Do I Have The Keto Flu?

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woman is at work in a business suit holding her head like she has a headache. Banner reads symptons and solutions for the keto flu
The Keto Flu is a common feeling when an individual suddenly gets rid of the carbohydrates from the diet in a bid to cut weight.

Lori Ballen is a member of the Amazon Associates Program and earns money from qualifying purchases. Posts contain affiliate links that benefit Lori as well.

Keto Flu is a common feeling when an individual suddenly gets rid of the carbohydrates from the diet in a bid to cut weight. In other words, this is a transition when the body starts to burn fats to generate energy instead of sugar.

Woman is holding a tissue and her head as if she has the flu, although in this case it's the keto flu, not a real flu

Unlike the commonly known flues, Keto Flu is not contagious but rather, a natural phenomenon that the body experiences when one decides to exclude carbohydrates and sugar foods from the diet.

Learn More about KetoDays Group Coaching Program

What is the Keto Flu?

 The feeling is more or less the same as withdrawal from addiction and comes along with notable signs. Among the symptoms at the earliest stages of Keto Flu are, feeling tired, headaches, cramps, cough, brain fog, stomach upset, nausea and constant feelings of irritations.

These symptoms are indications that the body is getting rid of carbohydrates from the body, thus the name, Keto Flu. This can also be caused by not enough electrolytes in the system (Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium).

The good news is that they do not last long to cause unnecessary panic but act as a passage to achieving the fat-burning, energizing achievement that comes hand in hand with ketosis.

However, the condition can be somehow scary and confusing to the new ketoan to the extent of raising questions of whether the keto diet is effective in yielding positive results or not working all along.

Prior knowledge of what the body experiences in the process is paramount to prepare both psychologically and physically those with interest in reducing weight.

Why do People Get Keto Flu?

The dreaded keto flu symptoms vary from person to person and in most cases, the person gets the strange feeling from day one at the onset of the ketogenic diet. On the contrary, some people may not exhibit the symptoms at all.

Therefore, what is the real cause of keto flu?

The possible answer to the question, ‘what causes keto flu?’ lies in three significant factors; adaptation to keto, electrolyte imbalance and drastic withdrawal from carbohydrates. 

The three factors are responsible for manipulating the metabolic process in the body with endless results as far as health benefits are concerned.

The Influence of Keto-Adaptation

To begin with, keto-adaptation influences the body by letting it get used to the beta-oxidation process.

Keto-Adaptaton is the process that the body burns stored body fat and ketones to produce energy instead of using glucose to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Another point to consider is that the body uses both fat and glucose to produce energy, but the body utilizes the glucose first in a non-keto-adapted state.

The main reason for this phenomenon is the minimal production of ketones in the course of fat metabolism.

Therefore, the non-keto-adapted state is vital because the brain cannot use but depends on glucose. As a result, the keto dieter experiences ‘carb crash’ or what is sometimes known by the name ‘the Atkins flu’ due to low carb diet when the body is short of glycogen stores.

Subsequently, the body starts the keto-adaptation when the glycogen gets low.

Biologically, the body has two primary sources of its energy; the glycolysis (performs the task of glucose conversion into energy) and beta-oxidation (responsible for converting fats into energy). Moreover, the body needs to undergo a stage where enzymes and metabolic processes in the liver change to have that ability to burn fat for energy.

The main purpose of this step is to contribute to fat burning by continuous intake of the ketogenic diet and exercising frequently.

The research by Dr. Stephen Phinney (1980s) on cyclists revealed that, at the onset of the diet, their performance was lower but gradually improved until the of the 4th week where they were capable of accomplishing the similar amount of cycling they had initially without feeling very tired.

Subsequently, the body starts the keto-adaptation when the glycogen gets low.

Ever since the studies have shown that a number of athletes on prolonged ketogenic diets show a lot of improvement in their performance in comparison to their counterparts on a normal diet.

How Long Does Keto Flu Last?

