Low Carb Flu – how to survive your first week on low carb after living a lifetime of high carb

Image courtesy of marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When a smoker quits smoking, they crave cigarettes.  They get moody, they get restless, they get headaches, they have trouble sleeping.

When a heroin addict quits taking heroin, they crave heroin.  They get moody, they get restless, they get headaches, they have trouble sleeping.

When someone who eats carbs switches to low carb, they crave carbs.  They get moody, they get restless, they get headaches, they have trouble sleeping.

Seem overdramatic?  If you are pre-low-carb conversion, it may seem a little overdramatic.  If you’ve already done the conversion to low carb, especially to under 40 grams/day, you know exactly what i’m talking about.  The Low Carb Flu, also called the Keto Flu, is hard.  I’ve never smoked, and I’ve never done heroin, but a coworker who tried low carb for one single solitary day said that it was harder than quitting smoking.  I will tell you that I personally had all the above symptoms (minus the cigarette and heroin cravings) plus I was sweating profusely and literally had the shakes.  And folks, they don’t nickname it “The Flu” for nothing.  Your muscles are gonna ache.

“Why the heck would anyone put themselves through that? That doesn’t sound healthy!  I’ll stick to my carbs!”  Sounds logical on its face… but think about it this way… when people first quit smoking, they feel like crap too.  Doesn’t mean that nicotine withdrawal is bad for you or that nicotine is good for you and your body NEEDS it, it means that your body is having a physical reaction to not being exposed to that chemical.  The same thing happens when you lower your carb intake.  Carbs work on the reward center of the brain, same as nicotine.  When you lower your carbs, you will feel like crap at first.  You are going to be peeing like crazy because carbohydrates hold in water, and without them your body can process any extra fluids out.  Your muscles hurt because with the water being processed out more efficiently, other important things like sodium and magnesium leave too.  This is all normal.  Feeling like crap is normal.  Your body does not need the carbs.  Your body can function perfectly fine without them.  That’s what ketosis is for.

What can you do to make it feel better, besides hug yourself and tell yourself that it is normal?  Drink broth.  In fact, if at any time you find yourself feeling weak or faint on low carb, suck down some broth.  Full sodium.  Also, eat when hungry.  I know you’re on a diet, but this is not a starvation diet.  I ate a lot of eggs my first few days and put a lot of salt on them.

Some people advocate slowly reducing your carb intake, to avoid the flu.  So if you normally eat 300 grams a day, maybe reducing by 50 grams a week.  To each their own, but I really feel like you should just do it, rip off that carb bandaid nice and quick.  By reducing them slowly, you are just going to draw out your carb cravings.

Those of you how made it past the hump… any other tricks of making it through the Flu?

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5 thoughts on “Low Carb Flu – how to survive your first week on low carb after living a lifetime of high carb

  1. […] Low Carb Flu – how to survive your first week on low carb after living a lifetime of high carb (lchfamerica.wordpress.com) […]

  2. […] you break through your carb addiction (usually in the first 2 weeks of a low carb diet), your carb cravings will be nada.  Even when […]

  3. […] you’re just inviting your carb addiction to come back.  Third, you fought through the keto flu, why would you want to purposefully kick yourself back out and make yourself miserable […]

  4. […] contain carbs, so I was a little unsure of how the weekend would go.  Despite pushing through some keto flu symptoms, he’s been taking to LCHF like a champ.  He sure doesn’t lack for food possibilities, […]

  5. […] show who just started eating NSNG a few weeks ago and he talks about breaking food addiction, the keto flu which we’ve discussed, and how amazing real food […]

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