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Is my bad head & sickness due to ketosis? And what is it?

Hi Vicky,

Since I started my diet 4 or 5 days ago, cutting my calorie intake to 1200-1400, I've been experiencing heavy headaches and sometimes feel sick at night. Why is this? I'm hydrated to the max , 2-3 litres, eating carbs and not especially tired. I heard this is something to do with ketosis but don't understand what this means.


Our expert says...


I'm sorry to hear that you have been getting headaches and feeling sick. If you are eating a balanced daily diet containing protein, good fats and, most importantly, carbohydrates, it is unlikely that these symptoms are due to ketosis.

Ketosis is the overproduction of ketones in the body, which are the by-products of burning excess fat and protein for energy in place of carbohydrates. This is why ketosis, and its side effects of headache, nausea and bad breath, is so strongly associated with the Atkins diet. But this is unlikely to be happening to you if you are eating carbs and do not feel tired.

Your symptoms are more likely to be due to your drop in calorie intake, which your body has not yet adjusted to. Some people can be particularly sensitive to alterations in their diet and their bodies do not respond well to sudden changes. I would recommend that you increase your calorie intake for a few days and then gradually reduce it down again over a week or so. This should minimise any nasty side-effects.

Also, make sure you spread your meals and snacks evenly throughout the day, saving some calories for an evening snack if this is when you start to feel sick. This will keep your blood sugar evenly balanced. Keep your water intake up and, again, drink this at regular intervals through the day.

Remember, it is still early days on your new diet and, with a few modifications, I am sure you will soon be feeling better. If this doesn?t help, I suggest that you visit your GP to check out nothing else is causing this.

You are advised to seek medical advice before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle with an aim of weight loss. This website and the content provided should not be used by persons under 18, by pregnant or nursing women, or individuals with any type of health condition, except under the direct supervision of a qualified medical professional. The information contained in these articles, and elsewhere on this website, is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only, and is not intended to replace, and does not constitute legal, professional, medical or healthcare advice or diagnosis and may not be used for such purposes. Continue...

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