If you’re researching or preparing to start the ketogenic diet, you may be wondering what its side effects are. Just like any other dietary lifestyle, there are bound to be some negative effects on your health. Thankfully, the keto diet symptoms that are most common in those who undertake the low carb lifestyle can easily be avoided. These tips will help you to manage the keto diet and stay healthy on your journey.
What Is Keto Flu
The “keto flu” is a label given to a set of carbohydrate withdrawal symptoms that may occur in people who start a low carb diet. This “flu” results from altered hormonal states and the electrolyte imbalances that may occur with it. In other words, it describes a cycle in the body adapting to a newly started low carb diet.
Keto stands for ketogenic, a very strict low carb eating plan. The term should really be “low carb flu” since the ketogenic diet is not the only low carb plan.
Low Carb Flu Symptoms
No two individuals are alike, so the symptoms can range from nothing to mild to a full-blown flu-like condition, and include
- Mental Fog
- In some extreme cases, high blood pressure and arrhythmia
How 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 really 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, often people feel better than ever. 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.
A Misunderstood Condition
People who experience keto flu after going on a low carb diet are sometimes forced to believe that they are suffering due to the diet they are on and carbs are good for the health after all. However, this only shows how dependent they have been on carbs, as their body is trying to survive without carbs and sugary substances.
In truth, carb intake, and especially refined carbs that come from processed food, sugar, sugary foods and drinks is at epidemic levels, and carb addiction is rampant in the United States and other parts of the world.
It’s not your fault, those carbs are everywhere, congratulate yourself on making changes for the better with a low carb diet!
How To Reduce Keto Flu Effects
Keto flu can be nerve wrecking, no doubt, but a necessary evil. However, there are some things that can be done to reduce the symptoms if they appear.
Replenish your electrolytes:
Lack of electrolytes in the body is one of the major causes of keto flu. Electrolytes are the minerals found in the body and they affect its water content, the acidity of the blood and functionality of the muscles.
Additionally, low carb diets feature lower insulin levels that can signal the kidneys to discard excess water, making you drink more and this results in flushing out electrolytes, where sodium, potassium and magnesium deficiencies can occur. You will have to replenish them by using supplements and with food.
Add some salt:
Normally, the average diet is overloaded with salt, but a ketogenic diet eliminates refined and processed food and focuses on eating whole real food so when you start keto you will naturally reduce salt intake, which reduces water retention. Since a low carb diet is naturally diuretic, there is no need to worry about water retention.
Generally, 5 grams of salt daily is ideal for keto flu and to replenish electrolytes, you can also get it from drinking 2 cups of broth or adding soy sauce and other sauces that have potassium to your meals.
Bone broth works well, and only requires the simmering of chicken, beef, lamb or any meat bones in water for about a day, or even canned broth or stocks from the store works well too, just make sure to read the labels for added ingredients or preservatives that you do not need. Drippings from cooked meat have a high concentration of potassium, so use them to make sauces.
300 mg of magnesium in supplement form
Keto flu is a process that most dieters undergo while starting their weight loss or weight gain journey. While it cannot be avoided for some, you can reduce symptoms while your body adapts. Supplements and vitamins can help you to manage the transition to a healthy low carb lifestyle. Magnesium helps particularly for muscle weakness, spasms and cramps, lethargy and difficulty swallowing.
Please contact a doctor if the symptoms become too severe to handle alone.
Other Keto Diet Symptoms: Gluconeogenesis, Not Enough Fiber and More
Two types of fiber exist: Soluble fiber which dissolves in water and insoluble fiber which does not.
Soluble fiber becomes a gel-like substance during digestion. Insoluble fiber remains intact and helps clear the digestive tract of wastes and adds bulk to stools.
Fiber supports healthy digestion and elimination processes. Health professionals recommend consuming at least 20 grams of fiber daily.
The ideal recommendation given by The Institute of Medicine suggests:
• Men 50 years and under –> 38 grams
• Women 50 years and under–> 25 grams
• Men 51 years and older–> 30 grams
• Women 51 years and older–> 21 grams
The sole source of fiber in a person’s diet are carbohydrates. Whole foods, fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, unrefined grains and nuts, all provide fiber. Fiber supplements are derived from these sources. This poses a challenge to people following a low carb diet.
Low-Carb Diets and Digestion
Aside from sugar cravings and missing favorite treats, many low-carb dieters struggle with digestive difficulties. They may experience diarrhea and/or constipation due to the lack of fiber in their meal plans. As they actively exclude the majority of carbohydrate food sources from their diet, they neglect to ensure the inclusion of high fiber carbohydrates and suffer for it.
The only way to correct this issue is to find the appropriate level of carbohydrate consumption for each dieter. It varies. While there are general recommendations, a person on a low-carb weight loss plan will only want to include the amount of high fiber carbohydrates necessary to end their digestion problems.
Low Carb Count High Fiber Foods
When planning which carbohydrates to include in their meal plan, low-carb dieters need to select foods with the lowest, net carb value. Net carbohydrate values are determined by subtracting the number of sugar grams and fiber grams from the total grams of carbohydrates in a food item. The idea is to limit the healthy carbs eaten to those with the least amount of impact on blood sugar levels.
