Keto flu, also known as carb flu, is a common problem when starting the diet. The body adapting to a reduction in carbohydrate intake and other dietary changes can result in a range of temporary side effects. Below are examples of some of the symptoms, why they happen, and how to relieve them.
Some individuals make the switch without experiencing any problems. Others may experience some of the following symptoms:
- runny nose
- sore throat
- coughing and phlegm
- chills or fever
- nausea, vomiting
- brain fog
- depression, anxiety, lack of motivation
For many people, keto flu symptoms resolve pretty quickly on their own. However, they can be disruptive to work, socialization and other important activities. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to alleviate or reduce these problems.
Drink enough water
Without as many carbs, the body will burn through its glycogen stores, or stored sugars, more rapidly. These stores reside in water in your muscles, which means water also gets depleted. This can result in a sore throat, nausea, fatigue, vomiting and other symptoms.
Symptoms like vomiting cause water loss and can lead to further dehydration. Make sure to drink enough water, more than usual, to replace the fluids lost by transitioning to a ketogenic state.
Increase electrolyte intake
Due to the loss of water weight, essential electrolytes such as magnesium and potassium are more easily flushed out of the body. This leads to an electrolyte imbalance, which can have side effects like muscle cramps and aches, irregular heartbeat, joint pain, chronic fatigue, and even insomnia.
Fortunately, it’s easy to increase electrolyte intake. In addition to eating certain whole foods (celery and cucumbers, for example) and drinking keto-friendly liquids like bone broth, electrolyte supplements can help replenish them.
Slowly cut back on carbs
It may be tempting to dive headlong into the keto diet to reap its many benefits, but this can be a huge pitfall. People who are eager to get into ketosis fast might think it’s a good idea to immediately cut out all carbs. However, this can have neurological side effects, including brain fog, irritability, anxiety, and depression.
Cutting carbs down by 25-50 grams per week is an easier way to stick to the diet, fight any initial sugar cravings, and keeping mental moods in check.
Take exogenous ketones
The transition to metabolizing fat for fuel can be the driver of some keto flu’s worst symptoms. When the body is used to running on carbs, initially it doesn’t produce enough ketones to function at its best.
Many people supplement with exogenous ketones, meaning ones sourced from outside the body. Supplements usually come in the form of a powder or ester. Some find that this completely eliminates their keto flu symptoms and helps them become fat-adapted in a short period of time.
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