I remember when I first started my Keto research something called the “Keto Flu” kept popping up. Initially I thought this must be some mistake, what is this about? However, when I finally read about it I realized that it was no mistake, and I instead turned my research away from Keto generally and into “how to avoid the Keto Flu.” I’m here to tell you that unfortunately, I don’t think its possible to avoid it in its entirety. It does affect people in different ways but when your body is going through such a drastic change there are bound to be side affects.
What is it?
“Keto Flu” while not a medical diagnosis (at least I don’t think that it is) is very real! And even though it technically isn’t even a “flu” that is a perfect way to describe it because you just feel SICK. It is clear that your body is not appreciating the drastic change! Your body is undergoing major carbohydrate and sugar withdrawals.
Symptoms of the Keto Flu include, headaches, dizziness, cravings, irritability, and overall fatigue. For so long your body has been so used to carbs and sugar. It has used glucose for energy and all of a sudden you have deprived it of its energy source. Not knowing where to turn you start to experience lack of energy and lack of brain power. Your body needs time to adjust and shift from using glucose as energy to forcing it to use fat as its primary fuel source.
I’ve heard it said many times before that sugar can cause drug like addictions in people. This is why it makes sense that one would experience drug like withdrawals when cutting it out almost immediately.
Our Experience with the Keto Flu
Both my husband and I went through the Keto Flu, it affected us both in different ways, and it was not fun. But coming out of it gives you a huge sense of accomplishment because it means that you have taken important first steps towards your new lifestyle.
Keto Flu for me meant I felt very tired and fatigued. I had a hard time concentrating and was thirsty. I know this may sound weird but I also craved salt (of all things, I know). I felt the need to add salt to my meals. I didn’t start to experience the symptoms until I was about a week in, and they were for the most part pretty mild for a couple of days then I had one really bad day and it was pretty much over after that.
My husband on the other hand started experiencing them almost immediately and it lasted for about 4 days. He too felt tired and fatigued, but he also experienced severe headaches and dizziness.
As a result of the research I had done prior to starting Keto I was somewhat prepared to experience these symptoms, but I don’t think that my husband really believed he would experience them. When he did he immediately took to figuring out how he could start to feel better and these are the five things we think can help you minimize the effects of the Keto Flu.
Our top 5 tips for minimizing the effects of the Keto Flu:
Find a good multi-vitamin
Your body needs time to adjust to this new diet, you’ve made the decision to suddenly stop consuming carbs and sugar and you are experiencing withdrawals. However, cutting carbs also means that you are missing out on supplying your body with important electrolytes you would otherwise obtain from starchy foods. This in large part is what contributes to the flu like symptoms. We almost immediately purchased a multi-vitamin that had magnesium potassium and other electrolytes. We also started taking fish oil capsules and B-12. You can also try purchasing water with electrolytes.
I mentioned in our last post that this is a lifestyle change for us and I am glad looking for vitamins was one of the first things that we incorporated. Ive always been terrible with consistently taking my vitamins but going through this flu I realized how important they were, and we have made these a part of our daily routine.
Drink plenty of water
I’m sure this comes as no news to you, but I can’t stress enough the importance of staying hydrated. Especially when considering tip 3 which requires an increase in salt intake.
Drinking plenty of water will help you feel refreshed and oftentimes will help with headaches. If you are someone who struggles to consume your daily water intake then implement a system. A water jug that you carry with you everywhere, a reminder on your phone, or notes in your planner. Whatever works to ensure that you are staying hydrated.
Eat salty food
This one is weird! I’ve spent my whole life limiting salt intake. We talked about the importance of replenishing some of those missing electrolytes in tip one. Tip three is related because you need to replenish your sodium as well. I’ll never forget feeling the need to add salt to my meals and feeling out of my norm. I started looking it up and I think upping the salt intake helped me get over my symptoms quicker than my husband.
The truth is you need to increase your sodium consumption on a low-carb diet. I did this easily by increasing the salt in my food however I have also heard of people who will make drinking a cup of bone or chicken broth a part of their daily routine.
Minimize proteins increase fats
It doesn’t make sense, I know. All your life you have been used to minimizing/ cutting out fats! But remember the key to Keto is Low carb High fat. I know when most people think of low-carb they almost always turn to protein. However, it is very important especially initially to focus on increasing fats, by adding butter to your coffee, loading up on bacon, cheese etc. The reason for this is that you want your body to enter ketosis as quickly as possible and by feeding it protein it may turn to the protein for fuel rather than the fat, like you want it to.
I know, I know it sounds so simple but I can’t stress how important it will be to ensure that you are getting the proper rest. I noticed that when I feel fatigued or tired I try to compensate for my slowness by doing more. What I don’t account for is that this makes the entire situation even worse because I become extremely unproductive. Give your body the rest that it needs and just SLEEP, deep restful sleep.
Tell me about your experience with the Ketones Flu?
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