The Keto Flu: How to Avoid it

There comes a time in our lives where we find ourselves looking for ways to improve. This can be in our personal lives, business lives, or even the wellness aspect of our lives. People are always striving to be better and most can agree that this usually begins with diet!

We have all heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” The reason for this is that the food you fuel your body with plays a huge role in how you feel, which believe it or not, impacts every other aspect of your life! It is for this reason that the keto diet has gained so much momentum. With what seems like a never-ending list of benefits that is continuously growing, some of the advantages that many people experience while following a ketogenic diet are:

  • Weight loss 
  • Mental clarity
  • Improved focus 
  • Increased energy
  • Improved heart health 
  • Appetite control 
  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Decreased systematic inflammation
  • Enhance fat burning

What Is Keto?

If you ask us, we believe that keto shouldn’t be labeled as a “diet”, but rather a positive lifestyle change, but what exactly is it? The typical American diet is made up of starchy carbs and processed sugars. When you consume this type of food, your body will use what it can for energy and will store the rest as fat – and who wants that!? Keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet that changes the way your body uses food for fuel, pushing you into ketosis. Simply put, ketosis is a metabolic process that forces your body to burn stored fat when it does not have enough glucose for energy!

The keto diet has been positively life-changing for many people and as long as you follow a few ground rules, it can be beneficial for you too! Some of the basic rules to follow are:

  • Minimal to no carbs
  • Understand the difference between “good” and “bad” fats
  • Maintain your protein intake
  • Stay away from processed food and sugar

Your body is complex. Changing the way you eat may not seem too difficult for some, but changing your body’s chemistry to use fat for fuel instead of glucose – that’s tough! Most keto enthusiasts already know about the keto-flu but if this is your first rodeo then hold onto your hat and keep reading because we might be able to save you from a headache or two!

Keto-Flu 

Like we mentioned a little earlier, the whole purpose of following a ketogenic diet is to push your body into ketosis. Changing the way your body uses food for energy is an adjustment and can take a little bit of time to fully switch gears. When you are undergoing this transition, you may experience some flu-like symptoms commonly referred to as the ‘keto flu’. Some of the symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Constipation
  • Irritability
  • Mental fog

To be clear, the keto flu is not actually the flu and it is not contagious by any means, but it gets its name because some of the symptoms are similar to the flu! Although it can sometimes cause headaches and dizziness, you should not get a fever, chills or respiratory symptoms. 

What Causes Keto Flu?

We now understand that the primary energy source your body uses is glucose which comes from carbs. The keto diet works by reducing your carb intake and increasing energy-rich fats for your body to burn as fuel instead. Removing these carbohydrates from your diet and removing glucose as an energy source is what causes the unwanted symptoms that are associated with the keto flu. So, in a nutshell, keto flu happens because your body is adjusting to the new metabolic state of ketosis. A few of the main causes are:

  • Electrolyte Imbalance
  • The primary cause of the keto flu comes from an electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are minerals that are necessary for critical body functions. They regulate the amount of water in your body, moving nutrients to cells, moving waste out of cells, pH levels, and making sure your muscles, nerves and brain work properly. Needless to say, electrolytes are important!

    When you restrict carbs, your body produces less insulin, which causes your kidneys to flush out excess sodium and water. To maintain a healthy balance between sodium and other electrolytes, your kidneys will also release extra calcium, potassium, and magnesium. When your body lacks these electrolytes, you will experience signs of the keto flu. Electrolytes are vital to your body, not just to curb these symptoms, but to maintain balance for optimal health!   Consider supplementing with electrolytes from a high-quality company such as Adapted Nutrition. They offer electrolyte drops, electrolyte powder, and electrolyte capsules so it’s easy for anyone to get the electrolytes they need to keep moving on a keto diet. 

  • Dehydration
  • When you consume carbs, your body stores the extra glycogen in the liver, where they are bound to water molecules. Following a ketogenic diet depletes this glycogen, which allows your body to burn fat for fuel instead, however there is a caveat. When you eat low carb and glycogen is depleted, it means you are storing less water making it very easy to become dehydrated. It is especially important to replenish your body with water to avoid any flu-like symptoms.

  • Sugar Withdrawal
  • Did you know that numerous studies over the years have shown that sugar is one of the worst addictions in the world? Believe it or not, sugar is highly addictive and if you are used to consuming a lot of it, switching to a keto diet might shock your body which can lead to withdrawal symptoms like cravings, insomnia, and anxiety. It is so important to stay strong and fight the urge to reach for sugar because once your body adjusts, you will realize that you have never felt better! 

    How to Treat the Keto Flu

    Knowing the signs and understanding what causes keto flu is great and all, but if you are going through it, what you really want to know is how to cure it – right!? To avoid all the unwanted symptoms, here is how to prevent keto flu from the start: 

    • Start slowly. When making big diet changes, it’s always helpful to ease into it rather than going all in at once. The best approach to starting a keto diet to avoid the keto flu is to start with a typical low-carb diet and give your body time to adjust. After about a week or two - and as long as you are feeling ready - you can then go the full extent into keto. 

