Ketogenic diets are wildly popular right now, but it’s not new. It’s actually been around since 1921 (it was originally used to treat pediatric epilepsy).
The Keto Flu is a term used to describe flu-like symptoms associated with starting a Ketogenic diet (consuming fewer than 20-50 grams of carbohydrates daily).
The flu-like symptoms (headaches, lethargy, irritability, brain fog, constipation, and muscle cramps) usually show up in the first week, especially days 3-5.
Here’s why it happens:
The symptoms are caused by your body transitioning from burning sugar to burning fat, and it takes your brain and other organs time to adapt to using this new source of fuel. When your insulin levels drop, your body responds by excreting more sodium in your urine, along with water. (Which also explains the initial rapid weight loss)
Here’s what you can do:
Increase your water and salt intake
Dehydration is responsible for most flu-like symptoms, so it’s very important to address the underlying issue. Many people drink a glass of water with half a teaspoon of salt stirred in; it often alleviates symptoms within 15-30 minutes.
Don’t want to drink salt water? Salt your food… and use pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea salt, not standard table salt.
And last but certainly not least, drink more water!
2. Replace electrolytes
Two words: LEAFY GREENS. The following are potassium-rich Keto friendly foods: spinach, avocado, kale, and mushrooms. Spinach, Swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, and oysters are Keto-friendly and high in magnesium, so make sure these find their way to your plate!
3. Get adequate sleep
Fatigue and irritability are the most common complaints from people who start a Ketogenic diet. Lack of sleep can negatively affect mood AND exacerbate other symptoms, so it’s very important to make sure you are getting adequate rest.
Things to consider:
- Reducing caffeine or eliminating caffeine completely after 2pm
- Minimizing blue light exposure in the evening
- Not drinking alcohol =(
- Not eating late in the evening
The bottom line: keto-flu symptoms are common. However, if you’re experiencing symptoms like prolonged diarrhea, fever or vomiting (or just feeling particularly unwell in general), you should absolutely contact your doctor to rule out other causes.