As if starting a whole new diet doesn’t come with enough challenges, tack on the curveball of dealing with flu-like symptoms a week or two into it! This is a common phenomenon for people that start the keto diet, and is often called the “keto flu”. But don’t throw in the towel before you begin – there is a clear explanation for this occurrence, and we also provide some solutions for fighting it if it happens to you!
What is the “Keto Flu”?
Keto Flu , which is also commonly called the “carb flu”, refers to flu-like symptoms that people often contract after first starting a keto diet (typically about a week or two into the diet). When you switch to an extremely low carb diet, your body begins to burn fatty acids for energy instead of carbohydrates. When this happens, your body can sometimes physically react to the lack of carbohydrates as if it’s going through withdrawal (such as you would feel after quitting caffeine).
This type of carb flu is often characterized by symptoms such as extreme fatigue, chills, nausea, cravings, irritability and issues getting to sleep. Ironically, however, going through “keto flu” is somewhat of a good thing, since having these symptoms is a sign that your body was overly dependent on carbohydrates to begin with. So by going through this process, you are actively combatting that addiction, and once you get over the hump you can feel certain that you are improving your health and body chemistry for the better!
How Can I Make it More Comfortable?
The good news is, there are many proven strategies that can help to make combatting and shortening this flu period much easier! Make sure that you follow all of the steps below when sensing these symptoms coming on, and you should breeze through this period quickly:
Drink plenty of water! Staying hydrated is one of the most important facets to fighting your nausea, headaches, and stomach cramps. It will also help you flush out toxins faster.
Increase the Amount of Fat You Are Eating Since the overarching goal of ketosis is to convert fat into fuel, introducing lots of fat, especially during this time, can give your body the metabolic energy boost that you need to fight the symptoms. Make sure you are incorporating plenty of healthy fats throughout your day!
Add More Salt to Your Diet Because of the natural dip of insulin that comes from ketosis, your body isn’t able to hold onto as much sodium as before. This results in a lack of natural electrolytes, which can significantly decrease your energy stores, and further the flu symptoms. Therefore, an often overlooked step in switching into a low carb diet is to keep an eye on your electrolytes, as well as your magnesium and potassium levels.
Use these three strategies, along with careful monitoring of your energy states, in order to appropriately treat and combat any negative symptoms that may accompany your initial keto diet induction. My biggest piece of advice is to remain strong throughout the journey – these types of road bumps happen to many people on the diet, and is simply a testament to your strength and resilience in the long-run!