This is a guest post by Louise Hendon, co-host of The Keto Summit and author of The Essential Keto Cookbook.
The keto diet is a powerful way to improve your health. But it isn’t all sunshine and roses.
Many folks experience “keto flu”when they first go keto -
And it’s exactly what it sounds like: headache, brain fog, fatigue, irritability….
But there are ways you can prevent keto flu (or at least minimise it).
We’ll be running through ways to avoid keto flu in this article (and how to get rid of keto flu if you do have it). Plus we’ll also recap what keto is and share a few tips for starting your keto diet.
A quick reminder: what is Keto?
As Sam explains in her what is keto article: “When the body is in short supply of glucose (which come from carbs), ketones are made in the liver from the breakdown of fats through a process called ketosis.”
And when you’re in ketosis, your body will burn more fats for energy rather than relying on glucose.
Unfortunately, when you first start eating few carbs, you might experience what’s called carb flu or keto flu.
This is your body adapting to your lowered carb intake and switching over its energy sources to fat.
How do you avoid the keto flu?
Here are three steps you can take to avoid getting keto flu:
1 - Eliminate carbs gradually (instead of all at once)
Cutting carbs drastically overnight will make things difficult for your body - it needs time to adapt from burning mainly carbohydrates to breaking down fats.
Avoid keto flu by gradually transitioning away from your normal diet to a keto diet.
Slowly remove all the processed carbs from your diet, then eliminate the grains and finally phase out the fruit and starchy vegetables. This will give your body the time it needs to adjust.
2 - Increase your intake of electrolytes
Often, keto flu is caused by an electrolyte imbalance.
Switching to a keto diet means we stop eating processed foods which are high in added salt. This decreases water retention, but unfortunately we flush electrolytes out of our bodies along with the excess water.
Keep your electrolyte levels topped up to avoid keto flu:
Increase the amount of salt you add to your food.
Try and opt for healthy Himalayan Pink Salt if you can.
Consume more bone broth.
Either use it as the base for a soup or drink it straight out of a mug.
Take magnesium supplements.
Eat foods which are high in potassium.
Like salmon, avocados, nuts, mushrooms and leafy green veggies.
3 - Drink more water
Remember that excess water you’ll be flushing out of your body? If you’re not careful, you’ll get dehydrated and experience symptoms like fatigue, nausea and headaches.
A good way to check for dehydration is to look at your urine: it should be clear and if not, you need to drink more water.
Stay hydrated to avoid keto flu! Make sure you drink plenty of water, herbal teas, bone broth and soups.
How do you recover from Keto flu, fast?
Here are two steps you can take to help you recover if you do get keto flu:
1 - Get plenty of rest
Keto flu can leave you feeling drained and exhausted.
So take things easy while you recover - it shouldn’t last longer than a week. Try and keep your social schedule light during this time, stick to only gentle exercise (this isn’t the moment to run a marathon) and make sure you get to bed early each night.
2 - Use our secret weapon: bone broth with salt and spices added to it
You can speed up your recovery from keto flu by...
Eating more fats, eating more calories, consuming a few more clean carbs, drinking more water and adding more salt to your diet.
And you can do all these things in one go by drinking bone broth with a little added salt.
3 Tips for getting started on Keto
Keto flu is something you might experience when you first start a Keto diet, so it’s good to be prepared for it.
Below are a few other tips for getting started on Keto to make sure the start of your journey is smooth.
1 - Prepare your kitchen
First, clear the non-keto food out of your kitchen. Then, restock your cupboards with keto-friendly options. It’ll be a lot easier to stick to your keto diet if you don’t have unhealthy foods around to tempt you! Take a look at our keto snacks list to help you restock.
2 - Find easy meals
Cooking Keto can be tough at first when you’re unused to things. So, keep it simple.
In particular, find easy options for breakfast - like Sam’s Easy Keto Protein Coffee. You’ll feel full and get lots of healthy fats into your diet without spending ages in the kitchen.
3 - Have support
Starting any healthy lifestyle can be tough - there are no fast food chains made for Keto and your coworkers will still bring cookies into work. But letting your friends and family know and asking for their support can really help. And who knows, they might even join you in the journey!
You don’t have to let keto flu get the better of you!
By taking a few simple steps, you can minimise any discomfort you experience (and avoid being stuck in bed for a week).
The keto diet can be a great tool to boost your wellbeing, so don’t let the idea of keto flu scare you away from trying it.