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Let me guess, you’ve started to lose weight on the keto diet, but you feel like total garbage?
Headaches, muscle cramps, nausea, dizziness with a touch of constipation. You feel awful.
And now you’re wondering where you went wrong.
Well, let me tell you. You haven’t done a thing wrong. All of the above can be chalked up to the keto flu. And rest assured, there is something you can do about it!
You don’t have to feel bad to lose weight on the keto diet!
The keto flu is not the real flu. Or a bug or virus. And it isn’t caused by ketosis or ketogenesis! The keto flu is just the name given to the symptoms your body experiences when it goes through carbohydrate restriction. Most of which can be remedied by electrolytes! I’ll get to that part shortly.
When Do Symptoms Start?
Ok, so while there is no set timeframe on this, usually the onset of the keto flu happens within the first week of eliminating carbs. Some people experience symptoms as soon as 12 hours after starting the diet. For others, it’s two days. I got lucky and didn’t have any signs!
Keep in mind no two people are the same. Just like everyone will experience weight loss at a different pace not everyone will experience the keto flu!
How Long Does It Last?
On the average, about two days to two weeks. Usually, if you’re going to get it, you’re going to feel it for about two days & then gradually get better.
All of this will depend on your previous diet, hormonal state (shout out to hormones) and how many carbs you were taking in before you started the diet.
Also known as why everyone’s body reacts differently to carb reduction. Webster’s would fire me for that definition, so here’s another one. Your metabolic flexibility determines how well your body can adapt to using different fuel sources.
A couple of factors determine your metabolic flexibility, but the two major ones are genes and lifestyle. Yes, some people are born able to adapt to the ketogenic diet easier thanks to their genes. Lucky.
Lifestyle is another major player. If you were eating a diet that was high in processed foods and sugar, then you are more likely to experience keto flu symptoms. Much more so than if you had switched from a clean eating low carb diet. This makes sense when you think about it. You have been in a long-term relationship with carbs forever. And you just kicked them to the curb. Abruptly. It’s kind of like a bad break up. Without the Instagram stalking + body aches.
Now that you know a little more about why you’re feeling not so Raven let’s review the symptoms you may be having!
Is Meal Planning Holding You Back?
Symptoms of Keto Flu
Keep in mind these that the symptoms vary from person to person. Symptoms range from mild to severe.
- Difficulty Sleeping/Insomnia
- Digestive Upset
- Lack of Focus
- Sugar Cravings
- Mental Fog
- Heart Palpitations/Arrhythmia
- Cramps (Leg & Muscle)
- High or Low Blood Pressure
Electrolytes & The Keto Flu
Electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, potassium) are minerals that your body MUST HAVE to function correctly! They play a significant role in the overall functioning of your heart, muscles, and brain. When you started the keto diet, you flushed a TON of electrolytes out. Remember all of the water weight you lost? Well, now you need to replenish them!
3 Electrolytes to Replenish
Sodium – 3,000-5,000mg Daily Source: Broth, Bacon, Salt
Potassium – 1000-3500mg Daily Source: Salmon, Avocado, Dark Leafy Greens
Magnesium – 300-500mg Daily Source: Spinach, Fish, Nuts
Keto Flu Remedies
You have to drink water. Don’t wait for your body to feel thirsty to grab a bottle of water. You’ve waited too long. Hydration is essential on the keto diet because we lose water during the first few days of carb restriction. When our body gets dehydrated, we experience headaches, muscle cramps and lose mental focus.
Sodium/Potassium/Electrolytes: Oh My!
Electrolytes are a big deal, y’all. Switching to a keto diet full of low carb foods often means cutting out your body’s prime sources of electrolytes like fruit & starchy vegetables. Fatigue, irritability, muscle cramping, and confusion can all be signs of an electrolyte imbalance. Take a keto friendly electrolyte supplement (not Potassium*) or drink a homemade electrolyte beverage to remedy this. Do not reach for a sports drink since they are notoriously high in sugar & carbs!
It may not sound appetizing, but this stuff is actually delicious and more importantly, full of electrolytes! Bones are loaded with electrolyte minerals, and when simmered on low heat for hours (12 hours via your crockpot) these bits of super nutrition get excreted into the broth. Here’s a recipe!
Now that you’ve cut your carb intake your body won’t be holding on to sodium as much as before. Insulin levels usually go down on a low carb diet, and you’ll be losing water at a rapid pace during the induction period. This means you’ll be losing sodium (salt) too!
Increase the potassium in your diet by eating foods like salmon, spinach & avocado. Do not take a potassium supplement unless you’ve cleared it with your Dr! *Taking too much potassium can cause irreversible heart conditions!!! I can’t stress this enough! Do not take a potassium supplement before speaking to a physician.
Eat more healthy fats to help your body transition. Since you are using fat for energy instead of carbs, you likely need more fuel if you are feeling tired & worn out!
I know this is the last thing you want to do when you don’t feel well, but if you can get a little physical activity in it will make you feel better! It will also increase your metabolic flexibility which is your body’s ability to switch between using carbs & fat as an energy source!
And there you have it! If you’re experiencing keto flu symptoms, these tips should help you get back to normal asap!
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