It’s no secret that the ketogenic diet is a restrictive diet. There is no other way to put it, as harsh as it may sound. The term ‘restrictive’ has gotten a lot of bad press in recent years, being tarred with the same brush as ‘crash dieting’ or ‘extreme dieting’.
But keto is neither extreme, nor is it a crash diet. It is a genuinely effective way of cutting fat and maintaining a natural state of ketosis in order to keep the weight off. However, some of us can experience certain symptoms during the first few days of becoming adapted. This is colloquially named the dreaded ‘keto flu’.
What Are The Symptoms of Keto Flu?
Just like regular influenza (but in NO WAY as serious or as unpleasant), keto flu can cause the following symptoms:
- General feelings of fatigue and sleepiness
- Upset stomach or feeling nauseous
- Difficulty concentrating, or ‘brain fog’
Everyone is different, so some people may only experience one or two of the above symptoms, some only one and some none at all. The main thing to remember is that feeling a couple of these symptoms on some level is completely normal while your body is becoming keto adapted, and starts to make the switch to burning fat for fuel instead of glucose. That’s why keto flu is sometimes referred to as ‘adaptation flu’ or ‘induction flu’.
The good news is this – the symptoms don’t usually last for long, with most keto dieters reporting feeling only some level of discomfort for a couple of days to a week when first starting the diet. Please note, however, this is merely anecdotal evidence. As far as I know, there have been no significant studies into the phenomenon that is keto flu (if you come across one, please do give me a shout in the comments section below).
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms, or you want to try to make sure that you don’t – then check out some of the following simple tips for dealing with keto-flu below.
Tip 1: Eat More Fat
The idea behind eating more fat in order to avoid keto flu (or at least to lessen its symptoms) is that by loading your body with fats for fuel, you will be encouraging your body to speed up the transition from burning glucose as a primary energy source. Remember, you want to switch to a state where your body burns fat for fuel, so you need to feed it what it needs!
Also, by ensuring you’re getting enough fat you will effectively be combatting feelings of fatigue and sleepiness. It might not immediately result in your body burning this new primary energy source, but it will help to send the right signals to your body. So go on – pile on the cheese and spread that butter. It’s just what the doctor ordered, after all.
Tip 2: Watch Your Protein Intake
Again, we want to speed up the transition as quickly as we can – so be sure you don’t overload on the protein. The reasoning behind this is due to the fact that the body can actually transform protein to glucose eat too much of it in the first couple of days of starting your ketogenic diet.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, however – so by no means avoid protein all together. Just make sure you’re choosing fatty meats, or combining lean meats with fats at mealtimes (hello – chicken breast wrapped in bacon. Yes please!).
Tip 3: Take Your Vitamins
Since you’re pretty much cutting out an entire food group (i.e. carbs and sugars), then there might be nutritional holes in your diet where there were none before. This rings true especially in the first few days of starting keto, as you’re still learning the ropes and experimenting with different meals and recipes.
During this awkward toddler stage of your diet, when you’re first finding your feet, it’s a good idea to take a good quality multivitamin every day in order to patch up any holes in your diet. It’s also a good idea to take fish oil capsules too, as well as a potassium supplement. If you’d like to know more about supplementation, we’ve written a whole post about the best supplements for a low carbohydrate diet.
Tip 4: ALWAYS Stay Hydrated
Last but most certainly not least – drink plenty of water! It’s a good idea to get a large refillable water bottle (one or two litres should do) and keep it with you at all times – such as on your desk at work, or in the car when you travel.
By ensuring you’re adequately hydrated you will help to combat the headaches that can sometimes be brought on by keto flu. The best cure for this is prevention, so keep hydrated in order to keep the headaches away. Add a slice of lemon to your water if you’re one of those freaky people who can’t handle the ‘taste’, but either way just make sure you’re consuming a minimum of two litres of water per day. You’ll thank me when your transition is headache free J
Do you have any tips for beating the keto flu? I’m sure everyone would love to hear about it (including us) so please do share it with us in the comments section below.