What does Ketosis mean exactly, and what are Ketosis symptoms? There are a lot of questions about the Low Carb Flu, also known as “Induction Flu” (based on the Atkins Induction Phase).
If you’ve just started eating low carb and you feel miserable, you’re experiencing the low carb flu.
Ketosis symptoms include:
Headaches, bad breath or a metallic taste in your mouth, irritability (like PMS on steroids! lol), leg cramps, insomnia, nausea, etc.
It basically feels like you’ve been hit with a nasty flu. Symptoms vary from person to person.
The good news is, it means you’re doing it right! The even better news is… it only lasts a few days. 😉
What Is Ketosis?
It is a state in which your body burns fat for energy instead of carbs/sugar. A keto state means you are fueling your body on healthy fats instead of carbohydrates. So that saying that “You need carbs for energy!” is untrue. But you DO need either carbohydrates OR healthy fats for energy, which is why you can’t (or shouldn’t) eat “low carb, low fat”. See Low Carb, High Fat Diet Explained
Your body and your brain actually operate much better on healthy fats. A ketogenic diet is known to reduce seizures, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, control diabetes and chronic pain issues (fibromyalgia, arthritis, etc) and remedy many other common health issues.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fuelling brain function. However, if there is very little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis… –source
The science of Food Combining is an amazing thing!
Unlike a low calorie or low fat diet, there is a science behind how the Low Carb Diet works. By eating 20 net carbs a day max, your body changes from using carbs for energy to using fat for energy. Doing this puts your body in a state of ketosis, which is a huge chemical change – and is what causes you to experience the “low carb flu” for a few days while it is in the process of making this change.
The low carb flu only lasts a few days, and once it passes you’ll feel amazing! In addition to the symptoms I already mentioned, you’ll find you pee a lot more than normal as well, given this is a diuretic diet. You’ll shed unnecessary water weight in the process, and most people experience several pounds in weight loss as well.
How To Get Into Ketosis
Simply eat very low carb (20 net carbs per day or less) and high fat.
Ideally you’ll eat at least 70% of your daily calories in healthy fats.
I use MyFitnessPal with the Keto Hack to keep track of what I’m eating, and to make sure I am getting a healthy ratio of carbs / fat / protein. It’s easy to set up if you use the step-by-step instructions at that link. I shoot for 75% Fat, 20% Protein and 5% carbs from my total daily calories. I don’t actually count calories – just carbs and ratios. You can see example meals and how the ratios worked out in this LCHF 2-Day Food Journal as an example.
How Long Does It Take To Get Into Ketosis?
It seems to vary from person to person, but for me it usually “strikes” on about Day 3 of eating low carb. The relentless headache sets in, I have insomnia or restless sleep, pee incessantly, and get extremely cranky. Fun. 😀
The scales to the right are mine (and so are the feet, lol). It’s the EatSmart Digital Scale which is Rated #1 on Amazon and available for Amazon Prime and free shipping. I love this scale!!
When I first started a low carb diet, I lost 8 pounds in the first 10 days. That’s typical for someone who starts eating low carb for the first time. If you “yo-yo” too much, your body will “wait to see how serious you are” (yes, that’s my scientific explanation, lol) and it takes longer and longer each time you “start over” to see substantial weight loss.
Anyway, If you eat more than 20 net carbs a day, or eat a lot of processed food (like bars and shakes) instead of “real food” – or if you eat too lean (ie low fat) – you may find it harder to get into ketosis, or that it takes longer.
How To Stay In Ketosis
Simply continue eating very low carb, very high fat and stick to “real food” and “healthy fats”. This will keep your body in a state of ketosis, burning fat for fuel, which is ideal for optimal health and also for weight loss.
This is not a “quick trick weight loss program”. It’s a way of eating to get healthy, stay healthy, and fuel your brain / heart / body in the best way possible. If you use a ketogenic diet to lose weight fast, it will likely work. But going back to a high carbohydrate diet (and processed foods) will put the weight back on just as fast.
It IS important to note though, that you can gain weight eating LCHF (high fat) if you have “cheats”. There’s a science to the way the low carb or Atkins diet works, as I explained above. Carbs and Fat are NOT a good combination. Every time you choose to “indulge” in higher amounts of carbs/starches (more than 20 net/day) you take yourself out of keto state (assuming you got there before that) and have to go through the low carb flu all over again. NOT ideal. Plus yo-yo’ing like that will usually make it take longer and longer for you to achieve results every time you “restart”.
This is not like a low fat or low calorie diet where you can eat a brownie tonight and just got it off tomorrow and be right back on track. It IS a commitment, but it’s one your body will LOVE you for!
Not to mention you’ll be smokin’ hot, lightning fast, and super healthy. 😀
Once you survive the Low Carb Flu that is, lol – and you will! I promise. 😉
Questions about Ketosis symptoms or the Low Carb Flu? Leave a comment below!