If you’re researching the ketogenic diet, you’ve likely come across the term “keto flu.” This phenomenon is associated with symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and nausea, which can deter individuals from adopting this low-carb, high-fat diet. However, there are ways to prevent and alleviate the keto flu that can help you stay on track with your dietary goals.
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The ketogenic diet is centered on reducing carbohydrate intake while increasing fat consumption. By doing so, your body primarily utilizes the consumed fat, consequently promoting fat burning.
Dr. Adam Nally, a board-certified obesity medicine physician and ketogenic expert, highlights that the ketogenic diet aids in reducing insulin overproduction, a common issue stemming from the typical American diet. Excessive insulin can elevate the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Causes of the Keto Flu
Dr. Nally explains that the body’s insulin and salt levels are interlinked. When transitioning into ketosis, the reduced insulin levels lead to decreased salt retention, resulting in the rapid expulsion of excess salt. The loss of too much salt and other electrolytes like potassium can lead to flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, brain fog, dizziness, nausea, irritability, lightheadedness, and leg cramps. Additionally, inadequate fat consumption on the ketogenic diet can contribute to fatigue.
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Prevention and Management of the Keto Flu
The keto flu typically arises three to five days into the diet but usually resolves on its own. Dr. Nally advises that increasing salt and potassium intake through sources like sports drinks, bone broth, or bouillon broth can alleviate symptoms. Ensuring adequate fat intake and overall calorie consumption is also critical. Incorporating high-fat snacks, often referred to as “fat bombs,” can help maintain fat levels. Following a keto meal plan or using keto-specific recipes can aid in tracking macronutrient intake.
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When to Seek Medical Attention
While individuals experiencing keto flu symptoms may not feel inclined to exercise, staying hydrated and maintaining electrolyte levels can support physical activity. However, if symptoms persist and worsen, seeking medical attention is imperative. This is especially crucial for individuals with diabetes using the ketogenic diet to manage blood sugar levels, as they need to monitor ketone levels to prevent diabetic ketoacidosis. It’s important for those without pre-existing conditions to remain vigilant for any potential adverse reactions.
Overall, the keto flu should not dissuade you from trying out this diet, as long as symptoms resolve effectively and promptly.
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