Recommended low-carb high-fiber foods include:
When in doubt, choose green leafy vegetables and fruits with high
Low-Carb Diets and Metabolism
Unrefined, whole food carbohydrates also supply the body with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants necessary for good health. The nutrients they supply support cellular regeneration and immune function. They also support healthy weight loss; without them, the body may determine it’s starving and slow the metabolism which prevents weight loss.
The body will use the food it receives more efficiently and store any excess as fat. This is why zero-carb diets are too restrictive and the ketogenic diet allows for the consumption of whole food carbs.
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Glucose Deficits and Gluconeogenesis
The body uses glucose for most energy needs. It’s part of the reason low-carb diets works so well. When the body is deprived of carbohydrates to break down into glucose, it uses alternative energy sources like fat.
However, glucose is the only readily available energy source for the brain; in emergencies, it can also use ketones produced by the breakdown of fat. Glucose also supports many functions in the body. If the levels of glucose in the bloodstream become dangerously low, the body will convert other available metabolic factors into glucose.
Gluconeogenesis is one example of this. During gluconeogenesis, amino acids are converted into glucose. The liver is the primary organ for this process, but the kidneys are capable of performing this function as well.
When carbohydrates are consumed, some are stored on the liver as glycogen. If the glycogen available in the liver is exhausted, the body turns to the muscles for protein and amino acids to convert into glucose. Gluconeogenesis is for survival and not a desirable state for weight loss.
While low-carb diets work in the short term, following them long-term can be difficult. This becomes especially true if a dieter does not effectively manage their carbohydrate and fiber intake. The severe curtailment of carbohydrates actively interferes with the acquisition of fuel and waste elimination, two very important and intertwined series of bodily functions.
A successful low-carb diet includes:
• Healthy low-carb sources of
• A balanced ratio of nutrient-dense carbohydrates to fat and protein in order to maintain energy, metabolic stability and proper digestion
Avoiding Chronic Inflammation In A High Fat And Protein Diet
Inflammation occurs naturally as part of the body’s immune response. It jumpstarts the healing process by flooding an injury with healing antigens. Antigens and fluids may also become concentrated within the body’s tissues to carry away irritants or foreign bodies (bacteria and viruses). The presence of inflammation does not always indicate the presence of infection.
When inflammation becomes chronic, persistent, and ongoing, it becomes a concern. Chronic Inflammation In one area of the body can trigger the inflammation in other parts of the body. For example, a sinus infection can lead to an ear infection while the immune system is compromised which may eventually affect the lungs.
In some cases, a low-grade irritant trapped in the tissues, can cause ongoing inflammation and lead to chronic inflammation. Irritable bowel syndrome is a good example; the disease causes inflammation in the intestines when certain foods passing through the digestive tract cause irritation.
This ongoing irritation if not addressed causes chronic inflammation. Chronic Inflammation has been linked to the development of heart disease, cancer and the development of other systemic diseases.
The Connection Of High Fat And High Protein Diets To Inflammation
A high fat and high protein diet leaves the body vulnerable to chronic inflammation. Protein provides the body with the building blocks of healthy tissues, amino acids. Fat provides the body with energy. Protein can also provide the body with energy but must be converted to glucose by the liver and kidneys. Ketones enter the bloodstream when fat is burned for energy when glucose is not readily available.
High levels of ketones are toxic to the body. Some tissues cannot use the ketones and require glucose; if there is not enough protein available, the body scavenges protein from muscles to convert into glucose. Basically, the body needs carbohydrates to ensure metabolic balance.
Low-carb diets not only negatively affect ready energy sources, they also limit the body’s access to nutrients and antioxidants, which prevent and repair oxidative damage. Fiber is also more challenging to acquire while following a low carb diet. A low carb dieter may only consume 2 to 7 grams of fiber per day, which is well below the recommended 25 to 30 grams.
A low carb dieter’s body is forced to draw on its emergency survival mechanisms. This causes a great deal of stress and irritation within the body which can lead to chronic inflammation because the body is not using the most effective tools to carry out daily functions and repairs. The use of ketones for energy can lead to a toxic state called ketosis. The side effects of ketosis include bad breath, debilitating fatigue, constipation, brain fuzziness, and headaches.
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Avoiding Chronic Inflammation
In order to prevent chronic inflammation, low carb dieters must be selective in their carbohydrate intake. To make the weight loss or desired fitness gains without provoking an immune response, they need to focus on eating carbohydrates with maximum nutrient and fiber density. Examples of low carb fruits and vegetables meeting these criteria include:
Other superfoods, which supply much-needed antioxidants, are green tea, whey protein, and coffee. Choose colorful and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. They provide the best antioxidant returns for a limited carbohydrate diet.
Dehydration also affects low carb dieter’s more frequently and severely; it contributes to constipation and low energy. The body is also not able to dispose of waste as effectively when dehydrated. Fruits and vegetables have significant water content.
They supplement any water or other fluids used to keep the body hydrated. Solid food supplies about 20% of the body’s water requirement. Low carb dieters need to pay special attention to keeping hydrated to aid their digestion and overall metabolism and prevent chronic inflammation.
Grab the keto grocery list below for help to ease into the keto lifestyle.