How to Avoid the Keto Flu
First of all, if you aren't sure of what the Keto Flu is, it's when your body shows symptoms of illness (like dizziness, nausea, low energy, etc.) as you transition to a very limited or low carb lifestyle. When I first started considering going Keto, all I heard was that the Keto Flu is inevitable and that I would just have to push through the first week of the diet. This is not true! When I finally made the official transition to Keto on January 1, 2017 (I'm no longer Keto, but that's another blog post), I decided I was lucky because I didn't suffer from any of the mentioned symptoms.
Your body goes through this phase because it's transitioning from burning carbs for fuel to utilizing fat as its primary source of energy. I put together a short list of ways that you can help prevent the Keto Flu, but I just want to say that these are not scientifically proven or backed by any medical professional. These are just based off my successful transition to Keto without the Flu.
1. EAT MORE FIBER
Many people starting off on Keto get carried away with limiting their carb intake so much that they try to consume less than 10-20g of TOTAL Carbs per day. There is a HUGE difference between TOTAL Carbs and NET Carbs. Total Carbs is the overall gram-age of Carbohydrates you consume. So if you're looking at a Nutrition label, it's the number in bold labeled: "Total Carbohydrate." Your Net Carb is calculated by subtracting the grams of dietary fiber from your Total Carb count. For example, if a nutrition label says there are 25g Total Carbohydrates, and 5g Dietary Fiber, then your Net Carbs would be 20g. Getting fiber into your diet is extremely important for your body (not to mention your digestive system!) but remember, fiber is a carb. I suggest aiming for 20-25g of dietary fiber per day, which means your Total Carbs for the day will be higher than that.
2. FOCUS ON NET CARBS
See #1 for how to calculate Net Carbs. I recommend basing your Keto diet/lifestyle on your Net Carb count, rather than your Total Carb count. A good starting point for someone wanting to transition into Ketosis would be to aim for 30-45g of Net Carbs per day. For me, my *magic* number was between 30-35g of Net Carbs, and I found that going lower than that would halt my weight loss. This would mean your Total Carbs for the day would be closer to 50-65g per day to account for the 20-25g of dietary fiber you should be consuming. Once you are able to consistently stay in that range, you can start to tweak the numbers a bit so that you can find your *magic* range.
3. EAT A VARIETY OF MEALS
It's easy to figure out one or two meals that fit into your macronutrient (Carbs, Fats, and Protein) goals, but you want to make sure that you are getting a variety of nutrients from all of your food sources without going overboard on one food group of macronutrient. I often see a lot of new Keto-ers going crazy over all of the cheese and dairy that they can get their hands on, but there are other great sources of fat as well, like avocados, nuts, seeds, or oils. Also, be careful when it comes to getting too many nutrients as well. I recently suffered from Vitamin A toxicity (which is NOT fun) because I was taking an ultra potency multivitamin without realizing I was getting plenty of vitamins from my food already.
4. FOCUS LESS ON NUMBERS
I admit, when I started Keto, I was logging every little thing into an app called My Fitness Pal. I tracked my meals, entered my recipes, weighed and measured my food, and perfectly calculated my exact ratio of macros for every. single. meal. One thing that the app does not provide is your Net Carbs (which is what I focused on when I was Keto). Even though I entered my goal percentages for each macronutrient, the app used my Total Carbs to determine if I was hitting those numbers or not. According to the app, I would always go over my Carb amount, so I would go into the nutrients breakdown and calculate my Net Carbs separately. This method can be very overwhelming and not wonderful for your psychological journey, so although I support using apps as a food diary, you definitely should not stress out if your food tracking app makes it look like you exceeded your daily allowance of food.
5. BE CAREFUL WITH SUGAR ALCOHOLS
Yes, I consume them, but I also count them towards my Total Carbs. Some people are lucky and they can subtract their sugar alcohols from their Total Carbs along with the dietary fiber, but I cannot! I experimented with tracking my sugar alcohols this way for 30 days, and I found them to hinder m progress significantly. Your body will treat sugar alcohols like regular sugar, so I suggest you use them in moderation, like regular sugar. The part that gets me is that some brands advertise low Net Carbs because they also subtract the sugar alcohols from the Total Carb count, which is not true for everyone! So I suggest being careful with sugar alcohols in the beginning to see if and how they are affecting your transition to Keto.