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#keto flu #keto fatigue #keto diet

Why Do You Feel Tired on a Keto Diet?

Author: Victoria 11 min read
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Sep 25, 2023
Why Do You Feel Tired on a Keto Diet?

Imagine you've just started your ketogenic journey, enthusiastic and ready to shed some pounds. You've got your avocados, leafy greens, and all the bacon you can dream of. You're a few days in, feeling like a keto wizard.

Then BAM! Suddenly, you experience an intense feeling of exhaustion, as if a bus drained your energy. You're dragging yourself around like a sloth that's run a marathon. Even your coffee seems to have given up on you.

Don't worry, keto warrior! You don't have to live in a constant state of fatigue. Your body is like a toddler throwing a tantrum because it needs glucose.

Your body loves its sugar, and it's not too thrilled about the switch to ketones. It's putting up a fight, making you tired, and hoping you'll cave in and give it some carbs.

This blog post will explore why individuals feel tired when following a keto diet.

We will delve into the science behind the ketogenic diet, focusing on how the body's energy production changes when shifting from glucose to ketones as the primary fuel source.

The blog post will also address the concept of the "keto flu," a common phenomenon experienced by those new to the diet, exploring its symptoms and potential solutions to mitigate them.

Finally, the content will provide recommendations to combat keto fatigue, such as proper hydration, electrolyte balance, and adequate sleep.

Exploring the Fundamentals of the Keto Diet

The keto diet, short for ketogenic diet, is a dietary approach that involves reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat consumption. The name stems from ketones, an acid the body creates when it burns fat for energy.

This diet operates on the principle of ketosis, a metabolic state where the body, deprived of its usual glucose from carbohydrates, resorts to burning stored fat, producing ketones as a by-product.

Compared to many traditional diets that promote a balance between carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, the keto diet restricts carbohydrate intake significantly, often to less than 50 grams per day. 

For those accustomed to consuming a diet abundant in grains, fruits, and processed foods, this marks a substantial shift in their dietary habits.

The emphasis on fat consumption, which constitutes around 70%-75% of daily caloric intake, is another distinctive feature that sets the ketogenic diet apart from other dietary regimes.

What is the "Keto Flu"

When you start a keto diet, your body undergoes several metabolic changes. Given the significant reduction in carbohydrate intake, your body enters a state of ketosis as it burns fat instead of glucose for energy.

This transition can cause various physical reactions, often called the "keto flu." Symptoms may include fatigue, headaches, irritability, and gastrointestinal discomfort.

As your body adjusts to using ketones as its primary energy source, these symptoms may take a few days to a couple of weeks to subside.

It's important to note that transitioning to a ketogenic diet can lead to a quick loss of weight, mainly due to water loss. As your body uses up its glycogen reserves, each gram of glycogen holds roughly three grams of water.

Reasons Why You May Feel Exhausted on the Keto Diet

In the journey to becoming fat-adapted through a ketogenic diet, you may encounter a period of lethargy or 'keto fatigue,' a common phenomenon where individuals transitioning to a low-carb, high-fat diet experience bouts of low energy. Let's delve into why this happens and explore how to counteract this feeling of fatigue during your adaptation period.

Reduced Carbohydrate Intake

The primary fuel for our body is glucose, which comes from carbohydrates. In a keto diet, you restrict the intake of carbs, forcing the body to break down stored fat into ketones, now the primary energy source.

During the early stages of keto-adaptation, your body is still trying to adapt to a new fuel source, which can lead to temporary tiredness or fatigue. However, this usually lasts for only up to a week.

Electrolyte Imbalance

Reducing carbohydrate intake can lead to an electrolyte imbalance that causes tiredness and fatigue. Electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, and potassium regulate essential functions of our body, like muscle contraction and nerve function.

When we reduce our carb intake, we lose a lot of water and electrolytes, leading to headaches, muscle cramps, and fatigue. Replacing these lost electrolytes with supplements or consuming more salt is essential to prevent this.

