You’ve been on your Keto diet for several days (or a couple of weeks) and you’re starting to feel like crud. You’ve got a headache, your brain is foggy, you’re dizzy, and things just aren’t moving in the bathroom. Could this be Keto Flu? What the heck is Keto Flu!?
I’ll explain below, but the biggest thing to remember right now is that this is very temporary – don’t let it derail you!
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What is Keto Flu?
It’s completely common to have an electrolyte imbalance in the early weeks of beginning any ketogenic diet. Most people start Keto with the vision of very low carb foods – meat, full-fat dairy, etc; they very often forget or even – egad! – IGNORE vegetables since they contain carbs.
Please don’t do that! They are very helpful to minimize the Keto Flu.
When this electrolyte imbalance isn’t managed in the early stages you can end up with symptoms that mimic a mild case of the flu.
No worries – it’s temporary and can even be managed to the point of being almost negligent.
You may feel headaches, brain fog, dizziness, constipation or diarrhea, and lethargy – that fatigued feeling that makes you feel like you can’t even get off the couch. You may be irritable, have muscle cramps and insomnia. While all aren’t an indication of electrolyte imbalance – you may feel these same things from stress, dehydration, or a need for a vitamin supplement – increasing your magnesium and other electrolytes can improve how you feel over-all.
You may feel the symptoms in the very early stages of your diet program or at any time later if you are very active and don’t eat enough foods rich in electrolytes to combat the Keto Flu.
Since the Keto Flu comes after you’ve usually abruptly stopped eating carbs, it may be easier on you if you decrease your consumption of carbs a little each day so it isn’t so much of an adjustment. Just like a smoker craves nicotine while they are trying to become a non-smoker, your body craves carbs if you’ve been a high-carb eater.
You may like: How to Get Started With the Keto Diet for Beginners
Diagnosis: Keto Flu. What do I do Now?
Don’t panic! The Keto Flu can’t be easily treated by eating nutrient-dense food. Yes, food! I’ll give you some lists in the next section.
And I’ve got great news! If you consume things from the list from the beginning of your Keto diet you may be able to PREVENT Keto Flu entirely. And it’s simple!
It’s a matter of replacing the electrolytes you have depleted due to increasing your water consumption (you flush them out) and possibly electrolytes you haven’t consumed due to changing your diet. Carbs help your body hold onto water, and that water contains electrolytes. So it tends to reason that flushing out the water (because you aren’t consuming the carbs) also flushes out the electrolytes.
Another thing that can acerbate the Keto Flu is water consumption. It’s counterintuitive to decrease your water so you won’t urinate as much and deplete your electrolytes. You’ll become dehydrated and that can cause the same symptoms as the Keto Flu!
We’re going to focus on ways to be sure you’re getting enough sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium through foods. A multi-vitamin is a great idea but don’t take it in place of foods that can nourish your body – take the supplement but also eat the foods you need.
Other ways to eliminate Keto Flu are to have some fat bombs- try these. And to move. I don’ mean run a marathon, I mean gentle movement such as yoga, T-tapp, or walking. Try not to be too strenuous but move your muscles.
The First Step to Eliminating the Keto Flu
The most general of the Keto Flu symptoms – headache, dizziness, brain fog, and lethargy – can be helped by adding some extra sodium in the form of salted broth or a bouillon tea – a fancy way of saying to add a bouillon cube to hot water. A couple of cups a day of a bouillon tea or bone broth (which will add even more nutrients) will do you a world of good.
The general consensus is to add 2 to 7 grams of sodium per day to replace what you’re losing – aim for 6-7 grams if you’re active, less if you’re not.
If you don’t want to drink broth, add extra salt to your food. You can also eat bacon, pickles, and fermented foods to help increase your sodium intake.
This Gray Sea Salt dissolves well and has a less harsh taste than table salt.
Using Food to Eliminate the Keto Flu
I notice that when I’m not diligent (read that as *I get lazy*) about what I’m eating, I sometimes get leg cramps when I relax in bed. Sometimes it just feels like my legs can’t relax and need to move. I guess that is what they call Restless Leg Syndrome.
If you’re constipated, make sure you drink more water and add more fiber. Try to get your fiber from my list below. If you need a stool softener, make sure it’s a gentle one – and sometimes coffee is a big help too!
Food Lists: Try These Foods to Combat the Keto Flu
A quick word about these lists – you’ll notice some foods are on more than one list. WINNER!!
Let’s get right to the lists:
Dark Chocolate (above 70%)
Dark Chocolate (above 70%)
Fish (salmon is great)
Kale and other leafy greens
Dark leafy greens (Spinach, Kate, etc)
Seeds (Chia etc)
As you can see, you can eat great foods that not only fill you up and are great for your diet, but they’re also a great way to not have to battle through the Keto Flu at all! If you can avoid getting it, your journey on this diet will be more pleasant and losing weight and regaining your health won’t seem such a chore.
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