Keto flu: the ugly side of Ketogenic diet.
Most people suffering from keto flu symptoms say things like “It feels like death”.
Are you one of them?
Well, rest assured knowing you’re not alone.
But guess what?
Keto flu is not actual flu, yeah the symptoms are pretty similar if not worse but it’s not the one caused by any flu viruses.
It’s more like the side effects of Ketogenic diet.
And guess what?
Had you done some deep research prior to starting your keto diet, you could have avoided it by at least 80%.
But it’s not too late.
Once you finish reading this article, you will have a better idea of what causes Keto flu and how to get rid of it for good.
What is Keto Flu?
As far as medical research is concerned, the term ‘keto flu’ does not exist.
BUT, it’s real.
As mentioned before, It’s not real flu but some of the symptoms of keto flu are pretty similar to normal flu and that’s probably how it got its name.
Before we get started, I just want to remind you that you’re not alone.
The majority of people on the ketogenic diet go through keto flu at some point.
You will feel crap, you will feel like it’s never going to go away and you’ll feel like giving up, but DON’T.
Once your body gets adapted to ketosis, you will feel 100 times better and it will all be worth it.
What are the signs and symptoms of Keto Flu?
You may experience some or all of these symptoms.
- Nausea: Remember, it will only get worse if you avoid eating. If you’re not feeling hungry because you feel nauseous and exhausted, remind yourself you must eat to get better.
- Brain fog: Feeling like you can’t recall simple stuff or focus on your day to day activities properly? Do you feel like you can’t concentrate on a single thing?
- Mood swings
- Some people have also reported having panic attacks and night sweats while feeling freezing cold.
- Dry eyes/skin for some.
- stomach/muscle cramps
I bet you’re feeling relieved to know you’re not alone on this right?
Well, rest assured knowing that all of these keto flu symptoms will pass away sooner than you think if you follow the tips and remedies on this post.
So What Causes Keto Flu?
NO 1: Electrolyte Withdrawal.
At least 70% of the symptoms will be gone within a few hours if you just take care of the electrolyte imbalance your body is going through right now.
What are electrolytes and why should you care about them?
Electrolytes are salts and minerals found in your bodily fluids that carry electrical impulses responsible for maintaining the normal functioning of your organs
Sodium, Potassium, and Magnesium are 3 of the major electrolytes and they’re responsible for regulating homeostasis .
Homeostasis is what provides a controlled and stable internal environment for your body. For e.g. by regulating temperature, water content and blood sugar .
Okay, now how do electrolytes link to keto diet?
As you may have noticed by now, Ketogenic diet is diuretic.
Your body is processing a lot of water quickly and as a result, you’re losing a lot of electrolytes in the form of urine, sweat (especially if you work out a lot) and other fluids.
Do not force yourself to drink TOO MUCH water.
Remember this, you should not force your body to drink more water than your body can handle or needs just because you’re on the keto diet.
Some people have made the mistake of drinking water as much as 5 liters per day or more only to be told by their doctor that they’re having overhydration and electrolyte imbalance.
Drink however much you naturally need. For instance, you might need more water when after working out than you would when you wake up in the morning.
As the saying goes, too much of anything is bad.
So here are the signs and symptoms of Electrolyte imbalance:
By looking at each one, you’ll be able to tell which one you’re lacking the most. However, make sure you’ve got a good dose of each one every day.
1 . Potassium Imbalance
Potassium deficiency is the one to be blamed for any muscle cramps and heart-related symptoms.
These are the signs and symptoms that you’re low in potassium right now:
- Muscle weakness and cramps
- Muscle twitching or numbness
- Stomach cramps and bloating
- Heart palpitations (raised heartbeat).
- Low blood pressure
- Psychological: depression and confusion.
What to do about it?
- Add foods rich in Potassium to your diet.
- Check with your doctor to make sure you’re on the safe side.
Foods rich in Potassium include Avocados, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, salmon and dark green leafy vegetables.
2 . Sodium Imbalance: Hyponatremia
Mayoclinic describes Hyponatremia as a condition the sodium level in your body is abnormally low.
In this case of ketogenic diet, sodium imbalance is usually caused by either drinking too much or too little water.
You need to remember that overhydration can also have severe side effects and sometimes even life-threatening ones.
These are the signs of low sodium in your body:
- Low or no energy to do anything
- Seizures and coma in severe cases(rare).
What can you do about it?
Add more organic salt to your diet (broth, soup, salt water, etc). More detail on this in the remedies section of this post.
3 . Magnesium Imbalance
Magnesium plays an important role in many crucial body functions such as :
- Protein synthesis
- Muscle and nerve function
- Regulation of blood glucose and blood pressure
- DNA synthesis and more.
These are the signs and symptoms to tell if you’re low on Magnesium:
- Loss of appetite
- Severe symptoms are muscle numbness, tingling, cramps, seizures and abnormal heart rhythms.
What to do about it?
Add Magnesium rich food to your diet such as Spinach, Mackerel, Avocado, Salmon, peanut butter, almonds, and peanuts.
