When you are on a ketogenic diet for the first time, you are most likely experiencing brain fog and sharp headache that came from nowhere.
These are called the Keto Flu; common symptoms most people experience when starting out keto. It typically kicks in within 24 to 48 hours from the time you stopped eating carbs. It can last for a week to a month for some people until you are keto-adopted.
Don’t panic! This is your body’s natural response to carb withdrawal, and it means your body began the process of detoxing.
Sometimes these uncomfortable symptoms make you manna quit keto. But don’t worry, you can get through this with tips on how to get over keto flu fast and get the result you wanted!
What is Keto Flu?
The keto flu is the body’s natural reaction to sugar withdrawal. This might come to a shock to you, but sugar is highly addictive substance. That’s why your craving for sugar is maximized during Keto When the sugar intake is reduced.
Good New is that the keto flu is a sign of your body’s transition to using fat as the main fuel source rather than sugar. So think of it as the first step to your successful diet.
Trust me, I went through many ugly symptoms. It was painful and almost like having real flu. But now I think about it, it was temporary, and it was worth going through.
What Are the Symptoms of Keto Flu?
Eliminating the carb-rich food from your diet is a major event for your body and your body reacts to the change by giving you various nasty symptoms.
If your old diet contained a high volume of carbs, this transition is harder than those of you who were on a balanced diet.
Depending on how reliant you were on sugar and carbs, the withdrawal symptoms of keto flu can range from moderate to severe.
The following are common symptoms of keto flu:
- Sugar cravings
- Lack of concentration
- Nausea & vomiting
- Stomach pain & Diarrhea
- Brain fog
- Difficulty sleeping
- Muscle cramping and soreness
Not everyone gets all the symptoms. If you weren’t a heavy sugar lover, your symptoms might be limited to a few and light.
In my case, I started off with sugar cravings and keen headaches early on (about day 2). Then fatigue and lack of concentration kicked in about day 3. They lasted until I finally incorporated those tips to get over keto flue fast.
How to Get Over Keto Flu Fast?
I know the keto flu symptoms make you miserable. Not seeing the end of the tunnel also makes you wonder if it’s even worth it…..
The good news is there are remedies to ease symptoms. Instead of waiting for it to pass by, let’s try these tips and help your body to adopt ketosis faster.
1. Drink Plenty of Water
As your body is made up of over 80% water, staying hydrated is an essential part of optimal health even if you are not on a keto diet.
This 80% of water retention level declines when carbohydrates intake is reduced. This is because glycogen, a series of glucose molecules linked together, binds with water in your body. And because of a lack of glucose, the water doesn’t stay in your body. This is why you enjoy a quick drop in your weight when you first start a keto diet.
Drinking plenty of water will help alleviate symptoms such as muscle cramping and soreness, fatigue and headaches.
Try to drink at least 6 bottles of 12 fl oz water throughout the day. Sip instead of chugging water to maintain an electrolyte balance.
2. Replenish Your Electrolytes
Glycogen holds water just like a sponge. When glycogen is reduced on a keto, water retention goes down and so does electrolytes.
Deficiency in those electrolytes can cause the following keto flu symptoms:
- Sodium – Dizziness, feeling weak
- Potassium – Fatigue, sleeping issue, pulse rate up
- Calcium – Cramp
- Magnesium – Sleep problem, cramp
To replenish deficient electrolytes, don’t just buy electrolyte drinks from the stores because they most likely contain sugar.
Instead, add sea salt to your meal, or drink bone broth. Bone broth is a tasty way to supplement essential minerals and prevents from the keto flu symptoms.
My recommendation is Kettle & Fire. Hormone and antibiotic-free bone broth with no additives presrevatives helps you boost energy and get through a keto flu faster. As an added bonus, it is yummy!
3. Eat Healthy Fats
The keto diet protocol requires you to have 70% of your daily calories come from healthy fats. High fat consumption will keep feeling satisfied for a long time and reduces sugar cravings.
