“I feel miserable.”
Sound familiar? As you make your way into week two of your keto journey, you may feel pretty lousy. But don’t despair! This is actually a good thing, because general malaise is an indication that what you’re doing is working and your body is making the bumpy transition from burning glucose (sugar) for energy to burning fat! In fact, the unpleasant symptoms associated with the keto transition are so common there’s a name for them: the “keto flu” or the “carb flu”.
The keto flu can feel similar to withdrawing from an addictive substance, which is essentially what you’re doing (Goodbye, sugar!). The good news is the symptoms are short-lived. Even better, they can be mitigated as you go through this rite of passage, if you know what to do. So, instead of suffering in low-carb silence, read through the information here, check out this helpful video, and stick with your new diet. The energizing, fat-burning rewards that come with perseverance are coming! (And if you’re not feeling crappy, don’t worry–while the keto flu is common, not everyone suffers from it.)
Keto Flu Symptoms
It’s not just your mind that’s working hard to transition into a keto lifestyle. If you’ve been living on mostly carbs–and most people do–your body is figuring out what to do now that it can no longer depend on glucose for energy. Following are some common indicators that your body is sorting itself out and you’re experiencing the keto flu:
- Brain fog
- Body aches
- Muscle cramps
- Sugar cravings
Flu Timing and Duration
For the average person, keto flu symptoms may begin within the first day or two of eliminating carbs from your diet, especially if you’ve been enjoying a diet high in refined sugar and processed foods. If your diet is already relatively low in processed sugars and starches, you may encounter only mild keto-flu symptoms or no symptoms at all. As with everything in the keto lifestyle and life in general, everybody’s experience is different, and that’s okay. Even if you have a particularly intolerable case of the keto flu, the symptoms tend to last a week or less; it’s only on very rare occasions that they persist for longer, perhaps up to a month. If you’re suffering for any extended amount of time, it’s always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider.
Ways to Ward Off the Keto Flu
Following are a number of things you can do to lessen the physical unpleasantries as your body adjusts to its new fuel source:
- Drink plenty of water. The keto diet is diuretic, so dehydration is common and can cause all of the keto-flu symptoms listed above, especially because it aids in the loss of electrolytes (see below). Luckily, it’s also the easiest thing to remedy; make sure to drink plenty of water regularly throughout the day.
- Replenish electrolytes. The most common cause of keto flu is a deficit in electrolytes; if yours get low, you’ll feel tired. To solve the problem, add more sodium and potassium to your diet, perhaps through bone broth, avocados, or a sprinkling of Himalayan sea salt to your beverages or food.
- Eat more fat. (When was the last time you heard that?!) Another common cause of keto flu is not eating enough macros to maintain good energy levels. So, if you’re dragging, eat a healthy, fat-centric snack, like celery with salted butter or some fresh, salted avocado.
- Exercise a little less. Light activities such as walking, yoga and non-strenuous biking can help ward off flu symptoms, but you should avoid strenuous workouts with intense running or lifting weights as your body adapts. So, get out there and move your body a little, but don’t overdo it.
- Rest more. Get plenty of sleep nightly and rest when you feel tired. Shifting metabolic gears is hard work, so give your engine plenty of idle time!
Feeling better yet? If not, grab yourself a tall glass of water, season it with a little sea salt, and toast to you for self care and for pushing through in the name of better health!