The first week of the ketogenic diet can be tough. Some people even experience what is known as the keto flu. The keto flu is a series of symptoms experienced by some people when starting the ketogenic diet.
These symptoms, which can feel similar to the common flu, and are caused by the body’s adaptation to reducing carbohydrates in the diet.
This article describes what the keto flu is, what its causes, symptoms, and what to do to reduce them are.
What is the keto flu?
By doing the ketogenic diet, your carbohydrates are reduced to less than 50 grams per day. Reducing your carbohydrate intake forces your body to burn fat and form ketones for energy. This change is called ketosis and it is an effective method of burning fat quickly.
However, ketosis can be a shock to your body. And in some cases it triggers a series of symptoms. This is what is known as the keto flu.
By eliminating carbohydrates from the diet, you lose more water and therefore may feel dehydrated and have dry lips. Also, changes in insulin levels cause your body to release nutrients. The combination of a lack of fiber foods can play a trick on you. These are the main causes of the keto flu.
Symptoms generally last about a week, although some people may experience them for a longer period of time.
Keto flu symptoms
When doing the ketogenic diet, it may take time for your body to adjust.
For some people, this transition period can be particularly difficult. Keto flu symptoms can start to show up within the first few days of cutting back on carbs.
Keto flu symptoms can range from mild to severe. While some people can transition to a ketogenic diet without side effects, others may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Muscle cramps
- Difficult to focus
- Stomach aches
- Muscle pain
How to reduce keto flu symptoms?
These symptoms usually appear when starting the ketogenic diet and can be distressing. While they can cause some people to off the keto diet, there is a way to reduce them. To reduce keto flu symptoms you should:
1. Increase the amount of electrolytes
The electrolytes are essential minerals to keep you healthy. By doing the ketogenic diet there are more chances of not meeting your daily needs and eliminating them through urine.
To avoid possible symptoms of the keto flu, you can either take keto supplements or simply increase your intake of salts. This will help your body go through the transition period more easily.
2. Drink more water
As the word indicates, carbohydrates are accompanied by water molecules. When reducing them from the diet, the first thing you are going to do is eliminate water from your body.
Dehydration is common when starting the ketogenic diet and can be a cause of keto flu symptoms. To reduce this, you can increase the amount of water you drink per day.
Also, replacing fluids is particularly important when you experience keto flu-associated with diarrhea, which can cause additional fluid loss.
3. Sleep well
To avoid keto flu symptoms, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important rules. Lack of sleep causes levels of the stress hormone cortisol to rise, which can negatively affect mood and make symptoms worse.
To sleep better, you can change your sleeping posture, avoid excess caffeine, and take melatonin. In addition, consuming a sufficient amount of food with tryptophan is one way to ensure that your body has all the nutrients to sleep better.
4. Foods with magnesium
Foods rich in magnesium can help reduce muscle cramps, sleep disorders and headaches, all symptoms typical of flu Keto.
Fortunately, a lot of foods high in magnesium are also low in carbohydrates. Examples of these foods are: avocado, almonds, and chia seeds. If you have started the ketogenic diet and are experiencing flu-like symptoms, eating these foods can make the transition period a lot easier.
5. Avoid high intensity exercises and do yoga
While exercise is important to staying healthy and achieving an ideal weight, if you are experiencing keto flu symptoms, you should avoid overdoing it. These will not help you recover, in fact they can cause the contrary effect.
Fatigue and muscle cramps are common symptoms in the first few weeks of a ketogenic diet, so it may be a good idea to rest during these times.
If you are a physically active person, and you like sports, the best thing to do is to walk, yoga or ride a bicycle. High intensity exercises like CrossFit, weight lifting and running should be put minimized.
Other Tips for Beginners on the Ketogenic Diet
To minimize the symptoms of the keto flu, you can prepare isotonic drinks without sugar (water, lemon and salt) and drink more water.
If you are a beginner on the ketogenic diet, and you are very thirsty, it is likely due not only to the loss of water from carbohydrates but also to a lack of electrolytes.
If your lips also feel dry, you can use a lip balm or creams to relieve them.
Cutting back on carbohydrates can be hard to start with. If one day you go overboard with carbohydrates, nothing bad will happen to your body.
If you don’t feel well, you can increase your carb intake until you adapt. If keto symptoms persist, you can follow a less strict low-carb diet for a few days.
Keto flu is the term that describes a set of symptoms or side effects that can appear when starting the ketogenic diet. These symptoms vary from person to person, and can range from mild to severe.
To reduce symptoms of the keto flu, you can increase your electrolyte intake, drink more water, change your sleeping posture, and do yoga. Including foods rich in magnesium is one way to reduce cramps too.