Keto Flu Symptoms: How To Recover Quickly From This Carb Withdrawal Phase
Keto for weight loss is one of the fastest-growing diet protocols in the world today, with its global market value expected to reach $15.6 billion by 2027. But like many good things, the Ketogenic way of life also entails some initial struggles and challenges that newbies have to overcome to reach that much-desired, super fat-burning state of Ketosis. Keto flu symptoms are one of them.
In this article, we will tackle the subject of Keto flu (also known as carb flu and carb withdrawal) in great detail, giving you all the information, tips, tricks and remedies you need to manage Keto flu symptoms with minimum discomfort. We will also answer all your questions about Keto flu at the end of the article, so make sure to read until the very end.
What Is Keto Flu?
Keto flu is not really a `flu’ but a cluster of temporary symptoms that occurs when you switch from a diet that has plenty of carbohydrates to one in which your carb intake is drastically reduced. It is a phase when the body is re-adjusting to a change of fuel source and is attended by a variety of symptoms such as nausea, fatigue and brain fog.
When Does Keto Flu Start – And How Long Does It Last?
Many experts refer to Keto flu as `Keto induction’ because the symptoms are experienced in the initial stages when the body first enters its fat-burning state of Ketosis. It typically lasts for several days as your body adapts to using fat instead of carbohydrates as its primary energy source.
Is Keto Flu Dangerous?
While Keto flu is unpleasant, it is not dangerous and should not discourage people from following a Ketogenic diet. Always remember that once you get past the symptoms, Keto is easier to maintain than any other diet for long-term weight loss.
Causes Of Keto Flu Symptoms
Why do some people suffer from Keto flu symptoms while others don’t? Keto scientists offer these possible explanations:
1) Adjusting To A New Way Of Eating
First, it could be that those who suffer from Keto flu are simply more sensitive to the changes that occur in their bodies when they switch to a Ketogenic diet. It is, after all, a major shift from the way most Americans eat, and the more carb-heavy a dieter’s previous food choices were (example: refined carbs like pasta, sodas and sugary cereals) the more likely it is that they will have to experience this adjustment period.
2) Lack Of Electrolytes
Electrolytes are important minerals that help to balance your body’s fluid levels, and they can also help to regulate nerve and muscle function.
Some common examples of electrolytes include sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Many studies have found that those who follow a Ketogenic diet tend to be deficient in these essential nutrients, which may cause symptoms like headaches and irritability. One easy way to replenish your electrolyte stores is by taking a high-quality supplement every day or drinking bone broth regularly.
3) Not Enough Healthy Fats
A Ketogenic diet is typically high in fat, but this does not mean that it’s a free-for-all for fatty foods. Many Keto experts recommend focusing on eating healthy fats such as Omega-3s and MCT oil. If you are not getting enough of these types of fats in your diet, then you may experience some additional keto flu symptoms like brain fog and fatigue.
4) Not Enough Protein
Protein is crucial on a ketogenic diet to ensure that your body has the building blocks it needs to function properly. By consuming adequate protein in combination with recommended levels of fat, you can help lessen both your physical and mental symptoms associated with the Keto flu.
5) Not Enough Carbs
The Keto mantra of `low carb’ is so widely known these days that some beginners who are DIY-ing it without the help of experienced Keto coaches try to cut down on carbs entirely. But zero carbs is not a healthy path to weight loss as carbohydrates provide both your body and brain with certain nutritional ingredients they need to thrive.
6) Too Much Stress
When you start following a Ketogenic diet, it’s not uncommon for your life to become more stressful than usual because of all the changes going on in your body. Re-thinking and rearranging your daily meals can feel confusing, and therefore stressful during the early days too.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, make sure to reward yourself with some me-time to relax and de-stress. Taking a hot bath for example, or reading a book or going for a walk can all help to ease your mind and reduce stress levels.
7) Not Enough Sleep
Sleep is often one of the first things that people sacrifice when they start following a Ketogenic diet. This is because the diet can cause an increase in energy levels, which can lead to difficulty falling asleep at night. If you’re not getting enough rest, then this can exacerbate the symptoms of the Keto flu and make them even harder to deal with. Make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night so that your body has time to recover and readjust to its new reality.
