How to avoid Keto Flu
Have you heard of the keto flu?
Most people in modern society have basically been eating sugar all day everyday for their entire lives. Getting into the Keto Zone switched the mitochondria from burning sugar for fuel to using fat instead.
For people with particularly deranged metabolisms, this transition can cause a myriad of symptoms commonly referred to as the “keto flu.”
What is Keto Flu?
The keto flu is a result of the mitochondria in your cells “re-learning” how to use fat for energy.
When you were born and subsisting off of your mother’s milk you were in a mild state of ketosis. As soon as you were weaned off milk and onto high sugar foods such as starches (such as carrots and potatoes), grains (such as wheat and corn), and fruits (like applesauce and bananas), the metabolism switches over to primarily using sugar for fuel.
In essence, keto flu is sugar withdrawal.
Most have us have gone our whole lives eating sugar from the moment we wake up (oatmeal, fruit, toast, pancakes, waffles, bagels, cereal, etc) until the moment we go to sleep (ice cream, cookies, brownies, crackers, chips, and candy.)
This has created a situation where most people bodies no longer possess the metabolic machinery required to burn fat for fuel. When you eliminate carbs from your diet to get in to the keto zone for weight loss and better health you may experience symptoms as the body adapts to this new fuel source.
Symptoms of The Keto Flu
Keto flu symptoms will generally occur during the adaptation phase of a ketogenic diet (the first 3-14 days). Symptoms may also result from cheat days or “falling off the wagon.” Keto flu symptoms include:
Aches and Pains
Not Everyone Gets Keto Flu
Many people transition into the Keto Zone easily and effortlessly. However, those with particularly broken metabolisms or serious sugar addiction may experience the symptoms mentioned above.
If you are already eating a healthy low-carb diet of whole foods then you will likely transition easily.
If you are eating a diet high in processed food and added sugar, your transition may be more rocky.
But do not fret!
There are multiple steps you can take to mitigate symptoms and even prevent the keto flu in the first place.
If you currently eat a lot of carbs, make sure to transition slowly. You can start by cutting back on carbs for one meal per day and then gradually increase to all of your meals. Eliminate snacking so you begin to allow your body to burn body fat in between meals.
Gradually shorten your “eating window” by eating breakfast later in the day and dinner earlier in the day. This practice is called intermittent fasting and it can introduce your body to carbohydrate restriction without having to cut carbs out of your diet completely.
Transitioning into the keto zone increases the functioning of the kidneys and the elimination of fluids from the body. Therefor it is paramount to make sure you are drinking adequate amounts of filtered and mineralized water.
Try to get around a half liter per 25 lbs of body weight every day, spread throughout the day.
Mineralized water is important because as you excrete more fluid from the body you are losing minerals-or electrolytes. Electrolytes conduct electricity through the nervous system and are crucial for the generation of energy in the cells.
One solution is to add more high quality sea salt to your food. This will increase intake of sodium and trace minerals. In order to get adequate amounts of the other important electrolytes such as magnesium and potassium, supplementation may be necessary.
A great source of these other electrolytes is Instant Ketones. Not only does instant ketones provide electrolyte salts, but it is also a source of exogenous ketones. Exogenous ketones are not a replacement for a ketogenic diet, but they can help ease the transition into the Keto Zone when first starting out or after having fallen off of the wagon.
Another excellent source of electrolytes is bone broth. Bones are loaded with electrolyte minerals and when they are simmered on low heat for long periods of time (12-48 hours), these minerals get extracted out and in to the broth.
You can make your own broth at home using chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, or fish bones. Make sure to add apple cider vinegar to the broth in order to maximize mineral content in the broth.
Eat More Fat
Another reason for keto flu symptoms might be that you are simply just not getting enough calories. Many of us are so accustomed to a high fat diet that we simply do not eat as much as we should when starting a keto diet.
Do not worry about how much you eat, especially at first. Eat as much as you need to reach a state of satiety. Avocados are an excellent food to eat often because they have a ton of healthy fat as well as a considerable amount of fiber. Additionally they are actually a great source of electrolytes such as potassium and (to a lesser extent) magnesium.
Another great addition is MCT powder. MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) are not metabolized by the liver and are instead readily utilized by the cells as ketones for energy (especially by the brain). This can provide an external source of energy as your body makes the transition into the Keto Zone.
Eventually, the goal is to develop metabolic flexibility. This means that your body is adept at using both sugar and fat for fuel and can easily switch between the two as needed. This allows you to eat sugar on occasion without experiencing the symptoms of keto flu.
Metabolic flexibility is the natural state of human metabolism. It is how we are designed to operate. It is the same metabolic state as a newborn baby. Being keto adapted and metabolically flexible means you will have no food cravings and you will be burning body fat in between meals but still eat carbs on occasion without having to go through the transition phase to get back into the Keto Zone.