      Stay hydrated. We already know that hydration and electrolytes play a huge role in the keto flu. To kick these unfavorable symptoms to the curb, make sure you’re drinking lots of H2O! Staying hydrated helps to combat pesky headaches and boosts your energy levels. One way to help yourself remember to drink water is to simply set a reminder on your phone, or always keep a full glass of water within reach. Most people don’t really know how much water they should be drinking every day, but it’s pretty easy to determine - just take your current body weight and divide it by two. That’ll give you the minimum ounces of water that you should be drinking every day. If you happen to be very active or if you work in an environment that causes you to sweat, make sure you drink a little extra on top of the minimum ounces you need. 

      Take an electrolyte supplement. Electrolytes, electrolytes, electrolytes! We can’t say it enough - electrolytes are extremely important minerals that are needed for your body to function properly. As we already mentioned, the primary cause of the keto flu is due to a loss of electrolytes. Avoid it by simply taking an electrolyte supplement like Adapted Nutritions Keto K1000 electrolyte powder that provides the perfect balance of these healthy minerals with no sugar, maltodextrin, or artificial ingredients. By supplementing electrolytes, you can put a stop to those pesky dehydration headaches and kiss painful muscle cramps goodbye! 

      Consume more fat. When following a ketogenic lifestyle, intake of healthy fats is crucial, as low calories can worsen your keto-flu symptoms. Do not reduce your calorie intake too much, and try not to go low-carb AND low-fat. Many people make the mistake of not knowing what to eat when they first begin their keto journey and are terrified to start eating fats. The rule of thumb in regards to keto is to fight fat, with fat. To put up a fair fight against the keto flu, you are going to need to conquer your fear and ramp up your fat consumption. This will help speed up the transition of burning fat instead of glucose for fuel. 

      Eat veggies. One of the most uncomfortable symptoms associated with the keto flu is constipation. Having an upset stomach does not feel good by any means and not being able to use the restroom regularly, makes it even worse. This unfavorable symptom is pretty common for keto-dieters because many fiber-rich-foods like whole grains and fruits are full of carbs and not allowed on the ketogenic diet. So, how does one combat this, you might ask? Simple: eat more veggies. When following keto, it’s important to consume plenty of healthy veggies that are high in fiber but also low-carb,  like broccoli, celery, spinach, and cauliflower. By incorporating vegetables into your keto diet, you may help any issues of constipation or stomach cramping that may occur due to not consuming enough fiber. 

      Get plenty of rest. If you find that you’re having a difficult time falling asleep or sleeping through the night, try soaking in an Epsom salt bath to help soothe and relax your tired muscles. This will also help to improve circulation and electrolyte absorption. You can also try a keto-friendly herbal tea with a blend of herbs that naturally work to calm your nervous system like Chamomile to promote a deeper sleep. Your body is working hard to change the way it utilizes food for fuel. Be nice to it and be sure to get plenty of rest. 

      Try light exercise. Although exercise is probably the least appealing thing when you’re feeling miserable, weak, and have sore muscles due to the keto flu, but, believe it or not, light exercise can actually help to relieve muscle pain and tension. Try a restorative yoga class, which can help to loosen your muscles and release endorphins to boost your mood and motivation. If yoga’s not your cup of tea, try going on a walk, an easy bike ride, or simply stretch at home. 

      Meditate. When you first start keto, you may be more stressed and irritable than usual. The good news is that meditation can help. Meditation is a powerful and effective way to reduce stress. Naturally lowering stress is your best defense against cortisol and improves your overall sense of well-being. Sure, you might think mediation is this crazy ritual practiced only by monks in the Himalayas, but think again. At its core, meditation is sitting still and breathing for 15-20 minutes. The goal is not to be thoughtless, but it's to come back to your breath when you have a thought. This is how you train your mind to be less reactive, so that life is less stressful. Meditating every day is a great way to combat stress and ease the symptoms associated with the keto flu.

      Putting It All Together Into A Keto Flu Remedy

      So let’s recap - you can relieve the symptoms of the keto flu by doing these eight things:

      • Begin your keto journey by transitioning slowly, and start with a low-carb diet for the first week or two. 
      • Drink more water.
      • Take an electrolyte supplement to increase your electrolyte intake. 
      • Eat more fat.
      • Eat plenty of veggies rich in fiber. 
      • Get plenty of sleep. 
      • Get in a little bit of exercise every day.
      • Meditate every day.

    Do these eight things and you won’t ever have to deal with the dreaded keto flu!


    Better health does not happen overnight – it takes a lot of time, dedication and practice. If you are new to the keto lifestyle and are wanting to throw in the towel because you are experiencing symptoms from the dreadful keto-flu, remind yourself why you started this positive journey and keep pushing through – we know you can do it!