Generally speaking, individuals have been carb-dependent or carb-lovers for most their entire life. Individuals in developed nations are fed an overload of simple carbohydrates from the moment they start eating food as a toddler. After years and years of doing so, you’ve naturally trained your body to expect these types of carbohydrates to be included in your diet. When we switch up the information we’re sending our bodies with food, we are also changing the enzymatic processes and hormonal responses within our bodies as well.
Keto Flu is a name given to the series of symptoms, mild to intense, that our bodies experience when we shift from a high carbohydrate to a low carbohydrate diet. The adjustment period, or keto flu, can be simply put as this: carbohydrate withdrawal. Not all people experience keto flu symptoms and are able to transfer to a ketogenic lifestyle more effortlessly than others. Meanwhile, the reason why some people experience keto flu while others do not, has nothing to do with the diet itself.
When Does the Keto Flu Start?
The keto flu usually occurs, during the first week or two of a ketogenic lifestyle adaptation. While many individuals blame the keto diet for experiencing symptoms of the keto flu, they actually have nothing to do with the diet itself. The most common theory about keto flu is that individuals who are transitioning from a high or very high regular carbohydrate intake lifestyle will have the hardest time, or experience the most severe of the symptoms.
Depending on how carb-dependent you may be, or have been, will often indicate the severity of your keto flu symptoms. With that being said, if you are to go keto for a while, then switch to a different nutritional lifestyle maintaining a low carbohydrate diet, symptoms of the keto flu when you go back to being keto will be mild or not exist all together. Chances are you won’t go back to the sheer amount of carbohydrates that you were consuming prior to keto, making the transition a bit easier the next time around.
Keto Flu Symptoms
Keto flu symptoms vary from person to person. While a high-carbohydrate diet might not be the only thing to blame, there are some other theories about why people experience keto flu symptoms. Some of which include stress, poor micronutrient intake (vitamins & minerals), low electrolytes and even chronic dehydration.
Common Keto Flu Symptoms:
- Brain Fog
- Heart Palpitations
- Carb cravings
- Muscle cramps
- Poor athletic performance
How To Get Rid Of The Keto Flu?
Experiencing symptoms of keto flu are very common, and while they may range from mild to severe, that doesn’t mean they’re going to last forever! As you embark on a ketogenic diet lifestyle, especially for the first time, it’s important to understand that you’re asking your body to undergo a lot of changes, and while it’s for the better, it’ll take a bit of time. Sometimes the keto flu lasts five days while other times it can last up to two weeks. Fat adaptation will take hold around day ten of your keto diet journey, and symptoms should improve from here on out.
Our best tips for keto flu remedy and how to prevent the kept flu, includes reducing chronic stressors (environmental, physical, emotional, etc.), taking a good multivitamin to ensure that your daily requirements of micronutrients are met regularly (See our Recommendation HERE), and understanding the importance of electrolytes and proper hydration (read more about hydration and water here). Lastly, we recommend being mindful of your exercise. That doesn’t mean to stop or reduce your exercise by any means, but be aware that you’re going to have to increase your overall electrolyte and water intake (to be more) while also adjusting the timing of your food intake to supply your body with sufficient energy levels.
How to Cure Keto Flu
If you are experiencing any of the keto flu symptoms there are actions you can take to alleviate them faster than just waiting it out (unlike the real flu). Here are our best recommendations based on the previously mentioned symptoms of keto flu.
Headaches, Heart Palpitations, & Muscle Cramps
Hydration can be the absolute key to alleviating these symptoms. Drink some water, then drink some more. And if you have access to it, drink water with added electrolytes.
Dizziness, Diarrhea, Fatigue, Weakness, Poor Athletic Performance & Muscle Cramps
Electrolytes and electrolyte-rich foods are going to be your friend if you’re experiencing these symptoms! Some of the more common missing micronutrients can be found in the following:
Calcium (almonds, sardines, leafy greens)
Chloride (veggies, olives, seaweed, salts)Potassium (avocados, salmon, nuts, leafy greens, mushrooms)
Magnesium (spinach, artichokes, nuts)
Phosphorus (dark chocolate, seeds, nuts)
Potassium (leafy greens, mushrooms, avocados, nuts, fish)
Sodium (salt, bacon, fermented veggies (watch for added sugars), bone broth, pickles)
Brain Fog, Irritability, Carb Cravings, & Hypoglycemia
Increase your healthy fat intake. You’ll be promoting and encouraging your body to adjust better to the increase of fat or becoming more fat-adapted.
During the transition and when you experience keto flu, it may not seem like the first thing you want to do is get up and move around. Exercise can not only help you physically but mentally as well, especially if you’re experiencing restless sleep or symptoms of insomnia. Get moving earlier in the day and reap the benefits of a tired (and happy) body at night. Supplementing with a ZMA will help as well, such as this one.
Fatigue, Weakness, Poor Athletic Performance, & Muscle Cramps
Incorporating more magnesium-rich foods into your nutritional lifestyle will provide your body with essential micro-nutrients to repair and build tissues.
Increasing potassium in the diet will contribute to repairing and building tissues, in addition to magnesium. If you can’t get enough potassium or magnesium in your diet and need to supplement, we recommend taking this product.
Increase your digestive ability by consuming more probiotics and fermented foods (read more about increasing digestive health here)
The Keto Flu Sucks
It’s no secret that the keto flu symptoms some individuals experience, do indeed suck. But! If you find yourself experiencing them, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. By transferring to a ketogenic lifestyle, you’ve decided that you’d like to reap the benefits of being keto, but it’s going to take a little work to get there. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and just as well, you’re not going to be able to press a magic reset on the last 35 years of your life, either.