Contrary to what most people think, the keto flu isn’t caused by ketosis. Your body is responding to the restricted supply of carbohydrates, the resource it has used for energy since day one. This initially results in symptoms such as dizziness, irritability, nausea, cramping, muscle soreness, insomnia and a craving for sugar.
The length and severity of the keto flu varies from person to person depending on factors such as your genetics and lifestyle. If your body was used to eating processed foods filled with refined sugar, its response to a lack of these energy-boosting resources will be more pronounced.
Fortunately, the keto flu is only temporary and there are many simple remedies that you can take advantage of in order to make it easier for you to get through it. Before we get into the list, let’s take a deeper look into what causes the keto flu and its symptoms.
Why Do We Get the Keto Flu?
When carbohydrates are restricted from your body, the release of insulin is reduced as it’s no longer having to push sugar into your cells for energy. Because insulin also makes your kidneys hold onto water and sodium, a deficit of insulin makes your body flush out these resources at an increased rate.
This results in glycogen (what your body uses to store sugar) also being flushed out, as most of it is stored in your water reserves. A glycogen deficit, along with the weight reduction that comes with all the water being flushed out is what causes symptoms such as nausea and headaches.
Increased cortisol levels are another result of decreased carbohydrate intake, which is why some people experience insomnia. As your body learns to use alternative resources to gain energy, these symptoms will cease to exist and you’ll feel better than ever before. That’s why the keto diet is so effective.
Of course, some people are skeptical about these changes, so it is important to do your research before you start on the diet. KetoLogic is a reputable website with a vast collection of information on the ketogenic diet. They also have some great recipes and a diet program for you to follow. For more information on ketosis and carbohydrates, check out their article asking Is the Low-Carb Flu Real?
Now that we know what causes the keto flu, let’s take a look at how we can combat these effects.
Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium
When restricted from carbohydrates, your body loses more sodium and potassium. This is why it’s important to keep up your reserves of these important resources. For potassium, be sure to include plenty of leafy greens in your meals, along with some avocados.
Sodium is as simple as sprinkling some unrefined salt onto your food. It’s recommended that you consume at least one teaspoon of salt per day through your first week of ketosis. Magnesium helps with regulating your digestive system and improving your sleep quality.
You can opt for the route of picking up some magnesium supplements, but foods such as almonds, pumpkin seeds and spinach should do the trick. Men should have around 400mg of magnesium per day, while women are recommended to consume 310mg.
Low-intensity exercise is a great remedy for the keto flu and doesn’t require much effort to stick to. Simply fill up a bottle of water and head out for a brisk walk. Aim to walk for 30 minutes to an hour, and you should start feeling better and more energized for the day ahead.
We know that water is extremely important and that we lose a lot of it during ketosis. This is what causes many of the keto flu symptoms. Adult men should have around 1251 fl oz. of water per day, while women should have 912 fl oz.
Fortunately, these crazy amounts will only be required during the first few days and if you feel that you need more water, feel free to increase your intake. To further eliminate the keto symptoms, add a pinch of unrefined salt to your water.
Getting some quality sleep will help relieve stress and lower your cortisol levels, which helps your body adapt to the keto diet faster. Aim to get up to nine hours of shuteye per day starting off, taking 30-minute naps to make up for any lost sleep. Falling asleep will likely be the biggest challenge.
Be sure to turn off all the lights and pick up a pair of earbuds to drown out any noise if necessary. Read a book or meditate and avoid using any electronics without a blue light filter. Here are some extra tips to help you fall asleep faster.
There are some things you should avoid during the keto flu period, such as stressful activities, intense exercise and large amounts of protein. Aside from this, the keto flu isn’t a harrowing process to get through. It simply requires time and a bit of attention to your body. We know you can do it!