Make sure to chose “healthy fat” over harmful fat.
Healthy fat includes:
- Grass-fed animals
- Cheese, butter and cream
- Peanut batter (Yay!)
- Coconut oil, olive oil, and palm oil
- Nuts seed, sesame seed
- Wild caught fish
Harmful fat includes:
- Soy, canola, and corn oil (GMO)
- Restaurant fried food and food truck
If you need to snack, chose good fat such as macadamia nuts, pork rinds, pepperoni slice, or keto-friendly dark chocolate with over 80% cocoa content.
Sipping a tablespoon of MCT oil or taking MCT oil supplement will also help you suppress the hunger.
4. Maintain Your Carbs
This might sound contradicting to the core principle of ketogenic diet. But there are times you need to increase your carb intake to alleviate the keto flu pains.
This is the case when you are an active person and metabolic rate is high. Because your body will more likely use up a small amount of carbs you consume from low carb vegetables and the carb withdrawal symptom will be severe.
To manage keto flu symptoms, it’s okay to eat a little bit of higher-carb vegetables such as sweet potatoes, peas, and carrots. As long as you don’t go overboard, it won’t throw you out of ketosis.
On the other hand, if you are someone who was previously a heavy carb lover, it is better to start reducing carbohydrate intake slowly to prevent keto flu symptoms.
5. Don’t Exercise Strenuously
I know you are so ambitious to succeed in this diet but an excess work out can actually intensify keto flu symptoms.
Strenuous exercise can lead to dehydration, and while using glucose, you will experience carb withdrawal symptoms – keto flu.
Common symptoms are cramps and soreness in muscles, feeling weak, stomach pains.
To lessen the pain, at least during the first week or two, stick with low-intensity exercises like walking, jogging, and low intense cycling. I enjoy doing yoga on those days I have sighs of keto flu.
High-intensity activities to avoid are cross it, weightlifting, High-Intensity Interval Training), swimming and high-intensity sports such as tennis, rugby and soccer.
Keep in mind that your performance on those low-intensity activities may be not as good during the first few weeks on a keto. So take it easy and focus on get the the right nutrients for now and then slowly increase physical activities.
6. Improve Sleep Quality
If you are having a hard time falling asleep or waking up several times at the night on a keto, you are experiencing keto insomnia. Keto insomnia can lead to irritability, fatigue and brain fog and might affect your work performance.
Why do you get asleep problems from keto? This is because of how the sleep hormone, melatonin, is produced in your body.
Melatonin is converted from serotonin, a neurotransmitter that acts as a brain relaxer, when your body releases insulin. Because you are on a low carb diet, you body would not release sufficient insulin to promote melatonin conversion.
To improve sleep quality, try some of below tips:
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, energy drinks later in the day.
- Take a bath with lavender essential oil in your bathtub. It helps you relax and wind down.
- Go to bed about the same time every day and don’t pull all-nighters.
- Shut off lights and electronics when going to bed. Looking at your phone in bed will stimulate your brain.
- Avoid oversleeping to set you sleep patterns and improve quality of sleep overtime.
- Try sleep aid supplements like Melatonin and Glycin. Melatonin helps you fall asleep and Glycin promotes healthier and deeper sleep by calming down your brain.
Keto flu can make you miserable and want to quit the diet altogether. But keep in mind it is a transition period necessary to make you a “fat burning machine” and only temporary.
For me, it was worth it because not only I lost weight I couldn’t lose with a low-fat diet, but also did not crave for sweets which was a great feeling. I can now focus on other tasks because I’m no longer thinking about food all the time.
For the ultimate result, combine a keto diet with intermittent fasting! Read more about intermittent fasting.
While keto flu symptoms can be reduced using the above tips, if you are experiencing significantly severe symptoms such as prolonged diarrhea, high fever and vomiting, please contact your doctor to rule out other causes.