Keto Flu: Why It Happens & How To Get Rid Of It
You’ve probably heard all about the various benefits that come with a keto diet. Increased energy, improved vascularity, no stomach bloating, and improvement of mental capabilities are all present one your body starts use ketones for energy.
Ketones are produced in the liver once your body gets used to receiving energy from fat instead of carbs. However, when you switch from a high carb diet to a high fat, the transition doesn’t always go smoothly. In fact, most people experience flu-like symptoms, which is why the first 3-5 days on a keto diet should not be taken as an evaluation of whether a keto diet suits you or not.
The reason is quite straightforward – Your body has used carbs as a main source of energy for decades, and now your metabolism needs to prime itself up for a different energy source.
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Keto Flu Symptoms
The symptoms you may experience are nausea, tiredness, headaches, insomnia, diarrhea and cramps. In my case, the symptoms were not severe by any means, but I did feel all of these to a small degree.
With that being said, what should you do to ease out of the situation, and start receiving the benefits of your keto diet? Here are 6 tips that are sure to help you.
1. Switch Fast
Some nutritionists advocate switching to fats slowly, in order to reduce the shock that your metabolism might experience. So you’d eat 30% carbs, 40% fat and 30% protein and slowly go 2-3% less carbs and 2-3% more fats in a course of a few weeks. This is a very steady approach that does work, but it takes a lot of time and most people are too impatient to go through such a hassle.
The other way to do is to simply muster up the courage and go cold turkey. Decide when you want to start your keto diet, and just do it. Reduce your carbs to 30 grams or less, and let your body get into the ketosis as fast as possible. The reason why you’ll experience keto flu in the first place is because your body doesn’t produce enough ketones, and at the same time you’ve reduced your carb intake, so the energy source for your daily functions is lacking.
The quicker you start producing ketones, the faster the keto flu dissipates. For most people, 20-30 grams of carbs is the maximum they can intake. If you eat more than that, ketosis will not happen, so the smooth transition can be a waste of time for many.
2. Eat Less Protein
You might be thinking that removing carbs is all you need to do to reach ketosis, and that protein is just fine. That’s not actually the case. Unfortunately, our body can turn protein into sugar and store it as glycogen. Therefore, you should also make sure your protein intake doesn’t exceed 20% of your daily caloric intake.
3. Stay hydrated
One major mistake people make on keto diets is drinking the same amount of water as they did before. You should be drinking more water, and if you listen to the signals your body is sending, you’ll definitely realize the same thing. The main reason this is the case is because carb-rich foods are often rich in water.
Just think of the various fruit like watermelon, apples, oranges etc. They are partially juice, and partially fiber. Since you’re avoiding sugar, you’ll inevitably avoid these side-sources of liquid. So make sure you have a bottle with you and sip on a regular basis, at least for the first few days until you get the knack of it.
4. Replenish your electrolytes
As you drink more water, you’ll also be washing out more electrolytes, and minerals such as magnesium and zinc out of your body. Although you’ll get plenty of minerals from eating green vegetables such as broccoli, kale and spinach, it can also be beneficial to add a mineral supplement to your diet.
Increasing the amount of salt you consume with your meals is a great way to replenish electrolytes. You can also drink mineral water instead of plain water to get a similar effect.
5. Don’t Just Lay Around
While you’re experiencing keto flu, you most likely won’t feel like training or doing a lot of physical activity. But laying around the house is not beneficial either, as it can make the process far longer than is should be. You need to make sure that your body has enough reason to tap into it’s fat reserves for energy.
If you’re not doing any work and burning energy, you’ll be in maintenance mode indefinitely. Moderation is the key. Don’t push yourself too hard, but perform some light cardio and weight workouts to get the ketone production rolling.
6. Watch Out For Food Surprises
As you start to master the keto diet and all the neat tricks that go along with it, you’ll also learn which foods suit you best. But when you’re just starting out, it’s easy to fall into the trap of eating the wrong foods while thinking that they’re keto friendly.
It’s usually the processed foods that can pose an issue, such as peanut butter which has added preservatives, or salads soaked in sugary condiments or sauces. It’s important that you read the labels, and make sure you don’t exceed the carb limit you’ve set up for yourself. This is something that is necessary throughout the time you are on ketosis, but especially when you’re trying to induce it for the first time.
Keto flu might sound scary at first, but it’s really not that big of a deal. Imagine stuffing yourself up with ice cream and a big pizza, and feeling sluggish the next day. Or catching a random cold that passes without even falling to blow your nose once. That’s the sort of symptoms we’re dealing with.
After they pass, you’ll enter a whole new reality of living, with improved mental and physical performance. I hope this article has cleared that up, and you’ll give keto dieting a try in the near future.