You might be asking yourself: what is keto flu and what can I do to avoid it?

If you are starting keto for the first time, you might experience fatigue, irritability, and a couple of other symptoms. Sound familiar?

These are the 3 simple tricks to help you avoid keto flu.

What is keto flu infographic
What is the keto flu (and what to do about it)

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If you are new here, you might want to read “everything you need to know about the keto diet“. I explain everything you need to know about starting a keto diet including what to enjoy, what to avoid, and how to get started. There’s even a free FAQ and diet sheet too!

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I shared a few facts about possibly getting the keto flu when you first start out and many have asked me, “What is keto flu?”.

Guide To The Keto Flu And How To Avoid It

So, you are interested in starting the keto diet or a low-carb diet, but you want to know everything about it first, and how to start it the right way. Part of that is preparing for the keto flu and even avoiding it if you can.

Thankfully, there is a way to avoid most keto mistakes.

You have probably heard about the amazing benefits of the keto diet. It is incredible for fast and sustained weight loss, not to mention all the incredible health benefits that you can expect to experience.

Unfortunately, you may have also heard about the keto flu.

What Is Keto Flu?

First, let’s learn more about what the keto flu is.

The keto flu is not the true flu, but rather a collection of symptoms that are similar to the flu.

Many people suffer from the keto flu and it often happens when you quickly jump into a keto diet. You usually will start to feel symptoms 3-7 days into fully starting the keto diet. 

The keto flu is your body basically feeling the symptoms of “withdrawal” from carbs. Your body goes through changes when it switches from burning glucose to burning fat.

A simple fule dial for a sugar burner or a fat burner for those on the ketogenic diet

There are ways, however, that you may avoid this from happening to you. But first, you need to be able to identify the symptoms. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Keto Flu?

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These withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Irritability

All of these symptoms are a completely natural reaction to the changes your body is experiencing. Do not despair though, these symptoms do not last forever and you will soon be seeing the benefits of your new eating style.

3 Simple Tips To Avoid The Keto Flu

Low-carb and keto emergency food eggs

Before you find yourself dealing with any of these flu-like symptoms, there are a number of things that you can do to help prevent the keto flu as much as possible. It all has to do with helping your body learn to adjust to burning fat for fuel instead of carbs.

Here’s how to avoid the keto flu.

1. Start Keto Slowly

Don’t just make a harsh change in your diet and leave it at that. Start slowly. For the first couple of days, start out by reducing the amount of sugar and carbs until you hit the number you want. Get your body used to lower carbs before you restrict them to the extent that you do during the keto diet.

2. Stay Hydrated

The most common reason that you develop keto flu is due to dehydration and loss of minerals. Be sure to drink lots of water and add plenty of:

  • Electrolytes
  • Salt
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium

Ensuring you are hydrated and have enough salts, minerals, and micronutrients is imperative to stopping cramps and nausea. When you give up junk food, this may be the number one source of salt in many people’s diets.

3. Eat More Food

Many people tend to think diet = less food but that’s not necessarily true.

When you are not eating enough food, you might not be getting enough calories to fuel your body and in turn, can also lead to keto flu symptoms.

Be sure you aren’t reducing your calorie intake too much. Try not to go extremely low-carb and low-fat. You will not achieve weight loss any faster, but instead, run the risk of weight loss stopping and feeling hungry, irritable, and lethargic. Which often leads to a cheat meal or dirty keto.

When you live the keto lifestyle, remember to increase your intake of healthy fats to replace and replenish some of those calories in a healthy way. So if you’re feeling lousy, fuel up on some quick keto snacks to see you over the hump of your sugar withdrawal.

How To Treat The Keto Flu

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If you find yourself already dealing with these flu-like symptoms, here are a few things that you can do to ease your discomfort. I highly recommend trying all of them because every bit will help you feel better.

Remember, your body will adjust- this is temporary.

Increase Your Electrolytes

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Ensure you are getting enough salt and electrolytes. I enjoy using both Himalayan pink salt (which contains an amazing 84 minerals) AND regular iodized table salt – iodine is crucial for a healthy metabolism and it is lacking in so many diets.

Sodium and potassium are crucial too! Why not drink a nice cup of bone broth or enjoy a few extra slices of bacon. This is an easy and yummy way to beat keto flu.

Many people find taking a magnesium supplement can stop any cramping or discomfort they are experiencing.

Drink Lots of Water

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As I mentioned before, dehydration is a big part of keto flu. Fight it by drinking tons of water and staying hydrated. Many people add a pinch of mineral salt to their water to help with the cramps and nausea. 

You can also drink some coconut water to stay hydrated and add a boost of electrolytes, potassium, and sodium. 

Eat Clean Carbs

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Many people think that keto equals ZERO carbs but that’s not entirely true. You can have up to 20 grams of net carbs a day. But also be aware of where your carbs are coming from.

