Ketosis is like a cold shower...you were awake before it, but not as awake as you are after it. It's like that shot of adrenaline when someone scares the shit out of you, but it lasts for hours. It's like that time Aladin sang "A whole new world, dont you dare close your eyes!" because you're woke AF.
Its pretty nice. But I’ll be real with you, this is the crappiest part of the ketogenic diet. It sucks and it’s the reason most fail at low carb. It takes no prisoners. You either make it through adaptation, or you surrender to sugar burning. You can't avoid it. But, there are tricks to dull the symptoms. I’ll share them with you so you don’t waste months in pain, like I did.
I began the ketogenic diet about 5 years ago, when it was still fringe. There was no coaching or online guides. No instruction manual. I had to trust the science and wing it. It was brutal. I considered medical attention. Friends and family were worried…it was horribly awesome.
Since then I've learned a few things. Through coaching and self-experimentation I’ve ironed out a plan of attack.
What is it?
The keto flu or low-carb flu is what happens when we stop eating sugar and carbs. The goal is to force the body into fat burning mode (the holy grail of health). If you’re a lifelong sugar burner, your body doesn't understand that it has a second fuel source…fat.
When restricting carbohydrate, the body throws a shit fit. It does everything in its power to obtain its fuel source, carbohydrate. It literally thinks it’s going to die.
Symptoms: Intense cravings for carbohydrate and sugar (like crackhead status), fatigue, lightheadedness, headache, dizziness, body aches, dry mouth, demotivation, agitation, poor sleep, nausea and even anxiety. I experienced them all. So worth it.
Duration depends on how fast your body can become fat adapted. Fat adaptation is the ability to burn fat for fuel rather than carbohydrate/sugar. This is the whole point of keto and low carb.
Complete fat adaptation is about 3 -4 weeks, but the flu part is only about 3-7 days. Some clients cruise right through it, others swear they're dying. Everyone is different. Women tend to have a harder time.
You use different energy systems to burn fat. It takes time to build those systems up. This is a process called mitochondrial biogenesis, a fancy way of saying you will grow more mitochondria. Mitochondria are the organelles within your cells that make energy from fat. They are your miniature power generators and during fat adaptation they increase in density throughout your body. In addition, each and every mitochondria will become stronger. Consider this Beast Mode activation.
Think of your body as a power plant. On sugar, you were a coal burning plant. Inefficient and bad for the environment…non-renewable. On fat, you’re a solar plant. Efficient, clean and renewable. It takes time to remove outdated coal furnaces and install state of the art solar panels.
That’s what’s going on inside your cells. A total system upgrade. You’re literally growing new machinery to burn fat.
Don’t Give Up
You're going to feel like shit, and your cravings are going to be gnarly. It's important you don’t give up. Splurging on donuts, bread, pasta or cookies will interrupt adaptation. Only after you deplete your glycogen (stored carbohydrate) does the body begin burning fat. We deplete glycogen by not eating more of it...it eventaly runs out.
Caving into cravings and eating more carbohydrate/sugar before glycogen is sufficiently depleted will replenish glycogen stores, delaying fat burning. Make sense? We must force the body into fat burning mode via carb restriction.
Think of it this way. Imagine you're a hybrid car. Your goal is driving on electricity and only way is to completely run out of gasoline. If you keep adding gasoline to the tank when you're low on fuel you will never succeed in running on electricity.
These are new concepts to most people. We've been told we need carbohydrate. Not true. If this is confusing, and you'd like to learn more, schedule a free 10 minute coaching call. Hit us up in the comments below.
Keto Flu Problems
1. Not eating enough fat
2. Not eating enough total calories
3. Not consuming enough salts/electrolytes
4. Exercising too hard
5. Not getting enough sleep
7. Toxins released from fat
8. Total carb restriction
How to fix it