Low-Calorie Intake

The Keto can cause an unintentional reduction in calorie intake. Eating a lower number of calories than what your body requires can result in feeling tired and weak.

It's essential to focus on consuming enough calories, primarily from healthy fat sources, to fuel your body and avoid fatigue properly. Add more high-fat foods to your diet, e.g., olive oil, avocado, and nuts.

Dehydration

The body retains less fluid on a low-carbohydrate diet like Keto, causing dehydration. Dehydration can leave you exhausted on the Keto, sluggish, and reduce your mental and physical performance.

Ensure you drink enough water or use an electrolyte supplement to help your body retain fluids.

Inadequate Protein Intake

Incorporating additional protein into your keto diet may necessitate an increased intake of amino acids to facilitate muscle and tissue repair. It's important to note that this adjustment may cause fatigue and lack of energy.

Include enough protein in your keto meal plan to aid in building strong muscles, recover from workouts, and increase your energy levels.

How long does ketosis fatigue last?

The duration of ketosis fatigue varies from person to person. It can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. "Keto adaptation phase" refers to the transition from glucose to ketones as the body's primary energy source.

Some may find This transition phase relatively quick, and the associated fatigue is short-lived. It could take longer for others, mainly if their previous diet were high in carbohydrates.

It's important to remember that this is a temporary state, and consistent adherence to a ketogenic diet generally results in improved energy levels once the adaptation phase is complete.

During this time, maintaining hydration and adequate electrolyte balance can help alleviate symptoms of fatigue.

Can ketosis cause extreme fatigue?

Yes, ketosis can cause extreme fatigue, especially during the initial stages of the diet.

This phenomenon, often called "keto fatigue," occurs as your body adjusts to its new energy source.

Since carbohydrates are the body's preferred energy source, their sudden and drastic reduction can lead to low energy and fatigue as your body scrambles to adapt.

This state is temporary, and most individuals report a surge in energy levels once their bodies become accustomed to producing and using ketones for energy.

However, it's crucial to ensure an adequate intake of essential nutrients and electrolytes during this transition period, as deficiencies can exacerbate feelings of fatigue.

Ensuring proper hydration, prioritizing restful sleep, and nourishing the body with nutrient-dense, keto-friendly foods all work in tandem to alleviate fatigue and enhance overall well-being.

How do you fix fatigue on Keto?

Addressing fatigue on the keto diet often involves a multipronged approach focused on maintaining proper nutrition and hydration.

Consume Adequate Electrolytes

As your body adapts to a ketogenic diet, it's common to experience a shift in electrolyte balance, often called "keto flu."

Ensure adequate electrolyte intake, as electrolytes are critical in regulating body functions, including muscle contractions and nerve functions.

Boost energy levels and combat fatigue by increasing your intake of electrolytes, particularly sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Nuts, seeds, avocados, and leafy greens are nutrient-rich foods that provide essential vitamins and minerals. Incorporating these into your diet can help alleviate symptoms and keep you refreshed and revitalized.

Stay Hydrated

The keto diet has a diuretic impact, resulting in more significant water loss than a typical diet. As a result, dehydration may occur, leading to feelings of fatigue.

To prevent this, drink enough water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

Eat Enough Healthy Fats

On diet, fat serves as the primary fuel source for the body. Consuming an adequate amount of healthy fats, e.g., avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, is crucial to support the body's energy needs and prevent keto fatigue. Providing your body with these nutritious fats ensures sustained energy and better overall well-being throughout your ketogenic journey.

Get Sufficient Protein

Protein, a vital nutrient, plays a crucial role in supporting muscle repair and growth, which in turn helps combat feelings of fatigue. Including protein-rich foods like lean meats, fish, poultry, and eggs can provide the necessary building blocks for muscle recovery and overall health.

Ensure Adequate Caloric Intake

Eating too few calories can cause fatigue, no matter your diet. Ensure you get enough energy from your food to sustain your activity levels.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being; this doesn't change when you're on a keto diet. Prioritizing good sleep hygiene can help manage feelings of fatigue.

