Those on the keto diet know just how much planning and preparation goes into taking on keto. From grocery shopping to meal prep, keto is a great way to click “reset” on a healthy diet.
But keto can also be a shock to the system for those making a switch from a previous diet or lifestyle. As a result, something called “keto flu” can happen. In this blog post, we’re diving into keto flu and common keto flu care.
What is keto flu?
Keto flu is experienced by some people when they first start the keto diet. The symptoms, which mirror the actual flu, happen due to the body adapting to a new diet consisting of fewer carbohydrates.
In the ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are often reduced to under 50 grams per day. This reduction can come as a shock to the body and may cause withdrawal-like symptoms, similar to those coming off of an addictive substance like caffeine.
Common keto flu symptoms
Just like any major change, your body simply needs time to adjust! So if you’re new to the keto diet and experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t panic. Just know that keto flu symptoms vary from mild to severe (depending on the person).
Some common keto flu symptoms are:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle cramps
- Poor concentration
- Sugar cravings
- Difficulty sleeping
How long does the keto flu last?
The good news is that the keto flu symptoms often only last about a week, and in most cases, no longer. While these side effects can cause some keto dieters to stop keto, there are a few ways to ease symptoms and make those crucial first few days on keto more manageable.
Keto flu care
While the keto flu may have you feeling down and out, don’t fret! Here are a couple of tips you can rely on to make your bout with the keto flu bearable.
Drink lots of water
The keto diet can cause your body to rapidly shed water stores, which can increase the risk of dehydration. Glycogen, which is the stored form of carbohydrates, binds to water found in the body. On the keto diet, carbohydrates are reduced and often, glycogen levels can plummet and water is excreted from the body.
Staying hydrated can help with keto flu symptoms like muscle cramping and fatigue. If you struggle to drink enough water, try carrying a water bottle with you! In the car, on your office desk, while watching TV … you may be surprised how easy and habit-forming it is to have water readily available.
Avoid difficult exercise
Those who love a good heart-pumping workout may find keto flu symptoms difficult to cope with. For the duration that keto flu symptoms persist, it can be helpful to avoid strenuous exercise. That’s because experiencing fatigue, muscle cramps and stomach discomfort is common during the first week following the keto diet. Giving your body a break from activities like biking, running and weight lifting can help ease the transition.
Lighter activities like walking, yoga, or leisurely biking may help improve keto flu symptoms. Balanced Light Yoga has several light intensity yoga workouts to help you get through the keto flu period.
When following the keto diet, levels of insulin decrease. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body absorb glucose from the bloodstream, and when insulin levels decrease, the kidneys release excess sodium from the body. Getting enough of important nutrients, like potassium, is a way to get through the adaptation phase of the keto diet.
Make sure to get enough keto-friendly, potassium rich foods into your diet to keep a healthy balance of electrolytes! Green leafy vegetables and avocados are excellent staples to include in your keto diet.
Get plenty of rest
Whether you’re on the keto diet or not, getting enough sleep is crucial to overall health and wellness. Fatigue and irritability is commonly experienced by those new to the keto diet during the adjustment period. Lack of sleep causes levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, to rise in the body. This can negatively affect your mood and make keto flu symptoms worse–Yikes!
For those who have difficulty falling or staying asleep, try reducing caffeine intake, cutting out ambient light (like from cell phones or TV’s), or getting up earlier in the morning. These simple steps can do wonders to promote healthier sleep.
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