Although it may not feel like it, the keto flu is somewhat of a rite of passage for anyone embarking on a ketogenic journey. Many people experience what’s known as the “keto flu” during the first few weeks of transitioning to a low-carb, high-fat diet. But don’t let the name fool you – this isn’t a real flu! It’s just your body’s way of adjusting to a new way of eating. And the good news is that there are plenty of remedies to help you feel better in no time. So put on your favorite fuzzy socks, grab a cup of keto-friendly bone broth, and let’s get into it!
What is the Keto Flu?
Don’t worry, it’s not really the flu. The “keto flu” is just a term used to describe common symptoms people may experience when starting a ketogenic diet as their body adjusts to the major changes. It typically occurs when you first enter into ketosis, a metabolic state where the body starts burning fat for energy instead of its usual source of fuel, glucose (sugar/carbs). This can be a little confusing for your body, which makes total sense.
Just think about it for a second: this is likely the first time in your entire life that you have significantly cut off your body’s supply of carbs and sugar. So, your body is bound to have a response to this major change. The good news: it’s only temporary and experiencing these symptoms is a strong indicator that your body has successfully entered ketosis and the benefits will soon follow.
Examples of Keto Flu Symptoms
Starting a low-carb diet can be tough, and it’s totally normal to experience some symptoms while your body adjusts. From feeling nauseous and vomiting, to dealing with constipation or diarrhea, headaches, irritability, weakness, muscle cramps, dizziness, brain fog, stomach or intestinal pain, muscle soreness, difficulty sleeping, and even food cravings – it can feel like a lot to handle. But don’t worry, you’re not alone, and these symptoms are often just a temporary hiccup as your body adjusts to your new low-carb lifestyle. There are plenty of ways to make the transition easier but to give you a heads up of the possible side effects, here are some symptoms you may experience:
- Low energy
- Cravings for carbs and sugar
- Loss of appetite
- Bad breath
- Low motivation for exercise
- Poor workout recovery
- Low libido
- Muscle aches and weakness
- Brain fog
- Difficulties sleeping
- Moodiness or irritability
In rare cases, a very small percentage of people, especially children following a keto diet, may experience vomiting, high cholesterol, kidney stones, growth slowing, and severe gastrointestinal upset.
Now, it’s also worth mentioning that not everyone experiences the keto flu the same way. Some have more intense symptoms than others, and some people never experience the keto flu at all. This highly depends on various factors, including your overall health, as well as your previous diet and lifestyle. If you’re typically fairly healthy, you should be able to bounce back quickly and start seeing the benefits of the keto diet with little-to-no symptoms.
Effective Remedies For Combating The Keto Flu
The keto flu symptoms typically subside on their own within 1-3 weeks, but for some people, it can take up to six weeks for the body to fully adjust to the diet. This is particularly true if you aren’t following it properly. So, it’s incredibly important to continue with the keto diet plan even when you are experiencing the keto flu as this will help clear up the symptoms as quickly as possible and keep you on track towards your health and weight loss goals.
Fortunately, there’s an abundance of effective methods that can help you through this process.
Increase Your Water Intake
We all know hydration is important, but this is even more true when starting a ketogenic diet and it all comes down to glycogen! Your body stores extra sugar in the form of glycogen, which is kept in your cells alongside a bunch of water. When you transition to a keto diet and start producing ketones, your body flushes out that stored glycogen and the water that goes with it. This can make you really dehydrated, especially if you were heavy on sugary drinks before going keto.
This is an easy fix though: just drink more water to stay hydrated and to keep any dehydration and keto flu symptoms at bay. Pardon the pun.
Top Up on Your Electrolytes
As your body transitions to a ketogenic diet, it may also experience a loss of electrolytes, especially if your insulin levels decrease. Some keto flu symptoms you may experience because of this include muscle cramps, fatigue, and body weakness. So, make sure you top up on your electrolytes to combat these symptoms. You can sprinkle some extra salt into your meals, take electrolytes in the form of powder or increase your intake of keto-friendly snacks like soup, pickle juice and spinach.
Make Sure To Eat Enough Fats and Calories
As you transition to a low-carb diet, it’s common to experience cravings for foods that are off-limits, such as pasta, pastries and bread. However, incorporating enough healthy fats into your meals can help curb these cravings and leave you feeling satiated.
However, it’s important to consume enough fat to provide your body with fuel, without over-consuming protein (which can be converted to glucose). You may want to keep a food journal for a few days to track your macronutrients and make adjustments as needed.
Additionally, if you’re struggling with feeling weak, tired or hungry, increasing your fat intake can help.
Take Time to Rest and Get Enough Sleep
It’s important not to be too hard on yourself if you experience a lack of energy or motivation for exercise when starting the keto diet. This is totally normal. Try to lighten up on your exercise regime by taking daily walks or practicing yoga during this time and don’t forget to prioritize your sleep. You want to be getting approximately 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. If you’re struggling with sleep, try implementing some soothing self-care into your nightly routine, such as an Epsom salt bath (which will also help soothe any sore muscles), drinking a keto-friendly herbal tea, such as chamomile or spritzing your linen with lavender.
Increase Your Fiber to Fight Off Digestive Symptoms
It’s important to include keto-friendly fiber sources when battling the keto flu, especially if you’re experiencing uncomfortable digestive symptoms like constipation and diarrhea. By incorporating more non-starchy vegetables, avocados, coconut, nuts, and seeds into your meals, you’ll not only improve your digestion but also reap the benefits of the extra boost of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Just remember, the keto flu is a temporary phase that your body goes through as it adapts to this new way of eating. So, don’t let these potential symptoms deter you from using the ketogenic diet to achieve your health and weight loss goals. Stay positive, take care of yourself, and before you know it, you’ll be reaping the benefits of a ketogenic lifestyle!