The Benefits of Staying on a Keto Diet Despite Feeling Tired

While the initial phase of transitioning to a ketogenic diet may be accompanied by feelings of fatigue, persevering through this challenging period can yield remarkable benefits.

As your body adjusts to using fat as its primary energy source, you may experience increased energy levels and mental clarity.

The keto diet can promote weight loss, reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar, and improve heart health.

Furthermore, the ketogenic diet can offer therapeutic benefits for specific neurological conditions. Emerging research indicates that the diet shows promise as a potential intervention for conditions like epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.

Therefore, despite the initial discomfort, the long-term benefits of maintaining a ketogenic lifestyle can significantly outweigh the temporary feelings of fatigue.

Critical Mistakes to Steer Clear of When Embarking on a Keto Diet

Before starting a keto diet, be aware of potential challenges. Informed choices are key to success. The next section will cover common mistakes and offer tips to navigate them.

Not Drinking Enough Water

The body tends to lose water when you start a keto diet. Therefore, increasing your water intake is vital to stay hydrated and prevent constipation.

Overeating Protein

Excessive protein intake can impede the state of ketosis, wherein the body utilizes fats as an energy source rather than carbohydrates. The body has the remarkable ability to convert surplus protein into glucose through a process known as gluconeogenesis. This metabolic pathway allows the body to efficiently utilize and derive energy from protein in a resourceful manner. Therefore, it's essential to strike a balance and be mindful of protein intake to maintain a state of ketosis.

Neglecting Micronutrients

A common mistake beginners make is focusing only on macros, i.e., fats, carbs, and protein. However, it's crucial not to neglect micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, on a keto diet.

Not Getting Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep can raise stress hormones, preventing your body from entering ketosis.

Setting Unrealistic Expectations

It's important to understand that weight loss on a keto diet, as with any lifestyle change, is gradual. Setting unrealistic expectations for rapid weight loss can lead to disappointment and increase the likelihood of quitting.

Skipping Vegetables

While it's true that some vegetables contain carbs, they also provide necessary fiber and nutrients. Eating various low-carb veggies can help keep your digestive system healthy while on a keto diet.

Supplemental Supplements to Consider Taking to Maximize the Benefits of the Keto Diet

Several dietary supplements can enhance the benefits and minimize the potential side effects of the ketogenic diet.

These supplements can help you maintain optimum nutrition and support your body's functions. At the same time, your diet is drastically low in carbohydrates.

Magnesium is one such supplement. Many people on a ketogenic diet often experience magnesium deficiency due to excluding high-carb foods, which are a good source of magnesium. Magnesium is vital for energy production and aids muscle relaxation and nerve function.

Another supplement to consider is Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Foods high in omega-3s, such as fish and flaxseeds, provide various health benefits, including decreasing inflammation and enhancing mental health.

However, if you need to include these foods regularly in your diet, supplementing with omega-3s can be beneficial.

Vitamin D is vital in maintaining bone health, supporting immune function, and regulating mood. Unfortunately, many individuals don't receive adequate sunlight, which is our primary source of this essential nutrient.

Lastly, a balanced Multivitamin can cover any potential nutritional gaps in the diet. While the aim should always be to get as much nutrition as possible from whole foods, a multivitamin can act as a nutritional safety net.

Before beginning any new supplement regimen, consulting with a healthcare professional is essential.

Conclusion

Feeling tired on the keto diet is a normal adaptation process. However, if the fatigue persists, it may be due to electrolyte imbalances, low-calorie intake, dehydration, or inadequate protein intake.

To avoid these symptoms, you must eat enough calories, consume more healthy fats, and supplement your diet with electrolytes if necessary.

Remember, Keto is a diet that requires discipline, patience, and proper nutrient intake for optimal results. With the knowledge gained from this article, you can tackle fatigue on a keto diet and achieve your desired results.

Take a 60-seconds quiz and get your custom keto diet plan.

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