How long does the keto flu last

7 tips against keto flu and other ketosis symptoms

You may have heard some success stories from other people who are just feeling great about their keto diet. But instead of losing excess fat and having more energy, you yourself are more likely to feel irritable, dizzy, and have trouble sleeping! The cause of all these complaints is the so-called Keto Flu or also known under the name Keto Flu! You actually feel like you're suffering from the flu and have no idea what's going on.

Are you wondering why you are doing so badly on your keto diet? And do you want to know what you can do about the keto flu, keto fever and keto sore throat?

With the tips in this article, you will learn how to prevent the keto flu and get rid of it after it has started!

What is Keto Flu?

The keto flu, also known as the carbohydrate flu, is a series of ketosis symptoms and ailments that people may experience when they start a ketogenic diet.

Your body is exposed to some changes when it switches from burning glucose to burning fat as its primary source of energy.

If you reduce your carbohydrate intake to 20-50 grams per day, both blood sugar and insulin levels will drop, causing stored fatty acids to be broken down and converted into ketones.

This can lead to discomfort and certain symptoms. The symptoms can last for several days and in some cases even for several weeks.

Typical symptoms of this keto flu are fever, sore throat, nausea, and fatigue. Symptoms are the result of the physical changes the body goes through when it goes into a state of ketosis.

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Common symptoms of keto flu

The symptoms and discomfort of the keto flu can be very uncomfortable. You just feel like a real flu.

Some people experience no problems at all, while others experience a variety of problems.

Here we would like to introduce the most common symptoms of keto flu.

Research has shown that the keto flu can lead to the following symptoms (source):

  • Bad breath
  • Vomit
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • Little energy
  • Signs of dehydration
  • fever
  • Muscle spasms
  • Digestive problems
  • insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • irritability
  • Foggy feeling
  • nausea
  • Sugar cravings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sore throat
  • Tremble

These symptoms often affect people who have just started a keto diet. If you've had these symptoms for just one day, don't panic! In the vast majority of cases, the symptoms disappear after just a few days.

However, if the nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain persist, you should consult your family doctor. Then there could be other causes for the symptoms than just the keto diet.

What causes the keto flu?

What Exactly Causes The Keto Flu Symptoms?

Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for our body. With a ketogenic diet, carbohydrate intake is reduced to less than 50 grams per day.

When the human body cannot absorb enough carbohydrates for energy, the liver will begin to produce glucose by tapping into the body's glycogen reserves. This process is called Glycogenolysis designated.

At some point, however, this supply will also be used up, which means that the body will be forced to use body fat for energy production. This is called Ketogenesis designated.

Important organs and muscles will then use so-called ketones / ketone bodies as fuel and the body is in the so-called state of ketosis. The result can be discomfort and other symptoms that arise with ketosis.

During this change, as already mentioned, the glycogen supply is first used up and at the same time the insulin level drops. This can lead to symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, muscle cramps, headaches and constipation. Cellular and hormonal changes also take place. For example, the T3 value of the active thyroid hormone can also decrease.

T3 is a hormone that is produced in the thyroid gland. T3, together with another thyroid hormone (T4), regulates body temperature, metabolism and heartbeat. As the body adapts to ketosis, the dropping hormone levels can make you feel foggy and tired.

The hormonal changes also ensure an increased cortisol level. The body will think you are starving, which stimulates the release of the anti-stress hormone cortisol. Having irritability and insomnia indicates that cortisol levels have increased.

But you don't need to worry about that. The more your body gets used to ketosis, the more the cortisol level will drop back to its old level.

Do you want to learn more about ketosis and ketones? Then check out the following article as well, where I dig deeper into this topic:

What are ketones (urine ketones) and are they dangerous?

How long does the keto flu last?

The keto flu symptoms usually show up in the first few days of the keto diet. They then generally last a few days or even up to several weeks.

In rare cases, the keto flu sore throat can last for months. Whether you have a keto fever or a keto sore throat varies from person to person. It depends primarily on personal metabolic flexibility and other factors such as genes and old eating habits.

If you have eaten high-carb meals frequently in the past, you are more likely to experience more keto flu symptoms. A diet high in bad carbohydrates can make you more susceptible to withdrawal symptoms.

