If you’ve done any reading on the keto diet, you’ve heard about the keto flu. It’s the symptoms of carb withdrawal that you’re likely to go through once you begin a ketogenic diet. This post will address what the keto flu really is and how to speed past that process so you can get to the good stuff, ketosis and losing weight.
Heard of the keto flu? This is a series of symptoms that many people claim to experience as first-time ketogenic dieters.
Before you begin the keto diet, your body will have come to expect a certain amount of carbohydrates and sugar. Sugar is highly addictive and there is a yeast component as well.
If you’ve been a heavy sugar feeder, then you likely have an overgrowth of yeast (candida) in your gut and other parts of your body. Each time you consume carbs or sweets, the yeast that lives inside of you feed off the sugars
Think of the process in which bread or beer is made. You start with a yeast culture, then you add sugar and water. What happens? Gases are produced. This explains the “beer belly” that comes with habitual beer drinking.
No, that belly is not just fat, nor is it beer. It’s actually off-gassing from the yeast beasts that live in your stomach flora and digestive tract.
Carb Withdrawal Symptoms
To get into a state of ketosis, you’ll need to starve your body of carbohydrates so that it will start burning fat as an energy source instead of carbs.
Your body may start to display symptoms of carb withdrawal also known as the keto flu when this process is in the beginning stages. It’s called the keto flu because the symptoms can be similar to that of a traditional flu but it really isn’t a cold or flu at all.
What is the Keto Flu?
As you start the ketogenic diet, you’ll experience yeast die-off, especially if you were big on sweets or a carb-a-
This is where masses of yeast bodies inside of you die off quickly because they’re not getting their sugar meal. Now they’ve become waste, which your body must get rid of.
Because of this yeast die-off, you may feel ill for a little while and suffer from some of the following ketosis symptoms:
- sore throat
- diarrhea or constipation
- muscle pain
- upset stomach
Some call this the “keto flu.”
Thankfully, the slightly annoying symptoms of “keto flu” will abate within a few days of your body adjusting to this new way of eating.
Before long, you’ll be in the next phase of the ketogenic lifestyle, which is “I can’t believe how great I feel! I have so much energy! I’m not hungry anymore.”
That is called ketosis.
How to Speed Up the Side Effects of “Keto Flu”
One of the best ways to hasten the symptoms of your body detoxing from a substance that it was previously addicted to, like sugar, is to find ways to flush out the toxins more quickly.
Yeast die-off, which is what occurs when you deprive your body of carbohydrates and sugar that once fed the yeast that lives in every body, is often a reason for flu-like symptoms while in the early stages of the ketogenic diet.
You can make the keto flu go away faster by finding ways to flush water through your system. Some ideas, below:
To sweat out water and toxins, do cardio. To sweat from the deepest recesses of your cells and drain your lymph, do yoga.
It’s often a wise idea to combine both as part of your exercise routine. You’ll be building muscle while improving the condition of your heart, lungs and vascular system.
Read more here one exercising while on the keto diet.
Take Exogenous Ketones
Exogenous Ketones are supplements that help you to get into ketosis faster. They are best used when:
- You’re just beginning (or restarting) the ketogenic diet
- You’re doing any type of intermittent fasting
- You feel as if you’ve hit a plateau
Exogenous ketones are not necessary as an everyday keto supplement but can help you to get into ketosis quickly when needs
Taking exogenous ketones can help alleviate keto flu and lesson the symptoms of carb withdrawals while you transition to ketosis.
Drink more water.
Of course, if you’re sweating as a result of exercising more, then you’ll want to replenish the water that your body lost.
Drink lots of water after exercising.
Add lemon, lime, cranberry or vinegar to your drinks. Not only are lemon and other acid-based foods are extremely cleansing, but acid breaks down fat.
Acidic fruits which are low in sugar are encouraged on the ketogenic diet. These fruits will help your kidneys pass toxins as your body makes the shift to high-ketone production and fat-burning for fuel.
You’ll probably find yourself craving acid-rich foods, so enjoy a splash or a squirt in a tall glass of water, several times per day.
Related reading: How to Know if You’re Dehydrated and 6 Healthy Rehydration Drinks
Replenish Your Electrolytes
Drinking water is great, yes, but you also need to replace the electrolytes you will lose quickly on this diet.
Eating low carb, especially under twenty carbs per day, means that the way electrolytes are processed in your body changes.
It’s these changes that can lead to
Your pancreas will slow production of insulin. When that happens, your stored glucose ends up well below the amount you once had. You can even reach the point where your body is no longer storing glucose.
Once the body reaches that point, you’ll experience a faster weight loss because your kidneys are kicking into high gear to rid the water, rather than keeping it. With a water weight loss, your drop in weight will be noticeable right away.
You’ll see more pounds lost on the scale than ever before. While losing your water weight isn’t really a problem, what is a problem is that your electrolytes are being lost right along with the water.
When you don’t have the right balance of electrolytes, your body will make this known. The symptoms you’ll experience especially are headaches and muscle cramps. You may have digestive problems. Your heart can race and you might feel sick to your stomach or dizzy.
Watching out for your electrolyte balance is something you need to take care of long before it’s ever a problem. Make sure that you have plenty of salt in your keto diet. Salt helps the body hold onto water and you need sodium when you’re on the keto diet.
Without enough sodium, you’ll notice that your muscles aren’t working well and you’ve experiencing pain and cramping. You can use more salt in your food or make dishes using broth, which is high in sodium.
Include foods that are high in potassium in your keto diet. You need potassium for your heart’s sake. Eat foods that are rich in this mineral. This would be something like bacon, or avocado.
Read more here for a list of supplements you may want to take while on the keto diet and the reason why.
Eat more fiber.
It’s important to remember that the ketogenic diet permits limited fiber sources. You’ll have very few if any credits for bread, which is high in glucose.
So if you want to purge your body faster and get over the keto symptoms and onto high energy levels, then make sure to eat green, leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli, chard, and spinach, with your healthy fat-rich ketogenic meals.
To put it bluntly, these foods will help you poop, which is waste, which you want to get rid of to get past that sick feeling!
Treat yourself to some good coffee or tea. Both of these facilitate bladder and bowel function, so if you’re feeling backed-up and sluggish after switching to keto eating, a little tea or coffee pick-me-up could help get things moving along and out of your system faster.
Related: How to Drink Coffee on the Keto Diet
Spice it up.
There is no restriction on spices and herbs on the ketogenic diet. Plus, lots of spices and herbs improve health in various ways.
Brew up a delicious chai made from black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger
Add full-fat cream for a keto treat (just remember, only keto-friendly sweeteners like Swerve are permitted, even in coffee or tea).
Add spicy chili peppers, habaneros and chili powder to your keto-friendly, chili dishes. Warming spices speed up the body functions, and the heat lends a bit of variety to your keto meal choices.
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Looking for a guide to sticking to the keto diet? Our Complete Guide to the Ketogenic Diet Book is a complete, all-in-one resource for starting and sticking to the ketogenic diet. This book includes all the need-to-know info about the keto diet plus meal plans, checklists and grocery lists to get you started.