Table of Contents
- Keto Headache: A Real Life Story
- Keto Headache: Common Trait on Keto Diet
- Keto Headaches: Causes and Remedies
- 1. Electrolyte Imbalance: The Main Perpetrator Behind Keto Flu Symptoms
- 2. Hypoglycemic issue: Transition of body’s energy source
- Additional Tips to Deal with Keto Headaches
- Keto Headache: How Long Does It Last
- People experience this keto flu symptoms like keto headache while making transition to low carb, high fat ketogenic diet from standard diet.
- Two main perpetrators behind keto headache are Electrolyte Imbalance and hypoglycemia issue.
- Sticking to basic of keto diet, refilling important minerals, adding exercise, leading a stress-free life can help us overcome this keto side-effect.
Keto Headache: A Real Life Story
Mr. Anderson, an accountant in a private firm, as working on his desk, feels a dreary headache squeezes into the area above his right eye. He has had the same headache yesterday, which led him committing a mistake at his daily bookkeeping. The headache persisted throughout yesterday and today it’s been an hour it appears. Sometimes, he feels like minor soaring feeling. Other times, he feels like someone is compressing screws into the sides of his head or thrashing a hammer above his right eye.
Here it is worth noting that it’s been a week, Mr. Anderson starts keto diet. For the couple of days after embracing keto diet, he feel more energized and enthusiastic. But, suddenly his life in keto realm starts to change for the last couple of days as a relentless headache paying a visit to him. He has heard about keto flu symptoms but never imagine it can be so severe that it can put one’s personal and professional life in jeopardy. He would have given up keto diet unless he meets a doctor later in the day.
What Mr. Anderson experiences is called keto headache, which is a very common phenomenon while on keto diet. A sudden change in dietary habits can trigger some keto flu symptoms and keto headache is one of them.
Keto Headache: Common Trait on Keto Diet
It is a common phenomenon that a radical change in dietary habit may lead to various side-effects. Though the impact of those consequences depend on a person health position. And different people may experience different side-effects.
Among keto dieter the word headache is very common. People experience this keto flu symptoms while making transition to low carb, high fat ketogenic diet from standard diet.
Appalling part is that people can’t enjoy the numerous benefits of this diet scheme as they give up at the initial stage due to this nagging side-effect. At the beginning of the keto journey, we just have to walk an extra mile to reap all those benefits of keto diet. So, a strong determination along with some slight adjustment in our dietary habits will help us reach the summit.
Encouraging sign is that sooner or later our body will get used to run on alternate energy – fat and these symptoms will vanish into thin air.
Keto Headaches: Causes and Remedies
Headaches are usually nagging and we find our daily chores painful while experiencing this side-effect. No matter how messy it sounds, at times it can be cured with a ridiculous ease.
Imagine the power of a tinge of salt. Adding a pinch of salt to our diet can vanish this distressing problem like a snap of fingers. Yeah! It is as simple as that when you know the trick.
Let’s find out what are the causes that induce keto headaches and the measures that can help thwart it.
1. Electrolyte Imbalance: The Main Perpetrator Behind Keto Flu Symptoms
Electrolytes are chemicals that work as a catalyst in a lot of our body functions. There are four basic types:
If our body finds any disorders in these electrolytes, it begins to show signs of malfunctioning in the form of keto flu.
The effects come to the scene when we see a fluctuation in the electrolyte concentration. And keto headache is one of the outcomes of these disorders.
Excessive discharge of water is the cause behind this usual electrolyte problems as these valuable minerals literally flushed out from our body. Remember, any quick loss of fluid will pave the way for electrolyte release – no matter if it is from a stint of diarrhea or from a regular workout sweating.
When we choose to enter into the keto domain, as per the norms we put a limit on our carbs intake. Due to lack of regular carbs supply, our body’s stocked carbs – known as glycogen – begin to use up.
Our body’s water discharge is proportionate to glycogen depletion. Our body loses three grams of water for every gram of glycogen exhaustion, triggering dehydration. Due to this huge loss of minerals, we may feel a headache.
What does the science say about Electrolyte Imbalance?
Our kidneys form with tons of thousands of small filters. These kidneys keep a hale and hearty balance among minerals, salt and water. Using renal artery, blood enters to our kidneys and these arteries help filter blood as it passes through them.
Our kidneys hold or discharge water after receiving a hormonal signal when the blood passes through them. Our blood pressure level decreases when our kidney emit water as a result of drop in blood volume. On the flip side, blood level increases when kidneys retain water.
During kidneys holding to eliminating water process, electrolytes wash away along with those water. Any shade – darker or lighter yellow – in our urine indicates that our body is losing electrolytes.
