Here’s the deal: you’ve been researching the Keto diet, and have decided to give it a try. A few days in, you start experiencing some not-so-wonderful side effects. You’ve read about the Keto Flu, but really, why is this happening?
The Keto Flu: Why Me?
The Keto Flu is your body’s response to two main occurrences in your body:
1. Your Body is Detoxing from Carbohydrates
- Your body is stubborn. It has functioned in a certain way for a long time. It’s not going to change it’s way of functioning without giving a bit of a fight. During the initial few days of your Keto Diet, your body is going to use every last possible carb in your body. It is going to search for the energy it has been producing, and use every last bit of that energy, before it looks for alternatives.
- With less glucose being circulated in the blood stream, your body will begin to produce less insulin. Insulin, among MANY other functions, signals your kidney to retain water and sodium. With less insulin in your bloodstream, your kidney will begin to dump the water and sodium it is retaining.
- Because your sodium and potassium stores are closely related in your body, your body will begin to dump the potassium stores it was holding, to keep potassium levels steady in relation to sodium levels.
- Like detoxing from anything, you will have some serious cravings. Conquer your carb cravings by eating as much fat as you want. Don’t worry about limiting your fat intake while you are experiencing the Keto Flu. The more fat your eat, the better you will feel.
2. Your Electrolytes are being Depleted
- Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium are the most important electrolytes in relation to your Ketogenic Diet, and especially the Keto Flu.
- Electrolytes are mineral nutrients that help with a ton of functions within your body.
- When you change your diet, your levels of electrolytes can easily be thrown off by your new way of eating. It’s essential to make sure that when you are eating less of something, you are substituting something else to maintain the same level of nutrients that you were previously consuming.
Beating Electrolyte Depletion
Most individuals are already magnesium deprived. The recommended daily magnesium intake is 320 mg (for women) and 420mg (for men) daily. On average, individuals in the US intake around 250 mg daily.
- Magnesium depletion can lead to muscle cramps, dizziness, and fatigue. More severe deficiencies can even show up in the form of depression.
- Add more Magnesium to your Diet by adding nuts and seeds (obviously in moderation), artichokes, avocados, leafy greens, and fatty fish and shellfish. You can even increase your intake by using dark cocoa powder or dark chocolate in your fat bombs.
- Consider adding a Magnesium supplement to your everyday routine. Be sure to choose a high-quality supplement.
When your body triggers your kidneys to release the stored water, they will release all stored sodium as well. Though you will see some great weight loss as your body drops this water weight, but you will also start to experience the side effects of sodium depletion. Common side effect of low sodium are constipation, headaches, fatigue, and heart palpitations.
- Healthy Individuals should consume 3000-5000 mg of sodium per day. To put this into perspective, 1000 mg is a half tsp.
- Add sodium where ever you can. Add a half tsp to a large glass of water. During the keto flu itself, you may want to drink numerous glasses a day. You are not only trying to keep your sodium levels consistent, but you are trying to get them back to the levels they were at.
- Salt Everything! Unlike what your mother taught you, this will NOT hurt your blood pressure. Your potassium levels will actually prevent this from happening.
- Drink bone broth. Bone broth contains large amounts of sodium, and is great at tricking your stomach into thinking you are full as you transition into ketosis. You can really never have enough of this tasty treat, and feel free to add salt!!!
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When your body releases it’s sodium stores, it will trigger a reaction that causes it to drop your potassium stores as well. Potassium and sodium are closely intertwined in your body. When your potassium stores are depleting, you may experience heart palpitations, skin problems, constipation, muscular weakness, depression and irritability, and muscle cramps.
- The healthy daily intake of potassium is 4000 – 5000 mg per day.
- Invest in a potassium salt substitute. To begin to achieve your goal, add a teaspoon of potassium salt substitute into a glass of water each morning and drink. It may not be the most delicious solution, but it beats the side effects! You can also boost your potassium levels by consuming avocado, dark leafy greens, mushrooms, nuts (in moderation), and salmon.
- Keeping your potassium levels up are essential to keeping your blood pressure in check. The more potassium you have in your system, the less sodium will affect your blood pressure.
While transitioning onto Keto, many people are able to keep their calcium levels in check. Be sure to use an intake calculator that allows you to check your calcium intake. Your body will still flush your calcium with your water weight, but with a healthy diet, many people are able to restore their balance naturally.
- Healthy individuals should be consuming 1000 mg if you are under 50 years of age, and 1200 mg once over the age of 50.
- Calcium deficiency can lead to : fatigue, muscle cramps, irritability, and muscle weakness.
- You can keep your calcium levels up by consuming: salmon, sardines, bok choy, broccoli, kale, and, of course, dairy, and unsweetened and unflavored almond milk.
Yes, you won’t feel great for a few days. But don’t worry!!! The benefits of the Keto Diet far outweigh the few days of feeling crummy. Keep your Diet Goals in mind, and stay strong. Lastly, DRINK WATER. Then drink more. Then Drink some more! Staying hydrated will help you during this rough time!