What is the keto flu?
The keto flu is a phenomenon that stops many people from fully experiencing the benefits of a ketogenic diet. They start the diet and when they start feeling poorly they use it as proof that the diet doesn’t work for them. Unfortunately this means they quit right before the magic happens.
The first time I ate a ketogenic diet I experienced keto flu symptoms. I was fatigued, achy and felt like I had “brain fog.” It resolved over a couple of days and I took those days to take it easy on myself. I wish I would have known that there were some simple things I could have done to feel better.
The process known as keto flu happens when your body is transitioning from a primarily carbohydrate burning metabolism to a fat burning metabolism. You may feel irritable, have a headache and feel fatigued. Some people even feel some heart palpitations. The body is trying to achieve a level of homeostasis. Many of the symptoms are related to dehydration and electrolyte loss. This usually hits around day 2 to day 4 of the keto diet. Unfortunately this is also about the time that your carbohydrate cravings will be raging.
Why does keto flu happen?
As you eat less carbs your insulin levels go down and your body gets rid of more water and with that water goes some of your electrolytes.
How to cure keto flu:
- Tackle dehydration by drinking more water. Be intentional about drinking water throughout the day.
- Get more salt. You can use any salt but I recommend Himalayan Pink salt as you will get other important electrolytes along with it. You can add salt to your water or you can just take in a bit of salt throughout the day. You can also enjoy some broth to get the extra salt in. I recommend a homemade bone broth. I also enjoy an electrolyte supplement called Jigsaw. It adds a bit of flavor to my water with some electrolytes. Sodium, magnesium and potassium supplements are helpful on a ketogenic diet.
- Eat more fat. While you’re adjusting to the ketogenic diet you need to make sure you’re getting enough fat. Keep your carbs under 20g. Eat a moderate amount of protein. And eat fat to satiety. If you’re hungry, eat fat.
- If you have done all the above and you are totally miserable you can try adding in a few more carbs to get you past the rough patch. The best way to get the extra carbs is with some berries. A small serving of berries and heavy cream can be a delicious way to do this. Some sweet potatoes or other vegetables can be another good way to get appropriate carbs. Then you can slowly decrease your carbs over the next few days.
- Spoiling yourself with a nice warm Epsom salt bath can be soothing. It’s also a good way to absorb some magnesium.
Once you get past the keto flu you will begin to experience the benefits of a ketogenic diet. You will have more mental clarity, energy and you will be a fat-burning machine.