If you’re just starting out with the keto diet, congratulations! You’re on the path to taking control of your health through smart food choices. But if you’re not feeling well in the initial stages of the keto diet you might be wondering what exactly is so great about it. There is a reason for that. It’s called the keto flu.
The ketogenic diet has many terrific benefits besides just losing weight. You’ll look better, feel better, and will be at a lower risk for many diseases.
But your body is going through changes at the beginning of your journey. And no, this isn’t the awkward talk you got somewhere around puberty.
Just know the feeling is normal and also temporary. There are things you can do to minimize the effects of the keto flu and get your body back to full-strength again.
What Is the Keto Flu?
If you’ve just recently started cutting carbs and sugar from your diet you may be experiencing symptoms that resemble the flu.
- Mild nausea
- Mental “fuzziness”
Up to this point, you’ve probably been consuming a lot of carbs. Your body has become accustomed to having a ready supply of glucose to burn as energy courtesy of all those carbs.
With the keto diet, you’re drastically reducing the number of carbs and sugar you’re taking in.
It’s a shock to your system since your body now has to go looking for another source of energy to burn. This is the cause of flu-like symptoms. You’re in withdrawal from carbs.
Tips for Avoiding the Keto Flu
If you haven’t started the keto diet or haven’t experienced symptoms yet, there are some things you can do to try to prevent the keto flu.
- Ease into it – If you were a heavy consumer of carbs, don’t go cold turkey and just abruptly stop it. Start by slowly reducing the carbs and sugar in your diet. Take a few days to get your body used to it before you reduce your carb intake to the levels needed to get into ketosis.
- Eat enough – Don’t try to do too much at once. Focus on slowly reducing your carbs and sugar while still eating enough protein and fats. Don’t worry as much about counting calories while you’re in the adjustment period.
- Stay hydrated – It’s important to drink plenty of water during this period to avoid dehydration. Replenish lost electrolytes with salt, or supplements containing calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
The Importance of Staying Hydrated
Staying hydrated is the number one thing you can do to both prevent and treat symptoms of the keto flu. But it’s also important as you progress with the keto diet.
For every gram of fat that’s stored 3 grams of water are also stored. When you start a ketogenic diet and enter ketosis and start burning fat, you’re losing that water through increased urination.
What you’re also losing are electrolytes. And electrolytes are vital to many bodily functions. They regulate nerve and muscle function, provide hydration, balance blood pressure, and help repair tissue damage.
It’s important to replenish electrolytes so your body can continue to function the best it can.
Drinking water alone won’t help because you’ll be urinating even more, which means you’re losing more electrolytes.
Try upping your salt intake to help replace electrolytes, and also try supplements or foods high in calcium, magnesium, and potassium since that’s primarily what you’ll need to replenish.
You could also try an electrolyte supplement power drink mix like Dr. Price’s Electrolyte mix. It comes in a variety of flavors and it’s great for keto because it contains no sugar.
Eat Enough Fat and Protein
The reduction in carbs also means a reduction in an energy source. Your body needs energy in order to function. Even though you may not feel like eating much, it’s important that you maintain a sufficient caloric intake to give your body the fuel it needs.
It’s common to get excited about the keto diet and want to jump right in. But for many of us, the switch from a carb-laden diet to one that’s mostly healthy fats is a big adjustment. Take the time to make sure you’re getting enough fat and protein. You need protein in order to maintain muscle mass.
Try eating plenty of healthy fats and proteins like butter, fatty fish, and avocados. Also, check out our guide to healthy fats for the keto diet for more info about what fats you should be eating.
Take It Easy (If You Need To)
If you’re worried about suffering from the effects of carb withdrawal, or if you’re already suffering, it’s OK to take a step back and go slowly. Rome wasn’t built in a day as they say.
Try easing into reducing carbs instead of abruptly stopping. Reduce your carbs a little more slowly over a few days or even weeks. No, you won’t get into ketosis as fast but this will give your body a chance to adjust and you’re less likely to be impacted by keto flu symptoms.
Some people aren’t affected at all by limiting their carbs and that’s great! But if you’re one of the people who are suffering, it’s in your best interest to go at a slower pace. You’ll get there eventually and feel better for it.
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