keto diet and keto flu
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Having headaches? Learn about the keto flu

Keto Diet 101 - The keto flu

Following a keto lifestyle has amazing benefits but it can take some time for your body to get used to it so it is best to ease into. If you ever went directly from eating high-carb to high-fat you have probably experienced some side-effects which most people refer to as keto flu.

keto diet and keto flu

What is keto?

A Keto diet is a diet low in carbohydrates. The body in a state of absense of carbs will switch to using fat as the main source of energy. At this point the body will break down the fats and produce ketones which are then utilised as fuel. You are now in ketosis! Welcome to the magic word of keto!

Be aware of a common mis-conception that we need to eat endless amounts of fat in a ketogenic lifestyle. This is not the case. Getting into ketosis is about more the absense of carbs rather than anything else.

Contrary to popular belief ketones are the preferred source of fuel for our cells. You proabably heard of mitochondria. These are the energy factories of our cells and almost every cell in our body depends on them for producing energy. The energy currency produced in the mitochondra is called ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) and one fat molecule can produce up to 136 ATP. On the other hand with one glucose molecule only 29 ATP can be produced! This is one of the many reasons that being in a ketogenic lifestyle makes you feel so energetic!

What happens when you start a keto diet?

So you have heard or read about the great benefits of keto and you decided to give it a try. You probably started eating some more fatty meat, some more nuts and seeds etc. When should you expect to see how you react to this changes? The honest truth is, it depends. And it could take some time depending on previous life habits.

  1. Becoming keto adapted. You see, if have been dependent on carbs for most of your life your body does not the right machinery to start burning fat for fuel. Or to say it differently, it has the machinery but it has never learnt how to use them! Breaking down fat for fuel follows completely different metabolic pathways and processes. And even if these processes are sometimes used, they are not efficiently used to produce the energy required.  When you are efficient on this creating and using ketones for energy you have then become fat adapted!
  2. Cycling through low-carb and high-carb. Becoming and stying fat-adapted are two different things though. If you did keto for a few months but then went back to a higher-carb diet and expect that you can now start keto whenever you want and be efficient with it you would be wrong. After some days of high-carb meals the body will have stored in the liver and muscle tissues all these carbs in the form of glucose. In order to start producing ketons you need to deplete your glucose reserves before you will produce any significant levels of ketones. And in this transition depending on how long you have been doing keto in the past you might not be at your best.
Avoid keto flue

Symptoms of keto flu during adaptation phase

If it is your first time trying keto, becoming fat adapted might take some days or even up-to some weeks. The body demands constant energy and in the perceived absense of it (even if you eating plenty of food) it will probably send you some signal that something is not going right.

Let’s see what are the most common symptoms in such a phase.

1. Loss of minerals

Frequent urination is a clear sign of adaptation and one the you may have not really though about. Carbs retain water and for every 1grams of carbs you can hold up to 3grams of water! When reducing your carbs you will start dumping a lot of the excess water out. This is why the first 3-4 kilos of weight loss is usually just water and not body fat. The down-side of this together with the water you will excrete also some of the key minerals like magnesium, potassium and calcium. This loss of minerals can result in many different symptoms such as

  • Muscle cramps
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizzyness
  • Light headed
2. Lack of energy

When eating a high-carb diet you are more prone to snacking. Have you noticed grabbing a little something to eat after 2-3hours of your lunch? This is because carbs are an energy source that is immediatelly available and raises your blood sugars in minutes after eating them. On the other hand fat follow a more complex pathway to be broken down and are more slowly released in the bloodstream through the day. One organ that has super high demands in energy is your brain. It requires about 20% of the total energy you produce even when you rest. So until you get adapted to using fats you might have some of the below symptoms

  • Brain fog
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
Drink Lemon and salt with your water to avoid keto flu

Avoid keto flu by starting in the right way

Here is what you need to do, to get off to the right start and avoid any keto-flu symptoms.

1. Salt & Lemon

Since you lose a lot of minerals during urination, you need to replenish them. 

Drinking more water does not cut it, as unfortunately most water is low quality these day and you won’t get your electorlytes from there. On the other hand a good source of un-processed sea salt contains all essential trace minerals you will ever need, while adding salt to your water will also help you retain water. Add some fresh lemon juice to your water to get some extra potassium. Sodium & potassium also work together at a cellular level to ensure you stay hydrated and immediately feel better!

2. Sparkling water

Sparkling water contains naturally more of the key electrolytes you need. Check out the label as there is a big variance depending on the brand. I prefer SanPellegrino or Gerolsteiner.

3. Coffee and Bulletproof coffee

Coffee is great!! It has natural propoerties that make it a brain power enhancer Caffeine travels to the brain and blocks a neurotransmitter called Adenosine. As a result,  norepinephrine and dopamine increase, which keep us energized! Drink an espresso wheneven you feel tired or lack energy! 

If you want to go the extra mile you can try blending your coffee with some MCT oi and butter for a few seconds. Sounds strange right?! It is all science though. By blending the coffee you essentially restructure the fats so that they form tiny little bubbles that will stay in solution much longer. This is called an emulsion and will make the fats from the MCT oil and butter immediately available for energy. Additionally the MCT oil has the unique benefit of not going through liver to be metabolised and can cross the blood-brain barrier making you feel an energy rush minutes after drinking it!

4. Vegetables

Eat plenty of vegetables. Potassium is the only mineral we need in super doses and around 4grams of it. Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (and avocado) contain plenty of potassium which will ensure you get the minerals you need. Aim for a bowl a day. Try out this green salad with squash to get everything you need.

How to know you are keto adapted

The easiest and most effecient way to track you fat level adaptation is to track your ketone levels. This will give you an indication also what are your blood sugar levels and if there are any underlying issues. We recommend measuring your ketones 3-4 times a week and the best device to do this is Keto-Mojo. 

Keto-Mojo is delivering the world’s first Ketone and Glucose Meter and a biomarker for tracking metabolic health as well as the level of ketosis.

And what is great is you can get your own Keto-Mojo with a special 15% discount when you buy it from ketOntrack. 

Stay safe and in ketosis!!!

Panagiotis
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