Making it through the first week of keto isn’t always the easiest thing to pull off as making the switch from being a sugar burner to a fat burner isn’t an easy transition but the results will peak once you begin a steady diet.
Keep going, even if you had a rough first week. You’re so close to experiencing all the benefits of the keto diet. To make this transition as easy as possible for you, I’ll give you some tips below on how to combat the keto flu as well as how to alleviate other common side effects.
Feeling a little under the weather? If you’ve been on the keto diet, you may very well be experiencing what we call the “keto flu”. This is a natural reaction when our bodies are switching from a sugar/glucose burning state to fat burning.
Some experience the following symptoms:
• Stomach ache
• Brain fog
• Upset stomach/diarrhea or constipation
• Muscle cramping
• Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
• Sugar cravings.
If you’re one of the unlucky ones who get a taste of the keto flu, don’t be too worried as they should not linger around for any longer than a week.
Here’s a few tips of alleviating the symptoms of Keto flu
Hydration: Due to the fact that you lose a lot of water weight while starting the ketogenic diet, it is crucial that you replenish that water to reduce headaches, fatigue or nausea. Remember, if your urine is dark yellow, you probably need to drink more water
Electrolytes: Imbalances of electrolytes can cause keto flu symptoms and they aren’t too hard to mitigate. Increase your salt intake (this will counteract water loss and replenish sodium), eat your spinach, avocados, leafy greens, nuts, mushrooms and salmon (potassium) or you can opt for bone broth which contains sodium and potassium. Personally, electrolytes made the biggest difference for me in terms of mitigating my headaches but also giving me more energy.
Get at least 7 hours of sleep: Getting at least 7 hours of sleep if important for everyone and even more so a keto dieter. Due to your body experiencing a lot of changes as it switches fuel sources, sleep is crucial as it can help reduce stress and fatigue.
Exercise: Exercise can speed up the ketosis process as it will help burn through your glycogen stores but it will also help make your body more efficient as switching between carbs and fats for energy, helping mitigate keto flu symptoms more quickly.
Increase fat intake & calories: Your body will need plenty of fat for fuel as it is no longer getting its energy from carbohydrates and sugar so make sure you replace your calories from carbs with the adequate calories from fat. Make sure to implement healthy fats here for an overall health life style. A simple google search for the term essential fatty acids will lead you on the right trail!
Exogenous ketones: If you know me, you know I’m not huge on these. I’m very picky on which supplements I spend my money on and typically stick to protein powders and vitamins for my supplements. Now with that said, exogenous ketones can definitely help make the transition easier as they provide the body with additional ketones to help it become fatter adapted and enter ketosis quicker. This can be helpful in preventing or even eliminating keto flu symptoms. On the flip side, there’s no reason you can’t attain these same results by incorporating health fats into your diet. The main fats to include into your diet would be MCTs such as coconut oil.
Other issues that could potentially arise:
Constipation: Dehydration and a lack of electrolytes can cause you to release more fluids than you typically would as you are burning through your glycogen stores, so you may experience some constipation. You can remedy this by taking in a good amount of fiber, eating lots of non-starchy vegetables, getting enough sea salt or pink salt, and drinking plenty of water to help your colon. You may also consider taking 400mg of magnesium citrate (before bed if you have sleeping issues, see below) and a fiber supplement such as sugar free Metamucil.
Diarrhea: Due to the fact that some people may experience a hard time digesting higher levels of fat, some may experience diarrhea. This is simply due to the macronutrient ratio change and your body will adapt with some time. Try adding some fermented vegetables or a digestive enzyme.
Trouble Sleeping: Trouble sleeping is reported by some when beginning a ketogenic diet. This is often caused by an electrolyte deficiency, magnesium, so try adding a magnesium supplement before bed.
Bad Breath: Although not extremely common, some people do experience the smell of one of the ketone bodies (acetone) on their breath when on a Ketogenic diet. Acetone has a fruity smell similar to nail polish remover and though this can be annoying, remember, this is a sign your body is in ketosis and burning lots of fats and converting them to ketones for energy! Those who report this smell typically report its disappearance within 1-2 weeks as the body gets a bit more familiar with ketosis. Until then, keep some mouth wash handy, drink plenty of water and try sugar free gum!