What Exactly Is Keto Flu & What Can I Do About It?
Just like any good thing that is beneficial for us and our bodies, the Keto diet comes with a few initial setbacks. Mainly because our body is so accustomed to living unhealthy and when a healthy way of living is introduced it tends to fight back.
The Keto Flu, also known as the Carb Flu is more of a withdrawal your body undergoes when switching from burning glucose for energy to burning fat instead.
The symptoms are often similar to those related to withdrawal from addictive substances.
The drowsiness, achiness, feeling nauseous, dizziness and irritableness is your body’s natural reaction to removing carbs from your diet which often make people starting this journey have second thoughts on giving up.
These symptoms don’t last long but surely do test your determination. People that overcome this hurdle are the ones that experience the rewards the Keto Diet has to offer.
Realistically these symptoms last about 1 week i.e. the initial week, while days 3 to 5 tend to show more of the following symptoms:
Symptoms of the keto flu:
- Difficulty focusing (“brain fog”)
- Lack of motivation
- Sugar cravings
- Muscle cramps
What exactly causes the Keto Flu?
The easiest way to explain what causes the Keto Flu are listed as follows:
- Your body’s adaptation to Keto.
- Loss of electrolytes and dehydration.
- Withdrawal from carbohydrates and sugary foods.
Every person’s body has a different threshold and flexibility to change. Some people may take change a lot easier than others. Your body’s adaptation to Keto is basically how well your body can adapt to using a different fuel source for energy, which while on the Keto Diet is switching from burning fats for energy rather than glucose.
The Keto diet promotes healthy eating, which eliminates usage of processed foods that contain high quantities of sugars and salts. Elimination of these foods means your sodium intake is drastically reduced. Sodium helps your body to retain water, hence, reducing this would mean your body retains less water.
Since, your insulin level is lowered because you are consuming a minimum amount of carbs your kidneys release excess water. The excess water also flushes out electrolytes. This causes loss of electrolytes and dehydration.
Sugar, based on years of research, has not only proven to be extremely addictive but also very unhealthy to consume on a regular basis. The symptoms mentioned earlier are more likely to affect a person that has incorporated an unhealthy diet consisting of processed carbs and sugars and would make it difficult for them to adapt to this healthy lifestyle. This, as mentioned previously is considered withdrawal from carbohydrates and sugary foods.
What Can I Do About It?
The symptoms are temporary but its always best to have a plan that helps you fight through these and possibly even eliminate them.
Water is your best friend
The coloration of your urine is the best indicator of whether you are dehydrated or not.
Drinking enough water is necessary for optimal health and can also help reduce symptoms.
A keto diet can cause you to rapidly shed water stores, increasing the risk of dehydration. This is because glycogen, the stored form of carbohydrates, binds to water in the body. When dietary carbohydrates are reduced, glycogen levels plummet and water is excreted from the body.
Staying hydrated can help with symptoms like fatigue and muscle cramping.
Replacing fluids is especially important when you are experiencing keto-flu-associated diarrhea, which can cause additional fluid loss.
Stay away from strenuous exercise
Exercise is by far the most effective way of losing weight, staying fit and boosting your immune system. How ever the first week in your keto diet I would strongly recommend keeping it light. Fatigue, cramps and stomach pain are common symptoms during the first week, so it would be great to give your body a break.
Light intensity exercises include walking, yoga and leisurely biking are great to help you get accustomed to this new lifestyle.
Loss of electrolytes caused by the loss of water by the kidneys due to your insulin level reducing means that your body does not have enough sodium.
What’s even more of a set back is the fact that this diet limits intake of foods that are high in potassium i.e. many fruits, beans and starchy vegetables.
Since getting adequate amounts of these nutrients is a great way to push through with the initial phase of this diet, consuming keto friendly foods such as green leafy vegetables and avocados ensure you maintain a healthy balance. These vegetables have a good quantity of magnesium as well, which is great to help you with muscle cramps, sleep issues and headaches.
Apart from incorporating these foods in your diet, there are numerous supplements that you can take orally to cover the deficit.
If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, or are taking medications for any other condition, be sure to speak with your doctor before you take a supplement.
Sleep it off
Getting adequate sleep ensures your body is relaxed, avoids fatigue and irritability. Sleeping less means the rise of stress hormones in your body which in turn can negatively impact your mood and worsen the symptoms.
Below mentioned are a few things you can do to ensure you are able to maintain a healthy sleep pattern uninterrupted:
Reduce your caffeine intake: Caffeine is a stimulant that may negatively impact sleep. If you drink caffeinated beverages, only do so in the morning so your sleep is not affected.
Cut out ambient light: Shut off cell phones, computers and televisions in the bedroom to create a dark environment and promote restful sleep.
Take a bath: Adding Epsom salt or lavender essential oil to your bath is a relaxing way to wind down and get ready for sleep.
Get up early: Waking at the same time every day and avoiding oversleeping may help normalize your sleep patterns and improve sleep quality over time.
Transitioning Smoothly with your Diet
Cravings are caused in the transitional phase because you’ve significantly reduced your carb intake that your body has been used to over the years while you were following an unhealthy lifestyle. So, the key is to ensure your diet is incorporated with a sufficient amount of healthy fats to curb those cravings.
Personally, an easy way of adapting to this lifestyle would be to take it one day at a time. Slow and gradual reduction of carbs, while increasing fat and protein intake has made my journey into the Keto Lifestyle smoother and has helped in decreasing the symptoms that come with this lifestyle.
The keto flu is a collection of symptoms associated with the body adapting to a ketogenic diet.
Nausea, constipation, headaches, fatigue, and sugar cravings are common in some people who are adapting to a high-fat, low-carb diet.
Staying hydrated, replacing lost electrolytes, getting enough rest and ensuring you are consuming proper amounts of fat and carbohydrates are ways to reduce keto-flu symptoms.
The keto flu may be a downside to starting a keto diet, but it’s the only disadvantage. Once your body is used to ketosis, you’ll be amazed at the limitless energy you have, the fat loss you see, and how good you feel on a daily basis. Please connect with people that share the same energy as yourself in our Facebook Group. Let the journey begin!!!!