Those who have attempted the ketogenic diet will likely grimace when the topic of “keto headaches” is brought up. They will then share the most unpleasant experience they have had. Many individuals who follow the keto diet have their own personal negative experience with the related headaches. They are a relatively common side effect of the diet.
If you are unfamiliar with the keto diet, the information in the following passage may not be entirely understandable. The basic understanding of a keto diet is that it involves substituting carbohydrates with beneficial fats. This changes how your bod uses energy.
A ketogenic diet causes your body to enter a state of ketosis, which is why it is called the Keto diet.
Entering ketosis is comparable to going to the state of Florida – and caution should always be taken with both. When the levels of carbohydrates in the bloodstream are too low to generate energy, the body begins to use stored fat as an energy source.
The keto diet has a lot of possible advantages, but also possesses a few dangers. Keto headaches are a side effect of ketosis. Many parts of the body have difficulty adapting to a ketogenic diet due to their preference for carbohydrates.
Switching from utilizing glucose for energy to relying on fat as a fuel source is similar to trying to use diesel in a gasoline engine. Instead of your car having mechanical issues on the highway, you get a debilitating headache that can stick around for over a week.
Mental Fog Is Normal at the Start of Keto
During the induction phase, a noticeable warning sign is the brain’s lack of its usual fuel supply – glucose. If you’ve never consumed a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in fat, your brain has been obtaining its energy primarily from carbs.
When you raise the amount of fat you are consuming and lower your intake of carbohydrates, your body starts to consume the last of its stored glycogen. Initially, the brain will be unsure of how to source the energy it requires due to the absence of carbohydrates.
It is common to zone out, suffer from headaches, and become easily irritated.
A useful strategy to battle these signs is to stick to a low-carb diet when you first begin. Your body is made to exhaust its glycogen reserves quickly in this way.
Lots of folks attempt to reduce their consumption of carbohydrates over time, but it will only make their difficulty concentrating persist for a longer period.
When you enter into ketosis, the vast majority of the brain switches to ketones as the primary source of fuel instead of glucose. The transition may occur over a period of a few days to as long as two weeks.
Fortunately, ketones act as an effective energy source for the brain. Once your brain has become accustomed to burning fats as an energy source, optimal cognitive functioning is achieved.
Research has demonstrated that those who have been on a ketogenic diet for a extended period of time tend to have better brain functioning. The keto diet has even been explored as a potential solution for memory loss and various other brain conditions.
The Keto Induction Phase Is Stressful on Your Body
Without the high amount of sugar typically sourced from carbohydrates, your blood sugar will begin to decline and cortisol, the stress hormone, hikes up in production.
The adrenals produce a glucocorticoid called cortisol which helps keep your energy level high enough for survival. When your blood sugar dips, your brain signals your adrenal glands to generate cortisol. Your body will begin to make use of glycogen (stored glucose) as an energy source.
The keto diet can seem daunting because it involves minimizing your intake of carbohydrates, which may cause your body to produce higher levels of cortisol due to the additional stress it may bring on. But this isn’t the case. Gradually, your body will adjust and become inclined to burn fat as energy through the state of ketosis.
Researchers examined the effects of three different dietary regimens: a low-carbohydrate approach, a low-fat method, and a low glycemic index method. The research indicated that the varying diets provoked varying metabolic reactions, with the low-carbohydrate diet having the most substantial influence.
Keto flu is an odd one. There is no sound, scientific evidence for it but (as those who have encountered it know) it is incredibly authentic and unpleasant.
Keto flu is aptly named, consisting of a variety of unpleasant flu-like symptoms that can occur after significantly reducing one’s carbohydrate consumption.
Keto headaches are common symptoms of keto flu.
How Long Does the Keto Headache Last
It is possible that some individuals will not go through any kind of withdrawal symptoms. Everybody is unique and how long the signs last depends on various aspects.
For instance, if you have been consuming little carbohydrates prior to initiating the keto diet, and have been eating plenty of greens (or taking a top-notch greens health supplement), chances are that you won’t feel any discomforts or that they will be of limited duration.
Normally, the keto headache can linger for 24 hours to seven days. In uncommon instances, it can take up to two weeks for the effects to lessen.
Some folks opt to start the keto diet on a weekend so the disruptions to their daily routine will be kept to a minimum while the less pleasant effects are more bearable.
Dehydration Is Common During the Keto Induction Phase
When you start following a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in fat (ketogenic lifestyle), your body will start to eliminate surplus water and fluids.
Try not to become too thrilled when you observe a major decrease in weight during the early stages of the keto diet. The amount of weight lost does not only come from the burning of fat; it is also due to the removal of water from the body.
Ketosis is known for its strong diuretic effect. This implies that your body is releasing both water and electrolytes, causing a decrease in the amount of water that your body is retaining.
Water is stored in your body from carbohydrates. When you reduce the amount of carbohydrates you consume, your body quickly eliminates water. For every gram of glycogen (from carbohydrates) consumed as an energy source, two times the amount of water is discharged.
Once your body begins to use ketones for energy, it stops using glucose as an energy source, but you will still experience water loss. Having ketones in your system will result in increased urination.
It’s important to drink lots of water when cutting down on carbs to keep dehydration at bay and maintain good health and wellness.
Other Symptoms That Come With a Keto Headache
There are numerous other unpleasant signs of keto flu that contribute to keto headaches causing a lot of distress while on the diet.
If you’ve just started a keto diet and have a headache alongside any of the following symptoms, there’s a good chance you got yourself a good old fashioned keto headache there, Jack:
- digestive troubles like nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and stomach pain
- weakness or fatigue
- struggling to focus
- muscle cramps or soreness
- sleeping problems
- sugar cravings
Differences in the strength and assortment of keto flu signs differ from individual to individual. It is impossible to predict in advance what impact (if any) the diet may have on you.
