You decide to remove carbs from your diet to see what all the hype is about…
But instead of experiencing all the health benefits you keep hearing about, you feel fatigued, mentally foggy, and start experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Does this mean going keto isn’t for you? Not at all!
As you’re about to find out, the “keto flu” is a common set of side effects that often occur after removing carbs from your diet. And knowing these symptoms are normal is half the battle.
In this article, you’ll learn exactly why keto flu occurs and how you can prevent it altogether.
Symptoms of Keto Flu
There are several common symptoms of the keto flu that you should be mindful of when you first start the low carb, high fat lifestyle.
These symptoms include:
It’s important to note that these symptoms are not uncommon and does not mean the ketogenic diet won’t work for you.
Keto-flu symptoms should last 1 to 1.5 weeks max. People who are experienced with dieting may not show signs at all.
Note: If these symptoms last for more than one week, consider seeking out a physician or readjusting your ketogenic diet.
Why Does Keto Flu Occur?
Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source. When you restrict carbs, the body must go through several metabolic changes to start using fat for energy rather than glucose (from carbs).
This transition is good because it means you’re following the ketogenic protocol correctly but, this is also how the “keto flu” occurs. During the transition process, your body will change how your brain functions and how it fuels the body.
Drop in Blood Glucose
Adopting a ketogenic diet means your body is forced to switch from using carbs as energy to using fats. This transition period results in temporary hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar.
When your body isn’t used to using fats for energy yet, energy is temporarily sacrificed, which is a result of low blood sugar.
After you’ve adjusted, the body will become much more effective in using fat as energy.
Water and Electrolyte Excretion
Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are crucial for maintaining healthy bodily functions.
These minerals are excreted through when carbs are restricted which also leads to insulin release. Lower levels of insulin results in less water stored by your kidneys.
It’s crucial that you maintain adequate water intake and replenish these essential minerals when you first remove carbs from your diet.
Preventing Keto Flu Symptoms
There are a few ways to combat symptoms of the keto flu. Here are the best approaches you can take to minimize (or even prevent) these flu-like symptoms altogether.
Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of the keto flu which usually occurs as a result of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
Make sure you consume adequate amounts of water and green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and collard greens to ensure proper electrolyte levels.
Additionally, add pink himalayan sea salt to your water and food you eat since sodium is the mineral excreted most when carbohydrates are restricted. This will help mitigate any symptoms of headaches.
Constipation is more common in people who have a poorly formulated ketogenic diet.
Eat plenty of fiber-rich vegetables, drink large amounts of water, and exercise every day to help prevent constipation symptoms.
Cramps are a common sign that you have an electrolyte imbalance. Low magnesium and potassium can worsen cramps so it’s imperative that you maintain adequate electrolyte levels.
Eat high magnesium and potassium food sources such as avocados, green leafy vegetables, and consider adding magnesium supplements into your diet to ensure you’re getting the correct amount.
Fatigue and Energy Issues
As your body adapts to ketosis, a decrease in energy is common in many beginners.
To lessen the symptoms of fatigue:
More often than not, people will eat much less fat than they think they’re supposed to when adopting the ketogenic diet.
Don’t Worry – Keto Flu is Temporary!
Anything worthwhile is worth waiting for and the ketogenic diet is no exception. While the flu-like symptoms may seem unbearable for some, the drastic benefits that come with being in a state of ketosis is unprecedented.
As long as you are carefully monitoring your water consumption, electrolyte intake, and eating enough calories in healthy fats and protein – the keto flu will diminish much sooner than you think – leaving you with only the healthy, beneficial aspects of being a fat-burner!
Carb Manager is the easiest and most powerful way to count carbs and live the low carb life. In this blog, we've invited experts on LCHF to contribute their views on everything low carb.