After discovering that bacon and cheese are on the menu, and drooling over the mouthwatering dessert options, you’re seriously contemplating giving the ketogenic diet a whirl. But what’s this dreaded “keto flu” that you’ve been hearing about? Here’s what you need to know.
What Is the Keto Flu?
It’s what happens when your body switches from burning carbohydrates as energy to burning fat instead (i.e., when you’re in a state of ketosis). It’s basically glucose withdrawal, says Dr. Dominic D'Agostino. Symptoms are not unlike those of the flu and include fatigue, nausea, muscle soreness and dizziness.
Does Everyone Get the Keto Flu?
Nope, it definitely varies. There’s no real way to predict if the keto flu will happen to you, although those switching from a super carbohydrate-heavy diet (um, guilty) may find that such a sudden and drastic reduction in their carb intake can lead to some of the flu’s unpleasant symptoms. But the good news is that the keto flu typically kicks in during the first few days of the diet and should go away within a week.
What Can I Do to Remedy the Keto Flu?
Drink more water: Make sure you’re getting enough fluids. “Take your body weight, cut it in half and drink at least that many ounces of water a day (if not more),” advises Josh Axe.
Add MCT oil: Upping your fat intake could help you start to burn fat instead of glucose more quickly, thereby easing the flu symptoms. “A keto coffee or Ample K drink can help, as both have MCT oil [medium-chain triglycerides, a form of saturated fatty acid], which is easily metabolized into ketones,” says Dr. D’Agostino.
Eat more magnesium: “Blood work in people experiencing keto flu often shows a dip in magnesium,” explains Dr. D’Agostino. Loading up on magnesium-rich foods like pumpkin seeds, almonds and spinach may help relieve symptoms.
Prep your body: To help your body prepare for ketosis (and potentially avoid any nasty side effects), Dr. Axe recommends easing into the diet. How? A few days before you want to start, add more healthy fats (like avocado and olive oil) to your meals. That way, it’s less of a shock to the system.
Give your body some self-care: If you’re not feeling great, try giving your body some time to relax. A soothing bath, calming meditation session or just unwinding in front of the TV might help you feel better.