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Keto symptoms

When you first start a ketogenic lifestyle, a lot of things change! Most of these changes are incredibly positive, but there are also some things that can be quite unpleasant in the beginning of your new lifestyle. You may experience the “keto flu,” have a bad taste in your mouth, develop bad breath, and even experience changes in your bowel movements (such as diarrhea or constipation). In this article, I will explain everything about the symptoms you can experience when starting keto and, more importantly, what you can do about them. Because there is a solution for everything ๐Ÿ˜‰

Table of Contents:

Keto Flu

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When you delve into the world of keto, you will likely come across the term “keto flu.” Keto flu is something many people experience when transitioning to a ketogenic lifestyle. It is common for people to not feel their best during this transition, and the symptoms can include:

  • Nausea or queasiness in your stomach
  • Headache
  • Feeling weak
  • Fatigue
  • Quick irritability and moodiness
  • Hot flashes or feeling unusually cold
  • Muscle cramps or abdominal cramps

As you can see, these are common flu-like symptoms. These symptoms can occur when you make the switch to a keto lifestyle, hence the name “keto flu.”

What Causes Keto Flu?

The cause of these symptoms is because your body is essentially going through withdrawal from a sugar addiction. Even if you consumed few products with added sugars, your body still had to deal with the large amount of carbohydrates that were converted into sugars in your body.

Think of it like a drug addict quitting drugs all of a sudden, or a smoker quitting smoking. It’s not an easy process.

Your body needs some time to adjust to the fact that there aren’t as many sugars readily available and that it will have to find another way to have sufficient energy.

Before your body accepts this, it will often protest with the symptoms mentioned above. This is your body’s way of signaling that it is missing something (in this case, sugars) because it is used to receiving a larger amount of sugars. Your body thinks, in a way, that the energy supply is being cut off, so it will do everything to prevent that.

How to Get Rid of It?

Some people are lucky and experience little to no symptoms. If you do experience symptoms, it’s essential to drink enough fluids. Preferably, drink water or green tea to stay well-hydrated, as it also helps flush out toxins.

Secondly, adding a teaspoon of Himalayan salt or sea salt to a glass of water or having a cup of strong broth can help maintain your minerals and salts. You can read more about the importance of salt here.

Don’t Give In!
Most importantly, do not give in to the craving for carbohydrate-rich food. This will only prolong and make the process more challenging. Instead, ensure your body gets enough healthy fats and proteins to make the transition to fat burning (instead of sugar burning) easier.

Can You Prevent Keto Flu?

Whether you can entirely prevent it varies from person to person, as everyone’s body works and responds differently. However, some things can help make the transition process smoother and less of a shock to your body.

Don’t Go Cold Turkey
Gradually reduce your carbohydrate intake instead of abruptly switching to a keto lifestyle. Start by eliminating significant carb sources like bread, pasta, and rice. You can also do this in stages, reducing your intake gradually.

Change Your Eating Habits, Don’t Eat Less
Replace carb-rich foods with extra vegetables and potentially more meat. Alternatively, create low-carb crackers or bread yourself. You can find plenty of delicious recipes in my cookbooks, making it very simple to make your bread and crackers.

Cut Out Sugary Drinks
Stop consuming sugary drinks and other beverages with high carbohydrate content, such as milk and flavored yogurt.

Listen to Your Body
If you feel good, eliminate fruits with high carbohydrate content (e.g., bananas/mangoes) and replace them with smaller amounts of red fruit or coconut pieces.

Ready for Full Keto
By gradually implementing the above changes, you’ll eventually be ready to transition to full keto without experiencing severe keto flu symptoms.

How long you take to make these adjustments is entirely up to you. It depends on how you feel. You may be ready after just one week, or it may take longer. Don’t feel bad if you choose to take more time; you have the rest of your life to enjoy the benefits. Adjustments to your diet can offer permanent improvements, not only in your quality of life but also in how much joy you can derive from it because you’ll feel so much better. It’s worth the investment! And why make it harder for yourself than it needs to be?