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Experience with the keto flu

Some people are put off by the intensity of the keto flu. Here are some of the experiences that I have found:

I'm currently on day 5 of my keto diet, but it started yesterday. Nausea, chills, and constantly tired. I also have absolutely no appetite and I know that I haven't had enough water in the past 2 days. I've tried to keep the carbohydrates as low as possible with every meal, but I find that I'm just not getting enough! Now I hope that this keto flu will pass quickly and that I can function normally again. It's really unbearable! - Dina

This morning when I got up I felt really awful. Headache, weakened, sore throat and no appetite. At first I didn't even think of the keto diet as the cause, as there is also a flu wave. I didn't even know there was such a thing as keto flu. But now I'm happy that I know where the problems are coming from. I can’t believe my body has gotten so used to carbohydrates! - Carlo

After two bad days in bed, I hope I have got over the keto flu. Even the slightest exertion in the house tires me and triggers muscle cramps. I now realize that the keto diet requires some preparation and effort. I'm glad I got this part over with and can get started on the ketogenic diet! - Esther

Does the keto flu lead to ketoacidosis?

Keto flu is not the same as ketoacidosis. While the names are similar, ketosis and ketoacidosis are by no means the same. Ketoacidosis is the name given to a complication of type 1 diabetes, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

This is a life-threatening complication that results from dangerously high levels of ketones in the blood. This makes the blood more acidic.

7 tips against the keto flu and how you can safely adhere to the keto diet

In order to get rid of your keto flu symptoms as quickly as possible, I would like to describe several ways in which you can achieve this.

These symptoms can generally be avoided or at least alleviated with the help of the following tips:

Tip # 1: drink more water

Everyone knows by now that it is important for your health to drink enough water, no matter how you eat. But if you are on a keto diet, this is especially important.

Why do you need a lot of water on a low-carbohydrate diet? I'll explain that to you here: Symptoms of dehydration are one of the most common side effects of a ketogenic diet.

Many people forget that if they drastically cut back their carbohydrate intake, they need to drink significantly more water.

Carbohydrates bind water and sodium in the body. Carbohydrates are converted into glucose after digestion. A small supply is in the liver and muscles in the form of Glycogen saved. Every gram of glycogen binds 3 to 4 grams of water in the body.

Depending on the body, a person can quickly store 500 grams of glycogen. Then it is quite easy to calculate how much moisture the body will lose if this glycogen is broken down because of a diet that is high in carbohydrates and low in calories.

By restricting the carbohydrates in his diet, glycogen stores decrease and we lose a lot of moisture at the same time. This is also the reason why people who follow a keto diet see the pounds melt away very quickly at the beginning of the diet. Unfortunately, this is not about fat, but mainly about moisture / water.

If you lose too much moisture, you can suffer from mild dehydration symptoms such as headaches, tiredness, a dry mouth and other flu-like symptoms. And because you're dehydrated, you'll feel hungry more often.

Drink 2 glasses of water right after you wake up. This is when the body is most dehydrated because you sweat a lot at night.

A glass of water next to the bed is also a good idea, because you can have a sip more quickly at night when it is ready to hand.

Tip # 2: start the keto diet slowly

If you've been consuming carbohydrates your entire life, it's important that you take it easy on the keto diet for now. During the first few days, start with a low-carbohydrate diet in which you slowly reduce your carbohydrate intake.

Your body has to get used to getting fewer carbohydrates first, then your desire for them and the keto flu symptoms will also decrease. The amount of carbohydrates to eat depends on the individual.

Some people have to reduce their net carbohydrate intake (i.e. all carbohydrates minus fiber) to as low as 20 grams a day, while other people reach the state of ketosis with twice the amount of carbohydrates a day.

In a small group of overweight patients with type 2 diabetes, a low-carbohydrate diet of no more than 21 grams of carbohydrates per day resulted in urinary ketone levels 27 times higher than before the diet (source).

In another study, the participants with type 2 diabetes were given 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, depending on the amount they needed to keep the ketone levels in the blood in a range of 0.5 to 3.0 mmol / L ( Source).

Tip # 3: eat more fat

When switching to a ketogenic diet, people will automatically eat less (which is a good thing in itself, of course).

But if you eat too little fat and too little calories, this can lead to stress. That is why you should eat more high-fat foods such as MCT oil or free-range butter.

