The ketogenic diet is arguably one of the most effective weight-loss diets out there. If it’s good enough for Halle Berry and LeBron James, then it’s good enough for you, too, right? The fact that they look stunning is all the more reason to give it a go.
One of its most endearing qualities has to be the fact that you don’t have to give up all the things you love. A diet that calls for an extra serving of cheese, bacon, and eggs is a certified winner in our books.
That aside, there’s a growing body of scientific evidence that links several metabolic, cardiovascular, neurological, and cellular health benefits to adopting this diet. So, you not only look great on the outside, but it leaves your insides functioning optimally as well.
If you’re a keto newbie, there’s probably one thing you just can’t shake off. That constant feeling of fatigue and nausea that’s making you second-guess this whole lifestyle. It’s making you question everything. Why am I exhausted on the keto diet? Am I doing it right? Is it the best thing for me?
Here are the top 3 reasons for keto fatigue that you might not be aware of as well as a few easy ways to fix it.
1. Why Am I Exhausted on the Keto Diet – Keto Flu
Adopting a ketogenic diet can be a huge change for your body. Its very essence revolves around eating foods high in fats and protein while keeping carbs to an absolute minimum. This is what triggers your body to enter a state of ketosis or what we like to call “fat-burning overdrive.”
In this state, the body has to look for an alternative method of meeting its energy requirements. This usually means raiding fat cells for energy and making things called “ketones,” which it then uses for fuel. The result? Rapid weight loss.
Like all new things you adopt, it can be difficult for the body to adjust to this diet. It’s like when you go to the gym after a long hiatus. The first week is usually a brutal affair. The constant sore muscles alone make you want to quit. But, once your body adapts to the consistent stress you subject it to, it gets easier with time.
It’s precisely the same thing with keto. Besides muscle soreness, you may experience the keto flu with symptoms like nausea, headaches, weakness, vomiting, and fatigue. Some people also report experiencing bad breath, a rash, constipation, and even muscle cramps. Here’s why you experience these symptoms.
The Science Behind the Keto Diet
When your body enters ketosis, it has to use up all its stored glucose since it’s not getting energy from its primary source of fuel – carbohydrates. This also means that your blood sugar levels will always be at an all-time low, which also translates to low insulin levels in your bloodstream.
Low insulin levels are ideal for fat burning, which is great if your goal is to lose weight. However, one common side effect of having low insulin in your blood is frequent urination. This causes you to lose a lot of bodily fluid, which also means you’re losing many minerals like sodium and potassium. As a result, you’re left feeling weak and dehydrated.
How to Fix It
The first bit of good news is – if you’re experiencing a bad case of the keto flu, it means that the diet is working as it should. The second bit is that it is temporary.
Here are a few things you can do to ease the unpleasant symptoms you experience when you first start the keto diet.
- Do some mild exercise – This helps to reduce cortisol levels, which is the primary stress hormone your body produces when you first start the keto diet
- Drink bone broth – This gives you a healthy dose of electrolytes and water
- Eat more fat – You want to up your MCT (Medium-Chain Triglycerides) intake to speed up the adaptation phase
- Stay hydrated all day long – Add a bit of unrefined salt to your drinking water for best results
- Supplement with electrolytes – The key players here are sodium, magnesium, and potassium
If all else fails and you still experience the keto flu despite your best efforts, you might want to up your carb intake slightly to give your body time to adjust to using fat as its primary fuel source. Then, gradually reduce your carb intake over time.
2. Accidental Low-Calorie Diet
Let’s get one thing straight. A keto diet is a high-fat, high-protein, and low-carb diet. It is, however, not a low-calorie diet. This is one of the most common mistakes keto newbies make when they first get on the ketogenic diet. This is what causes fatigue since the body lacks the energy it needs to function as it should.
When you make the switch, the idea is not to restrict your calorie intake. What you need to be doing instead is restricting your carb intake to force your body to draw its energy requirements from its fat reserves.
How to Fix It
Ensure that your daily calorie needs are within the recommended range for your height, age, and weight. Even if your goal is to lose weight, you want to keep your calories up for the first 3-4 weeks of starting the keto diet.
Then, gradually drop them every two weeks while making sure that you stick to the fat, protein, and carb ratio required for a true keto diet.
3. Fat Adaptation Period
This is also known as the keto-adaptation period. If you’re wondering – Why am I exhausted on the keto diet? It’s probably because your body and brain are both trying to go through this phase the best way they can. This period can last anywhere between 1 and 3 weeks.
Keep in mind that the body is not used to processing a predominantly high-fat diet. The gallbladder will have a hard time coping with the new demands. The fact that your body is having a difficult time digesting and absorbing fat may cause you to experience fatigue and general malaise.
How to Fix It
The best way to make the fat-adaptation period easier on your body would be to eat smaller, more frequent meals. That way, it has sufficient time to process the smaller amounts of fat you ingest in a single meal before you get another hit.
Stay the Course
The great thing about keto is that it doesn’t cause lasting fatigue. The feeling of constant exhaustion usually goes away within three weeks to a month – at the most.
If your symptoms still don’t improve after the adaptation phase, you may need to adjust your food selection, macros, and calorie intake. Consider getting more sleep as well.
If nothing changes, talk to a physician to help uncover any possible underlying medical conditions you may have.
In the meantime, check out our blog to find out how cellular regeneration can help stop chronic pain and reverse aging.