Dehydration is Responsible for More Than You Might Think

Are You Drinking Enough Water on Your Low-Carb Diet?
Do You Know the Signs of Dehydration?

Whenever the humidity rises or a storm moves into the area, I suffer with a lot of:
  • dizziness
  • vertigo
  • inner-ear swelling
  • ear pressure
  • and ear pain
Because of that, I've been experimenting a bit with drinking less water to see if that would help me any.

Prior to this experiment, I'd been drinking around a gallon of water a day. That much water made my ears swell and hurt pretty badly by the time I got to the last quart, especially since I've been cutting down lately on caffeinated sodas.

As far as the dizziness and fullness in my inner ears is concerned, drinking less water did help initially, but if I cut down too much, it only made other things worse.

Plus, if the humidity is very high, it causes my ears to swell and hurt, no matter how much less water I've drank.

What are the Symptoms of Dehydration?

One of the first things I noticed was I was getting consistent headaches, where I haven't suffered with those in months, especially after moving back into a low carb, PSMF diet this week.

I'd heard that headaches can be a sign of dehydration, and since initial weight losses from restricting carbs are mainly water and glycogen, I thought I'd do a little research to see what I could find out.

So many folks believe those Induction headaches are caused by sugar and caffeine withdrawals that I wanted to see how much dehydration contributes to that.

Well, I was really surprised to find out just how much can be attributed to dehydration.

We hear all the time that as low carbers we NEED to drink our water, with the most common reason given that we can flush out excess ketones, but dehydration is actually responsible for far more than even most low carbers think.

The list of symptoms of dehydration was pretty long, but was basically consistent over all the web pages and articles I looked at. Of interest was the fact that many of these things are attributed by low carbers to be caused by something other than dehydration.

For example:

A complaint of muscle cramps will generally come with the advice to up your potassium, when the best advice would be to get ALL of your electrolytes -- sodium and magnesium, as well as potassium plus water intake in BALANCE.

A complaint of a loss of skin tone and/or loose, wrinkly skin will generally result in people telling you to up your fats. But these are signs of dehydration, too.

So here's a partial list:
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • dry mouth
  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • rapid heartbeat
  • dry flushed skin
  • muscle cramps with extreme muscle pain
  • loss of skin tone and/or loose skin and/or wrinkles
  • constipation
In addition to the standard stuff, I also discovered that dehydration causes or contributes to:
  • rheumatoid joint pain
  • arthritis in general (due to a water shortage in the joint)
  • low back pain and arthritis of the spine (due to a water shortage in the spine and disks)
  • angina (due to a water shortage in the heart and lungs axis)
  • migraines (due to a water shortage in the brain and eyes)
  • asthma (caused by drought management programs of the body).
With asthma, which particularly caught my attention, since I suffer from that too, free passage of air is obstructed, so water doesn't leave the body in the form of vapor.

Issues With Salt and Sodium

Here's another interesting tidbit.

Asthmatics NEED salt. It breaks down the mucus plugs in the lungs that obstruct free flow of air in and out of the air sacs.

The common advice given among low carbers to cut down on salt and sodium intake, due to potential water retention or glycogen storage after a cheat.

This might NOT be the best advice for everyone. In fact, if you suffer with asthma like I do, it can even be detrimental.

The thing about dehydration is that thirst is not the only, or even the first sign, of dehydration. By the time you're actually thirsty, you're already dehydrated.

Why You Need to Set Up a Good Water-Drinking Plan

You need to make sure that you have a water drinking plan in place, and that you are following that plan.

The amount of exercise, daily temperature, and state of your health all affect just how much water you need to drink on a daily basis.

The brain is about 75% water, so when you don't drink enough, the dehydration results in histamine being produced, which causes a lot of pain. Now granted, histamines aren't the ONLY reason you get headaches, nor is dehydration necessarily the only reason, but the thing to remember is this:

Pain of any type is your body's way of putting out a cry for help.


But we tend to medicate the pain and ignore its root causes far too often. Just because the pain is gone (now that we've told it to shut up by feeding it a pain reliever med) that doesn't mean the problem has been solved.

We have only pushed the problem off into a corner where we don't have to deal with the REAL cause anymore.

Probably, the most detrimental aspect of dehydration is that when we are in that condition, the body is unable to eliminate toxic wastes from the body, so the toxins accumulate and cause all kinds of havoc, especially inflammation.

When you reach the point where you're actually suffering from about a 2% loss of body fluid, overall, your physical and mental performance can be reduced by as much as 20%!!!

Water seems to be something that a great many people think they drink a LOT of, when in reality, they don't.

Over and over again, my in-laws keep telling me how much water they drink, but my Tanita-like scale keeps reporting that they are SEVERELY dehydrated!!! When I showed them that several times this past visit, and was finally able to pin them down as to just how much water they drink each day, they weren't drinking very much water at all.

To them, a bottle of water was one of those teeny, tiny 8-ounce bottles. A single cupful. And they were trying to do low carb by drinking maybe 5 or 6 of those a day, thinking that was a lot.

When I told them that because of their weight, they needed to drink a gallon of water a day, or more, they outright CHOKED.

Now, we're talking about someone who weighs in the neighborhood of 300 pounds, who is seriously dehydrated and needs to correct the problem. Obviously, they need to drink more than their current needs to do that.

So the point is this:

If you are not keeping track of just how much water you're drinking, you might not be drinking enough. And it's really hard to get back into the habit of drinking plenty of water once you've fallen out of the habit.

It's like starting all over again.

Drinking water really needs to become a permanent lifestyle change. Not just because you're low carbing, but because it's one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself.


  1. I think you're right the induction flu is from electrolyte losses at the beginning of induction, severe headache is usually caffeine withdrawal but dehydration does it as well so probably a double wammy for some. The electrolytes do rebalance themselves but a lot of people when they start induction eat heaps of sodium but not many veggies especially if they follow the cup rule. I've yet to see someone follow the advice of taking potassium and not feeling better. Potassium and mag supp is good too. Over here at least, it is very hard to find an electrolyte supplement that is not full of sugar.

    When you read very low carb studies you often see that they supplement them with sodium and potassium.

    Personally, I don't get induction flu or cramps I do eat heaps of veggies and don't restrict my salt so maybe that helps? I also go by Australian carb counts of low carb veggies which are much less then yours e.g. over here brocolli = 0.5g carbs per 100g
    Even when I was refeeding, I never had any issues going in and out of ketosis each week.

    I do however get caffeine headache and gosh that is horrible, only had one headache worse then that and that was after my spinal tap!

  2. Holy crud! A gallon of water a day? I had no idea I needed that much. I consume approx 2 1/2 to 3 liters of water and club soda every day. But, as I seem to have a couple of the symptoms you mentioned, I guess I will try to increase my intake. Thanks!

  3. I usually drink about 3 (32-oz) glasses of water. Any more than that will give me vertigo. But that's just particular to me. Low carbers need a little more water than other folks do because low carb is so dehydrating. One can go too far the other way though, so be careful. I would up your intake slowly, if the formula says you're not drinking enough.

  4. Try eating more sodium. Pickles are a great way to get in some more.


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