No matter how you twist it, your body AND your brain will have to go through a period of adjustment. The keto flu mostly occurs in people who find it difficult to digest the increased fat content of the keto diet.

Take your time with this, and remember that eating more fat will stimulate your body to enter ketosis faster.

Tip # 4: Keep your electrolytes in balance

In addition to dehydration, the loss of minerals can also be a reason for developing keto flu.

A keto diet works like a natural diureticbecause she promotes kidney function, which leads to increased urine production. Essential minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium are so-called electrolytes, which are important for the body to be well hydrated.

That is why you should make sure that you get enough of these electrolytes, and especially sodium, so that you can get the most out of your keto diet. If you replenish your electrolytes well, you will also feel a lot better very quickly.

Potassium: Mainly found in fish, meat and leafy vegetables. Cramps, constipation, or muscle weakness are typical symptoms of a potassium deficiency.

Magnesium: Foods high in magnesium include fish, nuts, unprocessed grains, green leafy vegetables, and seeds. Magnesium helps with muscle cramps, dizziness and fatigue.

Sodium: A mineral that is especially important when you move around a lot or live in a warm climate. However, there is usually more than enough sodium in the modern western diet.

However, if you stick to a keto diet, you also avoid high-salt and high-carbohydrate products. This is why you should add some bouillon to your diet. Muscle cramps, headaches and nausea can be reduced in this way.

Tip # 5: Do intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting can quickly put the body into ketosis because the cells will then quickly use up their glycogen stores and then switch to fat as their primary fuel.

This speeds up the fat burning process and thus also increases the amount of ketones in the body.

If you eat your last meal today at 8 p.m., if you want to do intermittent fasting, you shouldn't eat anything until noon tomorrow at 12 p.m. You can do this every day and only eat something between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m. every day.

This is also known as the 16/8 diet. By not eating for more than 10 hours at a time each day, you are helping the body to use up its glycogen supply and start producing ketones. The faster you get into ketosis, the more likely the keto flu will go away.

Tip # 6: Allow yourself a little more rest

The keto diet can have a huge impact on sleep. Especially if you've just started using it, you can suffer from disrupted sleep patterns and insomnia.

This is how the keto diet affects your sleep:

Carbohydrates are usually the body's most important source of energy, as they provide the body with a constant supply of glucose and an increase in the amino acid L-tryptophan, which helps the brain.

This amino acid aids in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps calm the body down, resulting in better sleep.

Serotonin is converted into the sleep hormone melatonin. Since protein is only consumed in moderate amounts on the keto diet, L-tryptophan is rarely found in the diet, which in turn leads to low serotonin and melatonin levels.

When struggling with fatigue, it's important to get enough rest and occasional naps when the opportunity presents itself. Go to bed early to catch up on some sleep.

If you're having trouble sleeping, keep in mind that this is one of the symptoms of keto flu. In the long term, however, your sleep quality will improve, as studies have shown.

A 2007 study found that the ketogenic diet can improve sleep quality with an increased REM phase, even though total sleep time decreases (source).

Tip # 7: Increase your carbohydrate intake

Have you tried everything but you still feel very bad?

Then you should increase your carbohydrate intake a little. Everyone has different needs when it comes to carbohydrates.

If you eat less than 20 grams of carbohydrates a day but you can hardly get out of bed as a result, it is simply time to increase your intake a little.

The need for carbohydrates can vary greatly from person to person, depending on age, gender and personal activity level. You can then play around with your carbohydrate intake until you find a set that makes you feel good enough.

Add to your diet e.g.add some vegetables (but without starch), a few nuts and seeds and also fruit that is low in sugar.

This can potentially result in you exceeding your target amount of carbohydrates in a day. However, it will help you relieve the symptoms of the keto flu, which will help you stick to your new diet over the long term.

In this way, you enable your body to adapt to burning fat as the primary source of energy, because it will then get at least some glucose to burn.

Would you like to lose weight quickly by eating fewer carbohydrates, but 50 grams (or even less) of carbohydrates per day are really not enough for you? Then you should start with a normal low-carb diet instead of immediately jumping on the extreme keto diet.

The low-carbohydrate diet allows you to be less strict about your diet, which is often easier in the long term, especially if you want to maintain your desired weight in the long term after a diet.

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