You already know keto flu isn’t really the flu. A virus didn’t cause it. But when you switch from a high-carb diet to full keto, it can certainly keep you down and out for a few days and you’d prefer not to have to deal with it, especially if you’re cycling on and off keto a couple of times a year. Here’s why you get keto flu and how to reduce its effects on you.
Signs of Keto Flu
People get keto flu when transitioning from a high-carb diet to a very low-carb one. It can last between 24 hours to several days and may include:
- Extreme tiredness
- Foggy thinking
- Muscle aches
Why Do You Get Keto Flu?
The symptoms you’re experiencing are part of the fat-adaptation process. Your body is switching to burning fat as the primary fuel source instead of carbs.
Your body is designed to do this, but it does require some housekeeping. First, it must dump glycogen storage from the liver. This is quick energy your body stores and then taps into before tapping into fat storage. Glycogen stores contain a lot of water, so you naturally lose water when you deplete glycogen. That contributes to the quick water weight loss on keto.
With less insulin production, thanks to fewer carbs, your kidneys eliminate sodium from the body. This causes more water weight loss but also electrolyte imbalance. So some of what you’re experiencing is dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Thus, the tiredness, achiness, headaches, and nausea. The other part of keto flu is related to your body not yet understanding how to tap into fat storage for fuel or use the fat you’re eating as a primary fuel source. Thus, the crankiness, mental fog, and more nausea and headaches.
Finally, this transition is stressful on the body, so it will increase the stress hormone cortisol temporarily. While some people may breeze right through the keto transition, others find it disrupts their ability to work or study. If you’re currently a very high-carb eater, then your symptoms may be worse and last longer.
Now that you know what causes it, it will be clear why the following remedies can help for various symptoms.
Remedies for Keto Flu
You’re losing water fast. This is throwing everything out of whack. After you lose this water weight, you will start losing actual fat if you stick with it, but while on keto, you may need to drink more water to stay hydrated since you store less now.
You may find you crave table salt. Don’t be afraid to listen to your body within reason. You can also find more complete electrolyte powders to add to your water.
Sports drinks have electrolytes too. But make sure you grab the ones with 0 carbs, or you’ll reverse your progress toward ketosis.
Take an Anti-Nausea
The water + electrolytes should really help with nausea. But if it persists, a healthcare provider can prescribe anti-nausea medication.
You might also consider natural anti-nausea remedies like acupressure, ginger, turmeric, or visiting a North Aurora dispensary.
Meditation is a mind over matter exercise. It can reduce the production of the stress hormones that cause irritability. It can also improve your nausea, increase your ability to focus, and relieve other symptoms.
Increase Your Fat Intake
You’re teaching your body to use fat as a fuel source. But if you halfway shift into keto, the body continues to seek carbs. And you keep feeling miserable.
If you’re going to do this, you have to go all the way so your body will start producing ketones and burning your own fat for energy instead of sending you signals to eat.
That’s part of nausea and headaches. Your body is trying to get you to eat carbs because carbs are what it recognizes as fuel.
Take Some Days Off
Plan in advance to take a couple of vacation days when you’re going keto. Listen to your body and let it complete its transition without the added stress of having to go to work.
Get More Sleep
If you feel tired, let yourself take a nap or sleep more hours at night. Remember: The body recovers during sleep. So increasing your sleep can improve your body’s ability to adapt.
Know It’s Temporary
This is not your new reality as long as you stay on keto. Keto flu is your body’s temporary response to transitioning into fat-burning mode.
It’s unfamiliar to many of us because, with modern eating patterns, we rarely tap into our fat stores. We’d normally respond to hunger, headache or nausea by eating carbs. But things are different for you now. You’re choosing to go keto and experience the benefits. Best of luck to you!