If you are doing lazy keto, you may be making the symptoms worse for yourself if your snacks and meals are filled with artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols such as maltitol (which is not keto).

My one suggestion: make it count.

Go ahead and add some clean, healthy, nutrient-dense carbs to your diet to help combat keto flu!

For example, add in some extra: 

  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Low-sugar berries.

Okay, so you may go over your carb limit temporarily, but it may just help ease keto flu to allow you to continue in the long term.

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If you feel like you can do it, you might want to try some light exercise. Some people have found that exercise helps their body become metabolically flexible and eases the keto flu-like symptoms.

Perhaps, you might want to try going for a light walk or doing some sort of workout class that is not as rigorous, such as yoga. 

What We Can Learn From Keto Flu

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So, yes. The keto flu is a real thing. And, if you find yourself dealing with it, you can expect to experience these symptoms only for a few days, or up to a week.

But what can we learn from it? 

If giving up carbs is tough, just imagine what a stronghold carbs are having on your body – and this “carb withdrawal” may be a necessary evil to go through to serve as a reminder to never go back to your old ways of eating.

It’s yet another reason to stop eating and drinking the addictive junk carbs and sugar.

So, now you know what is it and how to avoid it, do you feel more prepared to deal with it?

How Do You Deal With Keto Flu? – Leave a comment below

What did you do to fight it? How long did you experience it – or did you breeze through the induction/starting phase without a hitch?

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  1. Hey Libby, I just want to thank you for your amazing recipes… The best one of all would be the one minute keto mug bread, which I used as like the toasted base for like a ketofied eggs Benedict and honestly… I felt like I was eating at a restaurant!! And I also tweaked your recent cupcake recipe to include cocoa powder and I was amazed at how I actually felt satisfied after just one or two at the end of a meal and I happen to have a bottomless pit for a stomach, so that is nothing short of a miracle?
    I do have a question regarding keto though, is it possible that I’m running on glucose as opposed to fat because I tend to consume a lot of vegetables and I love berries (helps me deal with the fact that we can’t eat fruit). I am a vegetarian who has managed to cut carbs and vegetables, berries and nuts and dairy are my biggest source of carbs. I can’t really justify spending money on tests and stuff so I just want to know, because it is confusing, have people been kicked out of ketosis because they consume a lot of vegetables and some berries?

    1. Man, I love this Sruti. I love a good miracle from my recipes 😉 Another reader on Instagram recently noted I may be in her head as I keep posting recipes she had been dreaming of, maybe LCHF is giving us super powers?
      As for your keto question, yes it may be that you are low-carb but not actually keto if you are enjoying a variety of vegetables and low-sugar fruits. There is no definition for keto, but most regard it as being less tan 20g carbs per day. Saying that, if you are feeling fabulous, you have reached (or are reaching) you ideal weight and any other health goals, then maybe your daily carb intake is perfect for you. I really don’t get hung up on numbers, I’ve had far too many years counting points, calories and such. No more. As a vegetarian it may be difficult sometimes to live low-carb and keto. Here are a few articles that may help you.
      * Top 10 Sources of low-carb protein for vegetarians
      * Ultimate guide to carbs in vegetables
      * 28 incredible low-carb vegetarian meals

  2. Thank you so much! Just to give an update- I recently tried reducing carbs even further(though I was still low carb to begin with,just last month I would eat a lot of fruit and things), just by slightly limiting berries and the starchier vegetables like pumpkin, bell peppers, onion, etc. and just that minor reduction seems to have stopped my addiction to snacking! It’s just mind blowing how even a slight reduction in carbs can really change the way you tend to eat?

  3. This is really good stuff Libby, electrolytes can really fix many issues related to how you feel on a keto diet. I liberally salt all my foods, I drink warm broth from bouillon cubes. Have you ever used any of the quick packaged products on Amazon etc or something like this when in a bind?

    1. Thank-you Michael. I also use salt liberally on my foods. I haven’t tried the ready made electrolyte packages, I tend to avoid anything processed and go for salt or broth.

    2. schwarzeee says:

      Yes …hot chicken broth. Reminds me of chicken noodle soup when I’m feeling gripe-y. Even hot water with a good dose of Himalayan salt, a good pinch of onion powder and a good pinch of thyme …tasty.

  4. Carlo Samson says:

    Awesome article!!!
    The way the material is being presented is really helpful to your subscribers! This is really helpful to all beginners so they can make the most out of the dieting experience and avoid all the setbacks as possible. I had to admit I was not even aware that there is such a thing as a keto flu. And I’m glad that you were able to educate me about this!
    My cousin was the one who introduced me to ketogenic diet. At first, I was a bit skeptical about it and thought of it more as fad.

