Keto diet, short for ketogenic diet, is about consuming food high in fat and extremely low carbohydrates. This offers multiple benefits such as weight loss and various health improvements. It’s also a great diet plan for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or even epilepsy, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Keto flu is quite common among those who adapt to this kind of diet, so make sure you monitor it with blood ketone meter.
The keto flu happens when your body is unable to burn the consumed fat and convert it to energy source for the body. For fat to be consumed efficiently, three things must take place in the body.
First, sodium and water must be flushed. When you take less carbs, your insulin level will drop. This signals the kidney to release sodium. This can result in a loss of water weight (around 10 lbs. In the first 5 days of keto diet) as water shuttles sodium out of the body. The side-effects of which are headache, muscle cramping, nausea, dizziness, and even gastrointestinal problems. Thus, it is extremely important to drink plenty of fluids or even supplement your body with electrolytes when doing the keto diet to lessen these symptoms.
Second, there will be a decrease of thyroid hormone levels (T3). Produced by the thyroid gland, T3 works with dietary carbohydrates. Thus, if you cut your carbs intake, your T3 hormone level will also fall. Along with T4 (also thyroid hormone), T3 helps regulate body temperature, heart rate, and metabolism. This is why lower thyroid hormone levels can cause fatigue and brain fog.
Third, cortisol level increases. If your T3 hormone level changes (falls), your body will result to produce higher level of cortisol, a stress hormone that tells your body it’s going through starvation mode. This is why carb-restricted diet often results to irritability, and insomnia.
Keto flu is normal as your body is adjusting to the new diet and teaching itself to convert fat into energy more efficiently. Also, there are things you can do to minimize the symptoms of keto flu and maintain health benefits by monitoring with the use of blood ketone meter.
Keep your body hydrated
As said earlier, carb-restricted diet can flush out water weight. Thus, it is extremely important to keep your body hydrated at all times when doing the keto diet. To know how much water you actually need, simply divide your body weight by two. The number you get is the number of ounces you need. For example, if you weigh 160 lbs., then you should aim for 80oz of water a day.
You can also take different forms of fluids, such as bone broth, some electrolytes (potassium and sodium) to offset the discomfort of keto flu. You can drink sports drinks or supplements high in electrolytes. Make sure you choose low or zero sugar.
Eat more fat
Increase your intake of quality fat can help your body better adapt to the new diet faster. MCT oil for example, goes straight to your liver after digestion, bypassing your heart and lymphatic system. This means your liver can transform it to fuel faster.
Rest and Exercise (Mild)
Rest and exercise go together. You should aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
When it comes to exercise, make sure you exercise regularly and mildly. Take note of the word “mildly”. The goal of your exercise is to reduce cortisol, not increase it. Light exercise can help your body manage stress better. You can also do yoga or meditate.
If all else fails, you can increase your carbs intake a little and then work your way down as your body tries to adjust to the diet. It also pays to invest in a blood ketone meter so you can maintain the proper level of ketosis to optimize the benefits it can offer.