Almost anything new requires adjustment. This simply means that rapid change is not healthy, and so gradual transfer from one point to another is what normally done to absorb the shock.
The same thing applies to the ketogenic diet.
Keto Diet Adjustment
If you are familiar with the low-carb, high-fat, and moderate protein intake requirement of the keto diet, perhaps you are also aware of the possible side effects it can bring you; especially if you are just starting it.
Eating from high amounts of carbohydrates to low carb can disturb your body’s system. And this is what actually happens during the adjustment period of the keto diet. Withdrawal-like symptoms occur to the dieter the same when you are withdrawing from drinking coffee. So many starters of keto diet experience having flu, or a headache, or even diarrhea, the first few weeks of the diet. Note that experts said that this is quite normal. Though there are always exceptions to some rules. Meaning, some of the keto dieters do not actually experience the very same symptoms and go on the diet without a bother.
Common Effect of the Keto Diet Adjustment
What’s bothering about the side effects of keto diet, is that some starter of it want to quit it right away. The effect of the adjustment is discouraging, but if you are persistent in continuing it, to gain its benefit like ketosis (a metabolic state wherein the body burns fat for energy fuel instead of glucose), you will endure its short symptoms.
Transition from Glucose to Fats Energy Source Explained
What actually happened when you experience keto flu is you are undergoing a major body adjustment.
If your body has been used in consuming high amounts of carbohydrates, it only means that your system, including your brain, hormones, and cells, have adapted to it big time. Forcing your system to go out from this adapted state is like throwing a stone to a school of fish. It is disturbing. You are bringing confusion to an already set body program.
Eating a lot of carbohydrates, your body’s fuel energy source is glucose (sugar). It is what the body burns during activities. However, once you started keto diet, you are adjusting it to burn ketones (fats) which now acts as the body’s energy fuel source. This adjustment or the transferring of energy fuel source is what we call ketosis.
Nevertheless, this transfer adjustment is what brought the keto flu to your system.
Many caffeine addicts have been reported to have withdrawal symptoms after their doctors told them to withdraw from drinking coffee. Their heads started to be painful because of the lack of caffeine in their system.
The same symptoms are what actually occurs to the keto diet beginners. Withdrawing from carbohydrate causes their body and system too long and look for it but found none.
So it takes time to be fully adjusted in taking low-carb and high-fat food without experiencing the keto headache.
Some Tips to Prevent or Minimize Experiencing the Keto Headache
When you are in a way of achieving something, there is no short cut to attain your goal. And so to haste the same manner as well. Everything has to be under a process to have the wanted result.
Keto a headache cannot be prevented in some way. Some people have to experience it whether they like it or not. There is no short cut to gain the fruits of the keto diet. And guess what? There is no fastest way in getting keto headache as well. But the good thing is, you may experience it the most minimal way, or if you are lucky, you may not experience it at all.
Since a keto headache is rooted in withdrawing from food high in carbohydrate and just taking a small amount, dieticians advise doing the withdrawal method gradually. Never do a sudden carb withdrawal as it leads to worsening the symptoms of a keto diet. If you think that you are fasting up to gain the benefits of a keto diet, well you are simply making your life worse by triggering the symptoms the fast way.
The Body’s Adaptation to the New Energy Fuel Source
If you wonder what the science is behind your body’s adaptation to the new energy source, here is a brief explanation.
By gradually restricting the amount of carb intake, the body will also gradually adjust. It will reduce the level of blood sugar level as well as the stress hormone called cortisol.
Cortisol, a glucocorticoid hormone, is released by your adrenals. The adrenals purpose in releasing it is to be certain that you have the right amount of energy to survive. Thus, in the case of cortisol production under ketogenic diet, the brain sends a signal to release the cortisol once the brain detected that your blood sugar level is low.
To keep you energized, the remaining glucose (glycogen) will be used by the body for fuel. But over time, your body will prefer to use and burn fats as a new energy fuel source.
Sure, it is sound horrible to put much stress in the body by restricting your high-carb food intake, but it just for a short time. And you just have to it gradually. Your body will soon adapt to its new fuel source, fats, using it for the rest of your life if you remain on the keto diet.
Keto Headache, How Long?
Alright. So, for those whom a keto headache would not pass by, here is a million dollar question. How long we will suffer from this side effect?
The answer is: it depends.
There are people who are lucky enough not to experience neither of the symptoms of a keto diet. But for those who are not lucky enough, the length of the headache experience varies. Not all people are created equal, and so the headache in each individual.
However, the average span of a headache to stay is nearly from 24 hours to 1 week. Nevertheless, there are cases wherein the headache will live up to 15 days. But it is just rare.