While many will get through the Keto Flu in a couple of days, some may take upwards of a week or more. The sooner you get in your electrolytes, the quicker it should pass.

Electrolytes play a significant role in the body; from controlling the heartbeat to enabling muscles contraction to initiate movement.

The most essential of these electrolytes in the human body include calcium, potassium, sodium, chloride among others.

Any form of imbalance as far as the role of these electrolytes is concerned poses a detrimental threat to the body system.

What is Electrolyte Imbalance?

woman is at work in a business suit holding her head like she has a headache. Banner reads symptons and solutions for the keto flu
Solutions for the Keto Flu aree often electrolytes

Electrolyte imbalance, on the other hand, occurs with the expulsion of excess water from the body.

In fact, the body loses fluids through exercise, sweating, and urination. Additionally, a poor diet, excess or less exercise and sickness are some of the common causes of the electrolyte imbalance.

The release of water flushes out electrolytes resulting in severe electrolyte imbalance and dehydration. Unfortunately, these two factors cause flu-like symptoms until when the body regains its balanced state.

It is also important to mention what contributes immensely to the imbalance of electrolytes. In most countries, the diet may contain more of the processed foods which mostly, are high in added sugars and salts.

In contrast with keto diets, most of such processed foods are eliminated leading to a drastic decrease in the intake of sodium.


Sodium is vital in enabling the body to hold water; therefore, with less consumption of sodium, the implication is the less retention of water. Also, deficiency in carbs results in lower insulin levels.

Consequently, the kidneys release the excess amount of water from the body.

More importantly, the electrolyte plays a very important role in the body. Starting with calcium, lack of it will hinder contractions of muscles, nerve signaling, clotting of blood, cell division and proper formation and maintenance of bones and teeth.

One way to replace sodium is by making Sole water at home. I suggest salting your meats and veggies with Pink Himalayan salt.


Potassium is possibly the hardest to get in through your daily whole foods. Most americans, regardless of diet, don’t get in anywhere near the amount of required potassium quotes, which is 4700 mg. 

Here’s a list of high potassium foods. 

Potassium, however, plays a major role in ensuring that the blood pressure levels are stable at all time. It also regulates heart contractions as well as the functioning of the muscles.


On the hand, magnesium aids in muscle contractions, heart rhythms, proper functioning of the nerves, born building, reduction in anxiety, good digestion and maintaining a stable protein-fluid balance.

The role of magnesium ranges from maintenance of fluid balance, muscle contractions to nerve signaling.

Finally, chloride plays closes the chapter with the function of maintaining fluid balance.

There are several signs and symptoms that indicate changes or electrolyte imbalance. They might include muscle aches, restlessness, headaches, lack of sleep, palpitations of the heart, improper digestion; feeling tired all the time, changes in blood pressure, change in body weight, dizziness, numbness and lack of concentration.

Does Carbohydrate Withdrawal Cause Keto Flu?

The answer is yes, but how?

One of the major symptoms of keto flu is a headache. It is not right to point out, in general terms that a headache could be as a result of withdrawal from carbohydrates, but a withdrawal from a particular carbohydrate which is sugar, the ready supply of glucose.

Consumption of a high-sugar diet makes the body to adjust promptly to the ready supply of glucose which is an ultimate source of the energy. An absence of sugar in the body triggers low blood sugar or rather hypoglycemia whose symptoms are hunger, feeling tired and headaches.

Foods rich in carbohydrates particularly sugar and starch have an end product that is glucose which is released into the bloodstream. With the help of the insulin from the pancreas, glucose finds its way from the blood into the body cells to provide energy.

Similarly, glucose can use directly or stored the muscle tissues and fat cell for future use. Shortage of glucose supply can lead to headaches because the brain needs glucose unlike the other parts of the body which can use stored energy from either muscles or fats.

Research shows that sugar has similar effects to the brain as heroin and cocaine. Just like the two drugs, sugar gives a ‘feel good’ effect due to secretion of the dopamine hormone. Besides, it is addictive. On one hand, sudden withdrawal of sugar when starting a ketogenic diet means something else to the entire body.

