keto thirsty

Why does the keto diet make you thirsty?

June 30. 2022

If you are new to the keto diet, you may be surprised by how thirsty you have suddenly become. Your mouth feels so dry all the time and no matter how much fluid you drink it doesn’t seem to be enough. While that may seem as a symptom of some health problem, it’s really not. No need to worry, as that is a normal side effect of the keto diet. So why does that happen? To clear out any doubt regarding keto thirsty, Chicago’s best weight loss expert explains what’s really happening in your body when you take up the keto diet.

How keto influences your hydration

A sudden increase in thirst, as you may intuitively conclude, means that your body started losing water at a higher rate than usual. The more dehydrated your body is, the higher the need to replanish it, which is to say – the thirstier you are. But what’s causing you to dehydrate? When you start a ketogenic diet, you minimalize your intake of carbohydrates and replace them with fats as a primary energy source. Now, simply changing your sources of energy may not look like something that would cause a loss of water, but in fact, that’s exactly what’s happening. How so? There are two major processes in the body that cause it.

Stored glycogen is depleted – In an average, carbohydrate-rich diet, the body converts carbs into glycogen, which is used as an energy source. When glycogen is stored, each gram of it additionally stores around 3 grams of water. So, as you limit your intake of carbohydrates to a minimally small amount, stored glycogen is quickly depleted, and together with it, water is lost as well.

Insulin levels are lowered – Carbohydrate-rich foods have a high glycemic index, which means that they cause a sharp increase in blood sugar levels. To combat it, the pancreas releases a large dose of insulin, which further causes the kidneys to hold onto water. But when carbs are almost completely eliminated from your diet, your insulin levels decrease, enabling kidneys to release that stored water.

So in the initial phase of keto, you will experience a noticable weight loss due to a decrease of water weight in your body. In the following phases, the weight loss will not be as quick as your body burns fat instead of simply releasing water, but it will still be significant. Our weight loss expert also recommends taking lipo C injections to help you in the process, as they do an amazing job in boosting your immune system and the fat burning mechanisms in your body.

How to stay hydrated on keto and prevent feeling thirsty

So what can you do to prevent feeling thirsty and stay hydrated when you’re on the keto diet? First of all, make sure that you do indeed drink sufficient water. Around half an ounce per one pound of body weight is generally recommended. Also, pay attention to keeping your electrolyte levels optimal and maintaining an adequate fiber intake. Choose water that’s rich in electrolytes or add a pinch of pink Himalayan salt to plain water to enrich it. Another good advice is to increase your consumption of mineral-rich foods, such as:

  • cucumbers
  • leafy greens and spinach (also rich in fiber)
  • celery (contains a decent amount of fiber too)
  • avocado
  • nuts
  • mushrooms
  • bone broth

Avoid sports drinks and energy drinks, even if they highlight their electrolyte content. These types of drinks contain high amounts of sugar, which is incompatible with keto. And generally, be prepared. Be aware that at least for a period of time you will need to drink more water than you usually did before, so carry a bottle of water with you whenever you’re spending a lot of time outside the house. Don’t drink too much at once, but drink regularly.

Can you have too much water?

Reasonably so, you might be concerned whether drinking significantly large amounts of water can cause health problems. You’re regularly feeling a dry mouth and drink water whenever you feel the need to and as much as you feel like. But can you overdo it? Well, the answer is yes, but that doesn’t mean you should worry. Overhydration-related health problems, after all, rarely occur.

Drinking excessive amounts of water, or overhydration, can cause water intoxication. What happens in such a situation is that, basically, your levels of electrolytes and other minerals get too diluted and you develop intoxication simptoms. However, this requires an extremely high water intake to happen. We are talking about 3 to 4 liters within just a few hours. So once again, there’s no need to worry as you are highly unlikely to experience something like that.

