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How to Beat The Keto Flu & Enjoy All The Benefits Of Being In Ketosis

How to Beat The Keto Flu & Enjoy All The Benefits Of Being In Ketosis

by konsciousketo Admin -

Are you feeling sluggish? Tired? Hangry? Do you have a headache? Muscle cramping? Brain fog? You might be experiencing the dreaded keto flu.

No, this isn’t really influenza, but for the sufferer, keto flu can feel like an all-too-real reality.

The first thing to understand is that keto flu can actually be a really great sign you are going into ketosis, and the second thing to know is that keto flu, as drastic as it can feel, is very easy to resolve with some simple steps.

So long as you don’t don’t give into your carb cravings, that is.

In its most simple form, keto flu is when your body enters ketosis. During this time, metabolic reactions are taking place, and your body is switching from carbohydrates (glucose) to fat for energy.

When the glycogen supplies are reduced, your body has no choice but to seek out fat for fuel; this is, after all, why we store fat so efficiently. Fat, however, requires a lot of water to synthesize than carbs.

Your body starts calling on every drop of water to turn that fat into fuel, which can make you dehydrated.

This is also why people who switch over to keto get such impressive results in their first week; in this time, you can shed a lot of  water weight and fat out of a necessity of not having carbs to draw upon.

Your body goes into a bit of a panic and starts to pull fat off the shelf in an effort to sustain you. 

While the first week is often the biggest weight drop during keto, it’s not uncommon for this to be water weight, or for you to keep losing fat this effortlessly while in ketosis.

Keep reading to find out how you can make getting into ketosis an enjoyable experience, and kick that keto flu to the curb, so you can maintain all those fat-burning, heart-healthy benefits of ketosis.

You can read more on what ketosis is and how to get into ketosis here. 

You will likely stay more accountable if you know what’s going on under the surface!

The Symptoms of The Keto Flu

The first stage to understanding keto flu is to be able to identify it. Many people experience keto flu during the early few days of adapting, or until their body becomes efficient at burning fat.

One of the biggest indications is weight loss; many people are surprised how much they can lose just by going into ketosis, with people who are transitioning from a high-carb diet having the highest fat loss.  

You may also likely feel some fatigue. Imagine ketosis like going to the gym, but for 24 hours a day, and you’ll understand why you have less energy.

Burning fat takes practice, and until you are used to it, can make you feel fatigued or lethargic.

During this transition, your body is looking for glucose, and when it doesn’t have it, isn’t yet ready to produce enough ketones to sustain you. 

Don’t worry; you can take an exogenous ketone to supplement this process.

Ketones are very unique because not only do they provide abundant energy, much more than carbs or sugar do, but they also fuel our brain. 

Carbs do not provide the right nutrients for the brain to thrive.

As the brain is over 60% fat, it needs fat to fuel itself. If you don’t eat enough fat, you are essentially starving your brain. 

This is why brain fog, a forgetful sensation, can plague many carb-eaters.

Over the long-term, insufficient fat is now considered to be a risk-contributor to people who are prone to Alzheimer's disease.

So, let’s find out what makes ketones so unique.  

Benefits of BHB Ketones Include:

  • Burn fat while maintaining muscle
  • Decrease “keto flu” symptoms
  • Normalize blood sugar levels to avoid carb crash
  • Reduce spikes in blood insulin
  • Increased mental alertness
  • Decreased hunger
  • Decreased appetite
  • Reduced carb cravings

I’m sure many of the items on this list are things you experience regularly. 

This is because, for the most part, many Americans depend on grain, a leading source of carbs and sugar.

Our diet from a young age is dependent on light fruits and vegetables, bread and pasta, and other grains. 

It wouldn’t be so bad if these items didn’t all but replace fat on the grocery market shelf, but now, it is hard to find fatty foods. 

This means most Americans are deficient in ketones.

If you’re not taking a natural BHB supplement, or if you have recently reduced your carb intake, you might be experiencing symptoms of keto flu.

This is a sign you do not have enough ketone production, and you should alleviate the situation either through supplementation or by forcing your body into a deeper state of ketosis by fasting and exercising more.

As we have also gotten quite lazy over the years, you can understand why so many people love BHBs.

Let’s look at some of the symptoms of keto flu to see if you’re experiencing it. 

The high-risk time for keto flu is during the first day or two of reducing your carb intake.

The more carbs you come down from, the more likely it is you will experience more aggravated symptoms, but this is not always the case. 