Help! My Bowel Movements Have Changed…

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An often unspoken and taboo topic. It’s actually quite strange because everyone does it, everyone has to do it, and it has such a significant impact on your daily life, more than most people probably realize. So, let’s get rid of the shame and get to it!

Let’s start by explaining what stool, or poop, actually is. Stool is the undigested remains left over from our food, everything you’ve eaten that your body can’t use. By “can’t use,” I mean everything that can’t be stored or utilized by your body.

It’s inevitable that there will always be undigested remnants because your body can’t digest everything you eat. However, the amount of undigested food does say something about your eating habits. If you consistently have a lot of stool, you probably eat too much food that your body can’t use.

Color and Texture

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Stool can come in many different colors and textures, but what can you deduce from them?

The color of stool can be influenced by several factors. One of these factors is how long the stool has been in your body. In general, the darker the color, the longer it took for the stool to exit your body. However, our diet also has a significant impact on color. For example, you might remember as a child being surprised when your stool turned red or purplish after eating beets, or green after eating spinach.

Certain medications can also affect the color of your stool. So, stool color can indeed provide some insights into your gut health, but it’s not always the case for all variations. If you’re unsure about the cause, always consult a doctor.

Texture Differences – What Causes Them?
The texture of stool is primarily determined by the amount of water that can be extracted from the intestines. When stool stays in the intestines for a long time, more water is removed, resulting in hard, pellet-like stool. Conversely, if stool spends only a short time in the intestines, it doesn’t have enough time to remove much water, leading to soft or even diarrhea-like stool.

The Smell of Our Stool…

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Stool will never smell like roses because it consists of food remnants containing various bacteria, which naturally produce unpleasant odors. However, the degree of odor in stool can tell you something about your diet.

Foul-smelling stool often indicates incorrect or excessive dietary choices and an imbalanced gut flora. The breakdown of proteins (through fermentation and putrefaction) that occurs in the intestines can lead to sulfur formation, which is what causes the foul smell.


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This is also partly determined by your diet. If you eat a lot of things your body needs to get rid of, chances are you’ll have to go to the bathroom frequently. However, if you primarily consume foods from which your body can extract the maximum nutrients, your body will produce less waste, leading to longer intervals between your usual visits to the toilet. So, don’t be alarmed if you used to go every day but now there are sometimes several days in between.

What to Do with Changes?

As you’ve read above, your diet has a significant impact on your bowel movements. Therefore, it’s logical that your stool may change when you alter your diet. Not only can the color, odor, and texture change when you adjust your diet, but so can the frequency of your bathroom visits. This is nothing to be immediately concerned about. You should also give your body some time to adapt to the changes in your diet, just as you need time to figure out the most efficient way to handle new things.

What to Expect with a Ketogenic Lifestyle (or the Keto Diet)?

Many people experience constipation in the initial period. This isn’t immediately serious, but it can be very annoying if you feel the urge…

Things that can help get things moving again:
Flaxseed Oil
Start with 1/2 to 1 tablespoon per day. You can take this straight, but it’s tastier to mix it with a bit of quark/yogurt or use it in a salad dressing. You could also mix it with a bit of mayonnaise and eat it with, for example, a boiled egg, a piece of meat for dinner, etc.
Make sure you drink enough and, if necessary, a bit extra. This helps ensure your body has enough fluid to better evacuate the stool and also helps soften it. Many people find that lukewarm water works even better.
The more your body moves, the better everything in your body is stimulated, activated, and circulated. Your intestines function better when your body is sufficiently active. Take an extra stroll around the block, for example, and feel what it does in your stomach.
Ensure Your Electrolytes Are Balanced:
Read more about electrolytes here.
Fiber, Fiber, and More Fiber
Fiber is essential for a healthy gut flora! Fiber stimulates intestinal movement and contributes to a good composition of undigested food, which ensures smooth stool. Note that fiber needs water to bind properly. So, if you consume a lot of fiber but too little water, it can actually lead to constipation!

Experiencing diarrhea instead?
Many people deal with constipation, but this is not necessarily the case for everyone. Some people experience the opposite, namely diarrhea. This is also not something you should be immediately concerned about. However, it’s important to drink enough and maintain good electrolyte balance, as you lose more of both with diarrhea. Just as fiber combined with water can help with smoother stool, the same fibers can also help thicken diarrhea because the fibers absorb the moisture from the stool. This includes vegetables, but also products like psyllium fibers.

