When researching the keto diet and its numerous benefits, you might have come across something called the ‘keto flu.’ Keto flu is a natural reaction that some people have to the change in dietary habits that cause their body to go from burning sugar to burning fat as part of ketosis.
You see, the average human body is used to having an almost constant supply of carbs that provide quick energy no matter the activity.
When someone enters ketosis, the body no longer has the supply of carbs and instead starts to burn the fat stores of the body. This is not unhealthy and will not cause the mythical ‘starvation mode,’ but is actually beneficial for overall health and wellness. However, the body needs to become accustomed to the change, hence the ‘keto flu.’
The keto flu has similar symptoms to a regular cold or flu but is not caused by a virus or bacteria. Instead it happens when someone who has eaten a lot of carbs and refined sugars suddenly removes them from their diet. The most common symptoms to experience are:
- Dizziness or Brain Fog
- Sugar Cravings
- Poor Focus
- Muscle Soreness
These symptoms only last between 24 and 48 hours, making them simple to ignore. If they last longer, speak to a medical professional about whether keto is right for you.
What Causes It?
There are several changes you undergo when switching from carbs to fat as your primary energy source. The first is an essential water and sodium flush. When carb intake decreases, the body naturally produces less insulin, which signals to the kidneys that they no longer have to hold onto as much sodium as before. Few people realize that eating a high-carb diet causes the body to retain water, because sodium is necessary to break down the sugars.
Your kidneys thus flush themselves, and you will rapidly drop up to ten pounds of water weight. This can cause dehydration, dizziness, and nausea. It’s important to remain hydrated and consume plenty of electrolytes. You might also experience some hormonal changes, such as a lowering in cortisol levels or a difference in T3 thyroid hormone levels. This is normal as your body adjusts and should not affect long term health.
What to Do
Managing the keto flu is simple. All you need to do is remain hydrated, make sure you get plenty of electrolytes, rest often, exercise, and eat more fat to ensure you feel full and are getting enough nutrition. If your symptoms last longer than 48 hours, then consider working a few more carbs into your diet and consult your doctor.
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