When embarking on the keto journey, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement...everywhere you go you hear about someone who has experienced significant weight loss, has more energy, and is experiencing greater health and vitality with this lifestyle change. But there is a potential obstacle you may face when embarking on this keto journey.
Entering ketosis is an extreme adjustment for your body. When consuming carbohydrates, our primary fuel source comes from glucose. However, with carb restriction, your body is then forced to switch from using glucose to ketones for fuel. These are two completely different metabolic processes. Your body is certainly capable of handling BOTH fat and carbohydrates as its main source of energy, but this involves a period of adjustment. The body has been used to glycolysis (breaking down glucose to release energy), and now we are shifting gears.
When you start a ketogenic lifestyle and alter the metabolic process your body is accustomed to, this tends to come with some unwanted side effects until your body fully adapts to the change. When undergoing this transition, don’t be alarmed if you experience symptoms like:
- Muscle cramps
- Brain fog
These symptoms are famously nick-named the KETO FLU. The keto flu is nothing to be afraid of, and is even expected to some degree. It is a sign your body is adjusting to your new diet. It will typically last a few days up to two weeks, as your body adapts to the loss of its main source of energy and must find a new source to keep everything operating smoothly.
Risk of Dehydration
Many people do not realize that carbohydrates are responsible for retaining water in the body. When you follow a ketogenic lifestyle, you immensely restrict carbohydrate intake, depleting glycogen, which depletes water along with it.
The process goes like this: When you restrict carbs, your body will naturally produce less insulin and start producing ketones, which will cause your kidneys to flush out excess water and sodium. To maintain a healthy balance between sodium and the other electrolytes, your kidneys will then release calcium, magnesium, and potassium – just to name a few. You are left in a state of dehydration and electrolyte balance. When you are electrolyte deficient, you are likely to experience the telltale symptoms of the infamous keto flu. You can easily mitigate the severity by taking a potent electrolyte product.
The Importance of Electrolytes
Many people believe that they only need to supplement electrolytes to get them through the keto-flu, but this is not the case! Did you know that over 92% of the population suffers from at least one vitamin or mineral deficiency based on the Dietary Reference Intakes?
Electrolytes are healthy minerals that stimulate voltages, carrying electrical impulses throughout your cells. This powerful electrical energy keeps your vital organs running properly. Electrolytes are important for just about every function, such as:
- Heart health
- Bladder regulation
- Energy production
- Neurological functioning
- Muscle contractions
We can enhance all functions of the body by regular ingestion of a supplement containing minerals, especially the key electrolytes:
Potassium – one of the most difficult nutrients to get on keto. 1,000mg of potassium is equivalent to approximately 10 servings of vegetables, with the average person needing roughly 5,000mg of potassium per day! You would have to eat a ton of veggies to meet this recommendation which can be pretty challenging to say the least. For those who are falling short on potassium intake, which is most Americans, we recommend a top-notch, high quality, potassium focused electrolyte powder like Keto K1000, as it is one of the few HIGH potency potassium products on the market.
Calcium – another essential electrolyte that plays many different roles in your body like blood clotting, regulating healthy nerve function, building strong bones, and much more.
Magnesium – Magnesium is one of the most common deficiencies in our modern world, and is one of the MOST important to our health. Magnesium helps your body maintain proper muscle and nerve function, normal heart rhythm, and is necessary for over 300 biochemical reactions to occur in the body. Just like calcium, you need magnesium for building strong bones, but also for proper blood sugar regulation!
Chloride – Chloride is commonly paired with sodium and can be found in table salt. This powerful electrolyte is needed to maintain fluid balance, blood volume, blood pressure, and body pH levels. Just like sodium, chloride is lost in high concentrations throughout the day via sweat.
Phosphate – Similar to calcium, phosphate plays a crucial role in strengthening bones and teeth! Your body needs this electrolyte to help build and repair bones, support healthy nerve function and promote muscle contraction.
Sodium – a critical mineral that helps us retain water and is the most important electrolyte to monitor when starting your keto journey! The good news is that sodium is an easy electrolyte to supplement! If you find yourself falling short, just pop a high quality salt tablet like these from Adapted Nutrition and you will feel better in no time!
Electrolyte supplements can be a complete gamechanger on your keto journey, but they are not all created equal. Whether it is an electrolyte sports drink or a powder, hidden ingredients can compromise your state of ketosis. It is difficult to find a sugar free product that tastes good too!
Luckily, there are companies like Adapted Nutrition setting the standard for keto supplementation, as they only use keto friendly, pure ingredients; they do not use any sugar or fillers like maltodextrin or artificial flavoring that can kick you out of ketosis!
How to Manage the Keto Flu
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
When you transition into ketosis, your body will naturally start losing pounds of water weight as you burn through your carb stores. It is so important to keep replenishing your body with water to stay hydrated. Try keeping a bottle of water near you throughout the day to encourage frequent drinking. But make sure the water you are drinking contains electrolytes and minerals, as just purified water alone can leave you in a further state of depletion.
Get More Zzz’s
We all know the importance of sleep, but did you know getting the proper amount of rest is even more important for those following a ketogenic lifestyle? Your metabolism is working overtime to switch your body’s main energy source from carbs to fat. Getting enough sleep will help keep your cortisol levels in check and decrease symptoms associated with the keto flu.
Gradually Ease into Keto
To avoid many of the unwanted side effects, try easing into keto gradually: Start by cutting out refined sugar for the first few days. Then remove starches like rice, potatoes, and grains. From there, progress into a low carb diet, phasing out fruit and starchy vegetables. This will give your body the time it needs to adjust, which will help alleviate symptoms that come from the keto flu.
Incorporate Moderate Exercise
When you start keto, it is pretty common to feel a little weak. In fact, many people notice a decrease in physical performance, whether that is at the gym or just in their day-to-day lives, but rest assured – this is only temporary! Although exercise might be the last thought on your mind, light to moderate exercise a few times per week can immensely help your body to burn through your carb stores much more quickly, which will help to end the dreadful keto flu sooner than later. Low-intensity aerobic exercise like swimming, walking, or even meditating are all great options during a keto transition.
Eat More Fat
To help your body perform its best in becoming keto-adapted, simply give it more fat! Fat provides your liver cells with acetyl-coA that it can use to make ketones. Fat is now your #1 fuel source and you MUST get enough to keep your body satisfied throughout the day and to avoid any flu-like symptoms. In many cases, people reduce their carb intake, but accidentally reduce their total caloric intake as well. When this happens, your body goes into starvation mode which will not only prevent you from burning fat, but also leaves you feeling hungry and miserable as well. Burn fat, with fat!
If you are thinking about taking your health to the next level, minimize the unpleasant aspects of the keto journey with a high quality, keto-friendly electrolyte like those from Adapted Nutrition. Containing natural ionic sea minerals that can be hard to find in our soils and food supply, Adapted Nutrition takes electrolyte supplementation to the next level. Your body will thank you!
The more you know, the better off you are! Knowing what to expect will help push you through. Just remember, one of the first signs that you have entered ketosis is the keto flu. If you maintain discipline, these symptoms will quickly pass, and once you make it through the gauntlet, you will start to experience all of the great things that come with the keto diet!