Common Problems When Starting a New Diet

Common Problems When Starting a New Diet

It's time to visit some of the most common problems people face when changing their diets and nutrition.

If you're like most people, you will run into some challenges, and it is totally normal. It isn't always a smooth transformation; it is about constantly testing, learning, and improving. That's how everything works in the universe. Don’t get me wrong, if you are fully committed and have already tried and failed several diets/training strategies, you are more likely to succeed. Ignore any and all marketing of overnight success stories. It’s not real,  They are showing the top 1% and leaving out 99%.

The truth is, the most successful people are not the ones who got the fast results out the gate, but the ones that failed their way from the bottom to the top.

Let’s visit the problems of starting a new diet one by one.

  1. First off, fatigue.

    It is a widespread side effect when transferring to a new diet. You might feel worn out, sluggish, not motivated to do anything, and even your sleep might be affected. 

Two prevalent causes for this are easily fixable.

Usually, it is either dropping your calories or your carbohydrates too low or too fast. When people start their evolution process, they are very motivated to get the results as soon as possible. This excitement often leads to dropping calories and carbs too low, which causes the cells of muscles and the nervous system to suffer from acute energy deficiency. This itself causes the release of stress hormones, mainly cortisol. This usually starts in the first week of changing the diet and is relatively easy to recognize.

What do you do? First of all, make sure you have a good estimate of what your Total Daily Energy Expenditure is. Without this it’s extremely difficult to narrow down your ideal calorie deficit that doesn’t come along with bad side effects.

If you have already done this, and have placed yourself into a 300-500 calorie deficit and have begun to experience the negative effects listed above,  you should increase your carb intake by 10-20 grams a day, until you feel good again. However do not increase all of three macros at once. After that, you can experiment more freely with your macronutrient composition, increasing protein, lowering fat, etc, to find the right balance for you and your activity level.

  1. Intestinal problems.

    Gut relief is just as common as gut problems when switching diets. Typically people adopting a strict diet that accounts for calorie needs, will find good results in the beginning.

    However, a worsening of gut health,can be very common when starting a new diet, especially when our guts are in bad shape, to begin with. Sometimes dieters undertaking the wrong new diet, can experience bloating, diarrhea, constipation, excessive gas, heartburn, reflux, and even loss of appetite.

One way to treat this problem is to give it some buffer time to ensure it's the diet itself and not just the acute reaction.

Rapid and aggressive changes in the diet can cause changes to our microbiota and hormones at the same time. And yet, this is ok, and a part of a positive adaptation when done at the right speed. Our intestine and hormonal system are both quite habitual and can take 1-4 weeks to fully adapt to the new diet. So - when your symptoms aren't that bad or don't disturb your day to day life too much, giving it some time might be the best way to go.

Another way to treat this problem is too investigate if you’re eating too much fiber too fast. This can cause all the symptoms listed above. The cure is simple. Drop the fiber amount to the level your intestine can handle.

In some cases, it is totally fine to use fiber supplementation to get your fibre needs, although there is rarely a reason when you are eating correctly. Psyllium husk is a good variety for the few that do not get enough fibre in their diet.

Psyllium may also be a good fiber to test out when you have irritable bowel syndrome or constipation. Just remember that you have to drink more when you use fiber supplements! Remember too, that fiber supplementation can affect drug absorption, so be aware when taking any prescription drugs.

In some cases, there may be intestinal symptoms triggered by supplementation - especially if you start many new supplements at the same time. In those cases, it is recommended that you’d stop all supplementation and start them again one by one, slowly. This is the easiest way to determine the trigger to negative side effects. 

Moving on to common problem #3…

  1. Dehydration.

This can becomes an issue when dropping weight quickly, changing eating habits, and becoming more physically active. You might get headaches, dizziness, fatigue, palpitation, and weakness or cramping in your muscles.

It isn't only about how much water you consume, but how much you can keep in your cells, tissue, and bloodstream. We won't go to deep into the physiology of this, but it has to do with mineral levels in your body. That's why it is also essential to have an adequate mineral supply in your diet. You should check out mineral supplementation options if you are physically very active, sweat much, or feel overly tired or dizzy.

The easiest way to stay hydrated is to ensure adequate water intake, a easy rule of thumb is 30ml per lb of lean mass when physically active.

Ie: 200lbs at 10% BF = 180lb of lean mass.
180 x 30ml = 5400ml

We go into more detail on hydration in the Hydration 101 article…

  1. Acutely lowered blood sugar and blood pressure.

    That is actually an excellent thing, but it may cause problems for people with blood pressure or diabetes prescriptions. This is why it is essential to monitor both of them more intensely at the beginning of your transformation process and have the plan to lower the medication. Always consult your healthcare professional in those cases and preferably before there's a chance for problems to arise.

There you have the 3-4 most common problems when starting a new diet and lifestyle change. If the above advice doesn't work, or if you have medical conditions, it is recommended that you see your doctor and maybe have some tests done. And don't worry too much about the problems when you run into those; this is a totally normal part of any change. The worst thing you might do is start looking for the next trendy diet with the first signs of challenges. Let's do it differently this time, stick to the plan, and come out of it so much stronger.

Leave a comment