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How to Survive the Keto Flu

4 minute read

By Christopher Brown

There’s always a lot of interest around the ketogenic diet. It can seem like a bit of a magic weight loss bullet from the outside looking in. But outward appearances are often deceiving. Cashing in on the countless benefits of a ketogenic diet do come at a cost. You’ll have to give up bread and sugar for one. There’s also the small matter of the keto flu.

If you don’t have an intimate knowledge of the ketogenic diet or the dreaded keto flu, don’t worry. We’ll cover that here. More importantly, we’ll arm you with a number of effective ways that might help you summit keto flu mountain once and for all. Let’s go!


What Is the Ketogenic Diet?

It’s actually been around for a lot longer than most people realize. Developed as a method for treating epilepsy in the 1920’s, the ketogenic diet effectively mimics the metabolic effects of fasting by, among other things, dramatically reducing carbohydrate consumptions and increasing the intake of clean sources of dietary fat.1

Though there are lots of variations, the ketogenic diet is generally understood as a diet made up of approximately 70-percent fat, 20-percent protein, and 10-percent or less of carbohydrates.2 The goal here is to initiate a process called ketosis, which trains your body to source dietary energy from fats instead of carbohydrates and sugar.

The ketogenic diet is still a reliable medical tool, and continues to be leaned on to manage symptoms of epilepsy to this day. But its popularity and usage has grown substantially. These days, millions of Americans turn to the ketogenic diet for the potential health benefits alone.3

The potential benefits of strict adherence to the ketogenic diet include:

You may think that a diet that’s been around since the 1920’s would be fully understood, but that isn’t the case here. Though available study  results are promising, there’s a lot more research to be done before anyone can definitively prove all of the culturally accepted benefits of a ketogenic diet.

What is the Keto Flu?

No one said transitioning to a carb free diet was easy. Expect to stare down and stand up to emotional and social pressures to eat sweets and pizza. But before all that, you’ll have to beat the first boss that low-carb veterans not-so-affectionately call the Keto Flu.4

Your body has to adjust to sourcing dietary energy from fats instead of carbohydrates. This transition is consistent with a number of flu-like symptoms that last as little as a couple of days but often as long as a week.

Commonly reported symptoms of the keto flu include:

Everyone is different, and no two keto-flus are alike. In fact, many people experience no carbohydrate withdrawal symptoms at all. Either way, it’s always best to prepare for the most challenging outcome and go from there. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few things you can do to prepare your mind and your body to fight off keto flu.

Keto Flu Survival Tips

You can’t reduce your likelihood of experiencing keto flu, but you can take a couple steps ahead of time to help ease your discomfort. There are a number of things you can do in the heat of the flu that may help too.

Clear Your Schedule

You don’t have the luxury of planning ahead for a regular illness, but the keto flu is different in that you choose the start date. As such, never plan your keto transition at a time when you have a lot of important things to do. Instead, plan to transition to no-carbs when you aren’t busy, or can afford to take a few days off to lie around and recover.

Drink Lots of Water

Hydration is the key to mitigating the worst keto flu symptoms. The first five days of the ketogenic diet can see an increase in urination, which in turn leads to dehydration and worsening symptoms if left unchecked. Avoid that by prioritizing water consumption. Adding a pinch of unrefined salt to your water could help keep dehydration at bay during the transition period.

Prepare Meals Ahead

In the event that keto flu keeps you glued to the couch, prepare keto-friendly meals ahead to avoid giving in and ordering off of the keto menu. Plan your meals out a few days ahead of time or better yet, prepare them and store them in the fridge for when the time comes.

Get Enough Rest

Staying glued to the couch gets old fast, but rest is essential to overcoming keto flu. Prioritize sleep, nap when needed, and refrain from pushing yourself too hard in the first few transitionary weeks. There will be time enough to do chores once your symptoms are behind you.

You Got This!

There’s no telling how your body is going to react to being denied carbohydrates. You may be one of the fortunate few capable of quickly transitioning into ketosis without any fuss at all. But even if a few of the common keto flu symptoms come knocking, proper preparation can make things much more comfortable.

The symptoms are temporary, but the potential gains are profound. So, if it’s worth it, tough it out and reap the countless potential rewards associated with a low-carb, high-fat diet. The grass is greener on the other side of the keto flu. There’s also a more energetic and leaner you, waiting to be unlocked.

Christopher Brown



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