The “keto flu” is the name given to that bad feeling some people get when they have carbohydrate withdrawals.
Not everyone will experience it, in fact, I haven’t experienced it when I’ve gone low carb but I have a few friends who have.
If you’re going through it right now then you need this information so you can get past it.
What Is Keto Flu
These “flu” like symptoms are happening as your body learns how to burn fat more efficiently.
Your body has to adjust and become metabolic flexible.
Again, not everyone will feel bad when they are switching to a low-carb or keto.
Symptoms Of The Keto Flu
These are some of the symptoms people report when their body is adjusting to low carb.
- Mental Fog
- In some extreme cases, high blood pressure and arrhythmia
It’s safe to say that since none of us are alike that the “keto flu” experience will look different for everyone.
So someone might get one or several of these symptoms or they may be like me and get none.
Keto Flu Is A Misunderstood Condition
The keto flu, experienced by those adopting low-carb diets, can lead to doubts about the role of carbs in health.
This reaction often stems from our carb-dependent habits, as our bodies adjust to a new energy source.
The prevalence of carb-heavy diets, especially from processed and sugary foods, has created a carb addiction that’s hard to break.
In places like the United States, carb-centric diets are deeply ingrained.
The keto flu’s symptoms, like fatigue and irritability, don’t reflect the diet’s harm but the body’s shift from using sugar to fats for energy.
Embracing the keto flu as a natural part of the change can help us reevaluate our carb intake and its impact on our well-being, fostering a healthier relationship with our dietary choices.
Related: Can Ketone Drinks Help You Lose Weight?
How Long Does The Keto Flu Last?
The duration of keto flu varies for each person.
While some may have slight and even unnoticeable symptoms for a day or two, others might have an over-the-top symptom for a week or more, it really depends on how quickly your body adapts and starts burning fat for fuel.
It’s been noticed that once keto flu is over you can expect a huge surge in energy levels, and once that sugar habit is fully kicked, often people feel better than ever.
Being patient as your body adapts is key.
If your body doesn’t adjust within a few weeks you should seek the attention of a qualified medical professional.
How To Reduce Keto Flu Effects
Keto flu can be a pain, however, here are some things that you can do to reduce the symptoms.
1. Replenish Your Electrolytes
Lack of electrolytes in the body is one of the major causes of keto flu and that crappy feeling you might have in the first few days.
Here is why that happens:
- Reduced Insulin Levels: The keto diet is very low in carbohydrates, which leads to reduced insulin production. Insulin helps regulate the balance of electrolytes in the body. With lower insulin levels, the kidneys may excrete more sodium, potentially leading to sodium depletion.
- Increased Fluid Loss: As your body adapts to using fat for fuel, it breaks down glycogen (stored glucose) in the muscles and liver. Each gram of glycogen is stored with water. As glycogen is depleted, the water attached to it is also lost, which can contribute to increased fluid loss and electrolyte imbalances.
- Loss of Minerals Through Urine: Ketosis can increase urination, which means you might lose more electrolytes, particularly sodium and potassium, through your urine. Magnesium and calcium loss can also occur to a lesser extent.
- Altered Hormone Levels: Ketosis can affect certain hormones that regulate electrolyte balance, such as aldosterone. Aldosterone helps retain sodium and potassium in the body. Changes in aldosterone levels due to the keto diet can influence electrolyte excretion.
- Increased Need for Sodium: With reduced insulin levels and increased urination, the body may need more sodium to maintain proper electrolyte balance. Insufficient sodium intake can lead to symptoms like fatigue, muscle cramps, and dizziness.
To address these potential electrolyte imbalances and keto flu symptoms it’s advised to increase your intake of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium through dietary sources or supplements.
Here’s how to increase your intake of these vital minerals:
✔Generally, 5 grams of salt (potassium) daily is ideal for keto flu symptoms. Normally, the average diet is overloaded with salt, but when you eat low-carb and eliminate processed food your salt intake will naturally be less.
- Drink organic bone broth
- Add 1/4 tsp of Redmonds to your water and sip throughout the day (get it here)
- Add salt to your food
- Eat cucumbers and celery which naturally contain salt
✔To get more potassium, eat avocados, spinach, kale, and mushrooms.
✔Since most of us are deficient in magnesium supplementing about 300 mg a day will help you regardless if you have keto flu symptoms or not.
