You have done your research and decided that the ketogenic diet sounds best for you. The fattier pieces of meat? All yours. Sweet and savory fat bombs? Sign me up! It sounds too good to be true. Almost overnight, you cut out the majority of your carbs and up your fat intake. Over the next few days, you start to feel…not so good. How could this be? Keto should make you feel better, not worse! There is nothing to fear for you are not alone. Often when a person starts the Keto Diet, they face what is most often referred to as the “Keto Flu”. That leaves us with the question…
What is the Keto Flu, Exactly?
One of the easiest ways to describe the Keto Flu is as a form of withdrawal. Most of us spend our lives fueling our bodies with carbohydrates. Sugar, in its many forms, occupies a good chunk of our diets. Once you go on Keto, you start to deprive your body of what it spent so long using as a fuel source.
It is not as simple as just saying carb withdrawal, though. There are a handful of symptoms associated with the Keto Flu, and we are here to address them!
Several Common Symptoms of Keto Flu
- Sugar Cravings
- Diarrhea or Constipation
- Muscle Cramps and Soreness
Everyone reacts differently when they start the Keto Diet. Some may experience several symptoms at once, while others get by without so much as a headache. There are a handful of ways to avoid, or at least reduce, Keto Flu symptoms. So if you feel like giving up, read on!
How to Treat Your Keto Flu Symptoms
Drink more water! Dehydration is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to the Keto Flu. You may find yourself needing to go to the bathroom far more frequently once you start the diet. Your body stores sugar as glycogen, which itself is stored in about four grams of water. As carbs are reduced, so is glycogen storage. Your body starts to dump excess water as a result. Now that you are losing more water, you have to increase how much you are taking in. Remember, it’s all about balance!
Get those electrolytes up. A Keto Diet leads to lower insulin production. As insulin levels fall, the kidneys are signaled to shed more water. In that water are electrolytes. Why are electrolytes important? They form the ions responsible for muscle stimulation, heartbeat regulation, and fat metabolization! Electrolytes are must-haves if you want to improve your odds of burning that fat.
Some great sources of electrolytes are:
- Unsweetened almond or coconut milk
- Electrolyte supplements (e.g. potassium, magnesium)
Track your macros and calories. The CDC reports that the average American diet consists of about 50% carbohydrates.
With Keto, you are aiming to get up to 75% of your calories from FAT.
Make sure you are consuming enough of it because it’s your new energy source. And don’t neglect your caloric needs either! Get yourself a calorie counter to make sure you are getting exactly what you need. This is important whether you are trying to lose weight or maintain while losing fat.
Don’t go cold turkey! Ease into Keto! Try transitioning into the ketogenic diet at a slower pace. Reduce your carb intake a little bit every day, while increasing your fat consumption. The symptoms of the Keto Flu will hit you much harder if you cut everything out at once. It is also much more sustainable mentally if you inch towards a full Keto Diet since the temptations will be hard to shake. If you slowly wean yourself off of the things you will miss the most, it will be much more tolerable!
Keep pushing through. Remember, the Keto Flu is a temporary problem! Some people experience symptoms for a few days, while others feel them for several weeks. Try to stay positive and push through that wall. A little bit of patience goes a long way in your journey to reach ketosis. Things worth having hardly ever come easy!
We know the Keto Flu is no walk in the park. It can be the make-or-break moment for a lot of people in their pursuit of ketosis. Follow these steps and conquer the Keto Flu!