What is Keto Flu & How To Cure it
One of the biggest side effects of the keto diet is the keto flu, that is why I am taking the time to write this article answering the question “what is keto flu & how to cure it”. Not only will I break down what is keto flu, I will also give you some practical ways on how to cure it or at least reduce its effects.
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What Are Carbohydrates?
Most people, especially Americans consume way too many carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are what gives our bodies the energy to work. Whether it is your heart pumping blood throughout your entire body or you running 4 miles in the morning, carbohydrates make it possible.
Carbs are one of the 3 macro nutrients, with the other 2 including protein and fat.
There are 2 forms of carbohydrates, simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs (sugar) breakdown into 3 categories, glucose which is the basic form of sugar, fructose which is the sugar found in fruit, and lactose which is the sugar found in milk. The other type of carb is complex carbs (starches) which are found in vegetables, grains, rice, breads, and cereals.
Check out this article here for more information on carbohydrates and how they work.
The problem with carbs is that we eat too many of them and the carbs that are not used as energy right away are stored as fat.
Fat is literally stored energy the body can use when it is needed.
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Why Do People Go Keto?
Now, following a keto diet means you enter a state of ketosis, which is where your body burns ketones for energy instead of carbohydrates.
When a person starts a ketogenic diet, they limit the number of carbohydrates they consume, this is usually under 20 grams a day.
Not only do you restrict the number of carbs you eat, but you also increase the amount of fat you consume. With the increase of fat and decrease of carbs consumed your body is forced to look for another viable energy source.
This is where you enter ketosis, because your body starts to burn ketones to produce energy for your body. This happens when the liver brakes down the fatty acids in your blood into Ketones, which are then used as the energy source for your body.
But, one side effect of switching from carbohydrates to fat for energy can be what is known as the Keto flu.
What is Keto Flu?
So, you are 3 to 5 days strong in your Keto journey, but now you are starting to feel under the weather. You are more tired than usual, have headaches, and are easily annoyed.
Congratulations, you are experiencing the first side effect of going into ketosis!
This feeling is known as the Keto Flu. It’s not actually the flu and it is not contagious, but it can make you feel like crap.
The Keto flu is the name giving to a group of symptoms that happen to a lot of people when they go through the process of getting in to ketosis.
These symptoms include:
- Difficulty focusing (“brain fog”)
- Lack of motivation
- Sugar cravings
- Muscle cramps
It is common the have the Keto Flu in the first 2 weeks of giving up carbs.
Most people hit this side effect within the first week of going Keto.
The good thing about it is, if you stick with keto, you will pass this stage in a few weeks and start receiving the benefits of being in ketosis.
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What Is The Cause Of Keto Flu?
When you give up carbs, your body goes through a process.
Your body is moving from using carbohydrates as an energy source to now using fat for that energy.
The cause of the Keto Flu is the transition time needed for your body to get use to this new energy source.
When you stop consuming carbs, your body stops producing insulin. With lower levels of insulin, your liver then starts to produce ketones.
But, it takes your brain and organs some time to get used to this new process of producing energy. This is where the symptoms of the Keto Flu happens.
How To Cure The Keto Flu
To be honest, every person is different with the Keto Flu. Some people may have a few symptoms but not be effected, while others may have symptoms so bad they can not function for a few weeks.
But, there are certain things you can do to minimize the effects of Keto Flu.
Increase Salt & Water Intake
The best thing you can do to decrease the Keto Flu is increase the amount of water and salt you are consuming
During the process of getting into ketosis, you will notice you are going to the bathroom more often. This is because your body is getting rid of the access water it no longer needs.
This is also the cause of that quick weight loss you see at the beginning of going Keto, aka “water weight”.
But, it is not just water being expelled. You are also losing a lot of sodium.
Which may be the main cause of your Keto flu symptoms.
A simple fix to this is to consume a glass of water with a half teaspoon of salt one to two times a day. The best time to consume this is when you feel the symptom coming on.
Another option is to consume things such as consommé, bouillon, bone broth, chicken stock or beef stock.
It is very important to consume enough water to keep you hydrated. The bigger you are, the more water you need to consume. It is a good idea to drink at least 2.5 liters of fluid every day during your first week of keto.
Make sure you are getting enough water, salt, and electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium are the best ways to limited the Keto Flu symptoms.
Eat More Fat
Making sure you drink enough water and consume enough sodium should take care of most of your Keto Flu symptoms.
But, if you still feel yourself under the weather, you should make sure you are consuming enough FAT!
I’m not going to go into how fat has gotten a bad wrap over the years, because you already know how important fat is for the keto diet if you are reading this article.
But, a lot of people start the Keto diet by cutting out the carbs and they don’t increase the fat.
Your diet should consist of mainly fat. Your diet should be 65% to 80% of fat.
If you cut your carbs but do t increase the fat, your body will think it is starving. This could be a reason for some of the Keto Flu symptoms you are having
Start Off Slow
A lot of people want to start off at 100 percent. Meaning, they go from eating 200 plus carbs a day to only 20 grams of carbs a day.
Depending on the person, this can be a major shock to your body.
If you are still having Keto Flu symptoms after increasing water, salt, and fat you may want to increase the carbs some.
I don’t mean go back up to eating as many carbs as you were before you started, but instead of eating on 20 grams, try 50 grams, or 75 grams of carbs. Then slowly decrease the carbohydrates over time.
Giving your body a chance to react to lower carbs by slowly decreasing them is a great way to beat the Keto Flu.
Remember, weight loss is a marathon, not a race.
Stop Counting Calories
The last thing you can try to cure the Keto Flu is drop counting calories.
You may be having these symptoms simply because you are hungry.
The first step in the Keto diet should not be focused on weight loss, that will come. You should be focused on getting into ketosis.
In the first few weeks of your Keto journey focus on eating Keto approved foods instead of how much you eat.
I don’t mean pig out and eat whatever you want as long as it is Keto. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full.
A good thing about the Keto diet is that fat will make you fuller then carbs. Meaning you can eat less and feel fuller, but you do need to eat enough.
Make sure you are eating slower to allow those full signals from your belly to reach your brain, then stop when you are full.
Keto Recipes You Will Love
If you are interested in learning more about the keto diet then you are in the right place! Check out some of the links before to learn about the ketogenic diet:
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I hope this article has helped answer the questions what is Keto flu and how to cure it.
Remember to make sure you are getting enough water, salt, and fat. If that doesn’t help. You may have to increase your carb intake and food intake.
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