The Keto Flu -How to Avoid It and Maintain Proper Diet

I know some people sometimes don’t feel well on a keto style diet. there is something that we have come to known as the keto flu that is responsible for some of those symptoms.

keto flew is probably the number one complaint that a lot of people will have when they start on a ketogenic diet and it does have a bit of history.

So if we go back to the 70s and 80s when the Atkins diet was quite popular is to be called the Atkins flew. The difference between the Atkins flu and the keto flu is simply that we know what actually causes it and it’s actually due to something we call sodium deficiency.

Sodium deficiency and keto flu

So sodium is actually one part of what we call table salt. Table salt is made of sodium molecule and a chloride molecule and the sodium is actually what we need in our body to hold fluid inside our blood vessels.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that without sodium you can drink. Body just can’t hold onto it and if you lower your sodium levels your blood vessel actually reduces and then we get symptoms that a lot of people experience.

Dizziness is the most common once you know, when you stand up quickly and you feel a bit lightheaded. It’s really common when people first started ketogenic diet. Some people might complain of muscle cramps, which is often caused by low sodium levels and dryness of the eyes.

Keto diet: what about blood pressure though?

We just increase the amount of sodium or salt in a diet, the symptoms totally disappear and that’s I find that fascinating.  So what about blood pressure though? Is that something that people need to worry about it?

The blood pressure itself is only a problem with salt if you also have high insulin levels and it’s actually the insulin levels that actually drive how much sodium your body is holding onto. The way it works is that when you reduce the carbohydrates in your diet your insulin level also falls.  

So there’s pathway in the kidney where the kidney normally retains sodium and they’re stimulated by insulin. So when your insulin levels fall you suddenly start passing all of this extra sodium out in urine.

That means that if your insulin level is healthy low, then you can be adding all of this extra salt in and it really doesn’t impact on the blood pressure much at all.  

Role of salt and insulin in a ketogenic diet

It is actually required that you have high levels of insulin and that’s simply not a problem on a ketogenic diet for most people because we know the ketogenic diet actually leads to a reduction in your level of insulin.

I think the other contributor as well as the increased losses in the urine is when you cut out processed foods of a healthy diet, you don’t get as much salt.

Salt is absolutely hidden in everything and if you go onto a fresh food diet there’s very little sodium in the diet. So not only one do you lose more sodium in the urine, but you’re also putting less sodium in in the first place.

How to enter state of ketosis – transform into keto?

The first week or so on keto is difficult, but if you power through, then the cravings will begin to disappear and you’ll hardly ever be hungry. I’ve been doing keto now for years and I have absolutely NO cravings for carbs/sugar/junk food. Zero.

I am never hungry, even though I am at a 1,000 calorie deficit from my ‘maintenance’ weight, limiting my net carbs to 20 grams or less, and only eating one meal a day (OMAD). Just remember to stay on top of your electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and magnesium). Electrolytes are essential!

Starting keto: cut all sugar, starch (potatoes/pasta/bread) and began eating meats

The first time I started keto diet it was without much planning, so I just cut all sugar, starch (potatoes/pasta/bread), and began eating meats and vegetable. I wasn’t able to keep up for more than 3 months or so due to a few things going on, but I’ve been pretty solid all year this year with 40lbs down.

If you feel like you need to transition, I would suggest first cutting down to under 100g of carb a day. The next week you can take it under 50g, and then lower from there. This calculator can help you with macros and would let you adjust carbs accordingly as well.

Supplementing electrolytes will help with the transition to ketosis state

begin supplementing electrolytes and it will help with the transition. First thing I did was empty everything from my kitchen that I couldn’t eat.

9 trash bags full of garbage food. I had a freezer full of meat and healthier options in the fridge. I personally dropped to 35 carbs a day for a few days then dropped to 20 carbs a day. I’ve been keto since then only 13 to lose. I have a horrible sweet tooth.

Focus on making this a sustainable long term way of eating

Buy cheap meats and cook it slow! All sorts of cheaper cuts of beef tastes amazing cooked low and slow and then seared. You can roast in the oven just as easy. Drop a 4lb pork shoulder in an instant pot rubbed in salt and with some broth: tons of pulled pork 1 hour later!

Chicken thighs, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc are awesome roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper in the oven. Cook a bunch on the weekend, buy some prewashed greens and cheese, and you’ve got easy protein + salad meals all week.

Finally, focus on making this a sustainable long term way of eating. For me, that means eating at a reasonable calorie deficit without crash dieting, doing 16:8 intermittent fasting, and listening to my body and having a snack of cheese or leftover meat when i need it so I’m not spinning into terrible cravings.

On counting and calculating macros exactly and tracking nutrient values.

Some folks need to calculate macros exactly and track everything. Personally I don’t have the patience for that, and I track carbs closely and keep a rough calorie count, (aka lazy keto) and there are a lot of people that has worked for here as well. Keto gives you more energy, helps you move more, and feel more satiated, as a result, you burn more calories and eat less.

Others need more discipline and exact tracking to see results. It may change for you during your journey if you plateau for a long while. Do what work for you.

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