OMG! Keto-flu is here too. According to a study, ketogenic diet can induce flu-like symptoms

If you are on a ketogenic diet then we have news for you. According to a new study, this eating plan might give you flu.
covid-19 and cold
With common symptoms, it may be hard to tell whether it's cold or Covid-19. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
ANI Updated: 13 Oct 2023, 14:59 pm IST
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Who would have thought that eating a certain type of diet will attract symptoms that are flu-like – and that too in the wake of coronavirus it’s a little scary. But unfortunately, it’s true.

According to a new study, a ketogenic diet can lead to several flu-like symptoms within the first few weeks on the eating plan.

In the research which got published in Frontiers in Nutrition, the experts analyzed the symptoms reported by keto dieters on social media. These reports reveal common but yet unknown symptoms, such as flu fatigue, nausea, dizziness, decreased energy, feeling faint, and heartbeat alterations. The online testimonies also mention that these symptoms peak in the first 7 days and dwindle after four weeks and range in severity.

Keto-flu is the side effect of a keto diet, find researchers
“The experiences of symptoms by many people strengthen the evidence for side-effects following the initiation of a ketogenic diet,” says Dr Emmanuelle Bostock of the Menzies Institute for Medical Research of the University of Tasmania, in Australia.

“These consumers have the most immediate experience of effects and side-effects and many choose to report and share these in online forums,” Bostock added.

The effectiveness of the keto diet has only been established for intractable epilepsy, but despite this, a ketogenic diet is often self-administered for weight loss, cognitive and memory enhancement, type II diabetes or cancer.

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A commonly discussed side effect of this diet is the so-called “keto flu”, a cluster of transient symptoms that occur within the first few weeks on the diet. To better understand how these symptoms evolve, Bostock and her collaborators identified 43 online forums referring to “keto flu” and manually gathered personal experiences of 101 people describing symptoms, severity and time course.

“We focused on social media because of its widespread use for discussion of health topics, which makes it practical to harness the experience of people who have tried the treatment in question,” explains Bostock.

In line with prior medical research, Bostock and her colleagues found reports of headache, difficulty concentrating, and gastrointestinal discomfort, following the initiation of a keto diet.

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Also, Read: Thinking of embracing the keto diet in 2020? Read these 5 downsides first

But here is good news – Keto-flu’s symptoms drops in the fourth week
Additionally, they reveal further common symptoms, such as flu, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, decreased energy, feeling faint and heartbeat alterations. Dieters often experienced more than one symptom, with differing degrees of severity.

ketogenic diet
Ketogenic diet although induces a “keto flu”, its symptoms subside in shorter time says study. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

But there is also good news for people experiencing such a “keto flu”. The results of this study highlight the sudden onset of symptoms, peaking in the first and dwindling after four weeks. Once symptoms manifested, most of them resolved within little more than two weeks.

Online forum user conversations were generally supportive, sharing remedies to others based on popular beliefs, such as maintaining hydration and correcting electrolyte imbalances.

The results of this study were limited to conversation threads in online forums and therefore lack any confirmatory evidence that ketone levels were raised. Likewise, experiences of online forum users may not be representative of the larger pool of individuals on the keto diet. Nevertheless, the symptom patterns yielded may indicate key lines of questioning for future survey-based approaches.

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