Starting a ketogenic diet is by far the best lifestyle change most people will ever make. There are so many benefits to starting keto, such as increase in mental clarity, higher energy levels, and of course, weight loss. There are so many benefits to a ketogenic diet, and we have outlined a few of them in our article, Five Reasons Why We Chose the Keto Diet and Why It’s Working. But, in spite all of the benefits, there can be one huge drawback to Keto. Keto Flu!
When some of my family started to change their way of eating and shifted to a ketogenic diet, they came down with the keto flu. Hard. And they aren’t alone. In fact, I recently created a Facebook poll in one of the keto groups I am in, and of the 282 individuals who responded, 126 of them said that they did get the keto flu. I was shocked to see that nearly half of the participants suffered through the keto flu! We feel so fortunate that we were able to avoid the keto flu! We only escaped the misery that is the keto flu because we did a little research after hearing the horror stories of others. If you’re here strictly for research purposes, kudos to you. If you’re currently dealing with it, good news! You will be back to normal in no time after reading this article. Sadly, it seems that a huuugeee number of people who start keto catch this dreaded “sickness.”
What is the Keto flu?
Have you ever come down with the regular flu? If you have, you know that there is really only one word that can be used to describe how you felt, and that word is “miserable.” The same is true for the keto flu. That’s because the keto flu has just about all of the same terrible symptoms as the regular flu. Some of the symptoms include:
- Stomach Irritability
Of course, there are some obvious differences between the keto flu and the regular. The keto flu is not a virus, nor is it contagious. Basically, it is just your body responding to the major change you have just made in your eating habits. Your body is shifting from burning glucose for energy to burning quality fats for energy. If you are suffering from the keto flu, there is good news….
The Keto flu is easily curable!
Unlike there regular flu, the keto flu is exceptionally easy to cure and even prevent. I will admit upfront that I am not a doctor, registered nutritionist, or medical professional in any way, shape, or form. However, I do share my researched opinions and experiences. Without further ado, here are five ways to beat the keto flu:
1. Consume more sodium
If you’re following the ketogenic diet, you have probably reduced your sodium intake drastically without even realizing it. When you think of salty foods, what comes to your mind? For me, I think of foods like french fries, potato chips, and pretzels. Now, compare the salt content of those types of foods with the salt content of the types of foods that you now consume on keto. Chances are, there is a drastic difference! Meats and vegetables don’t normally contain high levels of sodium, so you’ll have to find a way to incorporate the sodium your body needs into your diet. Add an extra pinch of salt to your steak and you’ll probably feel a little better! Remember, your body needs sodium.
2. Incorporate potassium and magnesium into your diet
The bad news is that bananas aren’t keto. The good news is that bananas aren’t the only food in the world that have a lot of potassium. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale have a decent amount of potassium, and avocados contain a decent amount of potassium as well. You must have potassium in your diet. Your blood needs potassium, and your muscles need potassium! But, if you can’t have spinach and avocados every night for dinner, you may need to consider taking a potassium supplement. You definitely can’t skip out on the potassium!
Magnesium is another important mineral that your body absolutely needs! Magnesium is important for muscle function, the immune system, and the heart, just to name a few. Spinach is full of magnesium, as well as potassium! But again, if you can’t eat spinach with every meal, you may need to consider taking a magnesium supplement.
3. Stay hydrated however you can
Call me old fashioned, but I love a glass of water. Luckily for me, drinking plenty of water is a great way to stay hydrated. However, I know that there are a ton of ketoers who can’t stand the taste of water. If you don’t like water, the bad news is that you still have to stay hydrated one way or another. To do so, some choose to drink Powerade Zero or other sugar free sports drinks. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them (at least not in excess), drinking these is better than simply drinking nothing. Sports drinks are also usually full of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium – another important mineral), so you can kill two birds with one stone by drinking them. Staying hydrated helps cure the keto flu because if you are losing weight on keto, especially in the beginning, you are probably losing a ton of stored water that your body needs. No water = dehydration, and dehydration = not good.
4. Go back for seconds and thirds
…and maybe even fourths and fifths. Even though you probably won’t feel like eating much of anything, your body is making a huge transition from burning glucose to burning fat, and it needs all the extra energy it can get. Of course, make sure that you are still eating according to a ketogenic diet and within your macros. If you’re looking for easy keto recipes, we’ve got you covered.
5. Get moving
Not everyone wants to exercise while they are doing keto, and that is okay! But, if you’re trying to overcome the keto flu, a little exercise might be just what you need. If you are burning energy through exercise, it should naturally speed up the miserable transition of burning glucose to burning fat.
And just like that, you’re as good as new!
The keto flu is miserable, but you don’t have to suffer through it! Follow these tips and you will be back to normal in no time! Or, better yet, avoid the keto flu all together by following these tips from the get-go! As I mentioned earlier, only about half of all people who do keto end up with the keto flu, so it is totally avoidable! I have always heard that prevention is the best medicine.
Don’t abandon your electrolytes as soon as you start to feel better, though. Just because you may start to feel better does not mean that your body no longer needs these important minerals! Make sure that you continue to eat foods that are packed with magnesium, potassium, and sodium. Or, if you choose to take supplements, do not abandon them until you are able to get all of the minerals that you need from food.
Disclaimer: We are not certified dietitians or nutritionist, nor do we claim to be. Any advice or suggestions are purely based on our own experience there is no guarantee what works for us, will work for you. Always do your own research and consult with your doctor or physician before making any diet changes.