It really can vary from person to person, and we’ve seen things like general fitness, diet, history with ketosis, and insulin resistance, all be factors.

Symptoms of Keto Flu Include:

  • Brain fog
  • Exhaustion
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Muscle cramping or soreness
  • Lack of concentration or focus
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Sugar cravings
  • Heart palpitations

Naturally, any of these conditions can make you feel anxious, but remember, keto flu is merely a side-effect of transitioning into ketosis.

Many people never experience keto flu, and people even report the more often they stay in ketosis, the less the symptoms of keto flu occur (although this is reported on a case-by-case basis).

However, having keto flu is not a bad marker against you either. It can “just happen” to some people who are going into ketosis. 

Let’s find out more.  

What Causes Keto Flu?

As we’ve mentioned, keto flu is primarily an indicator your body is transitioning into ketosis and is burning fat for fuel.

Fat is incredibly nutrient dense (it’s roughly 9 times denser than simple carbs) and requires more work to metabolize. 

This is why people feel euphoric and like they have a ton of energy when they get into ketosis.

Once keto flu passes, it’s like a rainbow after a storm, the skies part and out comes the sun, and ketones are incredibly abundant.

But surprisingly, the real reason you are experiencing keto flu is not that you stopped eating a few grains or starchy vegetables, it’s that you are not eating enough fat.

Our low-fat lifestyles have led us to believe that fat is bad for us, and even when switching to a ketogenic diet (a low-carb,high-fat diet), we still grossly underestimate how much fat we need per adult, per day.

The brain alone is 60% fat, and cannot use any sugar or carbs for fuel. 

And even though the brain accounts for a small portion of our overall body weight, it still utilizes 20 percent of the body’s metabolic energy.

That means if you are not consuming the caloric intake from fat to replace the fat and carbs you used to eat, your check engine light is going to come on.

Que keto flu. 

Reducing carbs is a great thing to do for your health, but few people realize they have to replace those nutrients with healthier fats.

Three Things Often Characterize Keto Flu:

  1. Carbohydrate withdrawal
  2. Electrolyte loss and dehydration
  3. Becoming fat-adapted (ketosis)

Let’s take a look at these three stages in more detail. This will help you better understand what action to take to get over your case of keto flu.

But as a rule of thumb, if you ever feel like keto flu is coming your way, eat more fat and see how you feel.

Carbohydrate Withdrawal

One of the biggest offenders of keto flu is carbohydrate withdrawal. In America, many people depend on carbs for energy and will eat approximately 200-300 grams of carbohydrates per day.

Some people may eat even more. To get into ketosis, you have to restrict your carbs to less than 30 net grams. Net carbs are regular carbs minus any fiber or sugar alcohols.

The problem is apparent to see; a 270-gram carb reduction is a massive change.

Your body is going from gallons of carbs per day to trying to “drive” on an empty tank; this is absolutely the result you want, as the empty gas tank is what triggers your body to switch to emergency reserve and pull in “rocket fuel,” or fat.

If you put rocket fuel into a regular car, and the mechanisms could work, the results would speak for themselves.  

Tip: Some people prefer to taper off their carb intake slowly, and some people prefer to go all in and get it out of the way.

The latter may trigger keto flu more easily. It’s best to test out what will work for you.

If you are prone to keto flu, going slowly is a great idea. 

If you have a higher tolerance, jumping into the deep end with fasting can really expedite the process.

Electrolyte Imbalance

Next up, we have a very common offender. In most cases, a simple electrolyte imbalance is to blame for keto flu.

In the western world, we’ve become out of touch with reading our body, and many people ignore the early signs of dehydration, often mistaking it for hunger, boredom, and lethargy.

We are quick to point the finger at stress and our chaotic lives, but in most cases, we are capable of incredible energy as humans, and forget to hydrate our bodies.

We’re made up of over 80% water, and yes, it's worth repeating. 

You cannot drink enough water when you are eating a ketogenic diet.

Most of us fail to get 8 glasses a day on a traditional American diet, but in the ketogenic diet, water is crucial to success.

As noted, the body uses higher quantities of water to metabolize fat. 

It also causes a diuretic response, to aid in flushing toxins, meaning you need to urinate more often. That’s a double pow.

Tip: Drink smart waters, which contain electrolytes, to restore an electrolyte imbalance. These are the salts in water.

