If you are on a keto diet, you may have also been told about the dreaded keto flu, an unfortunate side effect to starting eating low carb. And while it’s a common occurrence in those just getting started, there are some tips and tricks to help reduce your symptoms, or even dodge it all together!
If you’re wondering what is the keto flu and how you can avoid it, we’re here to guide you. Keep reading to find out more!
Simply put, the keto flu is what you experience when you stop consuming carbs. It’s similar to going through withdrawals and happens when your body switches from burning glucose as energy (its preferred method) to fat.
Keto Flu Symptoms
Switching up your eating habits is a big change, no matter what diet you’re choosing to follow. It can take your body some time to adjust and regulate itself to a new way of eating.
The keto flu symptoms are accurately named. It’s common to feel flu-like symptoms like headache, weakness, nausea, and even vomiting. A more complete list of symptoms can include:
- trouble sleeping
- stomach pain
- concentration problems or “brain fog”
However, each person is different and symptoms will vary from person to person. Some people may have more severe symptoms than others.
How Long Does Keto Flu Last?
The keto flu will often start between two and seven days after starting the keto diet. As your body adjusts, it will feel off-kilter for a while until it gets used to new fuel and ways of burning energy.
The keto flu can last anywhere between a day to up to two weeks, depending on the person.
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But while feeling sick and awful is not at the top of anyone’s list, it’s not a signal that you should quit. Many times, it’s a result of working toxins out of your body and changing where your body gets its energy from. If you quit too early, you’ll never know how your body could change and the health benefits you could see.
So while it can take several days to pass, stick with it! You’ll feel better soon and go on to see your body change by being consistent with your diet. You’ll probably go on to have more energy than before you started!
How to Avoid Keto Flu
Yes, the keto flu sounds awful. It may seem like the keto diet isn’t worth it or the side effects are enough to deter you from getting started.
But we also want to give you some positive steps and tools to help you learn how to avoid the keto flu or at least reduce its effects. Keto flu prevention is possible by following the below steps:
1. Drink Plenty of Water
Hydration, hydration, hydration. Not only can drinking plenty of water helps you to flush your system, but it can also help with some of those nasty flu-like symptoms.
No matter what diet you follow or the foods you put into your body, staying hydrated should always be a priority. The benefits of drinking lots of water are well documented and include effects like improved brain function, better oxygen circulation, helps your digestive system and flushes toxins.
If plain water isn’t for you, try sipping on broth. You can choose from bone broth, chicken, or beef broth, as well as coffee or tea.
But be mindful of keeping your caffeine intake down, as it can serve as a diuretic, which can dehydrate you. Too much caffeine may contribute to more severe keto diet symptoms.
2. Increase Your Electrolyte Intake
In addition to drinking plenty of water and other fluids, you may need to add some more salt to your diet – at least initially. And while this may seem like the opposite of what you’d want to do when trying to hydrate, electrolytes play a vital role in your overall health.
Electrolytes help your cells to function, particularly in your nervous system and muscles. If you drink too much water and neglect salt, you can actually cause your body to deteriorate. Electrolytes help keep your body in balance.
So if you start to feel oncoming signs of the keto flu, add a pinch of salt into your water or sip on some broth to help you regulate your body.
3. Eat Enough Calories
It’s easy when you’re starting a new diet to try and restrict the overall calories you’re consuming to jumpstart your weight loss. But this can actually be detrimental when starting on the keto diet. Not only are you trying to get your body into ketosis, but restricting calories on top of that can lead to shocking your body in an unhealthy way.
If you’re starting to feel ill and unwell, try eating a handful of almonds or berries. Nibble on a slice of cheese. See if giving yourself a calorie boost can help you to reduce some of those feelings of muscle weakness or irritability.
4. Start Slowly
While it may seem like a good idea to jump into the keto diet full force and hit the ground running, this can actually contribute to the keto flu and its symptoms. Severely restricting your carbs all at once is not only difficult to do, but it also can leave you feeling defeated and discouraged when you begin to feel unwell.
Get started by reducing your carbs gradually. Start with a low-carb diet and swamp out higher-carb snacks and treats with low-carb options. From there, start dropping the food you would eat for keto options.
Start to increase your fat intake as well. A low-carb and low-fat diet can leave you feeling unsatisfied, hungry, and more likely to quit if the keto flu comes knocking.
Adding more fat to your diet will help you to feel full and satisfied. A higher fat intake will also make you less likely to run for the hills when the keto diet feels too difficult.
5. Plan Your Meals
Especially at first, preparing your meals and snacks in advance may be one of the most important steps. Take some time to get rid of high-carb snacks or treats you might have hidden around your home.
Stock your fridge and pantry with keto-approved offerings like low-carb veggies, berries, seeds, nuts, and dairy. When you get hungry, you’ll reach for a healthy offering that keeps you on track instead of derailing you.
We also recommend taking an afternoon to do meal preparations for the week. Cook up healthy lunches that you can grab on your way out the door. Stash some keto breakfast options in the fridge so that you don’t have to think about breakfast first thing.
Don’t forget to prepare some dinner offerings for that night when a meeting ran late. Or maybe an unexpected commitment popped up. Freeze a few meals that you can take out for those nights when cooking dinner isn’t possible and you want to hit up a fast-food restaurant instead.
Not only can meal planning help with keto flu prevention, but it can help you achieve long-term success with the keto diet. It prevents you from making excuses that, “there’s nothing to eat” or “I don’t have time to cook tonight.” Your body and health will thank you!
6. Get Moving
While you may not feel up to running a half marathon or taking on a Crossfit class when starting keto, don’t default to sitting on the couch. Get up and take a short walk around the block. Do some gentle stretching or yoga.
Not only has exercise been proven to help improve your mental clarity and thinking, but it could help clear away the keto flu brain fog, and irritability.
Exercise can also help get your digestive tract moving, helping your body make the switch to ketosis sooner. The sooner your body adjusts, the quicker the keto flu will end.
7. Stick With It
It’s not uncommon for people to quit keto when the keto flu hits. The dieting effects can feel uncomfortable and unpleasant at first. It’s easy to understand that people worry that the keto flu may be permanent. And who wants to feel that way long-term?
But we encourage you to stick with your keto diet through the keto flu and its symptoms. Your perseverance will pay off with healthier eating habits, weight loss, lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, as well as possibly helping to treat diabetes and other health complications.
If you don’t stick with your new eating plan, you’ll never know the possibilities on the other side!
The Keto Flu and You
The keto diet holds a lot of promise for its potential health benefits and weight loss. And while the keto flu may seem like an inevitable part of starting a keto lifestyle, there are ways to reduce your symptoms. You may even be able to avoid it altogether!
Starting a keto diet can feel overwhelming. But the good news is that there are tons of resources, recipes, and support on our site!
Join us as a member today for all the added bonuses that come with being a part of our community. From meal planners and calculators to e-books, we have everything you need to help you be successful. We can’t wait to have you join us!