The withdrawal effects can lead to mood swings, cravings for sugar, anxiety and many other symptoms associated with keto flu.

The three factors highlighted are the main cause of keto flu. On the positive side, their effects don’t last long and the results from the ketogenic diet are worth the endurance. There are many ways to overcome those conditions that come hand in hand as the body burns glucose to cut down the weight.

How to Prevent Keto Flu

The fact that keto flu is a temporary condition, it does not mean that all preventive measures are unnecessary. In that respect, there are steps to consider when reducing or get rid of symptoms in the course of transition period into ketosis.

Some of the possible ways to eliminate keto flu are; taking plenty of water, replenishing of electrolytes, enough sleep, carrying out light exercise, intake of fats and calories, taking exogenous ketone supplements and constant checking of the carb consumption.

Drinking a lot of Water Daily Water Intake

Dehydration is one of the major signs at the earliest stages of ketosis. To overcome that kind of situation, replenishment of lost water is mandatory to decrease effects of keto flu such as headaches, feeling tired and nausea.

Those symptoms indicate dehydration which is a health risk because water is a necessity for the normal functioning of the body.

Frequent drinking of water is essential throughout the day to counteract dehydration.

Another sign that that show dehydration is the coloration in the urine. If the color in the urine is yellowish, it implies that there is less water in the body whereas clear urine shows that body is well hydrated.

Above all, thirsty is a better sign of dehydration, a reason for taking a lot of water.

How much water should one drink while on the ketogenic diet?

The most important formula to determine the amount of water the body requires is by taking the current body weight and dividing it by two to get the minimum number of ounces( of water) that the body needs.

To simplify this point, if the person weighs around 120 pounds, the body needs at least sixty ounces of water on the daily basis.

Replenishment of Electrolytes

Reduction in the consumption of extremely low carb ketogenic food means that the intake of some vital natural sources of electrolytes is completely cut out. Deficiency in electrolytes leads to notable signs such as fatigue, mood swings, muscle cramps, and confusion. In a nutshell, the presence of electrolytes in the diet plays an important part at the beginning of the keto flu symptoms.

I take Dr. Berg’s electrolyte powder every day

Keto Coach Lori Ballen

The body needs more electrolytes during ketosis and one way of achieving that important step is by taking supplements rich in electrolytes daily. For those working out, the intake should be after taking the exercise to avoid cases of muscle cramps and dehydration. Another important factor in consideration is the nature of the supplement in relation to ketosis.

The supplements should be keto-friendly, which means they should have zero sugar or no artificial sweeteners in them instead. Sometimes, the keto dieter can avoid drinks containing processed sugar like glucose syrup by preparing their own keto-friendly drink at home.

The solution should contain water, mineral sea salt, and fresh lemon or lime juice in equal proportions to meet the body requirements.
Another sign that that show dehydration is the coloration in the urine. If the color in the urine is yellowish, it implies that there is less water in the body whereas clear urine shows that body is well hydrated.

Bone Broth

Drinking bone broth is another remedy for replenishing electrolytes. The advantage of the taking bone broth is that it acts as an antiaging agent besides provision of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.

It also important in hydration and also acts as the ultimate keto flu recovery solution.

Enough Sleep

The effect of the keto flu varies from one person to the other. Some people may have difficulties in falling asleep but there are tips to help them get restful sleep.

The first step is taking a bath in Epsom salt solution.

The bath helps the body by soothing and relaxing the muscles as well as absorption of electrolytes.

Another tip is by drinking sleep tea which is a blend of some herbs that are helpful in promoting restful sleep.

The ingredients in the herbal tea have a calming effect on the nerves, leading to a sound sleep.

Research from the University of Harvard shows that blue light from electronic gadgets that are in use daily cause an interference with circadian rhythm which in turn inhibits one from falling asleep. Staying away from electronics two hours before going to bed improves the quality of sleep.

