- Keto flu-like symptoms are a result of a few factors. One of them being depleted vitamins and minerals and the other from toxins from eliminated fat tissue.
- Examples of keto flu-like symptoms include, but are not limited to the following: shakiness, dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, and cramps.
- Some different ways to deal with keto flu include using broth with added salt, sauna therapy, increasing hydration, improving your sleep, eating more fat, and adding in more low-carb vegetables.
- It is important to note that the keto flu should not last more than a few weeks. [/callout]
Take control of keto flu-like symptoms!
Okay, so if you’ve been doing keto for any protracted time, then it is likely you know about keto flu-like symptoms. I think we have all been there! You are going along in ketosis, and then, boom, an intense headache hits you, or you get aches all over your body. During this time, your thoughts may be, “Darn, I’ve been doing so well and have energy, and now this???” Listen, I understand! So, in this article, I will go over precisely what the keto flu is, the symptoms, and then give you ways to #deal. After you are done with reading this post, I hope you can feel confident to handle keto flu-like symptoms.
What is the keto flu?
Hmmm, I am sure that whenever you hear keto flu, you think, “Well, that doesn’t sound very pleasant.” Let’s face it, any phrase with the word “flu” in it is less than appealing. However, I want you to look at the keto flu as something entirely different. I was hoping you could change your thoughts and think of it as proof that your body is cleansing itself.
Yes, keto flu-like symptoms are just another way of telling your higher self, “Hey, I’m eliminating all the bad, you know what.” Overall, if you look at these symptoms as proof of detoxification, you will have a different perspective on the keto flu.
Keto Flu defined
So, the “keto flu” is an electrolyte imbalance that commonly occurs after switching to a keto diet. Symptoms can feel very similar to the flu, and you may even think you have it. These symptoms can include but are not limited to the following: shakiness, dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, and cramps.
Why do I get keto flu-like symptoms?
Well, my friend, these symptoms can be due to a change in your body’s metabolism. When your body senses a difference, then it immediately acts to restore homeostasis( balance). So, when your body goes into ketosis (which is a change from the usual), your insulin level will tend to drop. This ketosis will also trigger the body to release sodium1.
After this sodium is released, water will follow it; thus, you will get a lot of water excretion from the kidneys. As a result, your sodium levels go down, and then, as a result, so does your potassium. Also, with the release of the water, other vitamins and minerals are depleted from the kidneys. This process is called “the natriuresis of fasting,” which is a result of carb restriction2.
You can also get keto flu-like symptoms due to by-products excreted from the fat burned to make ketones. You see, over time, toxins tend to accumulate in your fat tissue and build up. When you start the keto diet, you are making ketones, which come from fat. In turn, since these ketones come from fat, you will also have toxic waste eliminated as the fat cells go bye-bye.
How do I treat the keto flu?
So, now that I’ve given you a broad definition of the keto flu let’s talk about the different ways to treat it. Overall, I have discovered five different methods to help treat keto flu-like symptoms. The ones I mention in this article are the interventions I have implicated in my own life as a keto flu connoisseur.
#1- Replenish electrolytes with broth
I will mention replenishing electrolytes with broth first because this is a direct way to correct the underlying cause for the keto flu-like symptoms. So how do you go about doing this??? I will explain more below.
One of my favorite ways to help with keto flu-like symptoms is to consume bone or vegetable broth with Himalayan Salt. When you drink broth with salt, you will be restoring your electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium. One crucial tidbit I will add is that if you have high blood pressure or suffer from heart failure, I would run this by your physician before doing this.
I have even found that bone and vegetable broth can even help to boost my energy levels. When fasting or doing a strict keto, I generally like to take in at least 3 cups of broth per day with salt.
#2- Use a sauna
A sauna is another good way to ease keto flu-like symptoms when fasting or doing keto. I will be honest here when I tell you that I am addicted to my sauna! Ever since I purchased a sauna in April 2020, I have found that it has significantly helped my ability to do keto and fast and my energy levels.
How does a sauna help keto flu-like symptoms?
Well, I’m so glad you asked! A sauna works like a gem when it comes to keto-flu. First, let’s go back to the above section when talking about the keto flu, and then you can understand how a sauna may help. As mentioned earlier, it all boils down to the fact that toxins are released once you make the ketones from the fat cells. So, as you are detoxing and eliminating fat ( along with the waste), it accumulates in your body, and as a result, you may get keto flu-like symptoms.
So, a sauna comes in handy in helping your body eliminate these toxins. When you sit in a sauna, you passively sweat out the toxic material. Some people seem to think that actively sweating with exercise is just as good. However, this is not the case at all. When you passively sweat, you are more effectively eliminating waste.
