Everyone touts the benefits of the keto diet – weight loss, increased energy, reduced cravings – but what they don’t tell you is that starting a keto diet can be tough.
Really tough. Because when your body is first transitioning from burning glucose for energy to burning ketones, you may experience the “keto flu,” a period of fatigue, brain fog, and even nausea that can last for a week or more.
The good thing is that the keto flu is temporary, and there are things you can do to minimize its effects.
In this article, we’ll explore the keto flu in-depth and cover topics like how long the keto flu lasts, how to avoid it, and what you can do to lessen its symptoms.
What Does Keto Flu Mean?
When starting the keto diet, a lot of people may experience several symptoms collectively known as the “keto flu.”
These symptoms, which can have flu-like symptoms, are brought on by the body when adjusting to a whole new diet with few carbs.
For most people, going from using carbs as their main energy source to using fat as their primary energy source requires teaching your body to be metabolically flexible.
Our bodies are wired to love and need carbs. This is partly due to the speed with which these delectable carbs are converted into glucose, which is the most commonly available energy for our bodies.
And when we don’t give our bodies what they need, they can put up a battle, which causes them some discomfort.
By consuming fewer carbs, you make your body burn ketones rather than glucose for energy. Ketones are byproducts of fat breakdown that usually leave the body through urine.
When following a keto diet, your body will reroute these ketones to be used as energy instead, which can result in several different symptoms.
Read: 10 Best Keto Snacks
Also Read: How Many Carbs A Day On Keto
How Long Does Keto Flu Last?
The symptoms of the keto flu typically last for about a week, but they may persist for up to two weeks in some people.
Unlike the more serious influenza virus, the keto flu is not contagious and cannot be passed from person to person.
However, if you have a history of flu-like illness, you may be more susceptible to the keto flu and experience more severe symptoms.
Your recovery can also be hastened by following certain tips and tricks, which we’ll cover later in this article.
What Are The Symptoms Of Keto Flu?
The keto flu is a natural phenomenon that can be experienced by people who start the keto diet.
A low-carb diet is a major shift from your usual regimen, and it could take some time for your body to get used to it.
The level of a person’s symptoms might vary from minor to severe. While some may have one or more of the symptoms listed below, others can change to a ketogenic diet without having any severe side effects.
The most common symptoms include:
- Morning sickness
- Mood swings
- Muscle pain
How To Avoid Keto Flu?
The keto flu is a horrible experience for many people, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a few things you can do to lessen the symptoms or even avoid them altogether.
Here are some tips to avoid the keto flu, or if you’ve already started experiencing symptoms, how to get rid of them quickly:
1. Drink Plenty Of Fluids
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s worth repeating. When you’re feeling the effects of the keto flu, make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids – water, bone broth, herbal teas, and even electrolyte drinks can all help.
The keto diet causes increased urination, leading to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. You can help offset this and avoid the keto flu by drinking plenty of fluids.
2. Replace Electrolytes
Replacing electrolytes lost through the keto diet can help minimize keto flu symptoms.
When you follow a keto diet, your insulin levels go down, which is a good thing because insulin is a crucial hormone that helps the body absorb glucose from the bloodstream.
However, when there is less insulin in the body, the kidneys get rid of excess salt, resulting in the loss of electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, and potassium.
These electrolytes are essential for the proper function of your cells, organs, and muscles.
To replace them, you can drink bone broth or make a homemade electrolyte drink by mixing 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/20 teaspoon of salt, some flavoring like stevia or 1-2 tablespoons of 100% cranberry juice, and 1 cup of water.
3. Avoid Intense Exercise
When dealing with keto flu symptoms, it is best to avoid intense regular exercise, even though exercise is an important aspect of your keto journey.
Within the first week of following a ketogenic diet, it is common to experience symptoms such as fatigue, muscle cramps, and stomach pain; therefore, it can be a good idea to give your body a rest and refrain from intense workouts.
4. Get Plenty Of Sleep
Getting enough sleep is crucial for your overall health, but it’s especially important when you’re trying to avoid the keto flu.
When you’re sleep-deprived, your body isn’t strong enough to off infections, so you’re more likely to get sick.
Plus, when you don’t get enough sleep, your cortisol levels increase. Cortisol is a stress-related hormone that can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to the keto flu.
Aim for 8-9 hours of sleep to avoid the keto flu and keep your immune system strong.
5. Eat More Fat
Eating more fat may seem counterintuitive when you’re trying to avoid the keto flu, but it can actually help.
When you start a low-carb diet, your body isn’t used to running on fat for fuel, so you may experience fatigue, brain fog, and other symptoms of the keto flu.
Increasing fat intake can help your body adjust to running on ketones for energy. Focus on eating healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, grass-fed butter, nuts, and seeds.
Read: 10 Best Keto Bread
Now that you know how long the keto flu lasts and how to avoid it, you can start your low-carb journey with confidence.
By following the tips we mentioned earlier, you can make the transition to a ketogenic diet much smoother and avoid any uncomfortable side effects.
Amit Gupta is the creator of Keto-Reviews.com.
After spending half a decade learning about every type of keto diet, pill, snack, and more, Amit has dedicated his time to helping others make informed decisions about their keto diets. Amit has also worked for a keto diet company, giving him unique and invaluable insights into this growing industry. When he’s not busy reviewing keto products or helping people with their keto journeys, Amit enjoys reading and playing sports.