Light Exercise

It might sound weird to take an exercise especially at the time when experiencing symptoms associated with keto flu. Nevertheless, a light exercise in a yoga class can promote relaxation of the muscles and ease tension.

Also, such an exercise can act as a mood booster through the release of endorphins. The exercise, on the other hand, makes the body more efficient in synthesizing carbs and fats for production of energy. Lastly, exercising helps in reducing keto flu menace considerably faster.

Lori Ballen is a Certified Ketogenic Lifestyle Coach. Having shed 43 pounds in just her few months on the Keto way of eating, Lori became passionate about helping others achieve better health and weight loss through living KETO.

She offers Keto systems such as grocery lists, meals, guides, macro calculators, weight tracking and more in her Keto Coach Group Program.

Fats and Calories

During ketosis, the body does not derive its energy from the carbohydrates and sugars as it is the norm.

At that stage, the much sort after energy comes from burning of fats in the body. Eating plenty of fats and foods rich in calories will assist the body in acquiring the energy.

The keto-friendly fats take over the part of the carbohydrates at the onset of the ketogenic diet. Apart from consuming fats, one tablespoon of coconut oil taken with coffee, tea, and a snack can offer the solution for the energy in the body.

A variety of non-starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds and low sugar berries are a healthy source of nutrients that can easily and effectively fight keto flu. Learn more about appropriate keto vegetables here.

You might also like: What to Eat on the Keto Dieta

Carb Consumption

Although a ketogenic diet might be a way of avoiding carbs, there are situations that make it necessary to reach out for foods rich in carbohydrates.

Two scenarios are responsible in this case.

The first scenario takes place when the person is extremely active but contracts keto flu all along. By adding a little more of the ‘clean’ carbs in the diet helps a lot in relieving keto flu symptoms at the transition period.

The second scenario arises when the keto dieter comes under attack by the flu at the time prior to going keto. To overcome that problem, the victim might need to get rid of carbs gradually instead of taking an abrupt measure

The right step to adding carbs to the diet is by increasing an intake of fats. In case of the persistence of symptoms, a minor transition from the normal diet going back to low carbs is recommended.

The transition varies with individuals depending on the rate of their carb consumption per day. Moreover, the most significant point for that change in the diet is by doing away with all processed carbs and paying close attention to acquiring carbs from starchy fruits and vegetables.

How to Cure Keto Flu

The keto flu symptoms are likely to disappear within the shortest time possible without involving any known remedy after the body adapts to ketosis.

Most importantly, there is a way to eliminate those symptoms in a matter of time by adhering to some helpful steps.

By incorporating enough water and salt into the body system, the solution to keto flu problem comes into the application. It is a simple step involving the addition of half the teaspoon of salt to a glass full of water and drinking it.

The results are seen within a time of between fifteen to thirty minutes after taking the solution. Another better option is by drinking a cup of broth (chicken or bone-broth) daily until the symptoms disappear.

Additionally, the taking in of more fats can act as a bonus to the first step. A good diet should have a substantial amount of fats for satisfaction and energy to speed hasten the transition phase.

?For some, a quick shot of pickle juice is the sure thing fix!

On the other side, it is necessary to include some carbs in the diet to slow down the transition process if the use of salt and water (sometimes fat) is not offering a proper remedy to keto flu. Even though this technique is not the first option, it is essential in eliminating any remaining signs of the keto flu.

In summary, ketosis offers the ultimate solution to weight loss and complications that come along with it. If getting rid of carbs could prove to be a tough task, the repercussions of overlooking that important step could be as well detrimental to the health an individual.

This should serve as a red-flag to improper eating habits that lead to addictive junk foods. However much that process may face setbacks from the keto flu, the results that come after are worth the endurance because, it is said, no pain no gain.

The keto flu may pose a threat to those wishing to start a keto diet but once the body adapts to ketosis, the immense and limitless energy, and the good feeling of having to achieve that feat is quite amazing.

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