I am often asked about the ‘Keto Flu’, by fellow members and by novices who are planning to go on the diet. When you go on a low carb diet like Keto the levels of sodium, magnesium and potassium tend to drop. If you want to transit into the state of Ketosis with the least amount of discomfort, it is essential that you manage your electrolyte levels meticulously.
Keto flu and the talk surrounding it can scare many people. When you drop your carb levels to below 20gm, the flu tends to set in. It is just your body reacting to the starvation, in the absence of carbs. You need to be strong and ever so determined at this stage.
It is essential that you include foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals in your daily diet and also take supplements. When I went on Keto I started having a mild headache by the end of the first day. My energy level was low and I was feeling a little irritated too. So when I did some research I found out that I was in the flu stage and this was expected. In technical terms if your magnesium and potassium is low your body will not be able to perform perfectly. And since we all lead stressful lives, a steady supply of minerals and vitamins is a must in order to cope with the pressure. The flu generally passes in three to five days, but could be longer for some. I would strongly suggest that you stick it out and keep yourself motivated. You should be glad that you are on the right track.
The First Symptoms of Keto Flu:
• Mild to strong headaches
• Feeling of nausea
• Upset stomach
• Low levels of mental clarity / brain fog
And as obvious from its name it is called a flu, because you feel sick. Thankfully mine lasted only two days and the third day I woke up like a charged person. I was less hungry and ready to take on the world. It’s been exactly six months today and I don’t regret my decision one bit.
If you are going through the Keto flu and are feeling that you might die, please read on. Deciding to go on Keto, is the best decision that you took for yourself. What can you ask for more, you get to eat good food, feel great and lose weight too! Trust me you will be really happy that you took the decision to switch to Keto!
You need to understand that your body has been burning glucose for energy from the day you were born. Now you are forcing it to make a new set of enzymes that will burn fat for fuel. The transition will take a little time. The first and simplest thing that you can do to help yourself, is to keep yourself well hydrated. If you were already drinking plenty of water before, drink some more and more. Most people will vouch for drinking water mixed with little normal salt, pink salt, and lemon juice. You will need to go to the bathroom often, as your body will start getting rid of the excess insulin and chemicals and the fluids that have been retained in the body. The good news is that in the first few days itself you will see massive weight loss. When you lose the retained water you will also lose sodium, magnesium, and potassium. You actually feel like crap, in the absence of them. If you want to speed up the transition have fat, eat eggs, bacon, butter, cream. You might think I am crazy, but trust me it helps. In the first few days keep the protein in check, as the body might transform it into glucose if you eat excess of it.
What is Lite Salt?
A lite salt is an alternative to your regular salt. The sodium content in it is lower than your regular salt and it is enriched with Potassium. Besides Keto, doctors recommend the consumption of this salt to people suffering from kidney diseases, liver failure and a history of steroid use. If your daily intake of sodium is more than 2400mg, your blood pressure might rise. We all are aware of the fact that excess sodium also leads to water retention in the body. So the first thing I did was that I switched to Tata Lite Salt, easily available in all grocery stores in India. I mix about two teaspoons of lite salt, 1 teaspoon of pink salt, the juice of 1 lemon in a liter of plain water. At all times you will find this bottle with me.
Keto flu Warning
If you are presently suffering from any aliment which is preventing your body from eliminating excess potassium from your urine, please consult a doctor before switching to a Lite salt. Avoid the Lite salt also if you have excessive levels of aldosterone in your blood, a hormonal disorder in which the urinary excretion of potassium is affected.
If you have any more doubts, please consult your doctor right away.
“Supplements we essentially need in Keto”
Most diets are deficient in potassium, be it Keto or any other low carb diet. The EDR or the estimated daily requirement of potassium is 2000mg for a healthy adult. But when you are in Keto you need an additional 1000mg more. You can achieve this level of intake by either eating potassium-rich foods or by taking a supplement. But you must be careful about potassium supplements, as excess of potassium can be as dangerous as its deficiency. The AI or adequate intake of potassium is 4700 mg a day. If you are healthy then you needn’t worry about having excessive potassium, unless of course, you are taking supplements. Check the label on the food to know their exact potassium content.
The sad part is that most potassium-rich foods are not very Keto friendly. You can include the following foods in order to boost your potassium intake.
• Avocados – 1000mg for an average piece
• Nuts – 100 to 300mg per 30g (depends on the type)
• Green Leafy Vegetables – 160mg per cup for raw, 840mg for cooked
• Coconut Water – 600mg per cup
• Mushrooms – 12% of your daily intake from a cup of sliced mushrooms
• White beans, kidney beans, lima beans – they need to be had in moderation. A cup of white beans provides 1004mg of potassium.
• Yogurt – again when had in moderation and within your macros can offer 255mg of potassium per 100g.
• Salmon and Halibut – are rich sources of potassium offering 15% of EDR in just 3 ounces.
At all times you should be aware of your magnesium intake, in order to avoid getting caught off guard. The RDA or the DV of magnesium for a healthy adult is 400 mg per day. The common signs of magnesium deficiency are dizziness, fatigue, and cramps.
• Almonds- 75mg per 1oz
• Cacao powder – 80mg per 1tbsp
• Dark Chocolate- 24% of DV in one small piece
• Fish – 75mg per average piece
• Cooked spinach – 75mg per 1 cup
• Avocados – 1 slice offers 15% of the DV
• Pumpkin seeds – Just half a cup provides the full daily requirement for the day
Warning: If you are suffering from any kind of kidney disease or are on diuretics please consult your doctor before taking a magnesium supplement.
Every healthy adult should eat 3000mg to 5000mg of sodium. Regulating your sodium intake is very simple. And don’t be afraid to spike it unless you suffer from any medical condition. You can add a few cups of broth or stock to your diet.
Which supplements should you take?
Depending on your budget, age and needs you should decide your supplements.
I personally have these two:
Please check with your doctor or dietician before you introduce vitamins in your diet.
On Facebook there are many groups of like-minded Ketoites. In their conversations, you will see certain terms, which might not make sense to you instantly. Don’t worry I was equally lost at one time.
• AS: Artificial Sweetener, like equal, Sugarfree or Stevia.
• BPC: Bulletproof Coffee
• Fat Bomb: small concoctions that contain high-fat content, can be of coconut oil, peanut butter, cream cheese.
• HWC: Heavy whipping cream
• SF: Sugar-Free. Foods that are free of sugar and contain artificial sweeteners.
• WOE: Way of Eating. A reference to your own diet.