The first week of the ketogenic diet can be challenging. Some people even experience what is known as the keto flu.
The keto flu is a series of symptoms experienced by some people when starting the ketogenic diet.
These symptoms, which can feel similar to the common flu, are caused by the body’s adaptation to reducing carbohydrates in the diet.
This article describes what the keto flu is, its causes, symptoms, and what to do to reduce them.
What is the keto flu?
By doing the ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are reduced to less than 50 grams per day. Reducing your carbohydrate intake forces your body to burn fat and form ketones for energy. This change is called ketosis, and it is an effective method of burning fat quickly.
However, ketosis can be a shock to your body. And in some cases, it triggers a series of symptoms. This is what is known as the keto flu.
By eliminating carbohydrates from the diet, you lose more water and may feel dehydrated and have dry lips. Also, changes in insulin levels cause your body to release nutrients. The combination of a lack of fiber foods can trick you. These are the leading causes of the keto flu.
Symptoms generally last about a week, although some people may experience them for a more extended period.
Keto flu symptoms
When doing the ketogenic diet, it may take time for your body to adjust.
For some people, this transition period can be challenging. Keto flu symptoms can start to appear within the first few days of cutting back on carbs.
Keto flu symptoms can range from mild to severe and are variable. While some people can transition to a ketogenic diet without side effects, others may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Muscle cramps
- Difficult to focus
- Stomach aches
- Muscle pain
How to reduce keto flu symptoms?
These symptoms usually appear when starting the ketogenic diet and can be distressing. While they can cause some people to go off the keto diet, there is a way to reduce them. To reduce the symptoms of the keto flu, you should:
- Increase the number of electrolytes
The electrolytes are essential minerals to keep you healthy. There are more chances of not meeting your daily needs and eliminating them through urine when doing the ketogenic diet.
To avoid possible symptoms of the keto flu, you can either take keto supplements or increase your intake of salts. This will help your body go through the transition period more easily.
- Drink more water
As the word indicates, carbohydrates are accompanied by water molecules. When reducing them from the diet, the first thing you will do is eliminate water from your body.
Dehydration is common when starting the ketogenic diet and can be a cause of keto flu symptoms. To reduce this, you can increase the amount of water you drink per day.
Also, replacing fluids is particularly important when you’re experiencing Keto flu-associated diarrhea, which can cause additional fluid loss.
- Sleep well
To avoid keto flu symptoms, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the essential rules. Lack of sleep causes the stress hormone cortisol levels to rise, which can negatively affect mood and worsen symptoms.
You can change your sleeping posture, avoid excess caffeine, and take melatonin to sleep better. In addition, consuming a sufficient amount of food with tryptophan is one way to ensure that your body has all the nutrients to sleep better.
- Foods with magnesium
The foods rich in magnesium can help reduce muscle cramps, sleep disorders, and headaches, all symptoms typical of flu Keto.
Fortunately, many foods high in magnesium are also low in carbohydrates. Examples of these foods are avocado, almonds, and chia seeds. If you’ve started the ketogenic diet and are experiencing flu-like symptoms, eating these foods can make the transition easier.
- Avoid high intensity exercises and do yoga.
While exercise is essential to staying healthy and achieving an ideal weight, if you are experiencing keto flu symptoms, you should avoid overdoing it. These will not help you recover; they can cause the contrairo effect.
Fatigue and muscle cramps are common symptoms in the first few weeks of a ketogenic diet, so it may be a good idea to rest during these times.
If you are a physically active person and you like sports, the best thing to do is walk, do yoga, or ride a bicycle. High-intensity exercises like CrossFit, gym, and HIIT should be put aside.
Other Tips for Beginners on the Ketogenic Diet
To minimize the symptoms of the keto flu, you can prepare isotonic drinks without sugar (water, lemon, and salt) and drink more water.
If you are a beginner on the ketogenic diet and you are very thirsty, it is likely due not only to the loss of water from carbohydrates but also to a lack of electrolytes.
If you also feel dry lips, you can use a lip balm or creams to relieve them.
Cutting back on carbohydrates can be hard to start with. If you go overboard with carbohydrates one day, nothing terrible will happen to your body.
If you don’t feel well, you can increase your carb intake until you adapt. If your keto symptoms persist, you can go on a less strict low-carb diet for a few days.
Keto flu is the term that describes a set of symptoms or side effects that can appear when starting the ketogenic diet. These symptoms vary from person to person and range from mild to severe.
To reduce symptoms of the keto flu, you can increase your electrolyte intake, drink more water, change your sleeping posture, and do yoga. Including foods rich in magnesium is one way to reduce cramps.