The ketogenic diet has gained popularity as a natural way to lose weight and improve health. This diet is very low in carbohydrates, high in fat, and moderate in protein. While this diet is considered safe for most people, it has been associated with some unpleasant side effects. Keto flu, also known as carbohydrate flu, is a term coined by followers to describe the symptoms they experience when starting the diet. This article investigates what the keto flu is, why it happens, and how to alleviate its symptoms.
What is Keto Flu?
The keto flu is a set of symptoms that people may experience when they start a keto diet. These symptoms are usually mild and short-term, lasting from a few days to a few weeks.
Symptoms of keto flu include nausea, vomiting, headache and fatigue.
These symptoms occur as the body becomes accustomed to operating with fewer carbohydrates and enters a state of ketosis. These symptoms are caused by a temporary imbalance in the body’s energy sources, insulin and minerals.
Switching to a very low-carb diet is a major change, and your body may need time to adjust to this new way of eating. For some people, this transition can be particularly difficult. Signs of keto flu may begin to appear within the first few days of reducing carbohydrates. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and vary from person to person.
While some people may experience no side effects when transitioning to a ketogenic diet, others may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Muscle cramps
- Poor concentration
- Stomach pain
- Muscle soreness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sugar cravings
These symptoms are usually reported by those who have just started a ketogenic diet and can be distressing. The symptoms usually last about a week, although some people may experience them for a longer period of time.
While these side effects may cause some dieters to give up, there are ways to reduce these side effects.
Treatments and Home Remedies
The keto diet can help a person lose weight, but some people are put off by the symptoms of the keto flu. These are temporary and treatment and remedies can alleviate them.
The following strategies can help:
Eat different dietary fats
If a person on the keto diet experiences abdominal symptoms, dietitians may recommend changing the types of fats in the diet.
High levels of medium chain triglycerides, from foods such as coconut oil, butter, and palm kernel oil, can cause cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Eating fewer of these foods and more of those with long chain triglycerides, such as olive oil, may help prevent abdominal symptoms in people on the keto diet.
Doctors may also prescribe histamine 2-receptor blockers or proton pump inhibitors to people who experience acid reflux.
Eat more fiber
People may have constipation or diarrhea when on the keto diet.
Dietitians may recommend eating more high fiber vegetables or taking fiber supplements to people with constipation. They may suggest taking carbohydrate free laxatives if these dietary changes are unsuccessful.
Drink more water
A person on a keto diet may become dehydrated. If the person also develops diarrhea, the risk of dehydration is even higher.
Doctors recommend that people on a keto diet make sure they take in enough fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration.
One possible long-term effect of the keto diet is vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Your doctor may recommend vitamin supplements to make sure your body is getting enough calcium, vitamin D, zinc and selenium.
Some people find that supplements for the keto diet can help reduce symptoms and promote the effects of the diet.
People with diabetes who follow a keto diet may experience episodes of low blood sugar, which doctors call hypoglycemia.
Before a diabetic patient starts a keto diet, they should consult with their doctor. The doctor may need to modify the dose of insulin and oral medications.
Avoid the Keto Flu
The symptoms of keto flu can sound unpleasant, so use these tips to help prevent it. Remember, everyone’s body handles the keto diet differently. Consult your doctor or request nutritional counseling to discuss any concerns you may have about your diet.