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: 

    • Replenish electrolytes
    • Drink plenty of water
    • Eat nutrient dense foods
    • Gradually ease into keto
    • Eat more healthy fats and calories
    • Get more sleep
    • Exercise

    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!