  5. Judy Renoe says:

    Oh my gosh, just read the above comments THANK YOU ! I’ve been on the keto diet for one week. I now feel terrible 🙁 the comments made me realize I need salt ! And more water. Looking forward to feeling better tomorrow.

    1. I’m so glad this article has helped you. It has been ingrained in us for so long to avoid salt yet it is vital for our body. And when we give up processed food, that generally is the largest source of salt for many of us. Good luck and I hope you feel better soon.

    2. Hi!
      I have been on Keto just one week today. I suffered thru constipation for 2 days, very unusual for me. Then this morning I am cold, nauseous and have diarrhea. I’m assuming this is Keto flu. Hoping it goes away quickly. I want to stay on this plan if I can. I know I am eating so much better than before but I may have removed bad carbs too quickly. I don’t seem to get hungry so I’m not eating much.

  6. Cheryl S. says:

    I just spent 4 miserable days in bed. Couldn’t even hold down water much as I wanted to. I’m on the 5th day and can tell that I’m pulling out of the keto flu (had no temperature so a self-diagnosis told me it wasn’t a typical flu). I have to go buy some calorie free electrolytic liquid, but the least little exertion makes me pant. I have yet to desire food, but am working on drinking organic apple cider (2 tbls.), the juice of 1/2 lemon, a dash of cinnamon, and a dash of salt (as suggested on another website for breaking the fast). I journaled this experience just to remind me that I never want to go through it again! I chose to go Keto after hearing about the anti-Alzheimer’s potential. It it’s real, it’s worth it.

  7. Mayumi Liwayway Espina says:

    What an interesting read! This is really vital, especially for beginners. Keto diet takes a lot preparation and thorough understanding. Thank you so much for this.

  8. Weir, thank goodness I’m going to live! Now I know what is wrong with me! Keto flu! I got up this morning and felt just terrible. Headache, weakness, no appetite, just figured that since the flu was going around, I’d gotten it! Then I remembered reading somewhere about the
    Ketoflu. I did a little research, found this site and now know it’s the flu, with carb withdrawal. I reviewed my diary of eachdays intake and there were a few days I had zero carbs and other days they were really low.. I’ll have to be more careful from now on.

    1. I’m so glad this article has helped you. Keep your fluids and electrolytes up, ad the keto flu will pass you by and you will feel incredible once you are through the other side.

  9. The Jeto flu is no joke i tjought u was done for. Thank God I know it was not the real flu but man did I suffer. I didn’t think I was restricting my carbs that much but I guess it doesn’t matter to what degree you try to improve you health there is always a barrel with the devil trying to regain his power but he will never have me again I’m going to fix this and follow the remidey and get back on track. A Keto winner

  10. Michelle Fontaine-Calkins says:

    I’ve been on keto for 9 days I’ve been sick for 5 of them and bed ridden on and off all day today on my 9th this is seriously the keto flu. I broke and ate a slice of pizza and two pieces of chocolate and the symptoms did not go away. I ate my other two meals carb free. Feel so so so bad I want to quit. I’m drinking water 96 oz today 32 oz with Himalayan salt. I can’t take another day. I stayed home on a Saturday and canceled all plans because I couldn’t do people , I’m so dizzy, achy, and nauseas. Can’t imagine this is healthy my liver is hard and seems to be in overdrive.. i feel hot and sweaty I have muscle cramps in my feet. I can’t get anything done, canceled pure barre classes the entire week because after working all day I could do it. Been in bed by 8pm wake up with no energy how many more days? I can’t take it. Going to start WE if I wake up on day 10 like this!!!

    1. Oh, Michelle, I feel for you. Just imagine what sugar is doing to us! No doubt by the time you have read my reply these temporary symptoms may have dissipated. The “keto flu” only affects a small % of people, but boy o boy is it a wake-up call to the effect sugar has on our bodies. I for one, wouldn’t go back to sugar and processed carbs ever. I hope you are feeling well by now and you have come out the other side feeling incredible and full of energy. xxx

  11. nayibeth soriano valentin says:

    Just like Peter Weir, thank goodness ,I did a little research, found this site and now know it’s the flu, with carb withdrawal. This is my second time around. The first time I quite and when back to my normal eating habits I thought I had a real flu. So after I got better I started again and to my surprise 5 day into the diet I get sick again. I said to myself this is no a coincidence!!! This most be what they call Keto Flu. I could not believe it. That my body in so a short time when so crazy for carbs.
    Just wanted to say thanks much for this article. And for those in a Keto, low carbs no sugar diets hang in there it is worth !!

  12. Michelle G says:

    Any tips for combatting profound dizziness? Im on Day 9 of low carb and have been drinking 5 litres of water a day with electrolyte supplements and salt added, salting meals etc. I dont feel able to consume any more fluids. Im eating a good mix of fats of low carb vegetables. Dizziness started on Day 2 and has persisted. I have my carbs at about 20%. Should I look at increasing my carbs?