9 Common Keto Flu Symptoms
The most common Keto flu symptom that beginners report is fatigue. This can be caused by a number of factors. It is very easy to fall into the trap of being calorie deficit, for example, because being in a state of Ketosis also reduces appetite. Not eating the recommended amount of calories when metabolism has speeded up can leave you feeling low-energy, listless and tired.
Overexercising is another well-known cause, as is dirty Keto, which may seem okay when it comes to your daily macro allowances, but they also introduce a bunch of unhealthy, processed foods in your diet with unnatural additives.
2) Low Blood Sugar
Every human cell depends on glucose for energy. However, when a person follows a Ketogenic diet and severely restricts carbohydrate intake, a Keto side effect during the early transition phase can be that their blood sugar levels drop too low. This condition, known as hypoglycemia, can cause a range of symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and brain fog. It can also lead to irritability, anxiety and mood swings.
3) Hormone Imbalance
One major contributing factor to carb induction symptoms is hormone imbalance, which can stem from nutritional deficiencies in addition to possible underlying metabolic issues. Because hormones help regulate a wide variety of bodily functions and processes, disrupting the balance can lead to various unpleasant symptoms such as fatigue and brain fog. The increased stress hormone production during this early weight loss phase can also increase anxiety.
By understanding the causes and symptoms of hormone imbalances, you can reduce symptoms and start on the path towards fast recovery.
Dehydration is a common symptom of carb flu during the early phases of a Ketogenic diet.
When there is a drastic from a high carb diet, your body’s glucose store, known as glycogen, reduces as well. Now glycogen acts like a sponge that absorbs a lot of water molecules. So when its presence depletes in the body from lack of carbs, you lose all that water as well.
This is one of the reasons why drinking at least 8 glasses of water is extremely important on a Keto diet.
Being in a state of carbohydrate withdrawal even as the body is taking its time to get used to burning fat instead of carbs (its favorite fuel source) to make energy can leave you feeling somewhat lightheaded and shaky on your feet.
The cumulative impact of lowered blood sugar, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance can lead to headaches during the first few days of experiencing Ketosis.
7) Lack Of Libido
Another side effect you may experience is a lowering of libido that is brought on by a combination of several factors – most important of which are the major physical, mental and lifestyle shifts you’re making at this time. Don’t worry too much about it because as you get more comfortable with your new regimen, this phase should pass.
8) Irritability / Mood Swings / Brain Fog
Just like the body, the brain too needs time to adjust to the lack of carbohydrates, which has always been its preferred energy source. During this carbohydrate withdrawal period, you may feel less in control of your moods and emotions and find your thought process to be a little fuzzy. Again, don’t worry about it. It will sort itself out with time.
9) Body Ache And Muscle Cramps
Lean muscles in your body store glucose, and when that store begins to deplete, along with electrolyte fluctuations, you may experience some abdominal pain, muscle pain and muscle cramping.
21 Keto Flu Cure / Remedies
As we have discussed earlier, Keto Flu is a passing phase that only affects a group of Keto beginners, while others do not experience Keto flu symptoms at all.
The experience isn’t comfortable by any means, but there are some Keto flu remedies you can try out to feel better faster:
1) Don’t Skip Meals
Skipping meals while on Ketogenic diets can cause your blood sugar to drop, which may lead to fatigue and irritability. It can also make it harder to concentrate and lead to sugar cravings later in the day. To avoid skipping meals, make sure to eat every 3-4 hours throughout the day.
2) Increase Your Intake Of Electrolytes
One of the main causes of Keto flu is electrolyte imbalance. To remedy this, be sure to consume plenty of foods that are rich in minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Some good examples include bone broth, avocados and dark leafy greens. You can also use electrolyte supplements to replenish your body’s mineral stores.
3) Take a Multivitamin
While you should be getting most of the vitamins and minerals you need from your diet, a good multivitamin supplement is worth considering if you’re struggling with Keto flu. Multivitamins can help ensure that you get all of the nutrients you need in order to feel better quickly as you lose weight.
