Keto Flu Sore Throat – What Causes it and How to Get Rid of It

You are finally all fired up and motivated to make a positive change in your life and to finally get your weight under control. So you take up the hot new keto diet that you’ve been hearing about to finally lose those extra pounds. But few days into your diet you feel sick, can’t work and are exhausted. To add on top of that, your throat is sore and the nose is stuffy. Disheartened, you figure this diet isn’t for you.

Don’t worry, all you are experiencing is a mild case of the keto flu. It’s normal for people who don’t know about the keto flu to be worried and quit, but knowing more can broaden your idea about the keto diet and it’s side effects and allow you to finally reach the health you’ve been dreaming about.

So, let’s begin with the most basic question-

What is the keto flu?

The keto flu is a collection of symptoms experienced when first start the keto diet. These symptoms, which are similar to the flu, are caused by the body suddenly changing to adapt to a new diet consisting of a little amount of carbohydrates but high fat content.

Reducing your carb intake forces your body to burn ketones as an alternate source of energy instead of glucose. Ketones are organic substances that are byproducts of fat metabolism and act as the main fuel source when following the body detects a low amount of carbohydrates in the diet. Normally, fat is reserved as a secondary fuel source to use when glucose is not available.

This process of burning fats for energy is called ketosis. It occurs during specific circumstances, such as during starvation and fasting. However, ketosis can also occur by adopting a very low-carb diet.

Is keto flu a sign of ketosis?

Yes, keto flu indicates that your body is undergoing a state of ketosis.

Sudden reduction from a carbohydrate-rich to a low-carb diet can come as a shock to the body and may cause withdrawal-like symptoms, similar to those experienced when limiting the intake of an addictive substance like caffeine or nicotine.

When does keto flu start?

Keto flu usually occurs soon after starting a keto diet. Most people don’t experience any symptoms and can continue the diet without issue. However, some people might experience the symptoms of keto flu soon after they start the diet.

Most people feel one or more of these symptoms during the first week of a keto diet, especially days 3-5. These might be keto flu, sore throat, stuffy nose, headache, dizziness, muscle cramps, etc. Fortunately, it’s temporary, and these symptoms soon disappear leaving you feeling fine again. In fact, you’ll maybe feel like you have more energy than before you started the diet.

How long does keto flu last?

The keto flu is a side effect on your body adapting to a new diet and eating style. So, generally, the symptoms of keto flu only last for a week or so. During this time, it’s best to manage these symptoms as best as possible and wait for them to disappear on their own.

However, for some people, it’s difficult to get used to the new diet and their body might take longer to adapt. For these people, the keto flu might linger on for several weeks.

If you are experiencing these symptoms for an unusually long period of time, it’s best to seek the advice of a doctor to make sure the symptoms are not caused by any other health issue.

What are the symptoms of keto flu?

Most people usually transition to a ketogenic diet without any issues, but others may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Weakness and Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sore throat
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty focusing 
  • Poor concentration
  • Stomach pain
  • Soreness
  • Insomnia
  • Sugar cravings
  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lethargy

These symptoms are the ones commonly reported by those who have just begun the ketogenic diet or within a week of the first change in diet and can be stressful to manage. The symptoms usually last about a week, though some people may experience them for a longer period of time.

Keto flu Sore Throat:

One of the most annoying symptoms of the keto flu is a sore throat. It’s normally described as having a dull pain in the throat, hoarseness of the voice, a scratching feeling or pain while swallowing. It’s really distressing having a sore throat after starting a diet. This makes doing almost anything difficult and added on top of the other symptoms you might face during keto flu, it makes life absolutely miserable.

What causes keto sore throat?

The reason behind the sore throat is thought to be changed in the pH level of the body caused due to the sudden change in diet. This causes irritation in the larynx and trachea causing the symptoms of sore throat. Ketosis can cause throat tightness, the lump in the throat as well as the symptoms mentioned above.

Keto Sore Throat Relief:

The main reason behind the keto sore throat is increased salivary acidity. So, the remedy for this is to take food or drinks that can neutralize this acidity. So alkaline based drinks are the ideal option.

Here are some recipes you can try at home as a remedy for keto sore throat:

Aloe Vera Lemon Cleanser:

Ingredients:

  • Organic Aloe Vera Juice (4 table spoons)
  • lemon juice (1/2 a lemon) 
  • Sugar(as much as preferred)
  • Water

Take this cleanser once in the morning and in the evening.  Within a few days, the sore throat will disappear. This drink is also very healthy as aloe vera has many health benefits.

Grapefruit Seed Throat Gargle: 

Ingredients:

  • Liquid Grapefruit Seed Extract (5 drops)
  • Water

Use this mixture to gargle several times a day. Grapefruit seed is highly alkaline in nature, it acts immediately as keto sore throat relief.  You can also drink it as it is very good for health. To make a drink, add the grapefruit seed extract with any juice of your choice such as orange juice. However, make sure your juice doesn’t have high sugar content as it will upset your keto diet.

Alkaline Booster Smoothies:

Alkaline rich smoothies can be made easily at home and it works miracles to help fight the keto flu. You can make these easily by blending up cucumbers, kale, mint, lime juice, parsley, ginger, and avocado along with some orange juice or carrot juice. Also, make sure you’re not taking too much sugar along with what’s naturally there in the ingredients or else they won’t really be keto-friendly and will defeat the entire purpose. 

Bottom Line:

A keto diet is a great opportunity to help you reach your desired health goals and finally live that health-conscious lifestyle. The keto flu and keto sore throat are minor obstacles in your way which can be managed quite easily. So, if you are facing trouble with these problems, hopefully, the tips given in this article will help you fight the keto flu and clear the way to realize your true potential.

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My name is Dr Sadiqa Tuqan. I'm graduated from Mymensingh Medical College in 2005. Then I completed my training in Medicine from Mymensingh Medical College. Thereafter I endured my endocrinology training in BSMMU. I attained FCPS in Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2015. At present, I am working as an Associate Consultant at Endocrinology in Square Hospital. I am a lifetime member of Bangladesh Endocrine Society and member of the Association of Clinical Endocrinologist and Diabetologist Bangladesh.

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