When to Contact Your Doctor?
As you’ve read above, there isn’t always an immediate cause for panic if something changes in your bowel movements (especially when combined with a different diet). However, if you’re unsure or if the symptoms persist for a long time, get in touch with your doctor’s assistant. They can assess whether further investigation is needed. Mention the changes in your diet when contacting them, so they can take this into account in their assessment. If you have other health issues and think a disrupted gut flora may be a concern, always get in touch with your treating physician.

Foul Breath and Unpleasant Taste

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Foul breath is a common complaint among people who have just started a keto lifestyle. It may sound strange, but as a new keto enthusiast, this is something you should actually be happy about! It means that your body is in a state of ketosis, woohoo!

Despite being a good sign, it can still be quite unpleasant and bothersome. Or maybe even something you’re embarrassed about? Don’t worry! Below, I’ll explain everything about the cause of foul breath due to keto, and more importantly, what you can do about it! And, of course, without deviating from your keto lifestyle. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Cause

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The cause of foul breath when you first start keto is the transition to a state of ketosis. In reality, it’s a very good sign that you should actually be happy about! Isn’t that strange? Being happy about foul breath…

As you enter a state of ketosis, your body starts producing more ketones. In the beginning, your body still needs to find the right balance, resulting in your body going into overdrive to produce ketones, more than you actually need. This is because your body will always do everything to avoid shortages and to keep functioning well. The excess ketones that are not used are simply excreted by your body, so your body thinks, “Better safe than sorry” and builds up a good supply. The excess ketones are excreted from your body in several ways, one of which is through the breath. People often experience a metallic taste, and the odor is somewhat like acetone.

Is this permanent?

The good news is, no, this is definitely not permanent. This only lasts as long as your body is still adjusting to the right amount of ketones it needs. Usually, this disappears when you are fully fat-adapted, and your body is completely accustomed to the state of ketosis. However, it’s worth noting that if you frequently switch between a ketogenic and a high-carb diet, your body will have to readjust each time to find the right balance. Another reason not to deviate from keto easily ๐Ÿ˜‰.

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What can you do about it?

The best thing you can do is to continue with your ketogenic lifestyle so that your body can optimize everything. But in the meantime, there are several things you can use to minimize the odor (and taste).
Sugar-free gum and mints are not recommended as they often contain many artificial sweeteners that can affect the transition to ketosis and may also have an impact on blood sugar levels. This will only make it more challenging for you. Here are some tips to try out and see what works best for you!

The Refreshing Power of Mint

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The mint plant is an excellent natural remedy for unpleasant odors. It’s wonderfully refreshing and can be used in multiple ways. For instance, you can pluck a leaf and chew on it.

But you can also make a delightful tea, or even create your own mouthwash or mouth spray.

Toothpaste and Mouthwash

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Another (probably obvious) option is to brush your teeth (and tongue!) more frequently throughout the day and use mouthwash. This is a great solution if you’re at home a lot or if you bring a travel-sized kit with you and can use it at a restroom sink on location.

My Favorite!

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A magical Chinese remedy for bad breath. Toco-Tholin is also a completely keto-friendly solution that I personally find ideal! It is applicable for many different purposes, including freshening your breath. This magical product is an essential oil with a powerful mint/eucalyptus flavor. It provides a truly refreshing taste explosion in your mouth and is safe to use.

Application: Put a drop on your tongue, and you’ll have a wonderfully fresh breath for at least half an hour. TIP! Just don’t use it right before putting on a face mask, as it can literally make your eyes water ๐Ÿ˜œ.

Easy to carry: Another great feature is that it comes in a convenient slim bottle that easily fits in your pants or jacket pocket. So, it’s easy to take with you wherever you go. You can find this product at most drugstores, or order it online. Absolutely fantastic!

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With the above tips, you can confidently get close to your loved ones again without worrying about your breath and without giving up your keto lifestyle!


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