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Living Well

Switching To A Keto Diet? Beware of the ‘Flu!’

Dec 6, 2017

A ketogenic (or simply, keto) diet involves a drastic reduction in carb intake and replacing it with fat. A small pilot study involving 11 women found that a low-calorie ketogenic diet led to significant improvement in weight. It also decreased levels of circulating male hormones, improved the LH/FSH ratio and decreased free insulin in women with PCOS. However, when you go on a keto diet, you may experience some short-term discomfort, known as keto flu.

What is Keto Flu?

Our normal diets are carb-heavy. We consume about 60% carbs in our diets every day, which serve as our primary source of energy. A shift to a diet that has only around 5% carbs is bound to affect our body until it gets used to it. Your body has always used glucose to burn as fuel and now it has to get used to using ketones. This transition period is referred to as “keto adaptation.” Keto flu literally feels as if you have got the flu.

Symptoms Of Keto Flu

  • Brain fog
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Cravings and increased hunger
  • Racing heart, usually when lying down
  • Nausea
  • Digestive discomforts, etc.

When and How Does Keto Flu Start?

Brain fogginess starts around the second or third day of going on a keto diet. Your brain is designed to run on glucose. If you do not give enough glucose but an alternative fuel to your brain, it gets confused for a while trying to adapt to this new fuel. You’ll find it difficult to concentrate and feel lethargic. Headaches, nausea and muscle cramps follow.

Constipation may occur a couple of days later as you have cut down on a lot of fibrous foods, such as beans, legumes, and whole grains, which you were eating earlier. Ketosis is known for its diuretic effect and you may also get dehydrated. You might also feel decreased strength and endurance.

Remedies For Keto Flu

keto flu

Remedies For Keto Flu

Keto flu is inevitable. But for how long it will affect you depends on how best your body adapts to the new, almost radical, diet. There are some tips you can use to drive keto flu away faster.

  1. Instead of slowly reducing carbs, go super low carb in the first week itself. This means you should not be consuming more than 10 grams of carbs a day. By doing this, you will force your body to burn all its stored glucose rapidly. Side effects of keto flu will be a bit pronounced, but the transition will be faster and you won’t have to suffer for long.
  2. Start on the keto diet in the middle of the week. This way, you get the weekend to rest and can tend to your body better.
  3. If you find yourself low on strength and stamina before working out, give your body around 25 grams of complex carbs just prior to a workout.
  4. Don’t forget to eat a lot of fresh green veggies. They are rich in iron, manganese, and potassium. These minerals are vital to keep your energy levels optimum. Adding veggies like spinach and broccoli to your diet will also give your body sufficient fibers to avoid bowel problems.
  5. Drink more than 8 glasses of water a day to avoid getting dehydrated. Drink as much water as you can and then some more. This is essential in the initial stages when you are at a greater risk of becoming dehydrated.

Within a week or so, if you are persistent, the symptoms of keto flu will pass. If you feel a renewed sense of energy, your body would have completely adapted to a keto diet.


A ketogenic diet is an effective diet because it restricts the consumption of carbohydrates. In PCOS, insulin resistance and subsequent hyperinsulinemia are at the heart of the condition. While a low carb diet can surely benefit any woman with PCOS, the ketogenic diet takes “low carbs” to a different level. The diet isn’t just for everyone.

Instead, PCOS patients can get a lot of value from the LCHF or Low Carb, High Fat diet. Many people tend to use the two names interchangeably. But these two diets are different.

Remember, PCOS can be reversed effectively with a proper diet and lifestyle changes that helps in addressing the root causes of this complex condition.

Jitendra Rathod
Jitendra is a microbiologist and a passionate student of the human body. He is a firm believer in the power of alternative and holistic medicine. He believes nature holds the key to restore us back to health and balance.