Ketogenic diets are one of the trendiest and most highly favoured diets nowadays, especially for those looking to burn fat and lose the extra weight. For the first-time however, it’s far from being a walk in the park. The first few days of going high-fat low-carb may result in you catching what is colloquially referred to as the “keto flu”, where you end up feeling tired, listless, and simply sluggish because of the transition where your body switches from utilising glucose to fat for energy.
So what are some symptoms of the keto flu, and what can you do to handle it?
As with most illnesses, symptoms of the flu vary from person to person – some may experience mild discomfort, while others could experience more serious, full blown flu-like symptoms including nausea, headaches, fatigue, and diarrhoea.
According to Jen Fisch, founder of Keto in the City and author of The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook, the best way to get past the keto flu is to regulate your intake of electrolytes and drink plenty of water. “Load up on potassium- and magnesium-rich foods, add a little extra salt, and sip bone broth,” Fisch shares.
Additionally, instead of removing carbohydrates from your diet entirely right from the get-go, you could consider a gradual elimination instead. During the induction phase, start by removing one carbohydrate source per week, such as striking off sugary drinks first, before proceeding to do away with those sinful snacks and desserts. Before you know it, you’ll have transitioned smoothly into the zero-carb zone after a few weeks for full ketosis! This should help reduce the likelihood of you contracting the keto flu.
However, aside from being stricter with your diet, you should also endeavour to take it easy during your first week of keto, to avoid further straining your body whilst giving it more time to adjust. With the new lifestyle change, your body would already be under quite a bit of stress, so allowing it to adapt is crucial for the recovery process.
Passing the “flu” stage and reaching the ketosis state could take a few weeks, so you’ll need to be patient in order to see and feel the long-awaited results. “Once [you’ve reached the state of ketosis], you’ll feel full of energy and have mental clarity, which signifies that your body is now burning its own fat (ketones) instead of sugar,” Fisch explains. This is chiefly attributed to the fact that your blood sugar levels remain steady during ketosis, which means that your insulin levels no longer fluctuate erratically.
Arriving at the state of ketosis is no easy feat, but that doesn’t mean that it is insurmountable. The most important thing to bear in mind, however, is the need to remain flexible. The success of your diet is ultimately predicated on your ability to tweak the above suggestions as you go along in order for you to feel strong again. Once you’ve squashed the bothersome keto bug, you’ll be ready to set forth to take on the world as a lean, mean, fat-burning machine!