One of the most common immediate side effects that turn people away from the low-carb lifestyle hits us within the first couple of days. This critical time-frame is what will make or break the success rate of keto for many, as they will make the decision to actually stay on the diet during this time.
If you decide to take on the keto diet, you will notice some drastic changes in your body in the first couple of days as you start to adapt to the changes of eliminating carbs from your diet. With these changes, you may run into the keto flu, or induction flu, that may want you to quit right then and there.
The keto flu is “affectionately” dubbed by the low carb community as such, because if it hits you, the symptoms are almost identical to dealing with the flu. Unlike the traditional flu, however, the keto flu is merely the body’s reaction to the transitioning, shift to ketosis (ketomorphosis, heh. :))
To give you a heads up, here are some of the most common symptoms of the ketu flu that you might expect, if you are one of the lucky ones to get hit by it.
I’m betting some of these may sound familiar? It’s the flu, alright…but you’ve brought it on yourself by the changes in your diet. Luckily, my personal experience with the keto flu was very minimal in that I did run into the headaches (although I attribute that to the sudden drop in caffeine from soda) as well as the mental cloudiness for a couple of day.
The main symptom I ran into was grouchiness. I gave up the things I enjoyed and relied on to keep myself “happy” day in and day out. This change alone was a challenge in willpower, but be at ease, because the other symptoms can be staved off if you prepare yourself.
There really isn’t a set time frame to how long the keto flu may last and you cannot necessarily compare one person’s experience with another’s. In my case, my issues latest about two days, but I’ve read about other folks dealing with the keto flu for up to two weeks. Expect it to happen if you’ve never followed the keto diet or a low carb lifestyle before, but feel free to take some advice from the veterans on how to deal with, or avoid it altogether.
Just a quick attempt at motivation here…if you do run into the keto flu, DON’T. GIVE. UP. The shift is temporary, and even though the keto flu sucks, once you get over the bump in the road, the rest is easy. Your body will have been taught to utilize it energy stores more efficiently, your energy overall will skyrocket and let’s face it…your typical breakfast will include a lot of bacon…bacon rules.
The main culprit behind the keto flu, is of course, the transition into ketosis. Part of the switch includes a rapid loss in water and sodium while the remaining carbs in your bloodstream are sucked out by the body, while searching for energy sources that typically come from glucose and free fatty acids.
The loss of water and sodium, compounded with your body going through a “rewiring” in using stored fat for energy, aids in development the symptoms of keto flu. While following the keto diet, it is critical to drink plenty of water, and if you’re like me at all, replacing those sugary sodas with water may be all it takes. I’m up to about a half gallon of water per day as of this writing, and I’m aiming to hit a gallon per day within the next couple of weeks.
Next, increase your consumption of sodium (salt) as well as potassium and magnesium. You’re going to be losing these nutrients as well since fruit is off the list when it comes to what foods you can eat on a keto diet. I keep my pantry stocked up with several cans of Swanson’s Chicken Broth, heat up a can and drink if like coffee to keep my salt up. Take care of the others by taking a daily multi-vitamin since you’re restricting your diet quite a bit.
Up your fat intake. That’s right, eat more fat. Fry up a package of bacon and go to town; have a cup of coffee with heavy whipping cream; fry your steak in butter. Here’s why…much like keeping yourself hydrated will help the release of excess water, eating more fat will push along the transition of ketosis in the early days, and teach your body that fat is going to be the new, preferred source of energy.
Watch the intake of protein, as during the first stages of starvation during your transition, your body will want to hit your protein stores and convert it to the now missing glycogen that was being fulfilled by carbs. We’re not looking to restrict protein and go on a fat only diet, but keep your protein considerable lower than your fat intake.
[UPDATE]: I spoke too soon…I got hit pretty hard this go around, although it only lasted about a day and a half. The chicken broth and vitamins did help, as the moment I felt the symptoms starting to hit and downed a can of broth, the world was right again within a matter of hours. Keep that sodium up!!!