Ketosis flu (keto flu) is a group of side effects that may result when a person starts a ketogenic diet, presenting the following symptoms within a few days to a week.
A ketogenic (keto) diet has become popular as a natural method to lose weight, get more fit and improve overall well-being. The eating regimen is extremely low in carbs, high in fat, and moderate in protein.
Ketosis flu (keto flu) is a group of side effects that individuals might encounter when they start the keto diet. However, the symptoms are generally minor, occur in the initial few days to a week of starting the diet, and usually present only for a couple of days to a couple of weeks. These side effects emerge as the body adapts to working with less carbohydrate and enters a condition of ketosis. The symptoms result due to brief uneven chemical balances in energy sources, insulin, and minerals in the body. All people on the keto diet, however, may not experience keto flu.
Changing to a very low-carb diet is a significant change, and the body might require time to adjust to this new approach to eating. While certain individuals might change to a ketogenic diet with no incidental effects, others might encounter ketosis flu and the following symptoms:
What causes keto flu?
Carbs are the body’s principal energy source. On the keto diet, an individual lowers their carb consumption significantly, which causes the liver to deliver glucose for energy instead, utilizing its stores. As a result, the liver cannot create sufficient glucose to cope with the energy requirements, resulting in the body breaking down fatty acids, which form ketone bodies. This process is called ketogenesis. Body tissues then use ketone bodies as fuel, and the body enters a condition of ketosis.
The decrease in blood sugar levels results in low insulin levels in the blood. There is an increased elimination of sodium, potassium, and water through urine causing dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Insulin is likewise associated with moving glucose to the brain. Before the brain begins to utilize ketones for energy, it will have less fuel. This will happen for a few days at the beginning of the eating regimen before blood glucose gets back to standard levels.
Symptoms typically decrease as the body arrives at a condition of dietary ketosis. This includes the blood concentration of a specific ketone body called beta-hydroxybutyrate (0.5 mmol/L or more).
How to get rid of keto flu
Symptoms of ketosis flu usually disappear on their own in a few days to a couple of weeks as the body gets accustomed to the new diet. That said, the symptoms can be prevented or reduced in severity in the following ways:
- Staying hydrated: A keto diet can make you shed water stores quickly and increase the risk of dehydration. This is because glycogen (a type of stored carb in the body) binds to water in the body. At the point when dietary carbs are decreased, glycogen is utilized and water is discharged. Staying hydrated can assist with side effects, such as exhaustion and muscle squeezing.
- Avoiding strenuous activity: While exercise is important for remaining healthy and keeping body weight under control, strenuous activities ought to be avoided while experiencing keto flu symptoms. Exhaustion, muscle cramps, and stomach upset are normal in the initial seven-day stretch of following a ketogenic diet, so it could be a smart idea to give the body some rest. Once the body is accustomed to the keto diet, it is okay to resume all types and intensities of exercise.
- Adequate rest: Lack of sleep causes levels of the stress hormone cortisol to rise in the body, which can negatively impact mood and make keto flu symptoms worse. Thus, adequate rest and sleep are important to reduce keto flu symptoms.
- Ensure you are eating sufficient fat (and carbs): Shifting to an exceptionally low-carb diet can make one desire food varieties that are limited to the ketogenic diet, such as bread and pasta. Eating sufficient good fat, the essential fuel source on the ketogenic diet, will help reduce such cravings and keep one feeling satiated.
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Is a ketogenic diet safe?
A ketogenic diet can help you lose weight in the short term fairly quickly because it reduces the body’s stores of glycogen and water. However, in the long-term, there is a possible risk of suppression of appetite, resulting in inadequate calorie intake and health problems.
A ketogenic diet has several health benefits besides weight loss. While the diet is safe for most people, it can have some negative effects, especially in the beginning (ketosis flu for example), but they are typically not serious in healthy individuals. Those with underlying health or medical concerns should consult a doctor before starting any new diet, including the keto.
Health benefits of the keto diet
Negative effects of the keto diet
They are typically temporary and not serious.
Medically Reviewed on 4/29/2022
Bostock ECS, Kirkby KC, Taylor BV, Hawrelak JA. Consumer Reports of “Keto Flu” Associated With the Ketogenic Diet. Front Nutr. 2020;7:20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7082414/
Masood W, Annamaraju P, Uppaluri KR. Ketogenic Diet. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/