In the low-carb ketogenic diet, the goal is to achieve what is called “nutritional ketosis.” This is when your body burns ketones derived from fat for energy, rather than using stored glucose that comes from consuming sugar and carbohydrates. The quickest way to get into ketosis is by fasting and exercising, but this is not necessarily the safest way.
Why Achieving Ketosis Can Result in Keto Flu
If you’ve been exploring a shift to a keto diet, you may have heard of something called the “keto flu.” It’s not an actual illness, but you may certainly feel like you are sick. This happens mostly when you begin the keto plan and take steps to achieve ketosis.
Ketosis naturally occurs when a body is starving or when you are fasting, but it can be brought on by dropping carbs from your diet. The body switches from using glucose (mostly from carbs) for energy to burning fat for energy. This state of ketosis is the goal of a keto diet—to burn fat or ketones for fuel.
When dropping carbs from your daily consumption, you can lose water weight very quickly, so you need to drink plenty of water. Unfortunately, you also lose vital electrolytes that you may not be replenishing through your new diet plan. This can cause a shock to the body that can bring on symptoms such as:
- Dizziness, brain fog
- Stomach upset (nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation)
- Muscle cramps, soreness or weakness
- Difficulty sleeping
In short, you might feel like you have the flu—hence the term “keto flu”—and your symptoms can last anywhere from days to weeks. Replacing water will help, but it’s even more important to replace electrolytes. One reason is because with decreased levels of insulin due to a lack of carbs, your kidneys will release more sodium and potassium (key electrolytes). Plus, you are likely not getting your usual amounts of potassium, magnesium and other important minerals through food unless you mapped out a solid plan with keto-friendly substitutes or supplements beforehand.
A Safer Way of Achieving Ketosis on the Keto Diet
One common mistake newcomers to a ketogenic diet make is that they don’t realize they need to replace electrolytes, especially sodium. Because your body taps into glycogen stores (which are stored with excess water) when you stop eating carbohydrates, your kidneys will flush out more electrolytes.
Drinking water alone is not enough to replenish this loss, especially if you are fasting to reach ketosis quickly rather than gradually over a few days. Some people avoid electrolyte drinks at first because they don’t realize some brands are actually keto friendly and an easy way to get electrolytes without breaking your fast.
If you want to successfully implement a keto lifestyle, you will need to replenish your electrolytes regularly, which requires deliberate food and drink choices that provide those vital minerals. Keto-friendly Ultima Replenisher sugar-free electrolyte powders and stickpacks can help. Plus, they are convenient and tasty too! Flavored with fruit extracts and organic stevia leaf as natural sweeteners, our electrolyte drinks come in many delicious flavors and leave no bitter aftertaste.
Plus, if you are missing beer, wine, or sweet mixed drinks as you try to reach and stay in ketosis, try our Peach Bellini or Piña Colada hydration powders or our Mocktini Variety Pack of individual stickpacks that you can take with you to any social event.
You can also check out our keto-friendly recipes for different types of Ketoade that are low-carb and sugar free.For more tips on keto fasting and hydration, read How to Keep Your Body Nourished During Intermittent Fasting or other articles on our blog.