✔Drink an electrolyte supplement but avoid the ones that contain processed sugar in some form, like glucose syrup or high fructose corn syrup.
2. Reduce Sweet Tasting Foods
As I wrote this I just finished off a low-carb chocolate cake in the mug.
It was so good.
However, sometimes too many “sweet treats” make the symptoms of keto flu last longer.
Some say that artificial sweeteners (sadly, even stevia) can affect your body the same as carbs do.
That means your body won’t get efficient at burning fat as fast.
We want to get adapted to burning fat as soon as we can so avoiding sweet treats with artificial sweeteners will be helpful especially if you feel sluggish or tired when you are low carb.
3. Prioritize Fat Over Protein
When I first went implemented cycling my carbs, intermittent fasting, and allowing my body to get into ketosis I ate a lot of protein but I learned to get into ketosis I needed to eat more fat.
While protein is essential, an excessive intake can hinder the process of ketosis.
Focus on increasing healthy fats, like avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil encourages our body to rely more on fat for fuel, supporting a smoother transition.
If it helps, use an online keto macro calculator to make sure your calories are as close as possible to your target.
4. Incorporate Exercise
Engaging in light to moderate exercise can aid in minimizing the impact of keto flu.
Physical activity helps regulate blood sugar levels, encourages better nutrient utilization, and supports overall well-being.
However, avoid intense workouts during the initial stages of keto-adaptation.
5. Consider Supplements
Alongside electrolyte supplements, green drinks rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can provide a nutrient boost while helping to alleviate keto flu symptoms.
Additionally, omega-3 fatty acid supplements, like fish oil, can offer anti-inflammatory benefits during this transitional phase.
6. Prioritize Sleep
Getting adequate and quality sleep is crucial during the keto flu phase.
Sleep helps your body recover and adapt more effectively, supporting your overall well-being and helping to alleviate fatigue and mood swings.
7. Stay Hydrated
In addition to electrolytes, maintaining proper hydration levels is essential.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help flush out toxins and support your body’s adjustment to the ketogenic state.
8. Manage Stress
High-stress levels can exacerbate keto flu symptoms.
Engage in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to help manage stress and promote a smoother transition.
9. Include Fiber-Rich Foods
Incorporating fiber-rich vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach, can help support digestion and reduce constipation, which is a common issue during the early stages of a ketogenic diet.
10. Monitor Portion Sizes
Overeating, even on a ketogenic diet, can contribute to discomfort and potentially worsen keto flu symptoms.
Pay attention to portion sizes and aim for mindful eating to prevent any unnecessary strain on your body.
11. Incorporate Exogenous Ketone Supplements
Integrating exogenous ketone supplements aid in combatting fatigue and elevating energy levels by increasing the levels of ketones in your bloodstream.
Exogenous ketone supplements don’t substitute the keto diet; however, they can act as a supportive measure to help you get thru keto flu and perhaps even help you get better results with your keto diet.
12. Consider Fasting or Intermittent Fasting
Introducing intermittent fasting or occasional fasting periods can help your body adapt to ketosis more smoothly.
Fasting can deplete glycogen stores more rapidly, leading to quicker ketone production and potentially reducing the duration and severity of keto flu symptoms.
However, it’s important to approach fasting gradually and consult a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your eating patterns.
How I Hacked Keto
I’ve varied my eating over the years and recently started following the Elimination Reset Diet plan created by some colleagues of mine.
I wasn’t really expecting to notice much but since it allowed me to drink my favorite protein shake and still stay keto I tried it out.
The first week I lost 5lbs and discovered some foods that I didn’t realize were causing me trouble.
It’s certainly worth checking out (I wrote about the ER Shred here) if you want to keep your diet simple and avoid processed foods while still enjoy drinking protein shakes.
It’s A Process
Getting used to a low-carb diet is a process and keto flu may be part of the initial side effects.
It can’t be avoided for some but hopefully, you can use some of these ideas to reduce your symptoms while your body adapts.
Obviously, I’m not a doctor.
I like to research and learn about health-related topics, especially those related to essential oils, anti-aging, cleansing, and weight loss.
Low carb and keto can help you recover from insulin resistance and lose weight but you need to find out what works for your body.
If you plan to adopt any method of eating don’t believe me or your doctor until you’ve read a few books and researched for yourself.
Also, taking some time to think about why you want to make changes will help increase your likelihood of success.
Did you find these tips helpful? If you eat keto, what are your favorite tips?
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