When one transitions to a low carb diet, there are a lot of physical issues to expect. Being high in fat and low in carbohydrates, you can expect a series of changes to come your way.
One of the problems most commonly encountered is the keto headache.
Truth be told, it is one of the reasons why a lot of people quit on this effective weight loss method.
The keto flu headache is similar to having the flu. It is not rare when starting out your keto diet. But, it is totally understandable why most people will put off the program than suffer the wrath of this symptom.
With a few hacks and adjustments, your ketogenic diet will run as smoothly as possible. Once your body has adjusted to the fats, the symptoms will soon disappear.
But first, let us try to get to the bottom of this struggle.
Why do you get a headache on keto diet?
It will not be a surprise if you have come from a carbo-loaded diet. With the slew of high carbohydrate meals being served in the restaurants and the array of ready-made food in the grocery, it is safe to say it is the most common diet of all.
With this diet, your body has gotten quite used to utilizing carbohydrates as the primary source of energy. When you do keto diet, you are slowly shifting your fuel source from carbohydrates to fats.
This will have your system confused and place your body in an induction phase. Your metabolism will try to adapt but it has to double its efforts to keep up with the change.
While this happens, your body will undergo flu like symptoms, which includes (you guessed it) the dreaded keto headache. Along with the headaches, you can also get brain fog. This is a sign that your body is going through carbohydrate withdrawal phase.
But, guess what?
Mental fog and keto flu headache are the first few signs of ketosis kicking in. When your brain is losing glucose, you will certainly feel lethargic. A low carb diet will surely used up all your stored carbohydrates.
The adjustment period or the induction phase confuses your body. Initially, it will not know where to get energy from. Because of this, you will not feel like yourself and might constantly space out. Then, the headache on keto diet will come, making you easily irritated.
One technique (which sounds pretty simple, but really hard to do) to avoid getting the annoying keto flu headache is to limit your carb intake as low as possible. When you force your body to finish off all of its stored glycogen, your ketosis gear sets in more quickly. A lot of people think it is a good idea to slowly cut down on their carb intake. It makes sense because it is a common approach to shift from one method to another in a gradual manner. Unfortunately, in the case of keto diet, it only prolongs the agony. Tapering down on your carb intake will take a long time for your body to get into full ketosis. However, once you are there, you will be surprised at the many benefits utilization of fat as the main energy source can do to your brain function.
But wait, why is the induction phase causing too much stress on the body?
When your sugar levels drop, you will like you are running out of energy. ANother reason is the increase in the stress hormone, cortisol. This particular hormone is released to ensure that your body will thrive. When you have low sugar levels, your adrenals will be triggered to unleash cortisol.
What are the causes of the keto headache?
The pounding headache you experience is, without a doubt, discouraging. There are three primary reasons why it happens.
First is dehydration. Going on a keto diet enables your body to get rid of excess water. So, the first reason why you feel lighter is because you have decreased water weight. Fat loss will come, but not as immediate.
When you are in a state of ketosis, you tend to rush to the toilet because of its diuretic effect. Water and electrolytes are released, so you might suffer keto flu headache due to dehydration.
Next is because of the reduction of electrolytes due to diuresis, electrolyte imbalance can be inevitable. Magnesium, sodium, and potassium should be watched out for.
Lastly, as mentioned earlier, is the withdrawal of the body from carbohydrates.
How to Escape the Keto Diet Headache?
Try to establish metabolic flexibility. What does this mean?
Metabolic flexibility is where your body can easily go from one fuel source to another. You will need this because the keto headache will go away when you are already effective in using fats as primary fuel.
First, load up on salt and water. Insulin levels decrease and so does your sodium levels. Without enough sodium, you are guaranteed to suffer from headaches. This can be managed by manually adding salt into your diet and drinking plenty of fluids. You can add some on your food, but if you still fall short – try taking supplements.
Dietary fats will help your body adjust to ketosis. Replace your unhealthy carbs with healthy fats, instead. Try to include a total of 70% of fats for your daily caloric intake.
Supplementing when on keto will make you more effective in burning fats. Some of those that you should look for are: L-carnitine, Co-Enzyme Q10, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids like Fish Oil.
Lastly, get serious on exercising. This is one sure way to improve metabolic flexibility. Other reasons why you should exercise is because it helps use up fats and aids in weight loss. These two can effectively put an end to the keto diet headache you want to get away from.
Keto headache can be avoided effectively. These simple health tips will not only help you put an end to the physical stress your body will undergo when starting on a new diet, but will also speed up the time you need to reap all the benefits.