Keep in mind that water requirements vary amongst individuals and are affected my numerous factors such as sex, age, weight, levels of physical activity, and so on. Also, everyone’s response to the keto diet will be different; while some may feel like they can never get enough fluid, others may not feel thirsty at all. Listen to your body and let thirst be your guide.

Signs your body is entering ketosis

When your body starts burning fat for energy because it has no more glycogen, you are entering a metabolic process known as ketosis. That is the essence of the ketogenic diet. So how do you know is that is really happening or not? There are several signs that help you find out whether you’ve gotten there or not.

Dry mouth and thirst – As explained above, thirst is a common indicator that your body is entering the process of ketosis.  Due to the changes in your metabolic processes, your body loses water, so in order to rehydrate it will require you to drink more.

Bad breath – Another fairly common sign of ketosis is what some call the ”keto breath”. People describe it as somehow sweet, fruity and slightly resembling nail polish remover. Also, you may experience a metallic taste in your mouth. The reason for that is that as you transition to your new metabolic processes acetone is formed in your body. However, that’s only temporary and will fade as soon as your body adjusts. You can also chew on sugar free mints to freshen your breath.

Frequent urination – As your insulin levels decrease your body will start releasing stored up water, so it’s completely normal that you’ll need to visit the toilet more frequently. This may be another reason you start feeling keto thirsty.

Sleeping problems – Another temporary side effect of ketosis is having trouble getting enough sleep. You may find it hard to fall asleep at night, wake up repeatedly during the night or wake up in the morning still feeling tired. Well, carbs make us sleepy, so when you remove them from your diet you lose their soothing effect. But this is only temporary and your sleep will return to normal within a few weeks. Also, warm baths and herbal teas can help you during this period.

Digestive problems – Some people may notice no changes in their digestive functioning at all, while others may experience some problems. Both diarrhea and constipation are possible, varying from person to person. In order to minimalize the chances of experiencing any digestive problems, follow a balanced keto meal plan.

Reduced appetite – The foods you eat on keto are highly caloric and will fill you up easily. Fats contain a high amount of energy, so you will often feel stiated for long hours without having to eat very large portions.

Weight loss – In the initial stages of a keto diet, you will noticably lose weight. That happens because your body quickly loses water weight and gets rid of stored carbs. After the initial phase you will still continue to lean out but now mostly due to loss of body fat instead of water, so it will not be that noticable on the scales any more. So, significant weight loss is a good sign you’re entering ketosis.

Muscle cramps – Our muscles need their electrolytes to properly function. Due to an increased water consumption your electrolyte levels may slightly drop, causing spasms and muscle cramps. This can be prevented by maintainig a balanced diet sufficient in minerals, as explained above.

Temporary fatigue – Until your body completely transitions from one energy source to the other, you may experience reduced energy levels and more fatigue. This completely normal as your body needs a bit of time to fully adjust.

Increased energy – Once the transitional phase is over, you will start feeling more energized, even in comparison to the period before taking up keto. You will also notice that your focus has improved. Since you’re not eating carbs any more, your blood sugar levels are stable and you don’t have those sudden spikes followed by steep drops any more.

Final thoughts

So, while every body is different, some symptoms and side-effects of the keto diet are fairly common for most people; feeling thirsty is amongst those most frequently reported. Although it may not be very pleasant, it’s completely normal and it’s actually a good sign your body is entering ketosis. And as with any other side effect, it’s only temporary. So stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet and maintain optimal levels of electrolytes. You will quickly see your body burn fat and reap all the other benefits of keto. If you’d like to learn more about the ketogenic diet or any other topic related to weight loss and health, schedule a call and we will gladly answer any question you have.

Nurse Walton


Nurse Walton

Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Chanay received her Practical Nurse licensure and went to work in clinical specialties such as Home Health, Assisted Living, Long-Term Care and Dialysis Centers. Through this work, she realized the importance of diet, nutrition and weight loss among her patients. This led her to open A Better Weigh, Inc. Medical Weight Loss Center in 2009.

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