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Keto flu refers to flu-like symptoms that can happen when transitioning into the keto diet. As your body shifts its primary fuel source from glucose and carbohydrates to ketones and fat, it can take your body some time to adjust to this metabolic change.
Most people feel one or more of these symptoms during the first one or two weeks of a keto diet, especially days 3-5. Fortunately, it’s temporary, and you’ll soon feel fine again. In fact, it’s possible you will have more energy than before you started the diet.
As your body shifts its primary fuel source from glucose and carbohydrates to ketones and fat, it can take your body some time to adjust to this metabolic change.
Ketones are byproducts of fat breakdown and become the main fuel source when following a ketogenic diet.
Along with the production of ketones, your insulin levels also drop and your body responds by excreting more sodium in the urine, along with water.
This change is responsible for some of the rapid weight loss that happens in the early stages of a keto diet.
However, losing a lot of water and sodium is also responsible for many of the unpleasant symptoms of keto flu.
What keto flu feels like and the specific signs of keto flu will vary from person to person, but there are some common ones to watch for.
Keto Flu Symptoms
- Muscle cramps
- Poor Concentration
- Stomach pain
- Muscle soreness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sugar cravings
Keep in mind that You will likely not get all these keto flu symptoms. Everyone reacts differently.
These symptoms are commonly reported by those who have just begun the ketogenic diet and can be distressing.
Symptoms of the keto flu usually disappear by themselves within a few days to weeks, as the body adapts.
Fortunately, you don’t have to just suffer and deal with it as there are ways to get rid of keto flu quickly.
Tips To Get Rid of Keto Flu
Tip #1: Increase your salt and water intake
Since loss of salt and water is responsible for most keto flu issues, increasing your intake of both can help reduce your symptoms significantly and in most cases, eliminate them altogether.
During the first few weeks of your keto lifestyle, whenever you develop a headache, nausea, dizziness or other symptoms, drink a glass of water with half a teaspoon of salt in it.
This may alleviate your keto flu symptoms within 15 to 30 minutes. You can even do this twice a day or more.
Tip #2. Stay hydrated
As we have already discussed, a ketogenic diet causes a lot of water loss in the beginning, which can leave you dehydrated.
Dehydration can actually lead to bloating and water retention, as well as dizziness and fatigue.Aim for 16 cups of water per day, but listen to your body’s signals and don’t overdo it.
Tip #3. Make Sure You Are Eating Enough Fat and Carbs
If you are not eating enough, this can cause some symptoms similar to keto flu.
However, eating enough fat, which is the primary fuel source on the ketogenic diet, will help reduce cravings, keep you feeling satisfied and help you adapt to burning fat for fuel.
Tip #4. Avoid Strenuous Exercise
Although many people find that their energy and stamina improve on a keto lifestyle, trying to do too much in the early stages can worsen keto flu symptoms.
Activities like intense biking, running, weight lifting and strenuous workouts should be avoided if you are experiencing the keto flu.
Light activities such as walking, stretching, or doing gentle yoga or other mind-body exercise should be fine and may even help you feel better.
Tip #5. Ease into Keto Gradually
You don’t have to start keto cold turkey. You can, however, slow down the transition to ketogenic eating by consuming a few more carbs, such as following a more moderate low-carb diet that provides 20 to 50 grams of carbs a day.
Once you’ve adapted to low-carb eating, feel free to try eating less than 20 grams of carbs again.
Tip #6. Sleep More
Sleep is important no matter how you’re eating, but if you’re already fatigued and struggling with keto flu, it becomes even more so.
Lack of sleep can increase cortisol levels, which can amplify some of the same keto flu symptoms you’re trying to avoid
People adapt to ketogenic diets differently. While some may experience weeks of keto-flu symptoms, others may adjust to the new diet with no adverse side effects.
The symptoms people experience are tied to how their bodies adjust to a new fuel source. Those who typically consume lots of carbs, especially refined carbs like pasta, sugary cereal and soda, may have a more difficult time when beginning the ketogenic diet.
So, the transition to a high-fat, very low-carb diet may be a struggle for some, while others are able to switch between fuel sources easily with little to no keto-flu symptoms.
Some people may experience keto-flu symptoms due to genetics, electrolyte loss, dehydration and carbohydrate withdrawal.
Luckily, the uncomfortable symptoms of the keto flu only last about a week for most people.
If you are feeling particularly unwell and experiencing symptoms like prolonged diarrhea, fever or vomiting, it’s best to contact your doctor to rule out other causes.
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