Keto flu is not a flu at all. Do not allow these nice Internet-friendly euphemisms to fool you.
Flu is by definition an acute respiratory disease, most often provoked by a virus. The body’s immune system fights the virus, and, with or without additional medicine, the virus eventually dies. In any case, flu is caused by an external factor.
The condition called “keto flu” is not caused by any external factor; this is a severe metabolic imbalance caused by abundance of ketones in blood. Correctly, this condition is called ketoacidosis. Immune system is useless here; if not addressed and treated properly, ketoacidosis – a “harmless” side effect of the ketogenic diet – can even lead to death.
Nature Of Ketogenic Diet
This is how keto flu is described in most blogs and resources:
“Keto flu is the condition that most people experience when they begin following ketogenic diet. The body starts adapting to ketosis and they have a set of symptoms that together are similar to flu”.
When the person eats as average people do, they receive a certain amount of proteins, carbs, and fats. Usually each person regulates the intake of each type of food depending on own preferences and eating habits, or depending on the local diet. However, the key here is that most healthy people tend to get more or less equal amount of each type of food.
Only when one wants to lose weight, they start experimenting and depriving themselves from different types of food. Ketogenic diet deprives people of carbohydrates.
The thing is, carbs are the fuel human bodies prefer to burn.
Carbs are easy to digest, easy to manage within the body, and easy to burn.
Carbs do not create a lot of harmful byproducts, and the body never stores carbs, so whatever quantity you eat, you will more likely burn them all. Human brain loves carbs, because it functions only on glucose.
However, ketogenic diet deprives the person of carbs to make the body reach the state of ketosis. As I have already mentioned in the previous post on keto diet, everybody believes ketosis is the condition when the body burns fats.
But, this is not true. Ketosis is the condition when the body is forced to burn only fats, because it has nothing else to burn for energy.
Fat is a secondary fuel that the body prefers to store, and not to burn. There are different reasons for that: one is that fats are good for warmth and for protection, and another is that fats are a pain in the ass to burn.
When they break down during the digestion, they release ketones, byproducts that are not really useful for the body. Without carbs, the body is forced to burn ketones; these are hard to burn, and the process needs a lot of oxygen which is taken from the blood, so other cells may lack it.
However, the worst part is that, if the level of ketones is too high, the body develops the dangerous condition of ketoacidosis.
Keto Flu Symptoms – Ketoacidosis
Ketoacidosis is the state when the body tries to get rid of the ketones; it pushes them through skin and lungs. The person in the state of ketoacidosis smells like acetone; the typical keto flu symptoms include:
- keto flu headache,
- keto flu diarrhea,
- muscle cramps,
- stomach pain,
- difficulty sleeping;
- food cravings or sugar cravings.
It is usually stated that the symptoms continue for a week, while some may have them for a longer period of time. It seems that someone is to have two or three really shitty weeks, I have to say.
What is worse, in case you have the following health conditions, ketoacidosis can be extremely destructive for your body:
- eating disorders;
- kidney disease;
- kidney stones;
- high cholesterol;
All these issues can become more acute due to ketoacidosis caused by the ketogenic diet.
How To Manage Ketoacidosis
Most advice on managing the keto flu symptoms, or ketoacidosis, are about staying hydrated, avoid exercise, sleep more, tweak the diet, etc.
In reality, ketoacidosis is caused by shifting the pH of the whole body, and this acidic-alkaline balance has to be maintained again by adding carbs and alkaline products to the diet immediately.
Ironically, to burn ketones effectively, the body still needs a small amount of carbs.
The best keto flu remedy is to consume carbs.
In case you started to experiment with the ketogenic diet and you feel that your condition worsens, you’d better stop immediately. No diet for the sake of beauty and health must not make you feel like shit during several weeks, or even days.
Listen to your body in the first place – if it feels bad for your body, maybe it makes sense to stop the diet?
If you still face the complications of the keto flu symptoms, do not wait and try to manage the symptoms. What you have to do is to attack the core reason.
Do the following as keto flu cure:
- add healthy carbs to your diet immediately. Rice, oatmeal, honey are nice choice. Start from small portions to avoid nausea.
- add alkaline products to your diet. These are lemons, apples, any sour fruit. Pickles also do an excellent job returning your body’s pH to normal.
- drink water with lemon and honey; avoid any acidic products like dairy, to stop the ketoacidosis from developing further.
- even if you are not hungry, try to force yourself and eat a bit of carbs and alkaline foods; fasting will only stimulate the breakdown of fats, the the symptoms of ketoacidosis will increase.
I actually had ketoacidosis when I was a child; this is a condition that some children can develop due to poorly balanced diet. I remember how bad I felt, and nothing could help until someone had not recommended my parents to give me pickles.
Only much later my parents found out what it was, and how to manage this condition. Honestly, I would never wish anybody to share that kind of experience, vomiting all the time.
The Bottom Line On Keto Flu
So, the bottom line is keto flu symptoms is not a flu, but a dangerous metabolic disbalance caused by high level of ketones in the body. If you ever experience keto flu – ketoacidosis – do not try to target the symptoms, address the core reason immediately. Ketoacidosis destroys your natural acid-alkaline balance, and can be dangerous in many health conditions, so do not take it lightly.