In this article, we will talk about keto flu, a common unpleasant side effect that follows the early stages of the keto diet. You will learn what keto flu is, what causes it, and we will also give you some tips on how to get through (or altogether avoid) this temporary condition
What Is Keto Flu?
First, the keto flu is only flu-like, it is not a real virus. Keto flu is a series of flu-like symptoms that often follow the keto adaptation process.
When you ditch carbs and completely overhaul your diet, your body finds itself in a bit of a shock. It was used to using carbs as the primary source of energy, and it has been doing that for decades. All of a sudden, there are no carbs to burn, and the body has to adapt to the new conditions abruptly.
What follows is a serious of symptoms that are very much like the common flu virus: headaches, weakness, irritability, muscle cramps, dizziness, poor concentration. People also often experience digestive issues such as nausea, constipation, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, as well as difficulty sleeping. Although you won't experience all of these symptoms, you are likely to experience at least some of them, headaches being the most common.
What Causes Keto Flu?
The cause of the keto flu is self-evident, and that is cutting carbs. Because our body is so used to using sugars as energy, the transition to using fat and ketones can be hard, and produce many of the withdrawal-like symptoms called keto flu.
However, something else follows ditching carbs, and that is the loss of electrolytes.
You see, carbs are like a sponge, as they tie up water molecules. That is why you see a sudden weight drop when you eliminate carbs as your body releases a large amount of water stored in your cells.
However, with all that water, your body starts losing precious electrolytes. Electrolytes are also lost when kidneys start releasing sodium as your insulin level drops, and also because many keto foods lack in some electrolytes such as potassium.
As you can see, a whole lot is happening inside the body all at once if you are not careful when entering ketosis. Carb withdrawal, combined with the loss of water and the lack of electrolytes, causes many of the keto flu symptoms. In the next part of the article, we will tell you how to make your life easier when in the process of keto-adaptation.
How To Fight Keto Flu?
Tip #1: Be Patient
Although the keto flu can be incredibly unpleasant, one thing is sure: it is only temporary. As soon as you enter full ketosis, most of the issues will be gone, if not all.
How long will it last? There are no strict rules, but most people will get over the symptoms in a week. However, some will have a harder time, and the symptoms will last for several weeks.
Tip #2: Drink Water
As we explained, starting with keto is followed by water release, and if you are not careful enough, it can lead to dehydration. And what are the symptoms of dehydration? Headaches, irritability, loss of concentration, muscle cramping, and many of the classic keto flu symptoms.
Therefore, it is essential to increase water intake when you start a keto regimen. That doesn't mean you should drink 50 gallons per day, it only means you should avoid thirst, so have a water bottle at your side all the time.
Tip #3: Eat Good Carbs
This might seem counterintuitive, as the keto diet is all about cutting carbs. However, that doesn't mean you should consume 0 grams of carbs per day. Depending on your total calories, you will be able to eat between 20 and 50 grams of carbs each day, so make sure you do that.
Try to eat leafy greens such as avocado, lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, tomato, kale, olives, all contain three or less net grams of carb per 100 grams. That means you can enjoy these veggies without feeling guilty.
As for fruits, you need to be more careful, but you can still eat them in moderate amounts. Berries are a good option, and raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries contain six grams or less of net carbs per 100 grams of serving. However, be careful with other fruits, as a single banana can contain twenty grams of carbs.
Tip #4: Eat More Fat
If you are having issues with the lack of energy and irritability, and you constantly feel hungry all the time, you should consider eating more fat.
The fact that you are cutting carbs from your diet will usually put you in a caloric deficit. That means you will start eating fewer calories than you burn, which will lead to weight loss. However, the caloric deficit might be too drastic for some, which is why eating more fat is a good idea. This will trigger starvation mode, slowing down the metabolism, and can lead to muscle loss as well.
Eating fats will keep you full for longer, which means you will have more energy to go through your day. Because they are calorie-dense, you will need to eat less often, and you will continue losing weight. Burning fat while eating fat, that is the keto way.
Tip #4: Take Care Of Electrolytes
We mentioned how starting the keto diet can lead to the loss of electrolytes, and you need to address this issue if you want to avoid or shorten the keto flu.
First, feel free to add more salt to the food. This will not only help you to recuperate the loss of sodium but will also help you hold more water. You can also try our Keto Boost supplement, which has BHB sodium and energy complex, which will help you get into ketosis faster.
As for potassium, avocado is an excellent source of that and is a staple of keto nutrition, so make sure to eat it. Leafy green vegetables contain potassium too, and also magnesium, which is another electrolyte that most keto dieters lack.
Many sports drinks contain electrolytes, and they can help as they will keep you hydrated too. Just remember to read the label and make sure you are drinking sugar-free versions.
Tip #5: Rest
Although this is not the real flu, make sure you are resting enough when facing keto flu symptoms. That means avoiding strenuous activities such as hard gym sessions, but also heavy cardio. You will have issues performing at the highest levels anyway, as you will experience muscle cramping.
Also, prioritize sleep. Eight hours every night is mandatory, so go to bed on time and wake up early. Also, reduce caffeine six hours before bed.
But, for many people, not even this is enough, which is why we developed a Keto Sleep formula, that will help you get a full night's sleep and recover from keto flu faster.
Bottom Line: Keto Flu Is Just A Temporary Annoyance
Yes, keto flu sucks! But, this is just a slight bump on the ketosis highway. Once you get rolling and enter full ketosis, you will start seeing results you never expected to be real. Your gut will start melting, and at the same time, you will be full of energy, won't feel hungry, and your cognitive performance will be at its peak. Those are the reasons why so many people worldwide love the ketogenic lifestyle. With the right strategy, you will avoid or reduce keto flu symptoms, and experience all the benefits the keto diet brings in no time at all.