What Is Keto Flu? Your Guide to a Smooth Transition

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  • 00:00 When you start a ketogenic or “keto” diet, your body might react in ways that make you feel like you have the flu. This can include headaches, fatigue, soreness, nausea, cramps, and irritability. These symptoms, known as the “keto flu,” appear about two to seven days after starting the keto diet. 
    This happens because your body needs to adjust to burning fat for energy instead of its usual source: carbohydrates. When you suddenly cut down on carbs, it takes time for your body to switch to burning dietary fat for energy. 
    Several factors come into play during this transition, triggering the keto flu symptoms. 
    First, your body’s glycogen stores, which are the stored form of carbohydrates in the muscles and liver, become depleted. This depletion can lead to a drop in blood sugar levels, causing fatigue, dizziness, and irritability.
    Second, reducing carbs can impact the body’s electrolyte balance. When insulin levels decrease due to carbohydrate restriction, the kidneys excrete more sodium, potassium, and magnesium. This electrolyte imbalance can contribute to symptoms like headaches, muscle cramps, and weakness. 
    Third, your body needs to adapt to burning fat, which requires a change in your body’s enzymes and hormones. This adjustment period can temporarily disrupt your metabolism and lead to keto flu symptoms.
    But don’t worry; these symptoms only last one to two weeks. There are steps you can take to help your body adjust. Make sure to stay hydrated and get enough electrolytes. Reducing carbs gradually rather than all at once may also help.
    So, keep in mind that the keto flu is a short-term challenge. With some patience and self-care, you’ll be on your way to achieving your health goals with the ketogenic diet.

When you start a ketogenic or “keto” diet, your body might react in ways that make you feel like you have the flu. This can include headaches, fatigue, soreness, nausea, cramps, and irritability. These symptoms, known as the “keto flu,” appear about two to seven days after starting the keto diet.

What Causes The Keto Flu

This happens because your body needs to adjust to burning fat for energy instead of its usual source: carbohydrates. When you suddenly cut down on carbs, it takes time for your body to switch to burning dietary fat for energy. 

Several factors come into play during this transition, triggering the keto flu symptoms. 

First, your body’s glycogen stores, which are the stored form of carbohydrates in the muscles and liver, become depleted. This depletion can lead to a drop in blood sugar levels, causing fatigue, dizziness, and irritability.

Second, reducing carbs can impact the body’s electrolyte balance. When insulin levels decrease due to carbohydrate restriction, the kidneys excrete more sodium, potassium, and magnesium. This electrolyte imbalance can contribute to symptoms like headaches, muscle cramps, and weakness. 

Third, your body needs to adapt to burning fat, which requires a change in your body’s enzymes and hormones. This adjustment period can temporarily disrupt your metabolism and lead to keto flu symptoms.

But don’t worry; these symptoms only last one to two weeks. There are steps you can take to help your body adjust. Make sure to stay hydrated and get enough electrolytes. Reducing carbs gradually rather than all at once may also help.

So, keep in mind that the keto flu is a short-term challenge. With some patience and self-care, you’ll be on your way to achieving your health goals with the ketogenic diet.

Summary

Starting a keto diet can trigger “keto flu” symptoms like headaches and fatigue due to the body adjusting to burning fat. Maintain hydration and balance electrolytes for a smoother transition.

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Chain Ruei20Huang RD

Medical reviewed by Chain-Ruei Huang, RD

Eating-related behavior therapy, preventative nutrition, public health nutrition

Chain Ruei20Huang RD

Medical reviewed by Chain-Ruei Huang, RD

Eating-related behavior therapy, preventative nutrition, public health nutrition

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