You can also supplement with Keto Activate, which contains a proprietary blend of minerals and salts to help boost your energy and restore your natural balance.

Keto-adaptation

Let’s go back to basics and bring ourselves up to speed on some simple science.

Your body has two forms of fuel:

  • Glycolysis: this is when you convert glucose into energy
  • Beta-oxidation: this is when you turn fat into energy

During ketosis, you are switching over from glycolysis to beta-oxidation. So, going from glucose to fat metabolism.

What makes this process difficult, however, is that we all have different rates of metabolism, and so, getting into ketosis is different for everyone. 

If you metabolize fat easily, you probably won’t experience keto flu.

But, if you are like many people researching ketosis for fat loss, you might be prone to keto flu due to your body’s stubborn desire to be in glycolysis.

Tip: Be patient, and understand that while time varies from person-to-person, everyone is capable of becoming fat-adapted, and the health benefits of ketosis are significant.

In more cases than not, people misdiagnose keto-adaption, when they have an electrolyte imbalance.

The best thing to remind yourself when suffering from keto flu is ‘this too shall pass,’ and that you are making a significant contribution to your health.

Much like a butterfly, you must come out of your carb-induced cocoon and be reborn.

How to Avoid Ketosis Flu

Carb-withdrawal is a reliable indicator that your body has received the message to switch from glucose metabolism to a ketogenic metabolism.

Ketones are produced in the liver when there is very little, to no glucose present.

Your liver turns fat into ketones and sends them into your bloodstream. Your muscles and other tissues can then use them for fuel. What makes ketones very exciting is that they can use all the stored fat as fuel; this is the only way to use up this fat.

If you eat a lot of carbs, you have to deplete what you have recently eaten, plus the glycogen reserves in your liver, before you can begin to burn fat.

This is fine for professional athletes, who expend a lot of energy daily, but if you’re a regular Joe, this isn’t an effective way to drop excess fat. And you won’t be in ketosis.

When you lower your carbs, your body goes straight to the stored fat for fuel. Many people who start keto are so surprised when their bellies, thighs, and back fat all go first.

These are the most stubborn fats and are visceral. This is a dangerous type of body fat that increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes and other severe health conditions.

Before your body becomes fat-adapted, it must first learn to find this fat and metabolize it into ketones. This is why some people experience ketosis flu. In this time, your body is learning to metabolize the fats.

After about 3-4 weeks of metabolizing fat full time, you can confidently say you are fat-adapted. This means fat becomes your primary source of fuel.

While it can take a few days or weeks to become competent at burning fat, once you do, reports have shown that the longer you stay in ketosis, the faster you can bounce back. This is important.

If you plan to eat carbs in the future, either as part of a maintenance plan or on a cheat day, you want to become fat-adapted to bounce back and prevent ketosis flu from happening each time.

Once fat-adapted, even if you eat carbs, your body will seek out the fats.

Next up, we’re going to look at three simple ways you can prevent the symptoms of ketosis flu from coming back.   

1. Drink Electrolytes

Our first piece of advice is crucial on a ketogenic diet. To stop ketosis flu, you must be drinking enough water with electrolytes.

Regular water is insufficient as without electrolytes you are not getting the mineral blend of sodium, potassium, and magnesium, needed to sustain your core bodily functions.

Electrolytes are incredibly essential, but what many people don’t know is that carbs store a lot of water.

When you stop eating carbs, it’s common to have a significant weight loss in the first week; it is no secret this is water weight, but out with that water goes the essential minerals.

One of the hardest symptoms to read in time is feeling unwell or off. In many cases, a tall glass of H20 can be a great way to replenish your energy levels and get back to health.

Dehydration is also mostly responsible for the first signs of ketosis flu. When dehydrated, even just a little bit, you can expect your body to rebuke.

Common symptoms of dehydration include:

  1. Increased thirst and a dry or sticky mouth
  2. Signs of fatigue, confusion or anger
  3. Muscle cramps
  4. Tiredness or fatigue
  5. A headache
  6. Blurred vision

Adding in a daily electrolyte drink or bone broth supplement is a simple way to overcome ketosis flu and will make you feel amazing when used daily. You can also eat salted foods, such as pork rinds, jerky, and soft cheeses.

Bone broth, which contains a lot of sodium, is tasty and promotes gut health (another common complaint on the keto diet). You should drink grass-fed bone broth and check that it’s from humanely raised cows, which don’t use grain in their feed.

