Whenever you change your diet, there’s a chance you’ll experience some side effects. You may feel irritable because you’re hungrier, or you may have trouble sleeping. But if you’re switching to the ketogenic diet for weight loss you may experience something called the keto flu.
The keto diet isn’t new. It’s been around for centuries—with a rise in interest by medical researchers in the 1920s. When you’re on the ketogenic diet you’re replacing carbohydrates with:
You’ll also mix in vegetables like coconut oil, avocado, almonds, salmon and kale. When you do this, your body goes through some changes. That’s when you may start feeling sick.
So, let’s take a closer look at the keto diet, what it does to your body, and why you may experience the keto flu.
What Causes the Keto Flu?
Researchers say the keto flu is caused by the drastic reduction in carbohydrates.
Your body burns carbohydrates (glucose) for energy by default. But when your carb intake is drastically reduced, like on the ketogenic diet, your body is depleted of stored glucose and instead turns to burning fatty acids for energy. This is the metabolic process of ketosis.
The keto flu is a natural reaction your body has when switching from a state of glucose-burning to fat-burning. Your body’s response to entering ketosis can often mimic symptoms of the flu, thus the name “keto flu.”
What are Symptoms of the Keto Flu?
The keto flu is a collection of symptoms associated with the body adapting to a ketogenic diet.
- Sugar cravings
You may also experience trouble sleeping and “brain fog” when you’re adapting to a high-fat, low-carb diet.
How to Reduce Keto Flu Symptoms
There are three things you can do that may help reduce the symptoms of the keto flu.
Drink water: One of the easiest ways to keep your keto flu symptoms under control is by staying hydrated. You should be drinking about a half-gallon of water each day for optimal health, but it’s even more critical when adapting to the keto diet. That’s because the keto diet can cause you to use up water weight very rapidly. Staying hydrated will help alleviate the fatigue and muscle cramps you may be experiencing.
Avoid strenuous exercise: You may have to stop doing strenuous activities while your body tries to find new fuel sources. These include:
- Weight Lifting
Replace electrolytes: The keto diet restricts many foods that are high in potassium, including fruits, beans and starchy vegetables. Because of this,your insulin levels will also decrease. Green leafy vegetables are keto-friendly and a good way to replace the electrolytes you’re lacking. You can also add a little salt to your diet.
How Long Do Keto Flu Symptoms Last?
The keto flu does not affect everyone. Luckily, if you do experience it, your keto flu symptoms should only last a week or so.
If you find the symptoms unbearable, you can try to introduce more clean carbs like sweet potatoes and other vegetables or some fruits. Or make your own bone broth and add salt and spices to it.
Many people enjoy the keto diet. Studies show burning fat for energy may have its benefits, but you should talk to your doctor before starting a keto diet.
If you’re looking for additional diet tips, you can download our guide: “Eating Healthy in 5 Simple Steps.” In it you’ll learn about the top 10 heart-healthiest vegetables you can work into your Ketogenic Diet.