How To Know If You Have The Keto Flu (And What To Do About It)
The popularity of the ketogenic (or keto) diet doesn’t look like it’s fading anytime soon, which means we have to discuss one of the not-so-fun downsides to this lifestyle if you choose to ditch virtually all the carbs: the keto flu.
What is the keto flu?
The keto flu is basically the body’s response to severe carbohydrate restriction. Typically, approximately 40 percent (if not more) of your daily food intake comes in the form of carbs, which are broken down into glucose for the body to use as readily available energy. So when you suddenly take this energy flow away in an attempt to force your body to derive energy only from ketones (broken-down fats and proteins) instead, your body says, “WTF is happening here?!”
What do keto flu symptoms look like?
For some, the keto flu hits them like a punch to the face, and for others, it sets on gradually. Typical symptoms include:
- Brain fog that just won’t clear up
- Headaches of varying severity
- Body chills
- A sore throat
- Digestive issues
- Muscle soreness
- Irritability (beyond just a bad day)
Keto flu symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a full month. We know — that’s a big window to be feeling like shit in the name of your health. But hey, you wanted to give keto a shot, right?
How can you avoid the keto flu (or at least recover quickly)?
Luckily, there are quite a few things you can do to minimize your keto flu reaction as you adjust to this high-fat diet.
When dizziness is getting the best of you, focus on hydrating as much you can, upping your salt and electrolyte intake at the same time. Because a lot of electrolyte products are loaded with sugar, which is a no-no on the keto diet, just add a little quality sea salt to your water and make sure you’re consuming plenty of mineral-rich veggies. Bone broth is also a helpful option. Potassium, magnesium and sodium are the sought-after nutrients here.
If clarity and general energy levels are more of your struggles, focus on eating more healthy fats, specifically medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). They’ll quickly boost your ketone availability, AKA your new energy source, helping you get over the keto flu more quickly. Coconut oil is a great source of MCTs, so dig into those fat bombs or add it to your morning coffee.
This might sound counter to the insomnia symptom, but to get over the keto flu speedily, you need to rest. If you’re sleep-deprived, your body will produce additional cortisol, making your muscle soreness and headaches and irritability even worse. So prioritize those seven to nine hours every night — no exception.
And because your body is going through a major adjustment energy-wise, it’s not a good idea to hit the gym and try to “sweat out” the keto flu. Gentle yoga stretches and short walks can help alleviate uncomfortable symptoms but draw the line there rather than overdoing it.