The Keto diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb eating approach that has taken the world by storm. One of the most buzzed-about diets out there, the Keto diet has many benefits including weight loss, appetite reduction, reduction of blood sugar levels, and much more.
While there may be numerous pros to this way of eating, just like any diet, there are cons. One of the transitional side effects of the Keto diet is the dreaded ketosis headache. In order to properly address this temporary but irritating side effect, it’s important to understand the causes, symptoms, and how to prevent it. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of one of Keto’s most common side effect, the ketosis headache.
What Causes a Keto Headache?
With any dietary change, there are likely to be numerous side effects. When your body is used to eating and functioning in a particular way, any sort of change throws it out of sorts, causing unpleasant reactions. The same case goes for keto; your body is so used to functioning off of carbohydrates, and now it’s not.
When your body starts to burn fat as fuel rather than carbs, it takes time for it to adjust to your new lifestyle change. As for a keto headache, there are three main causes:
- Electrolyte Imbalance
- Carbohydrate or Sugar Withdrawl
Dehydration & The Keto Headache
When carbohydrates are restricted from your everyday life, your body begins to excrete water, causing the number on your scale to drop quicker than expected. This is because water is stored within your body’s carbohydrates, and a restriction causes it to flush out.
Because your body is losing a large amount of water at a rapid pace, it’s now more than ever important to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water helps combat keto symptoms before they start, making it vital to remain healthy.
Electrolytes & The Keto Headache
Once your body begins to excrete a large amount of water, your electrolytes go with it. Three electrolytes to keep an eye on in particular are sodium, magnesium, and potassium. Essential electrolytes such as these are crucial to keeping your body happy and healthy.
While on the keto diet, your daily requirement for these electrolytes is much higher than normal. To amp up your sodium intake, try keto-friendly options such as bone broth or even sodium bills. For magnesium, you can incorporate cooked spinach, almonds, and salmon into your diet to keep this electrolyte at a healthy level. In order to get the proper amount of potassium that your body needs to thrive, try eating nuts, avocados, and mushrooms.
The Length of a Keto Headache
While having a keto headache is an irritating symptom, it luckily doesn’t last forever. Typically, a keto headache can last anywhere from 24 hours to a week. Everybody is different, so there is no true way to tell exactly when your keto headache will subside. In rare, worst-case-scenario situations, a keto headache can last around 15 days. In order to try to combat this symptom, try starting keto on the weekend to avoid it harming your weekday routines.
How Do You Prevent a Keto Headache?
Believe it or not, this keto diet symptom can be prevented with the right methods. The keto headache develops because your body takes on an impaired ability to effectively use fat as energy. In order to prevent a keto headache from forming, you have to get your body used to the process of burning fat for fuel rather than glucose. Methods to prevent a keto headache include:
- Fill your diet with fat. Incorporating more fat into your diet is a huge part of fighting any sort of symptom that comes with the keto diet. Eating fatty meats like bacon, salmon, or steak usually do the trick.
- Increase the amount of salt you consume. When you begin keto, your insulin levels in your body decrease, making the need for sodium stronger than ever. Consuming bone broth, sodium supplements, or adding more salt to each meal usually help with this issue.
- Amp up the exercise. While exercising may not be everyone’s favorite activity, it sure does help in preventing a keto headache from forming. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine helps speed up the rate in which your body uses fat as its main source of energy, in turn combating the keto headache before it even starts.
Although experiencing a keto headache can be painful and an overall nuisance, it’s important to not let it discourage you from continuing your new keto lifestyle. This symptom may be unpleasant, but it’s completely temporary. The benefits of a low-carb, high-fat diet outweigh the negatives, making it important to stay strong and keep a positive mindset!