Keto Flu vs. Carnivore Diet Flu & 7 Possible Remedies
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Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of decades, you must have heard about the low-carb diet approaches like Keto and Carnivore diets.
Both diets are a far cry from the food pyramid we were raised to live by. They redefined how we think about and approach food. Since both diets essentially work in the same way, ketosis, both diets share similar health benefits and possible side effects.
The beginning of the journey might be a little bumpy as some report developing a set of rather uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms were grouped and named Keto Flu or Carnivore Flu, or Carb Flu.
Let’s see what it’s all about and how you can get by if you develop it.
How low carb diets work?
Both Keto and Carnivore are low carbohydrate diets, carnivore being almost zero carbs. This means that your diet will consist of meager amounts of carbs, almost up to zero carbs in the carnivore diet.
How Many Carbs We Talking?
The Keto diet has many versions, and the most popular type, classic Keto, allows for 20 grams per day.
This is such a drastic change as our bodies are used to the carb-loaded diet. This shift forces your body into a state of ketosis. When your body doesn’t find carbs, it declares a state of starvation.
To keep you alive, it looks for the next best available option: FAT!
Your body no longer depends on carbohydrates as the primary source of energy. Instead, it metabolizes fat and produces ketones as by-products. Hence, the process is called ketosis.
What do they have in common?
The health benefits! They are both known for their fantastic weight loss results, obviously, and reduction of inflammation. They are accoladed for boosting overall mental and physical wellbeing and controlling blood sugar levels up to decreasing insulin resistance.
Due to their high-fat content, both diets are incredibly satiating and, with time, decrease your appetite. Both diets urge for quality nutritious food that’s as organic as possible, but some dieters doing both diets claim that supplementing vitamins and micronutrients is essential.
Personally, I implement organ meats into my diet like beef, liver, or kidneys. However, if you are in a rush or not as keen on cooking liver, perhaps desiccated liver supplements will work.
I use a brand, (and highly recommend), called Ancestral Supplements due to their strict quality standards and the use of grass-fed beef.
Another way to sneak in organ meats is buy eating Beef Liverwurst or Braunshweiger. Go to US Wellness to buy as they use grass fed beef and have high quality standards. Be careful as these products are sometime sold out.
Calorie Counters and Macros?
Most people on both diets no longer need to count calories as well. If you are on a Carnivore diet or some versions of Keto, you won’t even need to count macros.
Of course, they both might give their new participants the carb flu too which we will discuss in detail in a second.
Are there any differences?
Yes. The macros ratio is drastically different. Macronutrient breakdown on the conventional diet is 20% fat, 25% protein, and 55% carb. If you are on Keto, the breakdown will be 60% fat, 30% protein, and 10% carb.
While you don’t need to count macros on the carnivore diet, you will probably be on a 70% fat, 30% protein, and no carbs at all.
Also, the carnivore diet doesn’t contain any plant-based food items, so you can’t lavish your piece of meat in olive oil as you do in Keto. Just use tallow or lard. In fact stock up because you may go through a lot.
You can use US Wellness to buy grass-fed meat and tallow if needed. Once again this is a very reputable company that provides fantastic service.
On Keto, you will have low-carb fruits and veggies like berries and leafy vegetables. Because of the variety of food, you can meal prep for Keto and have 5-7 different meals throughout the day.
On the other hand, it is more likely to have 2-3 meals only per day. The carnivore diet is very simple: meat, water, and salt.
What is the keto or Carnivore flu?
Simply put, your body is panicking. For years, your body and carbs were best friends and everything was cool. Then, you changed your diet and carbs disappeared. In this condition, your body tries to use up all the carbs stored in your muscles and liver for emergencies.
In a couple of days, you will consume all your storage. This signals your brain to start its starvation mode and initiate ketosis. This is a state of shock to your body that will take some time as your brain and other organs try to adapt to your new lifestyle.
Thus, Keto Flu happens. You can think of it as a genetically programmed SOS in cases of starvation. It’s a mix of symptoms mimicking flu and withdrawal-like symptoms you experience if you try to wean yourself off sugar or caffeine. However, it doesn’t necessarily happen to everyone.
How will I feel?
Keto Flu is not a disease, so it doesn’t have a definite set of symptoms and signs to diagnose. It is more of a general feeling of discomfort and tiredness that can be minimal or very unpleasant.
In other words, everyone’s experience is different especially that we lead different lifestyles, exercise differently, and have different genetic make-up.
However, some of the most common clinchers for this flu are irritability, nausea, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, and brain fog.