4) Add Coconut Oil or MCT Oil to Your Diet
The healthy fats in coconut oil and MCT oil are rapidly absorbed by your body, which makes them therapeutic when you are experiencing Keto flu symptoms like fatigue and brain fog. Try adding a tablespoon of coconut oil or MCT oil to your coffee, smoothies or salads every day for fast-acting results.
5) Check Your Vitamin D Levels
Research suggests that Vitamin D plays a role in regulating the immune system and may help reduce Keto flu symptoms. To ensure you’re getting enough Vitamin D, go outside for some sunshine as often as possible and talk to your doctor about supplementation if needed.
6) Increase Your Intake of Omega-3s
Fish oils are high in omega-3 fatty acids and consuming 3 grams per day is associated with improved mood, reduced joint pain, reduced depression risk and much more.
You can try adding 1 tablespoon of fish oil to your daily routine or snacking on fatty, omega-3-rich foods like salmon and chia seeds to stop getting your Keto flu symptoms worse.
7) Try Turmeric Supplements
Research shows that turmeric contains compounds like curcumin — an antioxidant that fights inflammation — as well as strong antibacterial properties. You can find turmeric supplements at most health food stores or online. Just be sure to follow the dosage recommendations on the product label.
8) Take 200 mg Magnesium Per Day
Magnesium is an excellent mineral for fighting inflammation and improving energy levels — especially if you’re following a Ketogenic diet plan. To reap its benefits, take 200 mg per day (which is the recommended daily allowance for adults). You can find magnesium supplements at most health food stores or online.
9) Increase Your Intake of Green Tea
Green tea is packed with antioxidants that have been shown to fight inflammation and improve digestion. It’s also a great source of caffeine, which may help boost energy levels and improve mental focus during Keto flu. To get the most benefits from green tea, opt for organic brands that use high quality leaves and brew it in water at around 175°F.
10) Drink Ginger Tea
Ginger contains compounds like gingerol and zingerone, which may help control feelings of sluggishness brought on by Keto flu. To make ginger tea, simply simmer fresh ginger root in water for 10 minutes or add dried ginger powder to hot water.
11) Drink Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is full of nutrients like luteolin and apigenin that settle feelings of nausea and stomach upset. It also has strong antibacterial effects that may help prevent food poisoning and illnesses associated with flu-like symptoms. To make your own chamomile tea, boil 2 cups of water in a kettle and set aside. Steep chamomile tea bags in hot water for 5–10 minutes then remove the bags before drinking.
12) Consume Probiotic Foods
Research shows that probiotics may be beneficial for fighting inflammation, improving gut health, reducing anxiety and even reducing symptoms of depression. To reap these benefits, add a variety of probiotic-rich foods like kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut to your diet or try taking a probiotic supplement.
13) Drink Bone Broth
Bone broth is rich in minerals like calcium and phosphorus, which are important for bone health, but it’s also a good source of collagen — a protein that helps reduce inflammation. To make your own bone broth, simply simmer chicken bones in water for 24 hours (or longer).
You can also find pre-made bone broth at health food and grocery stores.
14) Eat More Garlic
Garlic is full of anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that may help prevent Keto diarrhea and other illnesses associated with the symptoms. You can add garlic to recipes or enjoy it raw with meals throughout the week to reap its benefits.
15) Eat More Berries
Berries are packed with antioxidants and they’re also low in net carbs, which makes them a great choice for a Ketogenic diet. You can eat them as a snack or add them to recipes like Keto pancakes, smoothies, muffins and more. Aim for 1–2 cups of berries per day to reap their benefits.
16) Eat More Avocados
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) that may help reduce inflammation and muscle cramps. In fact, research shows that MUFAs may help promote healthy weight loss by lowering levels of ghrelin — the hormone that tells your brain when you’re hungry. Medium chain triglycerides.
To reap its benefits, enjoy half an avocado per day with meals or use it to make Keto-friendly snacks like avocado toast or guacamole.
17) Eat More Flaxseeds
Flaxseeds are rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, and they’re also low in net carbs. You can add flaxseeds to smoothies, oatmeal, salads or bake with them. Aim for 2–3 tablespoons per day.
18) Eat More Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics — live bacteria that help improve gut health. They’re also a good source of vitamins and minerals that can help improve overall health. You can find fermented foods (tempeh is a great choice!) at most grocery stores or make your own at home.