Homeostasis – a stable position of internal setup – signals our body to uphold minerals level within its secure range. As a consequence of this, blood volume in kidney compressed, meaning our body discharges electrolytes. And this lack of minerals leads to harmful symptoms like headaches.
Solution: Replenish electrolytes
So far, we have learned how shortage of electrolytes can cause headache while on keto. The best way to deal with this problem is to refill these minerals. Sodium, magnesium and potassium are considered most important among all other electrolytes to cure keto headache.
Our body’s blood volume regulates by sodium, hence, this critical minerals play the most important role in treating keto headache.
A study conducted on 102,000 participants as to decide the right amount of daily sodium intake. The result in New England Journal of Medicine claims that the limit hover around 4-6 grams/day.
Plain Salt is considered as the most important source of sodium. Experts recommend 2-3 teaspoon of this salt would meet sodium quota. Other sources of sodium are:
- Himalayan sea salt
- Bone broth
- Sodium pills
Besides headaches, potassium deficiency may trigger other keto side-effects like constipation, depression, skin problems, heart palpitations and muscle cramps.
- Daily dosage: approx. 3,000 mg.
Following foods would help us meet our daily potassium requirements in a most natural and efficient way (serving per 100 g):
- Spinach – while cooked contains ~460 mg of potassium.
- Avocados – raw version possesses ~480 mg of potassium.
- Salmon – ~410 mg
- White button mushrooms – ~320 mg
- Pork – ~420 mg
It is worth mentioning that excessive potassium intake can cause havoc. Therefore, experts recommend against the use of supplements and refill those potassium requirements from natural sources.
Magnesium is so basic that it takes part in almost every functionaries of our body. Studies set the amount of daily intake at around 380-420 mg. though magnesium are present in most foods but keto diet allows only a handful of them to consume. Some of the significant sources of magnesium are given below:
- Kale is full of magnesium. Though we have to consume around one kg of raw leaves to match the daily requirement.
- Cabbage is another great source.
- Salmon and Halibut are another food that are full of magnesium. We can refill 20% of daily required value by eating ten ounces of any of them
- Among nuts macadamia and almonds and hemp and pumpkin seeds are also excellent magnesium suppliers.
- Dark chocolates, rich in cocoa, provides with noteworthy magnesium.
Bottom Line Electrolyte Imbalance:
We go through this keto flu experience when our body finds any imbalance in electrolytes. Excessive discharge of water from our body is the main cause behind this electrolyte disorder as our body loses a lot of minerals along with those water. Experts recommend replenishing those minerals from natural sources rather than through supplementing.
2. Hypoglycemic issue: Transition of body’s energy source
A physician and expert on keto diet, Dr. Eric Berg MD, links this keto headache with hypoglycemic problem. This issue arises when our body makes the transition in energy source: switch to ketones from glucose.
Dragging down the carbs intake to stipulated level is a basic thing on keto diet. When we do this carb withdrawal, consequently sugar level in our blood dips, pushing our body to get used to new situations. During this transition phase, among other organs our brain affected the most. Because, up until adopting keto diet, it used to run on glucose and it finds initially a bit hard to utilize those ketones to run the body functionaries.
Sometimes people blend keto diet with intermittent fasting to accelerate achieving the ketosis faster. In the process, our blood glucose level lowers even further and that may lead to increase headache. This practice is advised when we have already achieved ketosis state. But if we try this technique at the initial stage, it might aggravate the whole headache situation.
Dr. Eric Berg MD, is a chiropractor who specializes in Healthy Ketosis & Intermittent Fasting, explains this issue very neatly:
“When you start keto diet, your cells are not yet adapted to running on ketones, you still running on glucose though low in volume. Then if you add intermittent fasting, it drops the sugar further. The problem is that low sugar level added tremendous amount stress to the brain, central nervous system and the nerves overall.’’
What is the science’s take on this issue?
When we start the process of carb withdrawal and fat insertion in our diet, our liver and gallbladder become more active finding requisite amount of fat burning enzymes. These enzymes play a pivotal role in transforming extra fat into more ketones.
This fat conversion time depends on our body’s alteration capacity. During this transition, our body faces a very critical situation: very low on energy – glucose – to run the body, while struggles to adapt to new fuel source – ketone. This hanging in the balance situation leads to keto flu symptoms like headaches.
Solutions To Hypoglycemic Issue: Practicing a Paradox
Adjusting to one source of fuel to another form – glucose to ketones – is not easy for our body. Our body needs some time to make this fine-tuning. However, during this keto transition period, our body shows some keto flu symptoms like headache. following steps will help us overcome this side-effect very easily:
Taking foods at regular intervals while increasing protein intake
We can instantly get to know as to whether this headache caused by blood sugar drop. What we have to do is that when we feel the headache, we intentionally increase our glucose level. If we start to feel less pain then we come to the reason behind that aches.
