Ketosis Flu

Low Carb plans such as Atkins can be very effective for some people including me.  Many people who start a low carb diet experience what’s called the “ketosis flu” or the “induction flu” in the first few days while the body is adapting to burning ketones instead of glucose.

The basic symptoms are:
– Headaches
– Nausea
– Upset stomach
– Lack of mental clarity (brain fog)
– Sleepiness
– Fatigue

It’s called the “ketosis flu” for a reason: you feel sick.  gone through it and it wasn’t a pleasant experience.  Fortunately it only lasted 2 days but then suddenly I woke up feeling much better, less hungry and my energy level was really high and consistent throughout the day!

The first time I thought to myself: “What the heck am I doing? I feel like I’m going to die!” but I persevered and when it was over I didn’t regret a thing because what I had gained mentally and physically was 100% worth it.

For those of you that are going through the ketosis flu, don’t give up!  I know you feel like it’s never going to get better but stick with it and you´ll be so happy you did!  I’m telling you, waking up refreshed for the first time in years, not getting the afternoon “blah” feeling and stuffing my face with carbs to try to boost my energy is the best side effect of the low carb diet I’ve experienced.  Okay, losing weight while eating good food, feeling full and satisfied is great too.

First you have to understand why your body is reacting this way.  Your body has been burning glucose for energy so it’s basically full of enzymes that are waiting to deal with the carbs you eat, but now the body needs to make new enzymes that burn fat for fuel instead of carbs, and the transition period causes the flu-like symptoms.

There are some things you can do to lessen the symptoms of the ketosis flu and to make it go away sooner. (to force the body to transition sooner) Ok, let’s get to the good part – what to do:

First of all – you’re probably dehydrated.  Drink PLENTY of water while you’re on a low carb diet, and then drink some more.

Watch your electrolytes. When the body is getting rid of excess insulin from your former carb-crazy diet you´ll lose lots of fluids that have been retained in your body. This causes the rapid weight loss most people see in their first few days of ketosis, it’s mostly water, sorry.  When you lose all the retained water you also lose electrolytes like sodium, magnesium and potassium. When you’re lacking those nutrients,  you´ll feel like crap.  When you’re feeling really ill on the ketosis flu try things like chicken/beef broth and look for foods rich in these minerals.  Take a multi-vitamin and a multi-mineral.

Ok, here is where people throw the red flag – Eat more fat – Yup, I said MORE fat. Have some butter, just not on a roll, eat some bacon and eggs for breakfast, just skip the potatoes and toast.   This will force your body to hurry up the transition. You´ll think this is crazy and think you´ll never get lose weight eating this way, but you will.

Don’t eat too much protein – The body can transform protein into glucose so if you eat too much of it in the first days it will slow down the transition. Go for fatty meat and cheese if you can, add fat to protein shakes etc.

Drink water, replenish electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, potassium) with food and supplements, drink broth, eat fat and not too much protein.