19) Manage Stress
Stress can worsen Keto flu symptoms and make them harder to manage. To reduce stress, consider using relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing.
20) Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol can dehydrate your body and worsen Keto flu symptoms. If you do drink alcohol, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water as well.
21) Talk to Your Doctor
If you’re experiencing severe keto flu symptoms, talk to your doctor. They may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications to help relieve your symptoms.
Commonly Asked Questions About Keto Flu
Q: Is the Keto flu a real thing?
A: Keto flu (also known as carb flu) is not really a flu, but a collection of symptoms like fatigue, lethargy, headache, brain fog, nausea, irritability and insomnia that may appear 2 to 7 days after starting a Keto diet. As the body adjusts to the sudden deprivation of carbohydrates, which is its preferred source to make energy, these flu-like symptoms affect some beginner Keto dieters, while others do not experience them at all. The Keto flu symptoms, however, do not last beyond a few days or weeks. Once the body settles into a state of Ketosis and gets used to burning its fat stores for fuel, the discomforts associated with this flu-like phase disappears.
Q: Do you get Keto flu every time you start Keto?
A: Some people are more susceptible to Keto flu symptoms than others. There are many reasons for this, principle among which is the amount of carbohydrates your body was used to receiving before you started on the low-carb diet. If you restart a Keto diet after a considerable gap of time, your body is likely to have forgotten the behavioral changes it made during its low-carb days and you may feel certain Keto flu symptoms like you did when you started on Keto for the first time.
Q: How long does Ketosis flu last?
A: The Keto flu is a collection of symptoms that some people experience when they first start following a low-carb Keto diet. Fortunately, these symptoms, which include fatigue, brain fog, irritability, stomach upset, headache, lethargy and insomnia, are only temporary and typically last for 1-2 weeks. After that, the body adjusts to burning fat for fuel and the symptoms subside. So if you’re starting the keto diet and worried about the flu-like symptoms, don’t be! They will pass in time.
Q: Does Keto flu mean it’s working?
A: Experiencing Keto flu does not necessarily mean that it is working. The symptoms of the Keto flu do signal that the body is trying hard to adjust to the sudden lack of carbohydrates, its preferred energy source, but until you are actually in a state of nutritional Ketosis (when the body is actively burning its stored fat for fuel) it cannot be said that the diet is working based merely on the presentation of flu-like symptoms.
Q: When does Keto flu start?
A: The earliest that Keto flu has been reported to start is within 1 to 2 days after drastically cutting down on carbohydrates on a Ketogenic diet. But the onset may vary, depending on your own health and metabolic profile. For some people, the symptoms may not present themselves for upto 7 days.
Q: Why do I feel sick after cutting out carbs?
A: When you cut carbs from your diet, your body has to adjust to using a new fuel source. In the short term, this can lead to feeling tired, irritable, and lightheaded. You may also experience headaches, nausea, and constipation. These symptoms are commonly known as the “low-carb flu” and typically last for a week or two as your body makes the switch from burning sugar to burning fat. After that, you should start feeling better as your body becomes more efficient at using fat for energy.
However, if you’re still feeling sick after reducing your carb intake, it’s possible that you’re not eating enough calories overall, or you may be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to make sure you’re doing low carb the right way.
Q: Why am I exhausted on the Keto diet?
A: When you first start the Keto diet, it’s common to feel exhausted. This is because your body is adjusting to a new way of eating, and it takes time for it to adapt. When you’re used to eating a lot of carbs, your body runs on glucose (sugar) for energy. But when you cut out carbs and switch to a high-fat, low-carb diet, your body has to find a new source of energy. This process can take a few days to a few weeks, and during this time you may feel tired and sluggish. However, once your body adjusts to burning fat for fuel, you should start to feel more energetic.
Q: When does Keto flu happen?
A: The Keto flu can happen within 2-3 days of starting a Ketogenic diet. It is usually characterized by flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, headache, nausea, and difficulty focusing. Typically, these symptoms go away on their own within a week or two. However, some people may experience more severe symptoms that last a little longer.
Q: What does Keto fever feel like?
