The dreaded keto flu. Unfortunately, it's a real thing and it happens when we drastically and suddenly stop eating carbs. It's also known as the ‘carb flu,' and it's a natural reaction that the body undergoes while switching from burning glucose to burning fat instead.
While experiencing these symptoms may have you second-guessing the diet, you should feel relieved knowing the symptoms will soon pass. After you go through the dreaded keto flu you'll be reaping the energizing, fat burning rewards thanks to your hard work.
In the meantime, there are different things you can do to reduce the symptoms. Thankfully there are a few things you can do to cope when the keto flu hits – you can do it!
For the average person, the keto flu lasts a week or less, and symptoms usually begin within the first day or two of removing carbs. In extreme cases, the keto flu can last up to a month, but that’s not as common.
If you’re used to eating a diet high in refined sugar and processed foods, you’re more likely to experience the ‘withdrawal’ symptoms of removing carbs. In fact, studies show that sugar is more addictive than certain drugs (2).
If your diet is relatively low in processed sugars and starches, you may only encounter mild keto flu symptoms, or none at all.
Not everyone experiences the keto flu, even when switching from diets high in carbs and sugar. Whether or not you experience the keto flu can depend on your genetics. Some people are naturally ‘metabolically flexible,’ which means they can shift metabolic states easily without experiencing health symptoms.
However, if you are experiencing the effects of the keto flu, here’s what you can do to reduce your symptoms (and how to prevent symptoms if you’re currently considering going low carb).
Take an Electrolyte Supplement
When you switch to an extremely low carb ketogenic diet, you end up cutting out some of the richest natural sources of electrolytes, such as starchy fruit and vegetables.
Not getting enough electrolytes in your diet can lead to fatigue, irritability, dizziness, muscle cramping, and cognitive symptoms such as confusion. In other words, low electrolytes play a big role in the onset of keto flu symptoms.
When you have the flu, it’s not only important to make sure you’re getting plenty of electrolytes, but fluids in general.
Staying hydrated will help relieve headaches and boost your energy levels when you’re feeling sluggish. If you forget to drink enough water during the day, setting a ‘hydration’ alarm on your phone can help you remember, as well as keeping a full glass or bottle of water within reach at all times.
Eat More Fat
If your carb cravings are so intense, you’ve begun to dream of buttered rolls, donuts, and pasta, do the opposite of what your body is asking for and eat more fat instead.
We get it: the last thing you’re thinking of when you have aching muscles and nausea is going for a brisk jog in the park. But gentle exercise, such as a restorative yoga class, can actually help relieve muscle pain and tension and release endorphins to help boost your mood and motivation.
So there you have it. If you do come down with the Keto flu you now know exactly how to combat it. It may not be easy but in all due time, you should get over this flu and onto greater things, like losing weight and getting healthy!
Don't forget to stay hydrated and eat more fat. After a while, your cravings for carbs should decrease and your body will learn to crave fat instead. If exercise seems to help, gently exercise by going on walks or hitting the gym – it should help take your mind off of the flu and onto the TV show you're watching while exercising, or looking incredible thanks to your hard work!
For other ways to combat the keto flu check out Kettle & Fire.
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