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What Is The “Keto Flu”?

I sort of laugh when I hear the term “NEW keto diet”.  The reason?  There ain’t nothing “new” about dietary interventions that dramatically lower carbohydrate intake while maximizing protein and vegetable ingestion.  Biochemically, when we keep carbs out for the most part yet maintain high protein intake, the body starts breaking down fat to generate the glucose needed as the fuel source for the cells.  During that chemical process “ketone bodies” are generated; hence the nickname “ketosis”.  Dr. Atkins and his famous “Atkin’s Diet” was the pioneer of “keto diets” and there have been many successors including South Beach, Serotonin-Plus and many others.

Some people develop negative symptoms within 2-7 days when they start a ketogenic dietary plan.  These symptoms have been termed the “keto flu”, and may include:

  • headache 
  • foggy brain
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • nausea
  • difficulty sleeping
  • constipation 
  • decrease libido
  • dizziness

The potential causes of the “keto flu” include lowering of the blood sugar, electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, hormone imbalance and brain-mediated carbohydrate withdrawal events, similar to when other addictive substances are withdrawn from.

“Treating” the keto flu will consist of:

  • ensuring that enough calories are being consumed
  • staying hydrated
  • drinking electrolyte containing fluids
  • eating more fat
  • allowing some carbs to be ingested

Most people will only experience mild symptoms of “keto flu” and these will only last for a short period of time.  It is almost a guarantee that the “keto flu” will be far less dangerous than the “flu” virus or the Covid virus, so the enhance immune system you will obtain from successful weight control will far outweigh the slight inconvenience of the “keto flu”.

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