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The Keto diet has myriad benefits, including weight loss, blood sugar regulation
and improvement of general health. It can have such a positive effect on so many
of the body’s processes because it uses energy more efficiently than other diets.
Instead of getting a short-term perk in energy from glycogen derived from
carbohydrates, it burns stored fat for a more steady supply of fuel. As with
anything else worthwhile, there is a period of adjustment in the Keto diet until the
body learns to burn fat as an alternative energy source. Until you reach ketosis, you
may experience a number of flu-like side effects. This article outlines what kinds
of side effects you can expect in the early phase of keto and what you can do about
it.
The Challenge of Limiting Carbohydrates
If you are not already on the Keto diet, you may find that many of your favorite
foods are rich in carbohydrates. Whether it is a morning bagel, chips as a snack or
cake for dessert, the mainstream diet seems to be full of carbs. You may notice this
even more once you have given up grains and starchy vegetables and have limited
your intake of carbs to 5% of your diet. What happens in the typical Western diet is
that people start the day fueling up with carbs in the form of cereals or pastries and
replenishing these carbs every few hours all day long. Many people may feel
hungry at mid-morning and may need another carb-heavy snack as well as
something else to eat in the afternoon and before bed.
The reason why carbs breed more carbs is the effect on the blood sugar. When we
eat carbohydrates, they are released into our blood in the form of glycogen, which
is a readily available fuel. In addition, blood sugar rises and insulin is released.
However, this burst of energy is short-lived, and the blood sugar crashes resulting
in sudden hunger. This carbohydrate cycle is very good for the snack industry and
fast food restaurants, but not very good for our bodies in the long run. This
constant cycle wears out the body. Keto replaces carbohydrates with fats as the
main fuel source for a more sustainable way of providing energy to the body.
Although this sounds terrific, it is difficult to give up a lifetime of carbohydrate
dependency so suddenly. The connection with carbohydrates is not just physical
but emotional, and it will be difficult for the body to adjust to this change without a
fight. That is why the beginning phase before keto adaption poses such a challenge.
What Are the Symptoms of Keto Flu
You can think of Keto flu as carbohydrate withdrawal. The symptoms are very
close to flu, so you may wonder whether you caught a bug. You may have any of
the following symptoms, including mental fogginess, dizziness, irritability,
stomach pain, nausea, constipation and sore muscles. Just as with the real flu, you
may notice a disappearance of symptoms in a day or so, or they could continue in a
muted form for several weeks. Whether or not you suffer from Keto flu and the
severity of symptoms may be influenced by a number of factors, including genetics
and lifestyle. If you are genetically predisposed to not have enough enzymes, you
may be more likely to suffer from keto flu. In addition, if your diet is full of
carbohydrates to begin with and you tend to be vulnerable to fluctuations in energy
based on carbohydrate consumption, your symptoms of Keto flu could be more
pronounced and last longer.
Dehydration
The problem of Keto flu is complicated by the sudden loss of large quantities of
liquid from the body. When you reduce the number of carbohydrates you eat
suddenly, insulin levels drop, and this directly affects the kidneys which suddenly
release large amounts of water and sodium. You may find that you lose weight
rapidly, maybe even 10 pounds in a matter of days, but keep in mind this is just
water weight.
Just as loss of liquid and dehydration can mimic the symptoms of flu, the lack of
fluid can make your Keto flu more severe. It is vital that you consume plenty of
liquids, much more than in ordinary circumstances. In addition, your body is losing
valuable minerals, such as sodium and potassium. These minerals are needed to
regulate heartbeat and govern many of the body’s processes.
What to Do About Keto Flu
In addition to drinking more water to counteract the intense water loss in the first
few days and weeks of the keto diet, increase your consumption of minerals. Add
salt to water and your food; Himalayan or sea salt are the best forms of salt.
Bananas are the most “famous” form of potassium, but this fruit is much too high
in starch for the Keto diet. Instead, you can get potassium from avocados,
potassium and coconut water. You may also consider supplementing your diet with
magnesium.
Increase your consumption of fats when you begin the Keto diet. You will be doing
this anyway, because the diet requires getting around 70% of your calories from
fat, but it may be helpful to take fats in a way that they can go directly to the liver
and be accessed as energy. Look for MCT oil that can help along the process of
getting energy directly from fats. In addition, you may want to consume fat bombs,
or snacks filled with fat that can help relieve the symptoms of Keto flu and can
kick start ketosis.
Any major change in the way you eat is bound to alter the way you feel, at least to
some degree. Although the majority of people who go on the Keto diet look and
feel better, the first few days and weeks can be challenge as you wean your body
off of carbohydrates and encourage your system to use fats as fuels. Drinking more
water, taking minerals and increasing physical activity can help you get over the
Keto flu and start benefiting from the Keto diet.