One of the (for me) amazing benefits of eating a ketogenic diet is a dramatic decrease in appetite.
For some people, this can be a little scary, though, certainly if you are someone that is used to feeling hungry or wanting to eat a lot of the time.
For other people, it is a blessed relief to not be thinking about food all the time!
I have noticed that there seems to be 3 distinct phases in the changes of your appetite when you start eating keto.
Not everyone experiences this but it does seem to be pretty common.
Phase 1 – Increase in hunger
If you experience this it is likely to be in the first few days after transitioning to a ketogenic diet. It could be that you seem to be ravenous for carbs – which is simply your brain trying to get you to eat those carbs that it is used to fueling itself on.
This is perfectly normal and just a stage that you need to buckle down and get through in order to keto-adapt.
Alternatively (or additionally) you may feel like you suddenly can’t get enough of all the fatty goodness you have started eating. I definitely experienced this following a few days of carb cravings. All of a sudden it seemed like I just wanted to eat fatty protein and vegetables with tons of butter every minute of the day!
My theory on this is that once you start feeding your body the good stuff, a light switches on in your brain and you kind of go into overdrive. It’s like your brain and body saying ” Oh my goodness yes! This is the stuff!! Give me more!”.
If you experience this, just go for it. Don’t try to hold back and restrict your intake. Give yourself permission to feed and nourish yourself as much as you like. in all likelihood, this will only last for 2-3 days.
Phase 2 – Dramatic Decrease in Appetite
At around 2-3 weeks into your keto diet and in some cases a lot sooner, you may find that you suddenly don’t have any appetite at all. You can go for hours and hours without eating, and then when you do make a meal you have a few bites and don’t want any more.
I even started to find any food at all a little nauseating after just one or two bites.
Some people find it a struggle to even hit 1000kcals a day when this happens, and they start to worry that something has gone wrong. And if your goal is not to lose weight, but to maintain or even gain weight, it can be worrying.
But here’s the thing… If you experience this, don’t worry! It will pass.
It’s something that a lot of people go through in these beginning stages and although I can’t give you a scientific reason for it (sorry), do know that it’s very common and you will pop out of the other side.
If you find that you have a dramatic decrease in appetite my advice would be to eat very simple, small meals.
Focus on high-quality, calorie-dense nutrition so that every bite you take has the ability to nourish you. If you truly can’t stomach any food – don’t sweat it. Just wait until you can.
In this phase I found myself snacking more than eating meals. An example snack would be a boiled egg sprinkled with Himalayan salt. Or a few slices of cheese with cucumber. I ate a lot of fat bombs and plain chicken too.
I believe that in this stage your body is healing. Have faith that your body knows what it’s doing and don’t try to force yourself to eat.
Phase 3 – Balancing Out
My dramatic decrease in appetite lasted for around a week or two. After that, I started to find that I could finish my meals again, and over the next couple of weeks my hunger returned. But it was completely different to how it had been before starting keto.
I could still go for hours without eating, but then I would experience a definite hunger which was pleasant and I looked forward to eating. When eating my meal I could tell exactly when I had had enough and it was easy to stop. Following this, I was not hungry for a few more hours.
Basically, the ups and downs of hunger and being hangry had disappeared and it felt like my relationship with food had moved to an enjoyable, ‘food as fuel’ one.
It is around this point where I felt like I had truly keto-adapted. My mood swings had gone, my energy levels were steady through the day and I truly enjoyed my food when I was eating.
So those are the 3 phases! Do you recognise them? Are you experiencing anything like this? Let me know in the comments.