You’ve likely heard horror stories of what some people feel like when they cut carbs low, or when they talk about going keto. It is so-called keto flu. However, the odds are that those people were not actually in nutritional ketosis, or more importantly, following a well-formulated ketogenic diet plan. Yes, you may experience some fogginess and discomfort, but it doesn’t have to be intense if you handle it right.
Within just a couple days of cutting out carbs and raising fats, ketone concentrations in the blood rise and the brain will begin using them for energy preferentially. This initial keto-adaptation process usually takes about four weeks to complete, at which point you’ll reach peak fat-burning adaptations.
Pretty much all of the side effects you’ll hear about happen in those first four weeks—or even in the first 4-5 days. Experienced ketogenic dieters swear that most of them can be chalked up to a single cause: lack of electrolytes.
Plenty of people jump right in, thinking all they have to do is cut carbs and increase fat. All of a sudden, they hit a wall and get keto flu. They feel tired, lethargic, and experience headaches. The primary reason they get these symptoms is lack of the three primary electrolytes: sodium, potassium, and magnesium. If you are deficient in any of these, you will suffer mentally and physically. This is the single biggest reason people fail on the keto diet.
How to avoid keto flu?
So how do you get enough of these big three? Sure, you can use supplements, but you don’t have to.
For sodium, experienced keto dieters recommend salting your food, eating salty snacks, and using chicken broth. Increasing sodium is hard for people to grasp because they associate sodium intake with water retention and fat loss. But replacing your lost sodium is critical, especially if you’re working out.
As for the other two electrolytes, meet your new best friends: avocados, greens, and nuts.
You should eat 1-2 avocados per day. Green leafy vegetables are also a great source of both potassium and magnesium.
The fattiest nuts and seeds, like almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds, also happen to be the ones that contain the most magnesium. So eat them heartily, but don’t be afraid to supplement here as well.
If you find yourself beginning to get muscle cramps or headaches, toss a bouillon cube into a mug of hot water with a tablespoon or two of salted butter. Not only will this relieve some of the symptoms, but it also provides an easy avenue for upping fat intake.
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