The ketogenic or low carb diet has become increasingly popular as an effective way for weight loss. But as with any other diet or change in lifestyle it comes with its set of challenges.
If you are about to start a keto or low carb diet or have read about it one side effect you might have heard about is the “keto flu” or “carb flu”.
It is a set of symptoms people experience when starting the diet because the body is adjusting to the intake of very low carbs and using fats as a fuel source instead of glucose from carbohydrates. Sort of like a “withdrawal”
It is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Muscle cramps
These symptoms typically last for about a 2-5 days but may vary from person to person. There are simple ways by which these symptoms can be prevented and managed.
- Replenish your electrolytes: The keto diet restricts carbs and foods like starchy vegetables and fruits which might lead to reduction in potassium in the body. When you start the keto diet, water loss happens leading to reduction in sodium in the body. Adding proper amount of salt especially pink salt and eating green leafy vegetables helps in replenishing the lost sodium and potassium relieving symptoms like nausea, dizziness etc. Pink salt with lemon water One can also take supplements for minor minerals. Bone broth is also a great source of electrolytes.
- Stay hydrated: The diet causes loss of water from the body causing dehydration which amounts to the fatigue like symptoms. Drinking enough water through the day is important.
- Eat High Fiber foods: Adding non starchy fiber rich vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and spinach helps. Further addition of seeds like chia seeds, Flaxseeds which are high in fiber also helps. One can also add Psyllium Husk (Isabgol) in the diet.
- Relax and Rest: Overdoing exercise and physical activity during the first week would add to the symptoms and leave you with muscle cramps and weakness. Your body is adjusting and it needs time. So, rest and relax.
- Adequate sleep: The fatigue could lead to irritable sleep which cause stress on the body which in turn again results into even more fatigue. A good sleep is key to remaining fresh and focused on adapting to a change in lifestyle.
- Eating enough protein: Intake of insufficient protein and vitamins could lead to hair loss. Eating protein from high quality sources such as eggs and vitamins from nuts like almonds and walnuts and seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower will lead to better hair health.
Most of these symptoms can be better managed on a well formulated keto or low carb diet which is important for getting desired results.
Apart from these initial challenges, the restriction on our staples like flour, legumes, rice and other grains based snacks is also a major hindrance. We can use replacements for these in the form of Almond flour, Cauliflower rice or our Ultra Low Carb flours and Keto snacks.
Sugar craving is too felt by many in the initial days. Solution is to use certain natural sweeteners such as Stevia, Erythritol, Monk Fruit or Xylitol in place of sugar.