Keto flu or carbohydrate flu is a complex name for the symptoms that occur when starting a keto diet. It consists of few carbohydrates, lots of healthy fats and a moderate amount of protein.
The keto regimen is known to help burn fat and improve health. It is suitable for most people, but is sometimes associated with certain adverse side effects. In this article we will talk about keto flu, why it occurs and how to deal with it.
What is keto flu?
Keto flu is a complex name for symptoms that occur in humans when they first start following the ketogenic regimen. The symptoms are similar to those of seasonal flu. In fact, however, they are caused by the body’s adaptation to the new diet, which does not allow the intake of many carbohydrates.
Carbohydrate restriction forces the body to burn ketones instead of glucose to gain energy.
Ketones are by-products of fat breakdown and become a major source of “fuel” when following a ketogenic diet. Fat is usually stored as a secondary source of energy for the body when we take in glucose.
The link Between ketosis and Keto flu
In the ketogenic regime, carbohydrates are usually limited to a maximum of fifty grams per day (depending on which type of diet we follow). This can shock the body initially and cause symptoms similar to those seen when stopping an addictive substance (such as caffeine). This condition is the so-called keto flu.
What are the symptoms of keto flu?
Switching to a low carb diet is a big change for the body. For this reason, our body will probably need time to adapt to this different diet.
For some people, this transition period can be extremely difficult. It is possible that the symptoms of keto flu begin to appear in the first days after a drastic reduction in carbohydrates.
The symptoms may be slightly unpleasant or more serious, but each manifests itself differently. Some people may switch to a ketogenic diet without getting any side effects. However, there are those who get one or more of the following symptoms:
. headache, dizziness
. irritability, poor concentration
. muscle cramps
. stomach pain
. muscle strain
. sleep problems
. urges to consume sugar
These unpleasant side effects can cause a person who follows this diet to give up. Fortunately, there are ways we can alleviate them.
How to relieve the Symptoms of keto flu?
There are various methods by which we can alleviate flu-like symptoms and help the body adapt more easily and quickly to a ketogenic diet.
1. Hydration is very important
It is good to drink enough water, because good hydration is necessary for our body to function optimally.
When following a keto diet, our body expels the excess water it retains. This increases the risk of dehydration, which will lead to even more unpleasant side effects.
The cause of dehydration is that glycogen (stored carbohydrates) binds to water in the body. With limited carbohydrate intake, glycogen levels fall and large amounts of water are expelled from the body.
Good hydration can help relieve symptoms such as fatigue and muscle cramps.
Supplying the body with water is extremely important when we suffer from diarrhea due to keto flu. It is possible that it will lead to more fluid loss and thus the body will become further dehydrated.
2. “No” to intense exercise and Training
Exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight. However, it is a good idea to avoid strenuous exercise when experiencing symptoms of keto-flu.
During the first week of following a ketogenic diet, we may feel tired, get muscle cramps and stomach discomfort. Therefore, it is good to give your body a rest, which it definitely needs to recover more easily.
Activities such as weightlifting, running and all kinds of heavy physical training can be put in the background. This is only temporary while our body adapts to the new source of fuel – fat.
Although these types of exercises should be avoided if we experience keto flu, light activities such as walking or yoga can relieve its symptoms.
3. Supply of electrolytes
It is important to get the electrolytes that our body needs. They are substances that contain free ions, such as potassium, calcium, sodium, etc. This is one of the ways we can alleviate the symptoms of keto-flu.
When we follow a ketogenic diet, the levels of insulin – the hormone that helps the absorption of glucose from the blood – fall. When this happens, the kidneys expel excess sodium from the body. For this reason, it is good to get it externally through food supplements for a certain period of time. Salt is also a good source of sodium.
The ketogenic diet excludes large amounts of foods rich in potassium, including fruits, starchy vegetables and legumes. Intake of the necessary amounts of these important nutrients is a very good way to eat during the period of adaptation to this diet.
Consuming potassium-rich keto diets, such as avocados and green leafy vegetables, is a good way to maintain proper electrolyte levels in the body.
These foods are also high in magnesium, which can help relieve muscle cramps, headaches and sleep problems.
4. Enough sleep
During adaptation to a ketogenic diet, many people complain of fatigue and irritability.
When we don’t get enough sleep, we cause an increase in stress hormone levels (cortisol). This is likely to negatively affect our mood and worsen the symptoms of keto flu.
If we find it difficult to fall asleep quickly, we can try one of the following tips:
– Reduced caffeine intake: Caffeine is a stimulant that can adversely affect sleep. Drinking caffeinated beverages should be only in the morning, so as not to adversely affect our sleep.
– Turning off the ambient light: It’s a good idea to turn off cell phones, computers, and TVs in the bedroom to create a dark environment. In this way we will predispose our body to sleep more easily.
– Relaxing shower or bath: Adding lavender essential oil to a warm bath is a relaxing way to relax and prepare for sleep. The same effect has a warm shower, which will warm us and relax our muscles.
– Awake mode: Waking up at the same time every day and avoiding lying in bed helps to normalize sleep patterns.
Another useful tip is not to overeat before bedtime. This can lead to palpitations and nausea, which in turn will prevent us from falling asleep.
5. Intake of enough Useful fats
Switching to a low carb diet can make us crave foods that are limited by the ketogenic regime. Such are pasta and sweet temptations.
Consuming enough healthy fats (the main source of energy in a ketogenic diet) will reduce our appetite and so we will not overeat with harmful foods. In fact, low carb diets help reduce the urge to eat sweets and high carb foods.
Those who find it difficult to adapt to a ketogenic diet can eliminate carbohydrates gradually, not suddenly. Gradually reducing them and increasing the fats and proteins in our diet will make the transition smoother. This will alleviate some signs of keto flu.
Keto flu – adaptation
Everyone adapts to the ketogenic diet in a different way. While some symptoms of keto flu can last for weeks, others are able to adjust to the new diet without unpleasant side effects.
The symptoms that occur are related to how the human body adapts to the new source of “fuel”. Carbohydrates usually supply the body with energy in the form of glucose. When the former are severely restricted, the body burns fat ketones instead of glucose from carbohydrates.
For beginners, who generally consume a lot of carbohydrates, especially refined, it will be much more difficult to start a keto diet.
The reason why some adapt to the ketogenic diet more easily than others is unknown. However, genetics, electrolyte loss, dehydration and carbohydrate restriction are thought to be the driving forces behind keto flu.
How long will it last?
Fortunately, the uncomfortable signs of keto flu last for about a week for most people. In people who have difficulty adapting to a ketogenic diet, symptoms can last for several weeks.
Fortunately, they will gradually decrease until our body gets used to converting ketones into energy.
Signs of keto-flu are common, but if you feel very unwell and experience symptoms such as prolonged diarrhea, fever or vomiting, it is best to contact a doctor.
We must not let unpleasant side effects affect our motivation. Following a keto diet can have many beneficial benefits for us and our health.