Making any change to your lifestyle, whether it’s taking on a new diet or exercise regime can have effects. One symptom that many people go through when they start the ketogenic diet is called the keto flu. The experts at Keto Goodies explain what the keto flu is, what to expect and some simple remedies to help overcome the symptoms.
A common misconception is that the flu-like symptoms are caused by ketosis, which is not the case. Simply put, the keto flu is caused by the body’s response to carbohydrate restriction. It’s usually experienced by people who have been carb-loaded for a prolonged period of time and then decide to switch, or ‘taper’, their carbohydrate intake.
Similar to those who regularly smoke or drink coffee, once you stop or cut down your intake, the body reacts as it struggles to re-calibrate. The same goes for carbohydrates, most of your cells prefer to burn sugar for fuel and are adapted to using the carbohydrates that you eat. For the body to adapt, it must make many changes at a cellular and hormonal level and this often causes symptoms broadly referred to as the keto flu.
For the average person, the symptoms last about one week and usually begin within the first few days of starting the keto diet. The most common symptoms include:
- Sugar cravings
- Dizziness and poor focus
- Stomach pains or cramping
Some may only experience one or two or none at all. The symptoms you experience, the severity and the duration all differ from person to person. Everyone has a unique metabolic, genetic make-up and lifestyle – for example, people who exercise more often are metabolically more flexible and are able to process the diet change better than those with a sedentary lifestyle.
Here are some simple remedies that can help resolve symptoms associated with the keto flu.
1. Drink more water (with a pinch of salt) – Hydration is essential when restricting carbs. If you don’t drink enough water while on the ketogenic diet, you can quickly become dehydrated. We recommend drinking up to 3 litres for women and 4 litres for men per day to help combat the water loss.
2. Do low intensity exercise first thing in the morning – Making sure you are hydrated, go for an early morning walk. Aim for about 30 to 60 minutes, at a slow pace. This can help kick start ketosis and help increase fat burning.
3. Relieve stress and make sleep a priority – Restricting carbs can cause irritability, brain fog and sugar cravings. It is helpful to add 15 minutes of meditation to your daily routine as it allows you to build focus, training your mind to be less reactive to those cravings and therefore reducing stress. Getting quality sleep also helps many that are experiencing keto flu symptoms. Aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep to keep your energy levels up during the day. You can even take a 30-minute nap during the day if you do feel drained of energy.
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