If you are just starting out on your ketogenic journey, a well-intentioned friend, skeptical naysayer, or even your health coach or doctor might have warned you about the dreaded “keto flu.”
Yep, it’s a thing. I’ve seen it manifest in many ways. Some folks transition into ketosis without so much as a whimper. Others are dragged kicking and screaming into health. Symptoms vary, but there are a few that seem to come up more consistently than others. This includes:
- Brain fog, inability to fully concentrate, just a general sense of mental slowness
- Might have short dizzy spells, especially when you stand up
- Cravings for sugar and/or carbs
- Dry mouth, bad breath (keto breath it’s called), a metallic or strangely sweet taste in your mouth
- Difficulty sleeping
- Some cold-like symptoms, like sneezing, runny nose, cough, etc… hence the “keto flu” nickname
- Hair loss or hair growth. It seems more common for women to complain about hair loss on their head and a bit of growth in less desirable areas
- For women, there might be some changes to your menstrual cycle. This is not easy to predict. It might be longer. It might be shorter. It might come earlier… or later. Something to be aware of, because these changes seems rather common.
For the most part, these will only last a few days, maybe a week on the outside. They subside and a sort of keto euphoria takes its place. This might include such symptoms as:
- Heightened mental clarity
- Reduced appetite
- More energy
- More restful sleep
- And of course, WEIGHT LOSS
Mitigating the Symptoms
It is unfortunate that many people get a headache or a particularly bad craving and give up before the real benefits of ketosis are able to kick in.
For those of you reading this while in the thick of it, DON’T GIVE UP! These symptoms will subside shortly and a greater sense of well being and health are just around the corner. That’s a promise.
That being said, there are some things you can do before “keto flu” sets in or while it’s happening to make you feel better.
The first thing is, DRINK MORE WATER! Like, right now. Go drink some water, then come back and finish the article.
Second, go for a walk outside. It takes your mind off of cravings. It gives you a greater sense of peace. It straightens your back and gets your blood flowing. And it reduces stress–and your body is stressed right now. It’s not accustomed to a lack of sugar and carbs and it is attempting a revolution.
Third, get some support. If you have a health coach, tell them what’s going on. They may have suggestions tailored for you, or they might have words of wisdom and comfort. And plus, they aren’t going to let you give up. If you have friends or family that are enthusiastic about keto, talk to them too!
Journal about your experience. Every day, spend 10-15 minutes describing what you’ve eaten (or not eaten) and how you feel. This is a great way to track and appreciate your progress over time. And it will surely encourage you to keep up the good work!
Ketosis is worth the temporary discomfort and hardship. Anything valuable is. Take these symptoms in stride, sit in your discomfort for a few days. It can indeed be unpleasant, but I haven’t met a person who made it through that initial “trial by fire” and didn’t consider it a turning point in their health–and their life.