Keto Flu: The Side-Effect When Starting a Low Carb High Fat Diet
I thought going low carb/keto was meant to be good for me, but I feel like Sh#&t!
Don’t worry I’ll try help you feel better ASAP with the tips below.
First off though – Congrats, you did it!
You finally took the leap & started a low carb, ketogenic, LCHF or Atkins diet. However, are you feeling sick and horrible only a couple of days into your new way of healthy eating & you think that you might have caught some kind of cold?
The truth is, you have caught something- it’s called keto flu (a.k.a induction flu, ketosis flu, Atkins flu)
I’m going to explain exactly what is keto flu, what are the common keto flu symptoms, and how to get rid of keto flu fast to get you feeling normal again ASAP.
What Are The Common Ketosis Flu Symptoms?
- Headache or migraine
- Nausea (upset stomach)
- Muscle cramping, twitching or weakness
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Brain fog or a lack of mental clarity
- Drowsiness, fatigue or lethargy
- Craving sugar feeling
How to Get Rid Of Keto Flu Remedies
1. Get All Your Essential Minerals
Try Get Enough Essential Electrolytes & Minerals
There are two types of minerals that your body needs to keep itself healthy and functioning properly.
Trace minerals are the first type. These are minerals that the body only needs a small amount of.
Macro-minerals are the second type. These are minerals that your body needs a larger amount of.
There are six essential minerals:
- Magnesium (300mg/day) – try Magnesium L-Threonate & Glycinate supplementother Magnesium supplements for this.
- Potassium (1g/day) – try Potassium Chloride supplement other Potassium supplements for this.
- Sodium (5g/day) – try Redmond Real Salt for this.
When you switch from a high-carb diet to a low-carb diet, you could be lowering the amounts of each of these essential minerals you are getting, resulting in a possible deficiency.
You can combat these deficiencies by eating specific foods, taking the best ketogenic supplements, or good multivitamins that have these minerals in them.
Heads up, do your research first since not all types of food that are rich in these nutrients are keto-friendly diet food.
2. Add Salt to Your Food
Try Add Enough Salt to Your Food
One of the biggest myths in dieting is that you don’t need to add more salt (sodium). Restricting salt on your food to lower the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) is also a common myth that, thankfully, Dr DiNicolantonio busted big time in his The Salt Fix book on Amazon (Listen to Dr DiNicolantonio’s interview here).
One thing that tends to happen when you go “low-carb” is that your insulin levels will drop. This drop in your insulin levels means that your body doesn’t hold onto as much sodium as it did before, because the kidneys are excreting it at a faster rate than it used to before. What this means is that you need to get more good salt in your diet since your body is processing it so fast.
When your sodium is low, your body releases potassium from the muscles to make up for the low levels of sodium. This release of potassium isn’t good for your muscles and can make your potassium levels drop. Adding a little salt to your food can help keep your sodium and potassium levels up, which will help combat common symptoms.
Most people recommend drinking one to two cups of bouillon or broth a day. I love adding my favourite natural sea salt Redmond Real Salt to water and sprinkling it over my food.
3. Stay Hydrated
Try Drink Enough Water Per Day
When you have any kind of flu or sickness, it is important to stay hydrated and make sure you have plenty of fluids. It is no different with keto flu. When you are on a ketogenic diet, your body is also excreting water faster than it was before you started dieting. Therefore, you must drink plenty of water to replenish your fluid levels and prevent dehydration, which can make the flu worse.
Keeping yourself hydrated will help alleviate the headaches that commonly accompany induction flu and boost your energy levels. Drinking water will also contribute to keeping your sodium and potassium levels in balance. Sports drinks that have electrolytes in them are also acceptable.
A simple way to tell if you are getting enough fluids is to check the color of your urine. If it is a pale yellow, like the color of lemonade, or a clear color, you are likely well-hydrated. But if it is a darker color, like the color of apple juice, then you may need to drink some water.
4. Eat More Fat (More Calories)
Try Eat Enough Calories Per Day
Because being on a ketogenic diet means that your body is no longer using sugars and carbohydrates as fuel sources, it needs to use the fats you ingest to give it energy. Increasing your fat consumption will also speed up your body’s transition process of changing its fuel source from carbs to fat.
Here is a list of healthy fats you can eat:
One of the problems that people on ketogenic diets come across is that they cut carbohydrates out of their diet but then don’t make up for that loss in caloric intake with the other foods they are eating.
If you are feeling sluggish and hungry, simply increase the amount of food you consume so you can make up for the caloric loss that comes from cutting carbohydrates.
5. Eat More “Clean” Carbs
Try Eat Lots of Low Carb Vegetables
You’re probably thinking, “hold on, isn’t ketogenic dieting about giving up carbs?” The answer is yes, but the carbs you should be giving up are the ones that are unhealthy for you – usually those found in processed foods. There are, however, “clean” carbs that are good for you, such as the carbs that come from fruits and vegetables.
These carbs are good for relieving your symptoms during the transition period. You can slowly reduce the amount of “clean” carbs that you consume with each meal until they make up only about five percent of your diet each day – this is when you can enter ketosis.
