Ketosis and the “Keto-Flu”

Our AMAZING nutritionist wrote this article on the keto-flu–a common result of entering ketosis. Check it out!

By: Meghan Doherty, Prolean Nutritionist/Trainer

Ketosis InfographicIn Phase 1 of the Prolean program, like many ketogenic diets, you may initially experience symptoms that feel unpleasant or uncomfortable. As time persists, your body will adapt to your new dietary intake and the production of ketones.
What is ketosis, anyways? After taking sugar out of your diet for about a week, the body burns up all of its stored glucose for energy, and then turns to stored fats instead; which results in a build-up of acids called ketones within the body. While the body still has glycogen stores primarily in the liver and muscle, the lack of carbohydrates begins to drain those stores and can cause “Keto-Flu”.

Keto-Flu 101: Everything You Need to Know

The “keto flu” is what we commonly call carbohydrate withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal side effects usually occur in people who start a low carb diet that alters their hormones and causes electrolyte imbalances. Don’t let this alarm you; this is a GREAT thing! In other words, it describes a cycle in the body which is adapting to a lower carb intake. Your body is so accustomed to living off of carbs that both your body and your mind think you need it to survive. Just like withdrawal from a drug, carbs (and sugar found in those carbs) can be very addicting and cause withdrawal symptoms that only last as long as those carbs stay in your system. It usually takes about a week before your body begins using fat for fuel.

On most diets you’ve tried in the past, your mind was probably much harder to fight than your body. Maybe you’ve never been on a diet that caused you to go through any form of withdrawal, and that’s where you’ll find the greatest source of power when it comes to Keto! With Keto, once your body goes through withdrawal, you’ll find that the temptations you used to face (thoughts of wanting to cheat, cravings, starving) will not be a problem for you.

Keto-Flu Symptoms

No two people experience the keto flu, in the same way, so the symptoms can range from nothing to mild to a full-blown flu-like condition, and include:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue/tiredness
  • Lack of OR extreme appetite
  • Mental fog
  • Cramps
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Irritability
  • Cravings (for sugar and/or salt)
  • Diarrhea or constipation or loose dark stools
  • In some extreme cases, high blood pressure and arrhythmia

Here’s what you MAY expect within the first 2-3 days:

  • Fatigue & weakness (lack of concentration) Tired
  • Headaches/migraine
  • Metallic taste or sweet taste in mouth
  • Lightheaded /dizzy upon standing
  • Heightened thirst
  • Hunger/sweet or carb cravings
  • Dry mouth possibly paired with “keto breath”
  • Stomach discomfort/mild nausea/cramping
  • Trouble sleeping or staying asleep (early waking)
  • Water weight loss (perhaps an excessive loss of weight within the first two weeks)
  • Frequent urination
  • Allergies or cold like symptoms may flair up

Man with Arms RaisedAfter Your Body Adapts to Ketosis

Once your body adapts to running on ketones, you can expect to experience any of the following:

  • Increased awareness/concentration
  • More energy
  • Better and more consistent sleep cycle
  • Euphoria
  • Fat loss (in pounds and inches)
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Better muscle recovery
  • Reduced appetite
  • Reduced cravings

Smiling womanHow Long Does Keto-Flu Last?

The duration of keto flu varies for each person. While some may have slight and even unnoticeable symptoms for a day or two, others might have an over the top symptom for a week or more; it depends on how quickly your body adapts to a reduction in carbs. Once keto flu is over, you can expect a huge surge in energy levels, and once that sugar habit is fully kicked, you will likely feel better than ever.

Note: Being patient as your body adapts is key, and know that it will pass, and if it does not you should seek the attention of a qualified medical professional. For most people any symptoms that occur end within two weeks’ time.

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