This will keep everything moving along nicely and prevent ketosis flu symptoms from occurring in most cases.

If you are dehydrated, seek medical help right away.

Next up, we’re going to look at what you’re eating.

As the ketogenic diet largely depends on the food you eat to get into ketosis, this is super important.  

2. Increase Fats

After dehydration, one of the most common symptoms of ketosis flu is feeling hungry.

You might be getting stronger hunger cues or sugar cravings. While it seems tough now, there is an easy way to get through these.

To stop the keto flu from wiping you out, it’s a great idea to eat more fats. We’re not just talking more fats in general, but a lot of fats.

At first most of us are pretty resistant to add fats on a keto diet. For inherent reasons though once you are committed to lowering your carbs, you have to replace the fuel source with fat.

By feeding your body lots of delicious fats, you'll have more energy and feel much better, right off the bat.

During the first week or so, you will want to overeat fat. You shouldn’t be scared to eat more than your daily calories to compensate for the change. You won’t store this fat.

Plus, eating lots of fats will give you more energy and satisfy your hunger cravings. Listen to your body and feed it what it needs.

There are two ways to eat more fats:

First, you should eat more MCTs. These are medium-chain triglycerides, and provide fast-acting fuel to your body.

We recommend beginners to the keto diet opt for a powder MCT oil. This is a very pure medium-chain triglyceride and can be blended into coffee and keto smoothies.

While MCT powder has some carbs (usually around 2g net carbs per serving), powders tend to digest more comfortable and won’t be as intense as oils.

Just start with a half serving and work up to your comfort level. You can take MCT oil throughout the day for a quick boost, but it won’t be as useful as our recommendation in step 3.

The other way to get more fats into your diet is to eat more nuts, seeds, fish, and butter. These form the backbone of the ketogenic diet and prevent ketosis flu.

You can read our article on how to prepare a fully ketogenic grocery list here.

When you first start keto, your body has to work extra hard to find the fats.

Many people come to the keto table, and try to cut their calories and carbs at the same time. This defeats the purpose of the keto diet and makes it hard for your body to adjust.

Instead, do one thing and do it well and then move to the second stage.

One of the reasons you want to be in ketosis is, you can burn fat and don’t have to eat less to lose weight. It will happen naturally.

Feed your body the fats now, and it will thank you later.

By eating lots of fats, your body will not feel like it’s in crisis mode or verging on starvation.

And, if you’ve only ever been able to lose weight on those crazy fad diets, you may be surprised to hear that many people on keto can actually eat more calories per day and still burn fat.

This is because your whole metabolism is running efficiently and on a different fuel source. It’s cool to expect different results.

Speaking of which, If you want faster results, check out this next step for the best approach on how to get over the keto flu almost instantly.

3. Add Exogenous Ketones

Finally, and most importantly, the easiest way to stop ketosis flu from happening is to drink an exogenous ketone drink. This is especially true during the induction phase.

Exogenous ketones are merely ketones made outside of the body, but they play a critical role.

At the root of the keto flu, your body is crying out for fuel. It wants ketones, but it has forgotten how to make them.

When you provide them, it gives your body time to recover and figure things out.

You know how it feels if you’re hungry and can’t think straight. Imagine being your body and starved of ketones or energy!

When you drink exogenous ketones, your body can use the ones you have given it until it learns to become fat-adapted. This is such a huge relief.

Exogenous ketones also contain essential minerals and salts, to help balance electrolytes. This is why you can get a pleasant rush of energy.

For beginners, exogenous ketones are a game-changer as it removes ketosis flu and gives you time to adapt to a lower carb regimen. The salts replenish electrolytes and provide you with time to get fat-adapted.

Simply take a scoop of Keto Activate each day, starting with a half scoop. Take more throughout the day as needed.

Unlike sugar or caffeine, there are no crashes. Just all-day energy.

As you continue to eat a keto diet, it’s important to read the signs of ketosis flu.

For people at the higher level, exogenous ketones are an ideal pre-workout supplement.

Instead of loading up on sugar-rich energy drinks, many professional ketogenic athletes use exogenous ketones to perform marathons and other cardio-based sports.

If you swim, do yoga, love to hit the treadmill or Stairmaster, this might be an excellent pre-workout for you.

Let’s look at the main ingredient in exogenous ketones in more detail.

Why Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) Can Solve Keto Flu  

While BHBs, or Beta-hydroxybutyrate, might sound strange, for many people on the keto diet, these natural salts are a staple supplement to sustain ketosis. 

