What is keto flu and how to deal
Whether you're dealing with it right now or proactively researching how to prevent keto flu, you may be wondering what the signs and symptoms are. Is it actually like the flu? How can I tell if I have it?
The keto flu happens during the first couple of weeks after beginning a ketogenic diet, especially within the first 5 days. Symptoms include:
- Brain fog
- Fatigue aka keto fatigue
FYI- Keto flu is NOT an actual flu at all, and the keto flu is not officially recognized by medicine. But a bad case can feel quite flu-like, minus the fever (if you get one, call a doc — more info on that below).
The truth is, the keto flu is similar to detox symptoms on a juice cleanse. A few days of discomfort that usually subsides.
Why does keto flu happen?
Modern medicine doesn’t really provide any solid answers as to why some people feel so terrible with keto flu while making the switch to a ketogenic diet, while others may have mild or no symptoms.
But like a juice cleanse, some symptoms of the keto flu are probably related to general detox and making a dramatic dietary change.
This can shock the gut a little bit, but shouldn’t be anything the body cannot adapt to relatively quickly, in a matter of days to be more specific.
Followers of the keto diet maintain that after your body has shifted to burn ketones instead of sugar, the keto flu will no longer be an issue.
Once they get to the other side of the keto flu, most people report feeling better than ever. Like any good detox, you can deal with keto flu symptoms with a little strategy and easy natural remedies.
Warning: Keto flu fever
HOWEVER, severe symptoms like an actual fever aren’t normal for the keto flu. If you develop a fever while switching to a ketogenic diet, you should call your physician immediately to rule out more serious problems.
How to deal
You’re irritated, maybe even anxious. A dull headache annoys you and makes it difficult to concentrate.
The keto flu is uncomfortable, so you’ll want to get through it quickly and win some small victories for yourself. Here’s how you can do that.
TIP #1 Just go to bed already!
Turning in early is the best way to make sure you’re getting enough Zzz’s. And honestly, now isn’t the time to stay up late bingeing Netflix. Put yourself out of your misery and hit the sheets at a reasonable hour, so your body and mind can rest and recover. If you remember nothing else, remember this:
When and if keto flu hits, get to bed early.
TIP #2 Stay hydrated.
Staying adequately hydrated is key to keeping two of the most common keto flu symptoms at bay: headache and constipation. And if you're incorporating intermittent fasting into your ketogenic diet, staying hydrated is particularly important. Feelings of thirst are often misinterpreted as hunger and can make going without more mentally taxing. You want to limit your mental stress as much as possible during keto flu!
TIP #3 Limit your mental stress as much as possible!
You live in the real world, but try to limit your mental stress as much as you can during the keto flu. While symptoms hopefully don’t reach the level of missing work, be sure to not overexert yourself and get plenty of both physical and mental rest. The more you rest, the quicker you’ll recover.
TIP #4 Up your salt intake.
Upping your salt intake is another way to help alleviate symptoms of the keto flu. According to Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, MD:
Drinking a glass of water with ½ teaspoon salt can alleviate keto flu symptoms in 15 to 30 minutes. This can be done twice a day or more as needed.
Foods with high salt content like bone broth and celery are also great options.
TIP #5 Use natural remedies and supplements to prevent keto flu!
There are plenty of all-natural ways to ease your symptoms and help make the keto flu more bearable. Here are just a few potent options:
The online wellness world has been buzzing about celery juice for a few years now, and with good reason. Celery is loaded with natural benefits, but what we’re after here are salt and hydration. Celery provides them both! Drinking a celery juice in the morning is a great way to flush your system and give your body the nutrients it needs, like Vitamin C and more. It's a hydrating elixir for keto flu sufferers everywhere.
Like any other vitamin deficiency, low B12 levels can cause symptoms like fatigue. Dealing with keto fatigue? B12 may be able to help. A good B12 supplement may get you over the energy hump. But if you want the quickest results, you may want to consider getting a B12 shot from a reputable provider. Speak to your physician if you have any questions.
This therapeutic tincture contains cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive phytochemical in the hemp plant with strong anti-inflammatory properties. CBD has been studied to have a beneficial impact on nausea, pain, and mood, three of the most grueling of the keto flu symptoms. Like any nutritional supplement, make sure to buy your CBD from a trusted vendor with verified reviews who provides current independent lab tests on their product.
While there’s no documented evidence as to what specifically causes the keto flu, there’s no way something’s not happening in the gut. Constipation, nausea, and other gastrointestinal issues are signals that something is up in the gut, and these are often experienced by keto flu sufferers. Loading up on probiotics can help both mitigate symptoms and help to correct the underlying problem. Try to get your probiotics from fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, etc. Incorporating a probiotic supplement and upping the intake won’t hurt either. Be sure to go with a brand you trust.
How to Prevent Keto Flu
There’s no way to guarantee you won’t get the keto flu, even if you take some of the steps below. There are tons of factors that can play into how your body adjusts to the dietary changes, including your stress level, previous nutrition, and more.
That said, there are a few common-sense actions you can take that may help prevent the keto flu altogether. At the very least, taking the following steps will be great for your gut health:
- Start taking a strong probiotic supplement one week before you make the switch to the keto diet. Then, double up on your intake for the first week or so on the diet.
- Start taking a B12 supplement.
- Eat more fermented foods.
- Maintain a regular exercise routine.
- Begin to ‘clean up’ your nutrition by decreasing processed foods a few days to a week before switching to a ketogenic diet.
Navigating Keto Flu
Want to know how to prevent keto flu based on your body's specific nutritional needs? Navigate keto flu, your nutrition plan, and more! Schedule your free functional medicine consultation.