Starting on a keto diet is challenging. Limiting your intake to just high-protein and high-fat food and foregoing carbs take a lot of focus, discipline, and determination.
We are all used to consuming carbs, so eliminating your diet can sometimes feel like a wind knock out your sails. It is especially hard in the beginning, but you have to find the strength within to fight the temptation to give in and reach out for that bar of chocolate sitting on the counter table.
Keto diet is not just mentally or emotionally draining, but you feel physically exhausted as well. Keto fatigue is one of the symptoms of keto flu.
It occurs as your body responds to the changes due to carb restriction. Aside from keto fatigue, keto flu also includes stomach pains and dizziness. But, no, to remove your doubts keto diet, this fatigue caused by the flu is not caused by a bug or something,
It is not even caused by the ketogenic process. Fatigue, along with the other keto flu symptoms, is the body’s way of responding to restricted carbs in your system.
How Does Carb Restriction Lead to Keto Fatigue?
Have you ever met anyone who hates carbs? A lot of health-conscious individuals cut down on their carb intake, but it does not mean they necessarily hate it. In fact, they often refer to their cheat meals as an occasional reward. You only hear the reward associated with good things.
When we were little, we were given by our parents’ cereals for breakfast. In some parts of the world, bread and rice are breakfast classics. This is because carbs can provide us with fuel for the entire day.
But not only that, our palates love carbs. Most comfort foods are carbs. Fries? Carbs. Chips? Carbs. Cake? Carbs. You get the picture.
Foods rich in carbs are delicious and keeps us energized and all pumped up. So, what is wrong with eating them?
Well, too many carbs can increase the possibility of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity. So, keeping them at bay is beneficial for you.
But, saying goodbye is never easy.
Think of it this way. You have this fun friend who is also a bad influence. He tries to rub off his devil-may-care attitude on you. When you have responsibilities to attend to, you can’t fulfill them because you simply prefer to have fun.
After a while, you realize your problems have piled up. Having neglected your responsibilities and chores for so long, you have got a ton of things on your plate to deal with. You have to get real and cut ties with this friend. Yes, it will be painful and sad because of the sudden void, but it is something that should be done.
Now, that friend is the perfect representation of carbohydrates. Severing your ties with it is not gonna be easy. Totally possible, but not really the easiest thing to do. It will take some getting used to.
Your cells naturally look for sugar to burn and convert to fuel, so it will initially be constantly seeking for carbohydrates. The changes need to take place starting from the cellular level until it reaches the hormonal level. The transition process can take a while.
The first few days are tumultuous, but wait it out. In just a couple of weeks (months for some), things will be better. You will begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel as your body begins to adapt to the change of energy source. When the ketosis finally sets in, you realize that your life is better than ever without that toxic friend of yours.
Why Do You Get Keto Fatigue?
Now let’s get technical. You already understand the change that your body undergoes when you shift to the keto diet. Below are some of the physical changes that can be of help when it comes to managing keto fatigue.
You have less sodium and water in the body.
By removing the carbs, less insulin is released. Insulin transports sugar into cells and converts it to body fuel. At the same time, it also signals the kidney to retain water and sodium. A decrease in insulin levels will lead to the release of water and sodium. You will observe an instant weight loss in the first few days of your keto journey, but it will mostly be water weight.
A decrease in thyroid level hormones.
Carb intake is linked to the production of a specific thyroid hormone. In one study, its role as a regulator is highly regarded. Without carb consumption, there was a 47 % decrease in the level of T3 level. This specific thyroid hormone is the most powerful of all the thyroid hormones.
Increase in cortisol levels.
With the changes your body has to undergo, it will feel like it is in a starvation state. This can trigger the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. Once you have adapted to the keto diet, the cortisol levels will revert back to normal. Normally, it can take some time.
All of these reactions inside the body will pass, so you do not need to dwell too much on your keto fatigue. However, it does not mean you can’t do anything about it.
What Can You Do to Remedy Keto Fatigue?
Just as when you are sad, you don’t sit around and bask in your depressive state. Here are some ways to reduce your keto fatigue, as well as other keto flu symptoms.
Drink more water.
Instead of just ensuring that you meet your recommended daily water intake, you will have to add a few more ounces to that. Water and sodium loss during the first few days of your keto transition is brutal.
If you feel too lazy to increase your water intake or you find it hard to chug down more water, you can add a sprinkle of an unprocessed salt to your water and drink it the whole day. You will notice a difference between some of your keto symptoms. This tip might help your keto fatigue, but you might need to read the rest of the tips to notice the alleviation.
Take a lot of foods rich in magnesium, potassium, and sodium.
Your keto diet can cause an electrolyte imbalance. Eating foods that are rich in these minerals can help with your keto fatigue and lightheadedness caused by lowered insulin levels.
- Leafy vegetables
- Pumpkin seeds
- Increase your salt intake. Try to get 5 to 7 grams of salt every day on the first week of your keto diet.
Remember to choose nutrient-dense foods that are not rich in carbohydrates.
Increase your healthy fats intake.
To speed up your transition to ketogenesis, provide your body with more fat to use as energy sources. Unfortunately, not all of the fats you consume are turned into fuel during the initial stages of your keto diet. It is best to supplement with MCT oils and complement it with some physical activities to counter keto fatigue.
So, there you go. Stay motivated on your keto journey and do not let your keto fatigue get the best of you.