Keto Flu: What It Is and How to Manage It
Episode #5 of the course The Ketogenic diet beginners guide by Theo Brenner-Roach
Today, we’re going to discuss the dreaded keto flu, what it is, and how to manage it.
By and large, the ketogenic diet is perfectly safe for healthy individuals. However, it is common to suffer from certain side effects as your body transitions from using glucose to using ketones for energy.
These side effects are collectively known as the “keto flu” and can last from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.
While it’s possible to adjust to keto without side effects, most people experience side effects that include:
• reduced energy levels
• poor concentration and reduced mental function
• increased hunger
• sleep issues
• nausea and vomiting
• digestive discomfort and stomach pains
• reduced exercise performance
• muscle soreness and cramps
Keto flu can be, at best, an annoyance and, at worst, downright awful. However, there are steps you can take to manage the effects and transition to using ketones more smoothly.
Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is a good practice for health in general, particularly when you lead an active lifestyle. However, it becomes even more important when starting a keto diet, since cutting out carbs can cause you to rapidly lose water and increase the chances of you becoming dehydrated.
This is because glycogen (carbs stored in the body) draw water into the body, and when you cut them out, water is excreted as you use up your remaining glycogen stores.
Therefore, it’s common to see an initial large drop in weight when starting a new diet, particularly one low in carbohydrates.
Reduce exercise volume. With fatigue, reduced performance, and muscle soreness being common side effects of the keto flu, it can be wise to reduce your overall volume of activity while you adjust.
Although it’s common to continue weightlifting during the transition, you should consider reducing the amount you do and temporarily stop other activities, like HIIT training.
Low-impact, low-stress activities like walking and yoga can help keep you active and improve symptoms as you adjust.
Get enough sleep. When suffering from the keto flu, it’s common to be more tired than usual, as well as suffer from poor concentration and increased irritability.
It’s important to try and maintain a healthy sleep schedule, as a lack of sleep can make the symptoms worse.
Make sure you eat enough. As you transition to a low-carb diet, you may find yourself initially feeling hungrier and craving foods that are now off-limits. It’s important to ensure that you’re eating enough fat and protein, as this will help reduce cravings and promote feelings of fullness.
Reduce carbs slowly. For some people, the side effects of keto flu can be numerous and debilitating. If you find yourself suffering, then you should consider slowly reducing the number of carbs you eat.
Instead of dropping carbs to 5% of your daily intake right away, try dropping it more gradually over several weeks.
That’s all for today, but we’ll be back tomorrow to look at what foods you should eat when doing the ketogenic diet.
See you then.
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