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Keto Flu: What is it and what causes it?

The keto diet has steadily gained in popularity because it works. Both anecdotal evidence and scientific evidence have shown that the keto diet can lead to substantial weight loss. What is more, the keto diet can lead to changes in your metabolism that help you keep the weight off. 

But as the diet has gained in popularity, people have discovered one side effect of the diet that stands out. Keto flu, sometimes called carb flu, is a set of symptoms that can come with the keto diet. 

As your body switches from burning carbs as an energy source to burning fats, you will experience a metabolic shift called ketosis. Ketosis can cause some unpleasant bodily symptoms, and these are what people mean when they describe keto flu. Keto flu is not dangerous in itself, but it can be hard to deal with. 

What is keto flu? What causes keto flu? What are the symptoms of keto flu? And how can you best deal with keto flu? This guide will help you understand keto flu so you can continue to get the benefits of the keto diet. 

What is keto flu?

The keto flu is just a collection of symptoms many people experience when they first begin the keto diet. These symptoms can feel similar to the flu. Keto flu happens when the body switches to burning ketones as a source of energy rather than glycogens.

Glycogens are the functional unit of carbohydrates, and they are the main source of energy in our bodies. Under ordinary conditions, our bodies will metabolize crabs into glycogens which be easily converted into energy for the brain and other parts of the body.

The keto diet drastically reduces carb intake which forces the body to use a different source of energy. Under these conditions, the body will begin a metabolic process called ketosis. During ketosis, the body breaks down fats and produces chemicals called ketones. The presence of ketones can cause a set of symptoms collectively called keto flu. 

What causes keto flu?

Ordinarily, the main source of energy in our bodies is carbohydrates. Carbs are metabolized and converted into glycogens, and these are converted into energy. But on the keto diet, carbs are reduced to under 50 grams per day. This is compared to the recommended levels of carbs which is 200-300 grams per day. 

When the body does not get enough carbs, the liver begins to break down carbs that have been stored up. This process is called glucogenesis, and this is what we are after with the keto diet. Once we begin burning up stored glycogens, we start to lose weight. 

However, the liver will soon run out of stored glycogens. At this point, the body will begin to break down fatty acids. Again, this is part of the weight loss process that makes the keto diet successful. The process of breaking down fatty acids produces ketones. This is ketosis. 

Ketosis is medically safe, but it can produce some unpleasant symptoms. During ketosis, people may experience a decrease in sodium and potassium. Many people may experience decreased insulin levels. The changes in the levels of these chemicals produce the symptoms that we commonly call keto flu. 

Keto flu Symptoms

There are many symptoms associated with keto flu. Some people may experience only a few of these symptoms while others can go through most of them. The degree to which you experience keto flu symptoms depends largely on your health when you begin the keto diet. 

The transition to ketosis is a necessary stage in the keto diet and may include: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Poor concentration
  • Stomach pain
  • Muscle soreness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sugar cravings

Symptoms of keto flu may last as little as one week. However, some people report experiencing symptoms for much longer. It can be tempting to give up when you experience these symptoms, but it helps to remind yourself that the onset of keto flu means the keto diet is working. When we go through keto flu, this is a sign our bodies have begun to burn fat and stored glycogens. This is the necessary step toward weight loss. 

How to get rid of the keto flu

Keto flu can indeed be hard to endure for some people. The symptoms are not pleasant. The thing to keep in mind is that keto flu usually passes in about a week, and keto flu is a sure sign that your keto diet is working. Beyond these ideas, there are a few things you can do to help minimize the symptoms of keto flu. These include:

Stay hydrated

It is always important to drink plenty of water. You need plenty of water just to stay healthy. Fresh pure water cleanses your body of toxins. And water will cut down the risk of dehydration which is one of the causes of keto flu. 

The main source of energy in the body as glycogen, and glycogen binds with water. When we go through the keto diet, we eventually eliminate the glycogen stores in the body, and this means the water that is bound to it gets excreted. 

Fatigue and muscle cramps are two of the key symptoms of keto flu. These symptoms are largely due to water loss and dehydration. You can alleviate these symptoms simply by drinking plenty of water.  

Cut back on strenuous exercise.

 While it is important to exercise and stay active, you may want to cut back on your exercise during the initial phase of the keto diet. Strenuous exercise can cause or aggravate the symptoms of keto flu. 

Fatigue, muscle cramps, and stomach discomfort are common during the first week of a keto diet. It is best to give your body time to rest during this phase of things. Exercises like lifting weights, intense biking and running, or any other high-intensity workout can cause the keto flu symptoms to become worse. 

To avoid keto flu symptoms, try exercises like walking, yoga, or easy bike riding to stay active. 

Replace electrolytes

Replacing dietary electrolytes can reduce keto flu symptoms.  