[callout]Research has shown that the toxin concentration in sweat during exercise is relatively low. On the other hand, sweat samples taken during sauna bathing( passive sweating) revealed many toxins released in the sweat. The reason for this has to do with sympathetic versus parasympathetic nervous system activation. [/callout]
The bottom line is if you want to eliminate waste effectively, look into purchasing a sauna. I have a good article which explains more about the benefits of sauna bathing here.
#3- Increase hydration
Hydration is another essential intervention for keto flu-like symptoms. I’ve always told my patients, the solution to pollution is dilution. You see, our bodies are mostly made out of water. So, naturally, it would make sense that we need water to detox and get rid of unruly keto flu. When you dilute your body with nourishing water, you are essentially cleansing your cells and organs. Your body thrives on water! So, if you are suffering from headaches, dizziness, weakness during keto, make water your go-to remedy.
How much water should I be consuming?
Well, the answer to this all depends on YOU. In general, you should be drinking half an ounce to an ounce for each pound you weigh. For example, let’s say you weigh 150 lbs. Well, that would be about 75 to 150 ounces every day. Again, as I mentioned before in the broth section, if you have any heart condition, I would run water consumption by your healthcare provider. You may have different requirements than, say, someone who does not have any cardiac disorders.
#4- Get plenty of rest
Rest is crucial when it comes to helping with keto flu-like symptoms! I have heard of people sleeping like a baby when in ketosis, but I have also heard that people may struggle with sleep. For me, I experience the latter. When I am in deep ketosis, I generally have some difficulty sleeping for the first few days. However, as time goes on, I find that my sleep is excellent.
If you struggle with sleep during ketosis, you may want to plan for short periods of rest during the day. OR, if your sleep hygiene is erratic, you may want to hone in on that and look at what you can change to improve your sleep. If you aren’t sleeping, it will be hard to remain compliant with ketosis because it will worsen your keto-flu-like symptoms.
If you need some good tips on sleeping, please read my article on sleep here.
#5- Eat more fat
When I say eat more fat, I don’t mean to overindulge! When you increase the fat, you ease the transition to fat-burning, thus helping to alleviate keto flu-like symptoms. Good examples of fat include avocados, fatty meats, an extra tablespoon of coconut oil, etc. There is a fine line when it comes to fat; that is why I say don’t overindulge and watch your intake.
The choice to have too much fat on keto can derail your progress! You can read my article, called, Why Am I Not Losing Weight on the Ketogenic Diet? 5 Reasons, to learn about different things( like too much fat) which may prevent you from achieving your goals on keto.
#6-Reduce your exercise
Alright, so there is a time and place for intense exercise. However, when you start a keto diet, your focus should be on the food you are eating and not necessarily the exercise. When you go into fat-burning mode and have keto flu-like symptoms, you want to do light exercise. By light exercise, I mean a brisk walk or a gentle yoga flow. If you go out and do something like lifting weights at the gym or even high-intensity interval training, you will exacerbate your keto flu-like symptoms.
Once you are fat-adapted after the first three weeks, you can slowly go up on your exercise regimen. An important thing to remember is that you don’t need to exercise to lose weight. Some people are wheelchair-bound and they can still lose weight on a keto diet.
#7- Eat keto-friendly, low carb vegetables
Lastly, I would like to mention adding keto-friendly, low-carb vegetables to help your keto flu-like symptoms. These vegetables are very nourishing and full of fiber and electrolytes to help ease your transition into fat-burning mode. You may not be in as deep of ketosis; however, you should remember that most of you are not doing keto for ketosis. You are doing a keto diet because you want to adopt a healthy lifestyle or lose weight (or both).
If you can get to point A or B, why does it matter how you got there? If you can improve your health and feel better with ketosis of 0.5mmol/L, then why should you go into higher ketosis.
[callout]Always remember, nourish your body, and do not harm it. You want to be able to enjoy keto and not suffer from unruly symptoms. [/callout]
Overall, I am glad that you found me on holisticketogoddess.com. After reading this article, I hope you can feel more confident in dealing with keto flu-like symptoms. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is helpful to view these symptoms as a cleansing effect on your body. When you look at keto flu-like that, it will make it easier to be compliant and follow through. Remember, these keto flu-like symptoms shouldn’t last for more than a few weeks, so hang in there!!
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[toggle title = “References”]
Horita, S.G., Seki, H. Yamada, M. Suzuki, K, Koike, and T. Fujita. “Insulin Resistance, Obesity, Hypertension, and Renal Sodium Transport. ” International Journal of Hypertension 2011(2011): 391762.doi:10. 4061/2011/3917621.
Sigler M.H. ” The Mechanism of the Natriuresis of Fasting.” Journal of Clinical Investigation 55, no.2( February 1975):377-3872
Mercola, Joseph. Ketofast: Rejuvenate Your Health with a Step-by-Step Guide to Timing Your Ketogenic Meals. Hay House, Inc., 20193.
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