You can also take Magnesium supplements such as this one.
2nd Main Cause of Keto Flu: The Sugar Addiction is REAL!
Are you saying things like “I feel like I’m dying” and comparing keto flu to death?
Yeah? Well, could also be because your body is screaming for some sugar.
It’s going through shock and adaption of using fat as its body fuel instead of sugar.
Sugar addiction is real.
You’ve been running on sugar your whole life and then suddenly, your body is being forced to use fat as its fuel.
Think about that. It’s just like every other drug addictions.
You’re going to go through some withdrawal symptoms of Carbohydrate but it WILL pass.
When does Keto flu start?
The majority of people start experiencing keto flu symptoms between day 1 and day 6.
Some people might experience it later on.
How long does the keto flu last?
On average, the symptoms will last for 1-7 days.
Some people (rare) may have some of the keto flu symptoms for a few more weeks (1-6).
This is nothing to panic about.
Depending on your individual health & wellbeing and how long you’ve been running on sugar, some people’s bodies will take a little longer to start loving fat for fuel.
It really shouldn’t last for more than a few weeks on rare occasions.
The good news is, if you’re going through keto flu right now, you can start applying the tips and remedies on this page to speed up your recovery.
Please visit your doctor if your symptoms last longer than a few weeks and don’t seem to get better even after following the tips and remedies on here.
I’ve been on Keto diet for a few weeks now, how comes I didn’t have Keto flu yet?
When you finish reading this article, you’ll begin to realize that keto flu is not a must-have during keto diet and it’s completely avoidable if you take precautions beforehand.
Plus you can still get rid of the symptoms within a day or 2 by following the tips and remedies on this post.
3 Ways to Get Over Keto Flu Fast
1 . Eat more Healthy Fats.
Your body is still in the adaptation process of Ketosis.
It’s going to have a pretty rough time learning to let go off using sugar for fuel and to start using fats instead.
And it’s your responsibility to give it more of the healthy fats needed to speed up ketosis.
The general rule of the keto diet is 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carb.
This will also help your keto flu symptoms to subside.
I know you’ve been taught fats are bad for your heart, but those are cheeseburger and KFC type of fats.
Not the organic healthy fats like grass-fed beef and extra virgin coconut oil.
All that fat is not going to make you put on weight so don’t worry about that.
A lot of people feel guilty about eating fat frequently on a keto diet, but you’ve to keep reminding yourself that you are eating good fats.
And your body is going to use those fats for fuel so you will eventually lose weight.
Here are some Healthy fats you can add to your keto diet:
Coconut oil: Eat a tablespoon every day. A lot of people have reported seeing symptoms such as nausea and stomachache subside within 20 minutes of eating a tablespoon of cold pressed organic coconut oil.
Keto fat bombs: They’re super easy to make and carry with you wherever you go. And they’re delicious like these chocolate keto fat bombs by Dr.Berg.
2 . Eat more high-quality unrefined salt.
Here are some ways to get more salt into your body:
- Bone broth: store bought or make it at home.
Have a cup of broth with some sea salt in the morning and night.
- Pickles: Add it to your salads or eat some on its own.
Try the lemon pickle from Srilankan grocery stores, quite spicy but you’ll love it.
- Chicken soup with some extra salt.
- Pink Himalayan salt: Add a pinch to your glass of water.
You can also try adding a tiny pinch of Pink Himalayan salt or unrefined sea salt directly on your tongue and let it dissolve. Doing this a few times a day has helped people with their symptoms.
- Add organic unrefined sea salt to your salad.
3 . Take Care of the Electrolyte Imbalance
As mentioned earlier, almost all of your symptoms will be taken care of if you correct the sodium, potassium and magnesium imbalance you could be going through.
Add those foods rich in each electrolyte to your keto diet.
Some lemon water, salt water, broth, and soup. All goes well!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Does keto flu come back the second time you’re on a keto diet?
Yes, it can but it might last shorter than it did the first time you were on the ketogenic diet.
Also, if you take care of the electrolytes/fluids tips mentioned in this post, you might not have it at all.
Will the Keto flu come back if I cheat after being in ketosis?
Some people have reported that it does come back if you cheat before your body has fully adapted to being in ketosis.
I work full time. Does that mean I can’t be on the keto diet because of keto flu?
Absolutely not. Your symptoms will go away sooner than you think if you simply correct your electrolyte level and drink lots of fluids as mentioned earlier.
I never had a keto flu. Does that mean I’m doing something wrong?
Not everybody gets it. You probably have the causes under control.
- You are not alone, almost everyone goes through keto flu until their body has completely adapted to ketosis.
- When you feel like giving up, just think of the benefits you will be missing out on and also the fact you will have to go through this all over again if you cheat and start.
- 9/10 times, you can get relief from keto flu by correcting your electrolyte (Sodium, Potassium, and Magnesium) levels as explained in this post.
- If your symptoms last longer than normal, check up with your doctor to make sure you’re on the safe side.
- If you ever come across exogenous ketones, just remember it lacks clinical evidence so please consult with your doctor if you must take it.