The process of ketosis can reduce levels of insulin in your body. This is a  crucial hormone that allows glucose to be absorbed into the bloodstream. When insulin levels decrease, the kidneys release sodium into the body. 

Another level to this is that the keto diet tends to restrict foods that contain certain electrolytes. Foods like beans and starchy vegetables are naturally high in potassium, and these are off-limits for the keto diet. 

There a many nutritious sports drinks that contain electrolytes. You can use these to replenish electrolytes during your keto diet. Sparn Detox offers several juice bundles and other items that are ideal to replenish electrolytes. 

Get good sleep

 One of the most common symptoms of keto flu is fatigue. The best way to combat this is to get plenty of good sleep. 

The decrease in glycogens that comes from restricting your intake of carbs leads to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol. The rise in cortisol can interrupt sleep and it can make you irritable. This will cause other symptoms of keto flu to become worse. 

You may want to plan on scheduling your time to accommodate additional sleep during your first week of a keto diet. Extra sleep can help you manage the effects of increased cortisol, and it can alleviate the fatigue that often comes with the keto flu. 

Things you can do to accommodate good sleep include:

  • Reduce caffeine intake: Caffeine is a stimulant that may negatively impact sleep. If you drink caffeinated beverages, only do so in the morning so your sleep is not affected.
  • Cut out ambient light: Shut off cell phones, computers, and televisions in the bedroom to create a dark environment and promote restful sleep.
  • Take a bath: Adding Epsom salt or lavender essential oil to your bath is a relaxing way to wind down and get ready for sleep.
  • Get up early: Waking at the same time every day and avoiding oversleeping may help normalize your sleep patterns and improve sleep quality over time.

Make sure there is enough fat in your diet. Eating enough healthy fats is as much a part of the keto diet as cutting out crabs. You must eat the necessary amount of healthy fat when you begin the keto diet because fats become your primary source of energy. 

How long does the keto flu last?

For most people, the keto flu only lasts about one week. It is mostly during the initial phase of your keto diet that you will likely experience keto flu symptoms. This is because keto flu is largely the result of the transition from ordinary metabolism to ketosis. You will likely become adjusted to ketosis once you make this transition. 

Some people do not make the transition to ketosis well. For these people, keto flu can last for several weeks. 

While keto-flu symptoms are commonly reported by those shifting to a ketogenic diet, if you are feeling particularly unwell and experiencing symptoms like prolonged diarrhea, fever, or vomiting, it's best to contact your doctor to rule out other causes.

Keto Flu Tips

Keto flu is just an unfortunate side effect of the ketogenic diet. The main thing to remember is that keto flu is most often temporary and lasts about one week. Once you make it through the initial stages of the keto diet, you are well on your way to losing the weight you want to lose and potentially re-programming your metabolism so the weight stays off. 

Other tips to consider:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get extra sleep
  • Stay off caffeine during the first week
  • Get additional electrolytes either through electrolyte drinks that do not contain added sugar or with supplements
  • Make sure you are eating plenty of healthy fats
  • Cut back on exercise for the first week

Keto Flu FAQS


What is keto flu? The keto flu is just a collection of symptoms many people experience when they first begin the keto diet. These symptoms can feel similar to the flu. Keto flu happens when the body switches to burning ketones as a source of energy rather than glycogens.

What causes keto flu? Ordinarily, the main source of energy in our bodies is carbohydrates. Carbs are metabolized and converted into glycogens, and these are converted into energy. But on the keto diet, carbs are reduced to under 50 grams per day. This is compared to the recommended levels of carbs which is 200-300 grams per day. 

What are the symptoms of keto flu? Keto flu symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, irritability, weakness, muscle cramps, dizziness, poor concentration, muscle soreness, difficulty sleeping, and sugar cravings. 

How do you get rid of keto flu? Drink plenty of water, get good sleep, make sure you are eating healthy fats, replenish electrolytes, and cut back on exercise. 

How long does keto flu last? For most people, keto flu only lasts about one week. Some people experience keto flu for several weeks. 

Conclusion

Some of the symptoms of keto flu can be alleviated by replenishing vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes. Sparn Detox offers a wide array of juices, smoothies, and Power Shots, that provide a full range of these nutrients.   

The juices, smoothies, and Power Shots from Sparn Detox are specially formulated to replenish all the nutrients you need to fight the symptoms of keto flu. These nutritious drinks are made to help you detox and cleanse your body and are powerful nutrition supplements in themselves. 

Keto flu may well be an unfortunate side effect of the keto diet. The most important thing to remember is that what we call keto flu is a clear sign that the diet is working. By allowing your body to make the metabolic shift away from glycogens to metabolizing fats, you are doing the right things to start losing weight and keeping the weight off. 

Drink plenty of water, get good sleep, and try any of the nutritious products available from Sparn Detox to get you through the keto flu. 

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