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What is keto flu?

What is keto flu?

You have probably heard about the health benefits of the keto diet, including for fast and sustained weight loss. But, you may have also heard about the symptoms and complications of the diet. We take a look into some of these and unpack what is keto flu.

What is keto flu?

There has been much evidence in recent years that shows reducing your carbohydrate intake to a minimum may help you shed a few kilograms. As such, many people have decided to try the low-carb keto diet for weight loss. But just how safe is cutting carbs from your diet, are there any side effects, and what is keto flu? 

If you are new to the diet, and have experienced flu-like symptoms after a few days of carb-conscious eating, then you may be suffering from keto flu. So, what is keto flu exactly, and how can you avoid it?

Before we get into the specifics of keto flu, it’s important to understand what the keto diet is, and how it promotes weight loss. 

What is keto?

Originally started in the 1920s as a therapeutic treatment for epilepsy, the ketogenic (keto) diet is a high-fat, low-carb eating plan that promotes fat burning. The idea is that if you reduce the body’s intake of carbohydrates, the body can reach ketosis – a metabolic state where your body burns fat as a fuel instead of glucose.

The main reason people these days turn to keto is for weight loss – and in a large number of cases, it really does work. When your body can’t get glucose from carbohydrates, your liver converts fat into chemicals called ketones, an alternative source of fuel. This puts you into a metabolic state known as ketosis, which is good for fast weight loss. Some studies have found that people restricting their carbs sometimes lose three times as much weight as people on a low-fat diet.

There are several versions of the keto diet. The standard (SKD) version is the most researched and most recommended. This is a very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet. It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs.

Reducing carbs in your diet has been proven to have several health benefits linked to the massive reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels. This, along with the increased ketones, has numerous health benefits, including treating polycystic ovary syndrome and seizures.

While the diet is considered safe for most people, it’s associated with some unpleasant side effects.

What is keto flu?

While much research has been done into the short term health benefits of a keto diet, researchers don’t really know whether, over the long term, achieving and maintaining ketosis is better for weight loss than other diets. As with many other diet plans, the keto diet has several side effects. One of the most well-publicised complications of ketosis is something called “keto flu,”, bit what is keto flu? 

Keto flu is a real thing and it happens when you quickly jump into a keto diet, and involves feeling the symptoms of “withdrawal” from carbs.  Your body goes through changes when it switches from burning glucose (energy) to burning fat.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, “the so-called keto flu is a group of symptoms that may appear two to seven days after starting a ketogenic diet. Headache, foggy brain, fatigue, irritability, nausea, difficulty sleeping, and constipation are just some of the symptoms of this condition, which is not recognized by medicine. 

Symptoms typically last about a week, though some people may experience them for a longer period of time.

What can you eat on a keto diet and what is What is keto flu?

Tips for dealing with keto flu

If you decide for whatever reason to change your diet and feel tired and a little off, do not become exasperated and lose hope. Here are a few tips:

Stay hydrated

While it may be termed keto flu, this isn’t an official medical condition. Medical practitioners suggest drinking plenty of water can ease or help you avoid these symptoms.

Avoid strenuous exercise

While exercise is important for staying healthy and keeping body weight in check, strenuous exercise should be avoided when experiencing keto-flu symptoms.

Fatigue, muscle cramps and stomach discomfort are common in the first week of following a ketogenic diet, so it may be a good idea to give your body a rest.

Get colourful with food

Eat more often and make sure you have plenty of colourful vegetables. 

Get in your eight hours

Fatigue and irritability are common complaints of people who are adapting to a ketogenic diet. Lack of sleep causes levels of the stress hormone cortisol to rise in the body, which can negatively impact mood and make keto-flu symptoms worse. Make sure you get enough beauty sleep at night.

Read more: 13 ways to an improved night’s sleep

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