Keto or Low Carb diet and increased resting heart rate

Robert Noftz

Level 3 Valued Member
I recently started a very low carb diet for weight loss purposes. I"m 50 years old, soon to be 51. It just seems to get more and more difficult to keep my weight down on a higher carb diet.
One issue I noticed is that my resting heart rate went up slightly and my ability to cover a certain distance while staying in the MAF zone decreased while exercising on an indoor rower. I have used a heart rate monitor diligently while training, both for S&S and for aerobic work.
Does anyone have any personal experience with this issue?
I'm about 2 1/2 weeks into the diet, my carbs have been in the low 20s. I have lost about 10 lbs so far.
I did have some issues with light headedness in the first week but increasing my salt intake helped.
After a quick search online I noticed that this may be a common side effect for some people. It may be tied to a low salt intake or other minerals. Perhaps I just need a little more time.
I decided to ask about it on this forum because I know from experience that many of the people who participate have a lot of experience and are better educated than average on many of these topics.
Happy New year to all.
 

Susan Tenney

First Post
Hi Robert,
I have been keto for almost 3 years and have also participated in a lot of forms of keto so I have been around the block on different styles. I also moderate a large FB group for women doing keto and fitness so I have seen endless stories of fit people dealing with these same issues. Of course you MUST take into account that I am not a doctor or even a professional health provider. Just a very seasoned hobbyist. Also of course I do not know your entire story. But sticking to generalities of what many if not most people deal with...

Yes, this sounds like an electrolyte issue. And it is very, very common. Yes it is good that you are taking salt but realize that you may not be taking the right form. Also there are other electrolytes that are even more critical - especially potassium - that will affect the balance of health especially during the adaptation phase. Proper supplementation AND getting through the adaptation phase usually solves the kinds of issues you are having.

May I suggest that you check out the FB group called OKL or Optimal Ketogenic Living found here: Optimal Ketogenic Living
They take a different path on many things but they are absolutely rock solid on the science. The guy who leads this group is a tireless researcher and the nicest guy you will ever encounter. And while many of the keto programs will have you eating tons and tons and tons of fat, and perhaps stalling at one point on your weight loss journey or just feeling crappy due to the crazy levels of fat you are being told you should consume, this program (entirely free - no one making money here, just following science) will have you on a set of macros that will build muscle, have you feeling great, and for many will heal all sorts of long term issues that all of us over 50 want addressed.

Also if you are interested, you are welcome to share your current macros and I can help get that sorted out. Please know that many many popular keto resources are using macros that are better than the standard diet (for example you are keeping your carbs nice and low) but have the fat/protein ratio all skewy for optimal health. If your fat macros are higher than your protein macros, you are most likely eating a diet best saved for those with extreme health issues like epilepsy. If you are basically healthy and just wanting to do a tune up, your protein macro should usually be higher than your fat macro, especially during a weight loss phase. OKL macros will sort you out in no time. I see sooooo many people come into our group who think they are failing keto, but it was just that the form of keto they were following is failing THEM. Once you get it sorted out, it is more easily sustainable and successful.


I am happy to answer more if you have questions. Keto has been a lifesaver for me and I am always happy to share info with people who are giving it a go. In any case, I wish you the best of luck and success on keto. It is a wonderful way to compliment all of the wonderful things that strength training StrongFirst style has to offer.
 

Snowman

Level 6 Valued Member
I have lost about 10 lbs so far.
Congrats (y)

It may be tied to a low salt intake or other minerals.
A definite possibility. The body handles electrolytes (and therefore water) differently depending on carb intake, so if you make a big change in carb intake, the body has to learn how to compensate. The general guidance for low-carb is to make sure you're getting plenty of salt and drinking to thirst. You can get more in depth about specific minerals, but I would just start with getting more salt and see how that goes; no reason to make things more complicated than they need to be.

I'm about 2 1/2 weeks into the diet,
Perhaps I just need a little more time.
At 2 1/2 weeks in, it could still be a time thing. That being said, it does sound like you're a little dehydrated, and if your body is getting rid of too much water, it's probably because it's getting rid of too much salt.

Fiddle with things, and +1 to @Susan Tenney and her suggestion to check out a keto specific resource. I'm part of a couple FB diet groups that I barely interact with. It's just interesting to see what comes up. A kind of passive data collection, if you will.

Also, welcome to the forum, @Susan Tenney!
 

mprevost

Level 6 Valued Member
Probably just what you suspected, reduced blood volume due to electrolyte loss (fluid is lost with the electrolytes). You might want to add some salt, potassium and magnesium for a little while.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Susan Tenney, as @Snowman said, welcome to the StrongFirst forum.

@Robert Noftz, some people do fine with a bit more carbs - you might try increasing to 50 and see how that works for you. When I'm in ketosis, 50 grams works fine for me. I am, as @kennycro@@aol.com has used the phrase, metabolically flexible and pretty easily move in and out of periods of my life when I'm in ketosis most of the time. I usually have about half those 50 grams in the morning and the rest with dinner.