You might even experience physical symptoms like muscle soreness, cramping, abdominal pain, and diarrhea or constipation.
It is important to note that you will crave food intensely too no matter how much you eat. Your body just wants its carbs back and doesn’t care for proteins and fats. On average, these symptoms last for 3-5 days, but some people reported that their flu lasted for two weeks.
How to avoid it?
You can try to avoid the flu altogether, and the most successful trick is staying hydrated and making sure that you are not truly starved. Since you are adopting a new diet, you might not be hitting your target macros because you are new to this.
So, if you are hungry have more meat and fats. This is not the phase to track macros. Another successful trick is the carb step-down strategy.
In his book “The Carnivore Diet” Shawn Baker recommends that you gradually adjust your macronutrient ratios over several weeks.
This strategy not only allows for a smooth transition but also gives you a chance to discuss with your doctor any needed drug dosage alterations like blood-pressure drugs.
These tactics can make your body skip the flu or minimalize its severity. But what if it happens anyway?
What are the remedies?
As aforementioned, different people experience different symptoms and severity of flu, so what works for one person might not be the best for the other.
Therefore, you should try the most popular ones until you find out what works best for you.
However, don’t skip the tactics you tried to avoid the flu. Stay hydrated and eat plenty of nutritious food all through this phase. Here is a list of the most successful remedies you can try:
- Electrolyte replacement: As your body readjusts to this shock, different hormones like insulin levels will change. Insulin which is responsible for controlling your blood sugar level will decrease because there is no sugar or carb intake. This will cause an initial unsteadiness in your electrolyte balance and may be responsible for some symptoms like cramps, bloating and constipation. Therefore, make sure to add salt to taste and choose diet-friendly micronutrient-rich foods. This can be green leafy vegetables in the Keto diet and bone broth in the carnivore diet. Of course, you can take electrolyte supplements. Our recommended brand is Redmond Re-Lyte and this link will get you 15% off.
- You can read more on our page dedicated to carnivore diet supplements called, “7 Best Carnivore Diet Supplements | Reviewed and Tested.”
- Have more MCT: Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT is a form of saturated fat that goes directly to the liver after digestion just like carbohydrates. Therefore, it can make you adapted more quickly and efficiently than any other type of fat. However, it’s not exactly carnivore and we go deep on why you may want to remove it from your carnivore diet. This article is dedicated to oils and MCT is included.
- Exogenous ketone supplement (Amazon Link): This is the same concept as MCT supplementation again. It’s like notching your metabolism towards ketosis by showing it that ketones are the next new thing for you.
- Take activated charcoal (Amazon Link): As you start metabolizing fat, your body will release whatever is stored in your fat cells too. This might include some toxins, so charcoal may help you get rid of them faster.
- Adjust your exercise: Strenuous exercise even if you are used to it is still considered stressful to your body. With the added hassle of adapting to a new fuel source, it’s like whipping a tired horse. Low-intensity exercise is your best option.
- Catch some Z’s: Sleep imbalance also disturbs the levels of cortisol. This is a stress hormone that’s necessary to manage the changes you are going through. So, do whatever it takes to sleep well.
- Relieve stress with meditation: Your mental status to overcome the cravings is surmountable to your success. It might be hard, but nothing worth having is easy. Your mind-set is everything in this war against carbs.
While all these symptoms and remedies might sound like a lot to grasp, you can think of this as an experiment.
If you think about it, you just need to go gradually, have plenty of water, and go for brisk walks.
Maintaining a healthy life with meditation and sleep is something you should already be doing anyway. After you pass through this phase, if it happens, your body will thank you.
You will experience the mental and physical benefits that both diets are capable of providing you with. It’s only a matter of consistency and perseverance after all!
If you are new to the carnivore diet and looking for like-minded individuals then I would suggest trying out the World Carnivore Tribe Facebook Group. Here you will find a good mixture of newbies and veterans eager to engage.
Also check out MeatRX. Here you will see a plethora of testimonials.
Most Read Carnivore Diet Articles
- Can You Drink Alcohol On The Carnivore Diet? (Why and Why not?)
- 10 Illnesses a Carnivore Diet Can Possibly Help Prevent!
- 16 Perfect Snacks for People on a Carnivore Diet & Meat Lovers
Carnivore Diet Books
- The Carnivore Diet by Dr. Shawn Baker (Bookshop.org)
- The Carnivore Code by Dr. Paul Saladino (Amazon)
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. Consult with and ask your doctor about any diet or medical-related questions. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.