If you are starting keto for the first time, you might experience fatigue, irritability, and a couple of other symptoms. Sound familiar? You might have the keto flu! You might be asking yourself: what is keto flu? Well, keep reading and learn all you need to know.
I recently published a blog sharing everything you need to know about the keto diet. I explain everything you need to know about starting a keto diet including what to enjoy, what to avoid, and how to get started. There’s even a free FAQ and diet sheet too!
I shared a few facts about possibly getting the keto flu when you first start out and many have asked me, "What is keto flu?".
Table of contents
- Guide To The Keto Flu And How To Avoid It
- What Is Keto Flu?
- 3 Simple Tips To Avoid The Keto Flu
Guide To The Keto Flu And How To Avoid It
So, you are interested in starting the keto diet, but you want to know everything about it first, and how to start it the right way. Part of that is preparing for the keto flu and even avoiding it if you can.
Thankfully, there is a way to avoid it!
You have probably heard about the amazing benefits of the keto diet. It is incredible for fast and sustained weight loss, not to mention all the incredible health benefits that you can expect to experience.
Unfortunately, you may have also heard about the keto flu.
Read more: What is the keto diet?
What Is Keto Flu?
First, let's learn more about what the keto flu is.
The keto flu is not the true flu, but rather a collection of symptoms that are similar to the flu.
Many people suffer from the keto flu and it often happens when you quickly jump into a keto diet. You usually will start to feel symptoms 3-7 days into fully starting the keto diet.
The keto flu is your body basically feeling the symptoms of “withdrawal” from carbs. Your body goes through changes when it switches from burning glucose to burning fat.
There are ways, however, that you may avoid this from happening to you. But first, you need to be able to identify the symptoms.
What Are The Symptoms Of Keto Flu?
These withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
All of these symptoms are a completely natural reaction to the changes your body is experiencing. Do not despair though, these symptoms do not last forever and you will soon be seeing the benefits of your new eating style.
3 Simple Tips To Avoid The Keto Flu
Before you find yourself dealing with any of these flu-like symptoms, there are a number of things that you can do to help prevent the keto flu as much as possible. It all has to do with helping your body learn to adjust to burning fat for fuel instead of carbs.
Here's how to avoid the keto flu.
1. Start Keto Slowly
Don’t just make a harsh change in your diet and leave it at that. Start slowly. For the first couple of days, start out by reducing the amount of sugar and carbs until you hit the number you want. Get your body used to lower carbs before you restrict them to the extent that you do during the keto diet.
2. Stay Hydrated
The most common reason that you develop keto flu is due to dehydration and loss of minerals. Be sure to drink lots of water and add plenty of:
Ensuring you are hydrated and have enough salts, minerals, and micronutrients are imperative to stopping cramps and nausea. When you give up junk food, this may be the number one source of salt in many people’s diets.
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3. Eat More Food
Many people tend to think diet = less food but that's not necessarily true.
When you are not eating enough food, you might not be getting enough calories to fuel your body and in turn, can also lead to keto flu symptoms.
Be sure you aren’t reducing your calorie intake too much. Try not to go low-carb and low-fat. You will not achieve weight loss any faster, but instead, run the risk of weight loss stopping and feeling hungry, irritable, and lethargic.
When you live the keto lifestyle, remember to increase your intake of healthy fats to replace and replenish some of those calories in a healthy way.
Read more: Ultimate Guide To Healthy Fats And Oils
How To Treat The Keto Flu
If you find yourself already dealing with these flu-like symptoms, here are a few things that you can do to ease your discomfort. I highly recommend trying all of them because every bit will help you feel better.
Remember, your body will adjust- this is temporary.
Increase Your Electrolytes
Ensure you are getting enough salt and electrolytes. I enjoy using both Himalayan pink salt (which contains an amazing 84 minerals) AND regular iodized table salt – iodine is crucial for a healthy metabolism and it is lacking in so many diets.
Sodium and potassium are crucial too! Why not drink a nice cup of bone broth or enjoy a few extra slices of bacon. This is an easy and yummy way to beat keto flu.
Many people find taking a magnesium supplement can stop any cramping or discomfort they are experiencing.
Drink Lots of Water
As I mentioned before, dehydration is a big part of keto flu. Fight it by drinking tons of water and staying hydrated. Many people add a pinch of mineral salt to their water to help with the cramps and nausea.
You can also drink some coconut water to stay hydrated and add a boost of electrolytes, potassium, and sodium.
Eat Clean Carbs
Many people think that keto equals ZERO carbs but that's not entirely true. You can have up to 20 grams of net carbs a day.
My one suggestion: make it count.
Go ahead and add in some clean, healthy, nutrient-dense carbs to your diet to help combat keto flu!
For example, add in some extra:
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Low-sugar berries.
Okay, so you may go over your carb limit temporarily, but it may just help ease keto flu to allow you to continue in the long term.
If you feel like you can do it, you might want to try some light exercise. Some people have found that exercise helps their body become metabolically flexible and eases the keto flu-like symptoms.
Perhaps, you might want to try going for a light walk or doing some sort of workout class that is not as rigorous, like yoga.
What We Can Learn From Keto Flu
So, yes. The keto flu is a real thing. And, if you find yourself dealing with it, you can expect to experience these symptoms only for a few days, or up to a week.
But what can we learn from it?
If giving up carbs is tough, just imagine what a stronghold carbs are having on your body – and this “carb withdrawal” may be a necessary evil to go through to serve as a reminder to never go back to your old ways of eating.
It’s yet another reason to stop eating and drinking the addictive junk carbs and sugar.
So, now you know what is it and how to avoid it, do you feel more prepared to deal with it?
How Do You Deal With Keto Flu?
What did you do to fight it? How long did you experience it – or did you breeze through the induction/starting phase without a hitch?
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