Clean energy, healthy living, brain stimulation…and the flu. Not exactly things you’d expect to find in the same sentence. But the keto flu is a real thing and it’s worth educating yourself about it if you’re considering a switch to the ketogenic diet. Or if you just started a keto-centric diet and aren’t feeling too hot, there’s no better time to learn more about what’s going on in your body, why it’s nothing to worry about in the long run, and how you can ease the symptoms in the meantime.
So what is it and how long does it last?
The keto flu, sometimes referred to as the “carb flu,” is a natural reaction when your body transitions away from sugar (glucose) and starts to burn fat as its primary source of energy.
After many years of incorporating carbs into your daily routine, they can become like any other addictive substance and when you suddenly eliminate them, withdrawal symptoms can occur. More details on this below.
But there’s no need to worry. For most people, symptoms begin within a day or two of starting a ketogenic diet and the keto flu on average lasts for a week or less. It’s certainly not the best part of making the switch to a healthier lifestyle but if you stick with it, the benefits will soon outweigh any of the initial discomfort you feel during that first week. Nothing good comes easy!
What are the symptoms?
Some common symptoms of the keto flu include:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Poor focus and concentration
- Sugar Cravings
Not everyone will experience the keto flu in the same way. Some people will experience just a few symptoms, others may encounter a majority of them in varying degrees, and some people will not experience any of these symptoms at all. It largely depends on the amount of processed sugars and starch within your previous diet but even genetics can play a part – if you’re lucky enough to have inherited genes that give you “metabolic flexibility,” you’re probably going to experience an easy transition with little to no impact on your wellbeing.
But for the rest of us, the symptoms should dissipate within a week and there are some steps you can take to ease any discomfort you feel in the meantime.
Remedies for the Keto-flu:
- Replenish Depleted Electrolytes
When you restrict the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, your kidneys no longer retain water and sodium at the rate you have grown accustom to. Because of this, a primary cause of all keto flu symptoms is an imbalance in the electrolytes that your body needs in order to function properly. The chart below provides some quick fixes for getting those electrolytes back in balance.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate… and then hydrate some more
Hydration is essential for any type of sickness and the keto-flu is no exception.
The standard equation is to take your body weight, divide in half, and that’s how many ounces of water you need minimum on a daily basis. But if you’re experiencing the keto-flu, we recommend an extra glass of water above and beyond the standard amount any tie you are starting to feel tired or have difficulty focusing.
If water gets too boring, you can also up your hydration levels during this period by drinking a cup of broth – chicken, beef, bone broth, etc. once or twice a day.
- Eat more fat!
One symptom you should not feel when switching over to a ketogenic diet is hunger. So if you’re feeling hungry or craving those donuts your coworker brought into the office, take a deep breath and think about how you can incorporate enough fat into your new diet to feel full and energetic. There are a number of ways you can do this but for some quick tips, feel free to check out some of the keto recipes coming soon to the MCTBar site.
- Limit Your Alcohol Intake
You might notice you’re feeling a bit more intoxicated than usual once you’ve started a keto diet. While the exact reason for this is still up for debate, there are multiple resources online that highlight some of the best and worth alcoholic drinks you can consume.
DietDoctor.com - Best & Worst Keto Alcohol
Tasteaholics.com - The Ultimate Guide to Keto Alcohol
- Easy Exercise
If you’re considering or have recently moved to a ketogenic-diet, we know you love fitness. And now you feel nauseous and achey and can’t get yourself to the gym. So just take it easy – maybe some yoga, stretching, or a walk outside. Keep your body moving and release those endorphins any way you can. You’ll be back to your normal workout routine in no time.
- Rest Up and Get Plenty of Sleep
Meditate, take a warm bath, drink some chamomile tea. Whatever it takes to get that body relaxed and ready for a healthy night of rest, it is an essential step toward fighting off the difficulty sleeping and resulting tiredness that are inevitable symptoms of the keto-flu.
While there’s no denying the keto flu is real and can put a damper on your routine for a few days or even a week, we hope this guide will help. And we promise you it is worth it. Because once you settle into ketosis and get a taste for true, sustainable energy on a daily basis… you won’t look back.