Tips for Beating Carb Flu When Starting a Keto Diet
As the ketogenic diet changes the way your body fuels itself, switching from glucose
to ketones, you may experience what has become known as “carb flu” or “keto flu”
when your body is making that transition. We’ve all heard that our culture has a
“sugar addiction,” and when starting a low-carb lifestyle such as the ketogenic diet,
the “withdrawal symptoms” from cutting out sugar and starch can feel just as
intense as a hangover. Thankfully, we have tips for beating “carb flu” when starting a
Some common symptoms of carb flu are not unlike regular flu symptoms:
headaches, exhaustion or lethargy, nausea, and “brain fog” or the lack of ability to
focus. “Hanger,” or irritability from hunger, is another big complaint…one that likely
affects your coworkers and family more than you.
To beat these symptoms, make sure you’re getting adequate hydration in both the
form of water and electrolytes. Aim for 1.5 to 3 liters of water each day, and throw a
pinch of unrefined salt, such a Himalayan sea salt into your meals. Alternatively, you
can look into electrolyte replacement drinks or tablets, but make sure they don’t
contain refined sugars.
Another way to help your body is to eat more — of the right things. Namely, healthy
fats. Add an extra serving of grass-fed butter to your morning eggs or drizzle some
extra coconut oil on your salad. Snack on a handful of almonds, which are also high
in vitamins that can help your symptoms, or eat a small serving of olives. Keep your
energy up by fueling with the right foods.
Also, remember to be gentle with yourself. You’re making a substantial change to
the way your body processes food and fuels itself, so give yourself time to adjust.
Limit your high-intensity workouts in the first few weeks, drink enough water, get
adequate sleep, and even add in some meditation and stretching to help ease your
brain during the transition. Slowly work your way into the low-carb diet by
eliminating foods gradually. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and the ketogenic
diet is a lifestyle, not a quick fix. Trust your body; the "carb flu" will end, and you'll
be on your way to lasting, positive change.