-S-
 

Robert Noftz

Level 3 Valued Member
I appreciate the responses. I ended up adding a lot more salt and I woke up the next day with a 2 lbs weight gain and I felt a lot better. I felt more energetic and just better all around. It's been two days since then and my rowing performance improved significantly. I'm not quite back to was I was but I guess I shouldn't expect any records, tomorrow will be three weeks into the diet, and I'm losing weight. Probably not a good time to look for performance gains but it just seemed like my heart rate was a little too high. I cut way back on my training for a couple weeks because my energy levels were low and I was so lightheaded. Apparently I wasn't using as much salt as I thought I was.
Oh well, a lesson learned.
@Steve Freides I'm glad you shared that considering your powerlifting background. I heard a researcher named Dominic De Agostino discussing the idea of being metabolically flexible. He said he uses a modified Atkins type of diet.
@Susan Tenney I started using the Atkins approach and I was wondering if I wanted to switch to a lower protein keto approach. I'm using it for weight loss and maintenance, not medical treatment, so your point is well taken. It probably makes sense to keep the protein in the diet.
I never knew there was so much to learn about this type of diet. It has become a new hobby for me. I even ended up getting Keto Mojo to test my blood for Ketones. Perhaps it will come in handy as I move up in carbs so I can make sure I stay in ketosis. I'm watched videos made by MDs and Ph.Ds, as well as people who used the low carb approach to lose weight. I even found a guy who goes by the handle Butter Bob on Youtube. He lost 145 lbs in 14 months. It's been an interesting journey so far.
 

Robert Noftz

Level 3 Valued Member
Probably just what you suspected, reduced blood volume due to electrolyte loss (fluid is lost with the electrolytes). You might want to add some salt, potassium and magnesium for a little while.
Yes, taking more salt than I thought I needed for a just one day took care of it. I gained a couple pounds of water weight and woke up the next day feeling like a new person.
 

Robert Noftz

Level 3 Valued Member
Congrats (y)


A definite possibility. The body handles electrolytes (and therefore water) differently depending on carb intake, so if you make a big change in carb intake, the body has to learn how to compensate. The general guidance for low-carb is to make sure you're getting plenty of salt and drinking to thirst. You can get more in depth about specific minerals, but I would just start with getting more salt and see how that goes; no reason to make things more complicated than they need to be.



At 2 1/2 weeks in, it could still be a time thing. That being said, it does sound like you're a little dehydrated, and if your body is getting rid of too much water, it's probably because it's getting rid of too much salt.

Fiddle with things, and +1 to @Susan Tenney and her suggestion to check out a keto specific resource. I'm part of a couple FB diet groups that I barely interact with. It's just interesting to see what comes up. A kind of passive data collection, if you will.

Also, welcome to the forum, @Susan Tenney!
Yes, 2 1/2 weeks in I probably shouldn't expect performance gains, especially since I'm losing weight. Taking a lot more salt took care of the problem in one day.
 

Al Ciampa

Level 8 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
@Robert Noftz, I've been personally eating more or less restricted carbohydrate for 30 years. In the beginning (pre-internet), it took me a while to get past the public mantra of "salt is bad". I salt to taste, which comparatively results in being "a lot". I also use pink salt for the additional minerals. I keep course grinds in a grinder and often throw several under my tongue or chew on them. Sometimes, it tastes really salty—I probably didn't need any... and sometimes, it doesn't taste too salty at all—I probably needed it.

Try not to compare before and after for several months to a year. Some science will discuss 2-week adaptation periods (and you can feel largely better in this amount of time), but more comprehensive adaptation is probably measured in years.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Al Ciampa +1 from us. We even keep a grinder/shaker of pink salt in the car so we have it with us when we travel. In our kitchen, there's an open dish of it on the stove - great to walk by and grab a pinch when the urge strikes.

-S-
 

Piotr P

First Post
Hi guys - I have studied this subject quite a lot having experienced similar symptoms and I came up with a theory as to why this is.
Keto state would be normally present during winter months - no carbs and high protein high fat diet if we managed to eat anything at all.
If this was the case the body would concentrate on conservation of energy hence top level performance is somewhat limited. Fat oxidation produces more heat therefore we are not able to tolerate high temperatures but that would never be a problem because winter months tend to be cold. Higher heart rate is mandatory to reduce the probability of frost bite or if temperatures are not as extreme we will feel warmer in general. Warmer season provides access to carbs in form of fruits or some other edible vegetation and as we know even a little bit of carbs kicks you out of keto so even if the diet was primarily meat - one fruit per day would be enough to stock up glycogen stores and change blood chemistry. This is just a theory that would have to be proven first but it sounds very plausible to me.
 
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