6. Drink Bone Broth
Try Drink a Good Bone Broth
Drinking a good bone broth can help provide your body with much needed essential amino acids.
These amino acids (like arginine, glutamine, and cysteine) can help assist your body’s natural immunity, boost your mood through your gut microbiome and help you rehydrate better than just drinking water due to the electrolytes found in bone broths. (ref)
7. Try Light Exercise
Try Low Impact Exercise like Walking Outside
When you’re sick, exercising is the last thing you want to think about. One research study such suggested that regular physical activity improves your metabolic flexibility, which is your body’s ability to switch back and forth between using carbs and fats as its energy source. (ref)
For a more in-depth explanation of metabolic flexibility causing low carb flu I’d recommend Gnoll’s blog on it.
Getting into the habit of exercising every day will make the transition period easier and not last as long because your body will be able to quickly switch from burning carbs to burning fat when carbs become unavailable or the intake of carbohydrates stops.
8. Take Exogenous Ketones
Try Drink a Exogenous Ketone Supplement
Since your body is try to adapt to running on ketones as a primary fuel source you can take a good ketone salt or ketone ester drink to help boost your blood ketone levels of beta-hydroxybutrate. Also the ketone salt drinks contain electrolytes that could help too.
9. Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Try Get Enough Sleep Per Night
Recovery is vital to performance and getting good quality sleep is the best form of recovery for our bodies.
When your making your body’s’ energy metabolism work harder during the keto-adaptation phase making sure you are not staying up too late and disrupting your sleep is a simple remedy to do. Lack of sleep can make your stress hormone, cortisol, go up which can make you feel stressed out and make your keto-adaption symptoms worse. (ref)
10. Just Be Patient
Try Waiting Just Little Longer
In most cases, keto flu only lasts for a few days to a week max, but in rare occasions, it can stick around for more than two weeks. Don’t become discouraged by this, and don’t stop your diet. A lot of people fall prey to the thought, “if giving carbs up is making me sick, I must need them to stay healthy.”
In fact, carb flu is one of the main reasons people abandon their diets. But this is a trick by your body; the number one thing you need to remember is that during carb flu, your body is going through carb withdrawal. The best way to get through it is just to stay strong and wait it out.
What is The Keto Flu?
Keto flu is when your body starts becoming keto adapted from the carb withdrawal response. It occurs when your body is changing it’s preferred primary fuel source from using carbohydrates (glucose) & converting across to using fat for fuel (ketones).
Keto flu is also commonly known as the ketogenic flu, atkins flu, carb flu or induction flu and normally last 1-7 days.
When Does Keto Flu Start & How Long Does It Last For?
Most people start showing some type of keto flu symptoms within the first couple days (1-7 days) after starting to cut carbs out of their diet. This is process is called keto-adaptation & normally takes at least 2 weeks (ref), but for amateur or elite athletes this can take several weeks to months for exercise performance according to research. (ref)
What Causes Low Carb Flu?
There are probably two primary reasons for most people.
- #1 Electrolyte Imbalance
- The first is that the sudden change in your diet has caused an electrolyte imbalance. When you switch to a ketogenic diet, you are cutting out processed fortified foods in exchange for more organic, wholesome, real foods. This can lead to an electrolyte deficiency. (see which ones commonly below)
- #2 Keto-Adaptation Period
- The second issue is that your body is trying to become keto-adapted. The easiest way to look at it is that you are trading one source of fuel (carbohydrates) for another (fat). During this adjustment period your body is learning how to use ketones vs glucose better. You can measure when your are in nutritional ketosis to help know when you are burning excess fat away & making more endogenous ketones. (N.B. very different to exogenous ketones as Dr Brianna Stubbs mentioned)
Like with any sudden change of power, there are consequences, and these consequences come in the form of flu-like symptoms. The symptoms you may feel can range from mild discomfort all the way to full-blown influenza like symptoms.
In a nutshell, you will feel like you have the mild to bad case of the flu, but you don’t; it’s just your body trying to adjust.
Men, women and children all get this unwanted effect initially. Nutritionist, Emily Maguire, explained it well on her keto diet tips for women interview.
Your body has a lot to adjust to when you decide to completely change what you eat because you are also completely changing the way your body has gotten used to functioning. Billions of species of bacteria reside in your gut, and they all want full control. What you eat determines which bacteria are in charge.
If your diet is high in carbs (especially processed foods with refined sugars) you can have an imbalance in your gut bacteria & yeasts like candida. This situation can cause inflammatory reactions in your body & be harmful to your immune system.
However, if you are on a healthy ketogenic diet, you will be consuming more natural fat than refined carbs and those bad bacteria, fungus & yeasts will start to die off (Herxheimer reaction) and other good bacteria (that feed on good fats) will take control of your gut flora. So a keto diet can help change your gut biome for the better. (ref)
Table of Contents
- What Are The Common Ketosis Flu Symptoms?
- How to Get Rid Of Keto Flu Remedies
- What is The Keto Flu?
- When Does Keto Flu Start & How Long Does It Last For?
- What Causes Low Carb Flu?