Keto flu, also known as the “induction flu,” is a common set of symptoms that people may experience when transitioning to a ketogenic diet. While the exact cause of keto flu is not fully understood, it is thought to be related to the body’s process of adapting to using fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. The ketogenic diet, or “keto” diet, is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that has been shown to be effective for weight loss and the management of certain health conditions. However, the sudden shift in the body’s energy source can lead to a range of unpleasant symptoms, including fatigue, headache, dizziness, irritability, and nausea.
One of the main theories behind keto flu is that it is related to dehydration and a lack of electrolytes. The process of ketosis, which is the production of ketones as a result of burning fat for energy, can lead to the loss of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Electrolytes are essential minerals that help to maintain the balance of fluids in the body and are necessary for proper muscle and nerve function. When the body becomes depleted in electrolytes, it can lead to symptoms such as fatigue and muscle cramps.
Dehydration is also a common side effect of the ketogenic diet, as the body may release more water when burning fat for energy. It is important to make sure that you are getting enough fluids while following a ketogenic diet to prevent dehydration and the associated symptoms. Adults should aim to consume at least 64 ounces of water per day, and it is especially important to drink plenty of fluids if you are experiencing symptoms of the keto flu.
In addition to increasing your fluid intake, it is also important to make sure that you are getting enough electrolytes to prevent a deficiency. The daily recommended intake for potassium is 4,700 milligrams, and for sodium, it is 1,500 milligrams. These electrolytes can be found in a variety of keto-friendly, low-carb whole foods, including avocados, nuts and seeds, and leafy green vegetables. For example, a medium avocado contains 975 milligrams of potassium and 11 milligrams of sodium, while a quarter cup of almonds contains 200 milligrams of potassium and 1 milligram of sodium. Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are also good sources of these electrolytes, with a cup of cooked spinach containing 540 milligrams of potassium and 99 milligrams of sodium.
In addition to increasing your intake of potassium and sodium, it may also be helpful to consider supplementing with magnesium. Magnesium is another electrolyte that is important for muscle and nerve function and can be found in foods such as almonds, avocados, and leafy greens. Some people may find it helpful to take a magnesium supplement during the initial phase of the ketogenic diet to help reduce the risk of deficiency and the associated symptoms.
While the keto flu is a common and often temporary side effect of the ketogenic diet, it can be unpleasant and disrupt your daily routine. By increasing your fluid and electrolyte intake and possibly supplementing with magnesium, you can help to reduce the severity of these symptoms and make the transition to a ketogenic diet more comfortable. Remember to listen to your body and speak with a healthcare professional if you are concerned about your electrolyte levels or if your symptoms persist.