Beta-hydroxybutyrate, a naturally-occurring energy substrate, is a stable form of ketone bodies.

BHB mineral salts, such as BHB sodium, calcium, and magnesium are hydrolyzed to free BHB and free metal ions upon ingestion. 

It can then travel through the blood and is actively transported into the brain and muscle (1).

Beta-hydroxybutyrate has been shown to:

  • Fuel brain and muscle
  • Increase blood, muscle, and brain ketone levels
  • Decrease and normalize blood glucose
  • Increase muscle protein synthesis
  • Decrease fatty acids in the blood
  • Reduce physical and hormonal effects of low blood sugar
  • Decrease respiratory exchange ratio

As many cases of keto flu are caused by an electrolyte imbalance, taking an exogenous ketone supplement like Keto Activate is a great idea.

The benefits do not end there; it’s now believed that exogenous ketones can extend lifespan by lowering glucose and insulin.

They also increase antioxidant defense mechanisms. 

MCT oil, which produces ketones, results in better weight loss than an equal amount of olive oil.

When rats were given 30% of their calories as corn starch, palm oil, or beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB, the most quantitatively significant ketone body), those that got the ketones had about half the glucose and insulin levels of the group given starch.

Their food intake also dropped by about half. 

The experiment lasted 6 days, so no weight loss occurred, which probably would have happened if the experiment had gone on longer. 

This is a great reason to make BHBs a part of your daily regimen.

If you already drink a daily keto coffee or protein shake, adding in BHBs can be as simple as adding in half a tablespoon into your drink.

Many users report sustained energy, the loss of keto flu, and an improved outlook with a more concentrated, directive focus.

BHBs are a clean source of energy and allow your body to thrive, as it nourishes its natural habitat.

It is also not something you can depend on to get from foods, as ketones cannot be eaten.

Check out our blog for yummy recipes you can make at home, like our delicious keto coffee, to give yourself the best fighting chance against keto flu.

5 Ways to Rid Keto Flu

Learning how to get rid of keto flu is an essential practice in self-care. 

Much like a plant, our bodies rely on a few essential nutrients and processes.

When they get these, they thrive. If they don’t, well, you don’t need us to tell you what can happen.

Below is a simple 5-step plan you can use to get over keto flu and improve your state of ketosis as part of your daily regimen.

1: Replenish Electrolytes

We cannot say this enough. Be sure to increase your salt intake, your water intake, and use a BHB like Keto Activate to replenish your body's electrolytes.

You can also sip bone broth, which is high in sodium and potassium. 

As your body is in a state of constant flushing, removing all the toxins from your body during ketosis, it has to work harder to stay in balance.

This can exhaust you and be the first stage of keto flu, so top up regularly.

2: Get Plenty of Sleep

An often overlooked aspect of keto flu is your body's need to repair itself. 

Switching fuel sources can be a traumatic experience, and getting at least 8 hours per night of restorative, natural sleep can be life-changing.

The reduction in stress and the cortisol response also aids in fat loss. 

When your body can rest, it still burns fat, but it can do so more effectively than when you are away.

3: Do Light Exercise

It might sound counterintuitive, but simple exercises like walking or yoga can help your body meet your energy demands.

Light exercise sends a signal to your body that you need more fuel, and your body will look harder for fat; thus making you get fat-adapted faster.

However, this isn’t about pounding weights at the gym, a simple walk around the block goes a long way. 

These calming and restorative exercises reduce insulin dependence and promote ketosis.   

4: Add Healthy Fats

During the transition process, your body is getting the message you are starving, as it cannot source its steady intake of carbs. 

While transitioning, it’s a good idea to eat to satisfaction and to consume more healthy fats.

The more you can help your body, the more relief it feels later when it can find fats (and you will naturally feel less hungry over time).

5: Increase BHBs

Beta-hydroxybutyrate is an ideal supplement to take once a day during ketosis, and before your workout (you can take it several times a day as needed).

The proprietary blend of minerals and salts in Keto Activate will restore an electrolyte imbalance and is often the only course of action you need to take to cure keto flu.

If you notice the sensations, sip a delicious keto beverage over a 30 minute period to be revitalized.

Getting over the keto flu and into ketosis can be a simple and enjoyable experience when you use these five simple steps.  

Resources

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/carbohydrates/art-20045705   
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5404327/

 

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