    1. Eat more, you may have anemia. Check with your physician. Increase nuts (Almonds, Macadamias, Pecans), and things with a natural source of iron. Take a daily supplement if need be. Too much salt can be bad, if that’s not the issue.

  13. I have a question that I can’t seem to find the answer for anywhere online…..I went through the keto flu yesterday, felt extremely nauseated and could hardly walk. But after eating and drinking I started to feel better and I haven’t felt bad like that since then. The question is, is that it for me? Is the keto flu passed? Or will this happen every time my body switches in and out of ketosis (like if I accidentally eat too many carbs)? Thanks for the answer!

    1. For most people keto flu only happens occasionally, after a really bad cheat meal/week then they go straight back into nutritional ketosis, and so it is a good reminder/motivator not to go off track too often and too hard.

    2. Your metabolism gets more flexible as you go and can switch in and out without noticing after a while. However if you have ate lots of sugar you may have experienced hypoglycemia instead of keto flu keto flu is more like you feel sick constantly where as hypoglycemia is when your blood sugar is used to spiking and dropping and when you change your diet you have less sugar and when your blood sugar drops you feel sick between meals. Hope this helps 🙂

  14. I have just been ignoring My Fitness Pal telling me I’m having too much salt. I can tell that’s what my body needs!! I highly recommend having something fermented and/or pickled! My current addiction are these fermented dill pickles by Oregon Brineworks. They are so good and perfect for that extra salt! I also have their pickled beets which I love with some cottage cheese! I do need to be drinking much more water though!

  15. I’m on Day 3 of Keto and the flu has hit me like a 2 ton truck! Symptoms started last night; nausea, headaches, exhaustion, and I threw up once this morning. I’m also not sleeping well. I feel terrible… I workout extremely hard but today I just can’t, so it’s a rest day. But it’s keeping me down, I can’t do anything today. How long should I expect this to last?! I feel like I’ve put so much discipline and self-control into the last few days that turning back would be detrimental; this flu is no joke joke!!

    1. I hope Brittany by the time you read this you have turned a corner and your “keto flu” has disappeared. It shoudl only last a few days as your body adjusts. Keep your fluids and electrolytes up. Even though the keto flu is absolutely horrid, it is a good reminder of the effect sugar and carbs have on our body. If symptoms don’t dissipate or are stronger than you feel you should be going through, please do not hesitate to see your doctor in case something else is happening health-wise coincidentally at the same time. Always be under the care of your health care professional.

    2. I’m right there with you. I just finished a 57 he fast. Now on day 3 and I can barely move, my nose is stuffy and I feel crippled. Did you stick it out???
      Feeling better?

  16. Dina Shunia says:

    I’m on day 5 of keto, but it started yesterday. Nausea, chills, just tired. I also have no appetite. I know I haven’t had enough water the last 2 days. I’ve tried to keep my carbs real low with each meal, but I think they’re too little! I’m hoping the keto flu kicks and I can go back to normal this is terrible!

    1. Joanne Awkward says:

      My is Joanne I’m on my Fourth day and I’m so sick and don’t have an appetite I’m Nauseated headache weak no energy whatsoever

  17. I am on day 10 of the hero diet and day 5 of the keto flu. This is just miserable. I’ve drank many cups of boullion for salt, Gatorade Zero for electrolytes and nothing helps. Not sure I can go another week of this. I lost 7 lbs but that’s water. However after reading your page I realized I jumped right in feet first and my cards were so low they were non existence. I’m going to get better and hopefully try again in the future otherwise it’s WW for me.

    1. Welcome Sharon, and I am so glad this article helped you recognise what you are going through, it’s temporary and what do do about it. You may also like this article “The advantages of a low-carb diet” to help motivate you that this way of life and way of eating is absolutely marvellous. You have been through the worst, well done 🙂

      1. I’m on day 7,i went hardcore and I’m regretting it now. No carbs and 2 meals instead of 3. I was sick yesterday, slept the whole day. Grumpy, weak, dizzy, nausea. Today Im having some sweet potato just just to be able to function. As soon as Summer break hits, I go hard again, but for now, I’m going to wean myself off much much slower so that I can study for my exams and homeschool my kids. Thanks for your article

        1. You might want to go slow and steady. This is the Stepwise approach I coach to Ditch The Carbs PRO members. If you go too low too soon and too hardcore, you can end up feeling awful and worse off than when you started. Start by giving up the west areas of sugar and junk carbs first, then slowly remove other sugar and carb foods as you feel OK to do so.

  18. I am on my 3rd week of keto and 3rd day of having a flu i dont know and i a bit worried because corona virus is everywhere and i think i have rashes so it could be dengue as well???