Keto diet is a low carb and high-fat diet which is popular for drastic weight loss amongst people. There are many side effects of keto diet initially, as you go through the symptoms of keto flu.
If you decide to start keto, then you must be prepared for symptoms like headache, mental fatigue, and brain fog which are the most common symptoms when you enter the state of ketosis. Ketosis is a state when the body uses fat stores as a source of energy instead of glucose from carbs.
Headache is one of the main symptoms when you start your keto journey. But keto headache should never hinder your keto journey.
All these symptoms are temporary and there are some lifestyle hacks and nutrients dense foods that can treat and prevent keto headache.
Let’s go through the article to find out the causes and prevention of headaches.
The transition from high carb to low carb diet causes metabolic confusion in the body and it takes some time to adjust through this process. During this adjustment period, it is normal to experience these flu-like symptoms.
Headache is the most common symptom when there are dietary changes in the body at the beginning of the diet. Keto headache may last from about 1 day to 1 week.
There are many factors which cause keto headache which are discussed below:
One of the main side effects of the keto diet is dehydration. It takes place because when people shift to the state of ketosis they tend to frequently urinate a number of times. In the state of ketosis, the body uses stored form of carbohydrates which is glycogen. Glycogen is bound with water and water is released when glycogen is utilized. So, when all glucose reserves are used, a significant amount of water also eliminates. If you don’t keep yourself hydrated they you will get dehydration along with headache.
During this transition, body also produces low insulin which absorbs glucose from the blood because there is less consumption of carbs. Low level of insulin levels can impact electrolytes like sodium, magnesium and potassium.
With low level of insulin in the body, the kidney excretes more sodium which is the main electrolyte for hydration. Sodium excretion leads to an imbalance of other electrolytes like magnesium and potassium. This is also a reason for keto headaches along with dehydration.
Low level of blood sugar level
Glucose is the main source of energy for brain and body. It replaces your carb intake to fats and brings the body in a metabolic state called ketosis in which main source of energy becomes stored fat. When body continues with keto diet, it starts depending upon ketone bodies rather than glucose which causes low level of blood sugar level. This may result in brain fog, headache, or mental fatigue because of the stress on the brain due to ketosis.
Toxins from stored fat
When the body starts utilizing stored fat, it gets too fat stores and these stores contain toxins too. When stored fats break down it also releases toxins in the bloodstream which causes dizziness, headache and fatigue.
Other potential causes
There are many other factors too which boost the risk of headaches on keto. Some of them are diuretics, overconsumption of medications, use of dehydration drugs, age factor, poor lifestyle, stress, poor sleep, and skipping meals.
There are some tips and tricks to stop or prevent keto side effects including headaches. Make sure about your hydration and intake of nutritious dense food and you will be able to cope up with keto flu symptoms.
Some specific tips to prevent keto headache are:
Stay hydrated: At the beginning of the keto diet, there is a lot of water loss. So, it is very important to drink the required amount of water every day. You should include adequate fluids in your diet. The goal should is to drink 68 ounces or 2 liters water per day.
Eat water-rich low carb foods: Include all low carb keto-friendly vegetables which are high in water content like cucumber, lettuce, zucchini, cabbage, celery and tomatoes. These vegetables will help you stay hydrated.
Limit alcohol intake: Alcohol is diuretic, which makes you urinate frequently and leads to dehydration.
Salt your food: To reduce your electrolyte imbalance, you can salt your food.
Eat electrolyte-rich foods: Foods like avocados, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach are rich in potassium and almonds, pumpkin seeds, kale are rich in magnesium. These vegetables should be included in your diet to balance your electrolytes.
Avoid exercise: Try to avoid too much exercise during the initial phase of keto diet. Because it can create stress in the body and boosts your headache.
Take electrolyte supplements: Taking supplements may reduce the symptoms of keto flu and headache too.
If these symptoms continue for more than a week during keto, then you must consult your health care provider for further assistance.
With a lot of health benefits and effective weight loss, keto diet comes with several side effects too during the initial phase of the diet. You don’t have to be discouraged or demotivated by keto headaches.
The most common side effect is keto headache which is caused by several reasons like low blood sugar level, dehydration, toxins from stored fat, and electrolyte imbalance.
However, you can prevent these symptoms as they are temporary and last for about 1 week only. Some of the ways by which you can prevent keto headache are by drinking an ample amount of water, eat water-rich foods, eat electrolyte-rich veggies, salt your food, and avoid exercise.
If your headache continues for a longer period of time, then you must consult your doctor and then continue with keto diet.