It’s been a challenging first week, but we are can finally say with pride that we’ve conquered the dreaded keto flu! We’ve already discovered so many new things about ourselves, our bodies and the science of keto in the short time we’ve been doing this.
It’s so exciting for us to be able to share all our expertise with you, our fellow keto warriors and readers. This week, we’re going to dive into the challenges we faced during our first 7 days living the keto lifestyle, and let you in on some tricks we learned that can help you live your best ketogenic life too.
What is Keto Flu, Exactly?
When you first switch to a ketogenic eating plan, your body is suddenly deprived of its usual steady stream of readily available glucose. While it learns to adapt to the new fuel source you’re giving it (fat), certain symptoms can pop up like fatigue, lethargy, nausea, headaches, and constipation. The reason why you may begin to feel sick like this is two-fold:
1. Electrolytes:When the body lets go of water as it does on keto, it inevitably flushes out minerals along with it. These minerals, namely potassium, magnesium, and sodium, are essential for proper bodily function, and without them, you could be facing a barrage of negative effects, including muscle cramps, digestive problems, headaches and more.
2. Blood sugar: Because the body has not yet had the chance to become fat-adapted, you may not be producing ketones effectively enough for the first 3 – 5 days. With no glucose to use for energy and an unreliable stream of ketones fueling the cells can lead to feeling run down, dizzy and generally tired.
Week 2: Cracking the Keto-Flu Code
Starting weight: 222lbs
Current Weight: 216.5lbs
Total weight lost: 5.5lbs
Guys, I’m still here. After a week of awesome ups and dismal downs, I’m ecstatic to report that I feel freaking amazing. I actually can’t believe how drastically I changed from couch-bound to large and in charge in a matter of days.
The week had its fair share of challenges, as is to be expected when one tries to travel during the first week of ketosis. I almost feel like I want to give myself a high 5 for keeping such a positive psychological mindset the whole time.
Coping with the keto flu was an interesting exercise in resilience for me. Although Chelsea says she didn’t have much of a headache at all, I had a mini-migraine for days that finally gave way on Saturday. The headache is completely gone now, replaced with a calm clarity that’s hard to describe.
Also because I have a sweet-tooth to rival the candyman, my cravings for sugar were really out of hand in the first few days. It sucked to experience but even worse was realizing just how addicted I had let myself become to sugary junk food.
I wanted to find out a bit more about how carbohydrates affect the body, and after stumbling across a book called The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss, I decided to test out his theory that shocking the body with a carbo-load while in ketosis will actually rev up the metabolism.
To my astonishment, after Between 8 AM and 5 PM, I had 3 high-carb meals, including a generous portion of cake my 9-year-old prepared. While I expected that my weight would have increased the next day, I actually lost another 100 grams! Between this and taking the stairs every day to my 4th-floor apartment, I’d I’m off to a pretty good start.
Starting weight: 238lbs
Current Weight: 230lbs
Total weight lost: 8lbs
Yes, you read that correctly. This actually happened. I lost 8lbs in a week, and even though most of it was water, I’m super excited about it. Firstly, how scary is it that nearly 8lbs of water was just sloshing around in my tissues!
No wonder I always feel, or rather, used to feel, bloated and uncomfortable all the time. Secondly, I would never have even believed the scale had I not looked at my progress photos and seen it for myself. It looks like I have given birth to an 8-pound water baby.
Unfortunately, losing water weight comes with one rather unpleasant downside – losing electrolytes. Because I played a ton of sports in my skinnier youth, I’m all too familiar with the post-game slump that happens without proper hydration and mineral balance.
The science of ketosis explains that essentially the same principle occurs during the keto flu. My brain was foggy, I was fatigued, and I had waves of queasiness every hour or so. On top of that, I was craving a black forest gateau like no-one has ever craved a black forest gateau in history.
My solution was to get creative. After sorting through a few kind of bland looking recipes online, I decided to just put my knowledge of cooking to the task and invent my own keto recipe for fudgy chocolate brownies using flax meal and tahini.
It occupied my mind and my time, distracting me from the aches and pains, while also giving me a cool opportunity to let my creative colors fly. The final product was honestly pretty delicious if I do say so myself!
I’ve channeled my passion for cooking into dreaming up even more yummy keto food ideas which I’m testing, recording and perfecting to share with you all soon. Wait till you try my keto hummus!
Ferriss, T. 2010. The 4-Hour Body. Crown Publishing Group.
Cliff J. d C. Harvey, Grant M. Schofield, Williden, M. The use of nutritional supplements to induce ketosis and reduce symptoms associated with keto-induction: a narrative review. Published online 2018 Mar 16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5858534/