After going on a low-carb ketogenic diet, one of the most common things that happen is that you get to feel a headache called the “keto headache” (also called a low-carb headache). It’s not a good idea to let flu-like symptoms in the first week or two keep you from going on your keto journey. If you want to read the exact symptoms of the flu let’s read What Does A Keto Headache Feel Like?
There are things you can do in your daily life and specific nutrient protocols you can follow to avoid getting headaches when you cut back on carbs. As time goes on, your body will get used to using fat as a source of energy, and the symptoms will go away as well. Read on to find out why you might be having to feel a keto headache. What you can do to avoid them as you enjoy the powerful health benefits of ketosis.
What happens to your body when you first go keto?
There are a lot of carbs in processed food, and you’ve probably eaten a lot of them for a long time. You’ve learned to use carbohydrates as the main source of energy for your cells, hormones, and brain, which means that your body has changed how it works. It will be hard for your body to get used to using fat as its main source of energy when you start using it more. Your body will go through an “induction phase” because of this confusion about how your body works.
This is the time when your body works hard to get used to using ketones (energy from fats) instead of glucose (blood sugar) (from carbs).
During this phase, you may have flu-like symptoms, which are called the “keto flu,” because your body is going through a physical withdrawal from carbohydrates. These symptoms include headaches and mental fogginess. Brain fog is normal at the beginning of Keto.
One of the first signs of this ” induction phase ” comes from your brain losing its main source of fuel: glucose.
A low-carb, high-fat diet can help your brain use fat as its main source of energy. If you haven’t done this, your brain has been getting its energy from carbohydrates.
When you start eating more fat and fewer carbs, your body starts to use up all of your glycogen stores. At first, your brain won’t know where to get the energy it needs because there aren’t any carbs in it.
It’s normal to start staring at the sky, get headaches, and be angry. It’s a good idea to go low carb when you start. In this way, your body forced to use up all of its glycogen stores much more quickly.
As time goes on, many people try to cut back on their high-carb intake. This only makes the brain fog last longer. As soon as you go into ketosis, a large part of your brain starts to use ketones instead of glucose to power itself. It may take a few days or even a few weeks for the change to happen.
The good news is that ketones are a very good source of energy for the brain. You can use fat for energy when your brain gets used to it. Many studies have shown that people who have been on a long-term ketogenic diet have better brain cognition. Ketogenic diet has even been considered for treating brain conditions such as memory loss.
The ketogenic induction phase is stressful for your body
Without a lot of sugar in carbohydrates, your body will start to lower your blood sugar levels and make more of the stress hormone cortisol, which makes you feel stressed.
Glucocorticoid hormones have released by the adrenal glands to make sure that you have enough energy to live. Cortisol is one of them. When you have low blood sugar, your brain tells your adrenal glands to make cortisol. Glucose stored in glycogen (a form of glucose) will be used by your body as a source of fuel.
Carbohydrate restriction, and thus the ketogenic diet, may seem like a bad idea because your body is more stressed, which makes it release more cortisol. But this isn’t true. Over time, your body will change and start preferring to use fat as fuel through ketosis.
The causes of a keto headache
One of the most common side effects of making big changes to your diet, like the keto diet, is a severe headache that comes to feel with cutting back on carbs.
As long as you’ve eaten carb-heavy foods like bread and starchy vegetables, your body will need to get used to the idea of using fat as a source of energy.
People should not compare the keto flu to the common flu because the keto flu is different from the common flu. The keto flu is not contagious or viral, and you are not sick. You are just adapting to your new way of eating and getting used to the new way of life.
What causes a keto headache?
Getting dehydrated, having an imbalance in your electrolytes, and not having enough carbs or sugar in your body are three of the main reasons why you might get a headache after going on a low-carb diet.
Most people in the West eat a lot of sugar, which gives their bodies a quick boost.
Sugar affects your brain in the same way that cocaine and other addictive substances do, so when you stop taking sugar, you feel the same withdrawal symptoms as people who stop taking drugs ( 5 ).
In fact, it is the “sugar high” that makes people crave sugar more. Sugar makes you want more. The more you eat, the more you want.
How long does a keto headache last?
It’s possible that some people won’t feel any withdrawal symptoms at all. We are all unique, and the length of time we have symptoms depends on a lot of different things.
A low-carb diet before the ketogenic diet could make your symptoms go away quickly or not at all. You could also have a lot of green vegetables (either by eating them or taking a high-quality green vegetable supplement) to make your symptoms go away quickly or not at all.
On average, to feel a keto headache will last between 24 hours and a week, but it can last a lot longer or less than that. If you have a rare case, the symptoms may not go away for up to 15 days. On the weekend, some people start the ketogenic diet because the symptoms are less bad and don’t interfere with their daily lives too much.
Dehydration is common during the ketogenic induction phase
When you follow a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet, your body starts to get rid of extra water.
Start the ketogenic diet and lose a lot of weight. Don’t get excited when you see a lot of weight come off right away. You don’t only lose fat; you also lose water. Ketosis is known for having a very strong diuretic effect, so people often talk about it. This means that your body is getting rid of both water and electrolytes, which makes water retention less likely ( 6 ).
When you eat carbohydrates, your body stores water in your body, which makes your body more thirsty. When you cut back on carbohydrates, your body starts to get rid of water very quickly. Glycogen, which is made from carbohydrates, is used to make energy, but for every gram of glycogen used, twice as much water is lost in the process. When your body goes into ketosis, it starts to store glucose, but water loss doesn’t stop. Having ketones in your body will make you more likely to flush out water. Drinking a lot of water while adapting to a carbohydrate-restricted diet is important to avoid dehydration symptoms and keep your health and well-being in check.
Electrolyte imbalances are common when first going keto. Magnesium, sodium, and potassium are the main electrolytes to keep an eye on.
When your body starts to get rid of water, it starts to get rid of these important electrolytes that are important for a lot of different bodily functions, like energy production, body temperature control, and optimal brain function.
On a keto diet, you need more electrolytes each day than you do on a normal diet. An electrolyte supplement can help you during the change.
The popular ketogenic diet substitutes the majority of your carbs with fat. It is crucial to follow the Keto diet’s macronutrient recommendations if you want to use it as a weight loss method. Even if you follow the keto diet, you will probably see some unpleasant side effects.
The keto diet helps you lose weight quickly, but still, some people report feeling some side effects. One of the most adverse side effects is a headache.
A common negative consequence of switching to a ketogenic diet is headaches. Lessening your intake of carbs, especially sugar, may cause them. Headaches can also be brought on by dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities.
Although some people may feel discomfort for a longer period of time, keto headache normally lasts from one day to one week. If headaches continue, consult a doctor.
You can try salting your meals, drinking lots of water, eating foods high in water, and reducing alcohol to reduce your headache.
So if you feel headaches when following a keto diet, don’t get worried; they are temporary and due to the low amount of carbs. But if you feel it for a longer period of time, then you must consult with your doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some tips through which you can prevent keto headache
Take a lot of water. Take enough water because the first few weeks of the keto diet cause water loss.
Reduce your alcohol consumption
Consume hydrating low calorie food
Add salt to your food
to prevent strenuous exertion
When you stick with the keto diet, you will feel some negative side effects. even if you follow your diet properly. Headaches are one of the most common side effects of this diet. You may experience headaches during the first two weeks of the diet.
The body creates ketones during the process of metabolizing fat; these ketones are then eliminated from the body through increased and frequent urine. Dehydration and flu-like symptoms like weariness, disorientation, irritability, and painful muscles may result from this.