An examination from 2020 revealed that many individuals state that a keto headache and any accompanying indicators would typically start to occur during the initial week of the diet plan. The usual duration of this show is one week, however, some people say that their symptoms persisted for more than that amount of time.
GiveThanks to the keto deities, for there are a multitude of solutions to ease the discomfort of a keto headache.
Treatments are pretty simple. It is uncertain if any of them will be successful unless you completely give up the keto diet. It cannot be definitively established that these methods will be successful, however, there is yet to be agreement in the scientific community as to how successful they will be.
Purely anecdotally though, any of the following are worth a try if you’re experiencing a keto headache:
When beginning a keto diet, a significant amount of water will be lost. A keto headache could be a sign you’re dehydrated. Drinking some water could do the trick. Hail Hydra(tion).
Cut down on booze
Alcohol also dehydrates you. Cutting down on alcohol consumption can lower the chances of becoming dehydrated and the accompanying headaches.
Eat more water-rich, low carb foods
Including watery fruits and vegetables in your diet is beneficial for relieving a keto headache. Celery, cabbage, cucumbers, and raw tomatoes might work. Essentially, if a plant crushes when you hit it with a mallet, it’s suitable for use.
Eat more electrolyte-rich foods
The keto diet might result in an imbalanced electrolyte level, such as lower levels of sodium or potassium in the bloodstream. Certain items that are suitable on a keto diet that can provide electrolytes include spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, kale, pumpkin seeds, and avocados.
Salt your food
Sodium gets a bad rap. Eating an excessive amount of salt can be detrimental to your health. Despite this, it is quite detrimental to your health to not have any salt in your diet. Increasing the amount of salt in your dishes might help you keep your electrolyte levels balanced which might reduce the head pain from following a keto diet.
A shortage of sodium is a principal cause of keto headache and can be lessened by consuming more water and salt in your diet. It’s essential to boost your salt intake since increased water consumption can also eliminate sodium.
Drinking broth or bone broth will help you keep the right levels of salt.
If you are still having trouble getting enough of salt in your diet when relying mainly on low-carbohydrate meals, then you may benefit from taking sodium supplements and sprinkling extra salt on your foods.
Take an electrolyte supplement
Electrolytes = good. Keto diet = electrolyte imbalance. Electrolyte imbalance = headache. Getting more electrolytes = headache go bye-bye.
Take it easy on the exercise
Experiencing ketosis can be an unexpected shock for one’s body. It needs time to adapt. Do not strain it in the beginning of your ketogenic diet. If you overexert yourself, the additional burden can unquestionably become an origin of headaches.
It depends what you mean by cure. Is there a surefire way to put an end to keto headaches? The response is affirmative. It’s called stopping the keto diet.
Other Keto Diet Risks
Keto headaches and keto flu are commonplace. A gentle keto headache most likely isn’t indicating anything overly critical. If the agony is unbearable or crippling, you should certainly pause the diet and consult with your doctor.
The keto diet is incredibly risky. It is advisable to seek advice from a doctor or nutritionist before attempting anything. If you pause your keto diet plan and your migraine still persists, it is advisable to consult a doctor. It could be an indication of a deeper, more serious medical issue.
If you expect there to be a tablet you can take that will make your keto headache vanish while you still won’t consume carbs, then unfortunately, that is not an option. There isn’t any such cure.
You can decrease your chances of experiencing a headache related to a ketogenic diet with minimal effort.
Avoiding a keto headache requires taking the same steps to remedy a keto headache before it begins. Keto simple, right?
Ensuring your body gets enough water and electrolytes can help keep keto headaches at bay. Stay hydrated. Keep your electrolytes up. That’s the keto way.
Many of the high-fat animal products that are a part of the keto diet, such as eggs and cheese, can lead to an increase in the acid content of one’s urine. In kids who eat the keto diet to battle epilepsy, the resulting acidity can increase the amount of calcium in their bloodstream.
This causes the kidneys to accumulate small masses which are commonly referred to by urologists as urine-derived “pearls”. It is important to consider that other variables could be contributing to kidney stone development, such as a lack of liquids.
Digestive Issues and Changes to Gut Bacteria
Decreasing your carb intake will also lead to a reduction in your daily fiber intake. This can make you constipated, which isn’t fun.
Changes to Gut Bacteria
Some studies imply that the keto diet may disrupt the beneficial bacteria that resides in your intestines, but others refute this claim.
Curbing your consumption of carbohydrates doesn’t just entail eliminating hamburgers and snacks from your diet. You’re also denying yourself a range of fruits, grains and pulses (such as beans).
Denying yourself of them can result in severe nutrient shortages. It is important to pay attention to potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and the vitamins B, C, D, and E.
Don’t Be Discouraged by the Keto Headache
The keto headache may seem off-putting, which could lead to you bypassing the keto diet, but decreasing the symptoms is not as arduous as some would have you believe.
To reduce the effects of keto flu, be sure to replenish nutrients and minerals, exercise regularly, and eat a balanced low-carb, high-fat diet.
Recall that a momentary head pain is an ordinary part of the beginning segments of the procedure and happens to the vast majority of individuals who choose this dietary pattern.
The goal you are working towards is within reach. This should serve as a motivation for you to remain dedicated until you start to see the advantages of an eating regime that is low in carbohydrates, and high in fat, like a ketogenic lifestyle. It will all be worth it!
Headaches and flu-like symptoms are not the only possible downsides to following a keto or other low carb diet. Here are some of the other risks that come with drastically lowering your carb intake: