Switching to a low carb diet literally changes people’s lives. When they skip a meal, they don’t get cranky and/or depressed…
…they have more energy than they’ve ever felt before… and they can make it through the day with steady energy, without having to take their usual nap.
But… there’s a period when you first start eating a low carb or ketogenic diet where some people experience what’s called “the low carb flu”.
- Brain Fog
- Difficulty Thinking
- Pounding Headaches
- Poor Exercise Performance
- Ravenous Hunger
- Carb Cravings
- Muscle Cramps
So what’s going on here? Why do you feel worse when eating a healthier diet?
Transitioning from burning sugar to fat takes time; anywhere from 3-5 days for most people and up for 4 weeks for others, even longer in some cases.
Some people don’t adapt at all. And some people don’t experience the low carb flu at all.
The first week will be the toughest for most people.
Don’t worry. Symptoms generally only last during the first week. You’ll crave carbs like crazy. And you may not be able to stop thinking about food.
Some of these symptoms are simply sugar withdrawal. Sugar addiction is real and more common that we all want to admit.
After a few weeks, you’ll be able to convert protein and fat into glucose and glycogen to be used in the brain, red blood cells, and muscles.
When your body adapts to burning fat, it decreases fat storage pathways and increases fat oxidation pathways. This can’t magically happen overnight without some discomfort.
What you can do about the low carb flu
Eat more fat. If you’re not eating enough fat, your body is going to go into starvation mode. Without enough fat or sugar, what else would you expect it to do?
Eat enough fat with each meal to feel satiated. If you get a strong craving between a meal, and you’re not already too full, eat 1 or 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or butter.
This will make you feel satiated and often stops cravings dead in their tracks.
Don’t eat too much protein. Excess protein, beyond what your body needs for growth and repair, is converted into glucose.
If you’re eating too much protein you could be making your transition to burning fat longer or even preventing it, because you still have too much glucose in your bloodstream to get into ketosis.
Get enough salt. Many problems can be eliminated or minimized when transitioning to burning fat by making sure you have an adequate amount of salt in your system.
Every day upon rising, drink 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sea salt in a large glass of water. This could eliminate your side effects within 30 minutes.
Not everyone needs to do this. Figure out what works best for your own body.
Is your carb intake too high? If you’re carb intake is too high, you’re preventing yourself from going into full fat burning mode.
Most people should be eating 30-50 grams of carbs per day. Elite athletes should eat even more than this. People with severe diseases should eat whatever is recommended by their doctors.
Sometimes people think they are eating less carbs than they actually are. Double check to see if you’re actually eating the amount of carbs you think you are.
Get enough water. Maybe you’re symptoms are simply from not getting enough water. Drink at least 3/4 gallon of water per day.
I know this sounds like a lot, but it’s really not. Most people walk around dehydrated all the time.
I’ve even heard some people tell me they don’t like the taste of water, so they drink juice and soda instead!
This is not healthy behavior. Water is essential to your health. Even 2% dehydration can cause symptoms such as headaches and fatigue. Stay hydrated.
Avoid sweet foods. Eating sweet foods makes you crave sweet foods, even if these foods don’t contain sugar.
Make the transition easy on yourself by keeping sweeteners and sugar-free treats out of your diet until you’re well adapted to burning fat.
That way, you won’t be likely to fall of the wagon and eat sugar because of your cravings.
Take minerals. Minerals assimilate into your body very easily, replenishing depleted mineral stores in the body fast.
Magnesium is a key mineral that is often depleted in people; getting adequate amounts can reduce your symptoms.
Earth Shift Products offers an affordable Ionic Magnesium Concentrate w/ Trace Minerals.
Get enough sleep. If you’re not sleeping enough don’t complain about your diet. Treat sleep as a practice; you want to get better at it every day.
Get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, and if you’re really sleep deprived you might do better with 9.
If this sounds less productive, think about this… when you walk through the day tired, your focus is off, you feel more stressed, your joints hurt, etc. What a waste of time!
As opposed to when you’re well rested… you’re in a good mood, you feel present, you’re able to handle stress well, etc.
Which do you this leads to a more productive day? Obviously feeling better. Get enough sleep.
Don’t let your symptoms go on too long. If you’ve been eating a low carb or ketogenic diet for 2 weeks and you’re still having severe symptoms, you need to go see a doctor and see what’s up.
You might be transitioning too fast for your body. Or a low carb diet might not be for you. Either way, you need to figure out what’s going on in your body and fix it.
What’s your experience been with the low carb diet? Let me know in the comments below.