rolls around just because of the time of day. If you’re not hungry, then don’t eat! It seems like a no-brainer, but far too many people succumb to the societal pull to eat by the clock and not by their need for food.
There are plenty of people like me who can comfortably eat one or two meals daily thanks to ketosis. Others may prefer to eat multiple times throughout the day. How much and when you eat is a personal decision; just monitor your progress and eat when you’re hungry. Remember, carbs make you hungry while fat (with a little protein) fills you up and keeps you satisfied. Learn to listen to your body and eat accordingly.
There are many reasons for eating other than hunger: we often eat when we’re bored, anxious, depressed, or worried; we eat with friends to be social; we eat as part of holiday celebrations; we eat because we’re in a setting that we associate with eating (like eating popcorn at the movies or hot dogs at a ballgame).
Some people may feel a stigma in social situations where everyone else is eating and they are not. For example, pastors, rabbis, and priests face an occupational hazard when they visit someone’s home as a guest and are expected to eat whatever is prepared for them.
The important thing to remember in these cases is that gathering together is about fellowship, not food. Simple phrases like “Thank you, but I just had something to eat” can keep feelings from being hurt, and in the worst-case scenario, eating “just a taste” may satisfy your host. Of course, be sure to say how wonderful the small taste was!
And removing the eating aspect from socializing actually frees you up to engage more with others. You won’t miss it if you are properly adapted to being fueled by fat and ketones.