However, in order to spike the glucose level we can’t derail from the basic – consuming carbohydrates. It would be a grave blunder, if we do that as it would throw us out of ketosis. In curing this headache, increasing carbs consumption is purposeless. Because if we cut the carbs intake to get back to ketosis again, headache will recur.
Alternatively, we can surge our protein intake – though it’s slight derailment from keto basic. Remember moderate protein. In the absence of glucose, our body will reach a state where it will start gluconeogenesis – a metabolic state where our body generate glucose from corn-carbs sources. It help maintain ketosis without any surge in blood sugar. When headache disappears, we can gradually cut protein intake to stipulated level.
It would be wise to temporarily slash our physical exercise in order to help preserve glucose level.
Speeding up ketosis process
if the level of headache is trivial and doesn’t affect our daily life ominously, we can wait until it vanishes by itself. Eventually, our body will learn the art of generating sufficient enzymes and transform all those fat into new fuel – ketones.
But we can do something extraordinary to take this enzyme production process to the next level. We have to cut our carbs intake almost completely. And absence of glucose will eventually lead to deplete body’s glycogen. In order to do that we should set our daily carbs intake amount to 10g and should exercise with great passion.
In the absence of glycogen, our body will leave with no other options but force to generate sufficient ketones and adapt to it.
Bottom Line Hypoglycemic Issue:
Keto headache can happen when our body switches from glucose to ketones as fuel source. During this phase we can increase our protein intake a bit as it will help our body to generate glucose from non-carbs sources.
Additional Tips to Deal with Keto Headaches
Issues mentioned above are considered to be key ones, but there are some other factors we have to count on. Some slight adjustments can help us big time in dealing with headache issue with ease while on keto.
Our body creates a synergy when we blend our diet with sensible exercise. Researches have shown that work out helps expand our body’s absorption flexibility.
One study found that those who go for intense-training, their absorption power of fatty acid is higher than normal ones because endurance training increases mitochondrial fatty acid acceptance.
Exercise will speed up fat metabolism process, hence will help our body to run on ketones early. In the process, will help our body to mitigate disturbing matters like a headache.
# Keeping Aside Stress
Probably, when people set a goal and try hard to achieve that aim, they put themselves under pressure. May be even after putting a lot of effort, not reaching ketosis can cause stress.
But the moot point is that as to whether stress is good or bad. Stress is divided into two categories:
- Distress – the bad type. Might lead our off mood or can even make us feel anguish.
- Eustress – the good one. This one helps growth and fortify energy.
Our mindset plays a big role in managing stress. Our attitude can turn a minor issue into a stressful event. Therefore, thinking positive and building confidence is the key to eliminate distress and convert it into eustress. Besides, this mindset can help shorten the keto transition phase.
Keto Headache: How Long Does It Last
It is very hard indeed to find a precise answer to this burning question.
Usually keto headache can last from a day to over a week as this amount of time an average body takes to begin generating ketones and reach ketosis. It occurs due to our body’s reply to the sudden restriction on carbs limit and freely offered blood glucose.
However, the length of keto headache lasts may diverge from person to people. If someone has a poor state of health or takes poor diet, than it is likely that s/he would suffer from keto headache for a longer period of time.
Keeping carbs aside, eating fats aplenty and keeping electrolytes refilled, one can enter into ketosis within a short span of time. Remember, the early we reach ketosis, the fewer we would experience keto headache.
If we cheat and eat carbs on and off with fats, then keto headache will visit us more often than not as this deviation from keto diet keep us in and out of ketosis more frequently.
Finally, if headache persists for a long period of time, then it is a clear indication that there is something wrong with our food intake or we have some other health issues.
We can try exclusion diet technique to find out which foods cause this keto side-effect. If the situation goes beyond control, we should consult a doctor without further delay.
Keto headaches may make our life chaotic or even dissuade us to pursue ketogenic diet. However, adopting appropriate steps can help mitigate this keto side-effect with ease.
Following steps will help us big time to deal with keto-flu symptoms like headache:
- Sticking to basic of keto diet – low carb, high fat food intake.
- Refilling important minerals and nutrients
- Adding exercise while making this diet change
- Leading a stress-free life
Remember, this sort of keto side-effect is normal in this diet. Practicing the above mentioned steps might help tackle keto headache accurately. In most circumstances, these symptoms last for a few hours or for a few days.
Experts suggest for enduring this keto side effects for a short period of time to reap the great benefits in the long run.