4 Ways to Avoid the Keto Flu

By: Joe Martinez, RPh, PDE, CMS, Founder and CCO, HMS

Contributor: Stephanie Wu

When you choose to start a diet, you should be excited and pumped up to start taking steps towards change and a healthier version of you.  What if I told you, though, that starting a new diet might make you feel sick? You’d think twice about it. Right?

That’s why, before starting any new diet, it’s important to be educated and prepared for what your body might be up against and any challenges you may face.

For example: The ketogenic diet (or the keto diet) – is a diet that’s very popular.  We all love the idea of cutting out carbohydrates and increasing fat and protein intake to encourage our bodies to burn mostly fat and avoid storing it. Plus, the keto diet is known to also help you feel more awake and ready to take on the day.

So what’s the catch?  Some people who have recently started “going keto” have reported feeling tired instead of energized, having headaches, being irritated, and having difficulty concentrating.

Wow. What’s this all about? And should we be worried and reconsider our choice of the keto diet?  I say, take a deep breath and let’s understand what’s going on here.

These symptoms are what experts have named the ‘keto flu’. It’s not quite a flu that we commonly think of.  Also, it’s neither contagious, nor life-threatening – good news!. That said, the keto flu isn’t much fun either.

However, it does happen.  During the first week of the keto diet, many people experience cramping, nauseas, fatigue, and dizziness.

Carbohydrate withdrawal can feel a little like substance abuse withdrawal. This is because your brain is processing the loss of carbs like an addiction.  The symptoms may last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, but eventually your body will adjust and then start burning fat as its primary fuel source. Think of it like your car switching grades of fuel. Your body’s blood sugar will first drop before it changes systems to alter electrolyte, water, and hormone levels to align with your new diet.

Scary? Maybe. But there are ways around it.

Here are 4 ways to avoid Keto Flu symptoms.

1) Eat mineral-rich foods such as sea salt and bone broth. This will help reduce headaches. You can also supplement with minerals like magnesium and potassium.

2) Drink plenty of water and eat leafy greens to give your body some electrolytes. This will help you to avoid muscle cramps.

3) Consider taking B vitamins like B5. This helps alleviate fatigue and mood swings.

4) And if you’re feeling constipated, try some light exercise and a healthy helping of fiber-rich fruits and veggies. These should do the trick.

Remember the keto flu is temporary. If you keep up with it, most people will soon be feeling better, on the road to better health and achieving their nutritional goals.

* Always check with your doctor or healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.

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