What is the Keto Flu & How to Remedy It
The keto flu is not caused by a virus that only infects ketogenic dieters. It is the body’s response to severe carbohydrate restriction.
The most common keto flu symptoms are sugar cravings, dizziness, irritability, poor focus and concentration, stomach pains, nausea, cramping, confusion, muscle soreness, and difficulty falling asleep.
The severity of the keto flu and its symptoms, however, depends on how metabolically flexible you are. As an example, the most metabolically flexible people may not experience keto flu symptoms at all, while the least metabolically flexible people may struggle to get out of bed.
Whether you are metabolically flexible or not, it is important to drink more water, consume plenty of sodium, potassium, and magnesium, eat more fat (especially MCTs), do low-intensity exercise in the morning, meditate every day, and sleep well. Doing these six things can relieve the keto flu completely.
Some things that could be getting in your way while keto adapting are stress, high-intensity exercise, and eating too much protein. This is why it is also important to eat the right amount of protein, do low-intensity exercise, sleep well, and meditate to help remedy the keto flu.
If you are ready to get started on your keto journey and crush the keto flu, check out our Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to the Ketogenic Diet.
However, if you are struggling with the keto flu and none of these recommendations are helping, try using the bonus keto strategy found below.
(Important note: Make sure you try all of the recommendations in this article before you attempt the bonus strategy. This strategy is only for people who want to be on the ketogenic diet but can’t make it to the other side of the keto flu.)
The Keto Flu Isn’t Going Away
For some people, going from eating as many carbohydrates as they want to eating less than 30 grams a day feels like crashing into a brick wall. To add insult to injury, the keto flu only gets worse no matter what they do to remedy it.
If this sounds like you, then try this approach proposed by Dr. Cate:
If you jump into [a low-carb] program and hit a brick wall because of side effects, instead of giving up on low-carbing for good, add back your carbs until you feel better again and then try cutting down again, but go slow to give your body the time to adapt to the idea.
This is a great concept, but how do you put it into practice?
Try gradually reducing your carbohydrate intake by 10 grams a day. Increase your fat consumption each day for satiation and satiety, while keeping your protein the same. This slow tampering down of carbohydrates can help you get into ketosis without experiencing any keto flu symptoms. (Keep in mind that this process can take up to six months depending on how many carbohydrates you are used to eating.)
If you are not a fan of the idea of rigidly tracking you carbohydrates, then you can try the gradual elimination method. Each week remove a carbohydrate source from your diet. For example:
- Week 1: Replace soda and other sugary drinks with no-calorie beverages.
- Week 2: Remove all desserts and sugary snacks like cakes, muffins, pastries and chocolate bars.
- Week 3: Say goodbye to the starchy foods like pasta, pizza, chips, and packaged snacks.
- Week 4: Eliminate all bread, rolls, and starchy vegetables.
- Week 5: By now you are probably down to <50g of carbs a day. If you want to restrict carbs further, then cut out fruit and sauces that contain excess carbohydrates.
- Week 6: Congratulations! You are going to be entering ketosis soon. Follow the suggestions in this article to help with your transition.
Whether you go slow and steady or restrict your carbohydrates right away, it is possible to get into ketosis with ease and grace. The keto flu can be a speed bump on your road to ketosis, but you can just take another road.