A: When you have Keto fever, you can feel excessively tired and fatigued and experience headaches, dizziness, and brain fog as your body gets adjusted to burning ketones instead of burning glucose for energy. While Keto fever symptoms can be uncomfortable, they are typically short-lived and will subside as your body becomes more efficient at burning ketones.
Q: How fast does Keto flu start?
A: Typically, Keto flu may start within 1-3 days of beginning a Keto diet. The temporary, flu-like symptoms include headache, nausea, fatigue and brain fog as your body adjusts to burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
Q: What is the fastest way to get rid of Keto flu?
A: The fastest way to get rid of Keto flu is to fortify yourself with plenty of water, electrolytes, probiotic and antioxidant rich foods like avocados, kombucha and sauerkraut. Do not over-exercise or skip meals while you are experiencing these symptoms and get plenty of sleep. With a little effort, Keto flu can be quickly overcome, and you can enjoy all the fat loss benefits of a Ketogenic diet.
Q: What stops Keto flu?
A: While you cannot stop Keto flu if your body is predisposed towards experiencing the flu-like symptoms, there are several things you can do to help relieve their severity. Make sure you drink enough water, increase your intake of electrolytes, include foods that are rich in probiotics and antioxidants in your diet, get enough sleep and reduce stress levels as much as possible.
Q: How long does Keto flu fatigue last?
A: In most cases, Keto flu fatigue should last for upto a week. However, in some cases, the flu-like symptoms can last a few days longer as the body adjusts to the sudden deprivation of carbohydrates, its preferred fuel source, and acclimates to using stored fat to make energy instead. If the Keto flu fatigue persists longer than that, it may be indicative of a more serious issue, and it is important to consult with a doctor or nutritionist to rule out any other potential causes.
Q: How do you stop dizziness on Keto?
A: In order to stop dizziness from Keto, make sure you’re staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and electrolytes. Second, increase your intake of healthy fats, which will help to stabilize blood sugar levels and provide energy. Finally, get plenty of rest and give yourself time to adjust to the new diet. With a little patience and perseverance, the dizziness will eventually pass and you’ll be on your way to successful Ketosis.
Q: How long does dizziness last on Keto diet?
A: Dizziness is a common Keto flu symptom that can start with 1-3 days of beginning a low-carb Keto diet. Typically, the dizziness should resolve itself within 7-10 days as your body learns to burn its fat stores to make energy instead of carbohydrates.
Q: What are symptoms of carb withdrawal?
A: When people start out on a Keto diet and drastically reduce their carb intake, they may experience what is known as carb withdrawal. The symptoms can include feelings of fatigue, irritability, headaches, and muscle aches. While these symptoms can be unpleasant, they are usually not severe and will go away after a few days.
Q: How do I stop low carb flu?
A: While you cannot stop low carb flu if you are predisposed to experience uncomfortable symptoms at the start of a Ketogenic diet, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate the symptoms. Drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest and increase your intake of electrolytes. With a little time and care, you’ll be feeling back to your old self.
Q: How long does carb flu last?
A: Carb flu typically lasts for a few days to a week as your body adjusts to using fat for fuel instead of carbs on a Keto diet. But during that time, you can minimize carb flu symptoms by taking electrolytes and getting plenty of rest to make the transition to a low carb diet much smoother.
Q: How long does Keto fatigue last?
A: When you first start on a Keto diet, you may experience what is commonly known as Keto fatigue. During this time, you may feel more tired than usual and have less energy for physical activity. The symptom is usually temporary and should dissipate after a few days or a few weeks, depending on your individual metabolic profile. Be sure to increase your intake of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium to help you recover from Keto fatigue faster.
Q: How do you fix Keto fatigue?
A: To fix Keto fatigue, make sure that you are getting enough fluids and electrolytes by drinking plenty of water and incorporating electrolyte-rich foods into your diet. You may also need to increase your calorie intake if you are not eating enough food overall. Get plenty of rest and sleep as the body adjusts to burning ketones for energy instead of carbs, and you should be feeling better in a few days.
To help reduce the severity of carb withdrawal, it is important to start the Keto lifestyle slowly and do your research ahead of time to ensure you have all of the necessary knowledge and support at hand. However you decide to treat your Keto flu, remember that it will pass — so hang in there!