Transitioning to a low-carb lifestyle by implementing the ketogenic diet sometimes leads to unpleasant side effects, such as the so-called “Keto headache”.
In our previous article we talked about one side effect which affects physical performance.
That was namely the muscle spasms and cramps that you get from keto, due to the lack of some nutrients, that the excluded food groups would otherwise provide.
Check out the article by clicking HERE if you haven’t already.
Now, muscle spasms may be bad and frustrating, but the truth is that what is even worse than that is a headache.
We all know that when a headache is present, there is pretty much nothing that can be done optimally and that includes the workouts.
In today’s article, we’ll analyze the problem, give you the solutions and the preventative measures.
As already mentioned, this is probably one of the worst side effects of keto, which is experienced by the majority of people who undergo the transition to this diet.
Now, we need to mention here that the headaches during keto happen, simply because the body has thus far been conditioned in a different way.
What this means for you is that even if you get a bad headache after starting keto, it will go away in some time.
However, if you don’t understand the problem, they might last.
When the body has been conditioned to using glucose as its main source of fuel for both physical and mental activities, it is completely normal to experience fogs on keto.
When we deprive the body of its (so far) main source of energy, it starts getting harder and harder to stay focused, determined, motivated and mentally sharp.
Again, we’d like to mention that these brain fogs ARE NOT permanent – The body will adapt once it is conditioned to using ketones for fuel.
How Does Ketosis Cause Headaches?
Well, we already made that clear – The lack of the easy, sustainable fuel causes the brain to kind of go into the redline until it adapts.
This is especially important for all of you who have not yet transitioned to keto but are planning to do so – Try and endure the initial adaptation phase.
However, there are also a couple more factors that may lead to this unpleasant side effect:
If you are someone who generally has good eating habits, then odds are you consume a lot of veggies and fruits.
Well, those veggies and fruits are usually very abundant of water and they may actually account for up to 20-30% of our daily water intake.
However, with keto unfortunately, we have to exclude fruits and vegetables, which takes away from our fluid intake.
Furthermore, we need to know that glycogen (carbs) is stored along with water.
For every gram of glycogen, we store 3 grams of water, meaning that if you don’t have glycogen, you’ll also be lacking some water.
2. Deficit of Micronutrients
Logically, when you exclude viable fruits and veggies from your diet, you also exclude the precious vitamins and minerals (micronutrients), that these foods contain.
The lack of electrolytes in the body may also lead to the so-far discussed side effect.
If you have so far conditioned your body to using carbohydrates (glucose) as fuel, then odds are you also consume sweets regularly.
Those include but are not limited to – Sugar, candy, chocolate, fizzy drinks, etc.
Well, if that is the case, then the sudden depletion of these foods will drive the brain nuts.
Why? Well, because sweets contain simple carbohydrates, which get digested and turned into energy pretty quickly.
What this means for you is that depriving the body of this easy to use energy source and making it transition to using the tougher source (fat), may be one of the reasons for headaches.
How Long Do Keto Headaches Last?
There really is no definite answer to this question, as it depends on many individual factors, such as individual body chemistry, sleep habits, daily routine and food quality.
However, some people report that their headaches lasted just a couple of hours, while others took up to a month.
Now, we learned that the headaches are caused by the sudden deprivation of glucose.
But what exactly happens?
Well, while through your perception it is simply “Ahhh, I can’t eat sweets or rice anymore!”, the body thinks otherwise.
The sudden deprivation of carbohydrates kicks the body into a sort of fight-or-flight response, where cortisol is released.
The cortisol, which is one of the main stress hormones, causes you to feel stress and that ultimately leads to headaches.
The thing here is that the more you have conditioned your body to glucose and the more carbs you have consumed so far, the more severe your keto headaches may be.
That is to say that one of the best things one can do when moving to the ketogenic diet, is a gradual decrease in carbohydrates, over the period of a couple of weeks.
It is worth noting that this approach can be implemented with many other aspects of life, not just keto transitioning.
This is simply because the body is an organism that takes time to adapt to certain changes, meaning that sudden transitions will more than likely result in unpleasant side effects.
Now, this is your number 1 preventative measure for keto headaches, but it really doesn’t mean that you will completely avoid them.
So, let’s take a look at some actual remedies you can utilize when you get a keto headache.
Cures for keto headaches
1. Salty water
Alright, as we made it clear a couple of paragraphs back, one of the root causes of this problem is the lack of electrolytes.
For the body, sodium is one of the most important electrolytes, which mainly comes from salt.
We need to note here that the sodium balance of the body is tightly regulated, namely because of its importance.
This means that if we do not take in a lot of sodium, the body will not excrete as much.
But nevertheless, we need to get sufficient quantities of sodium day to day, to grant optimal functioning of the body.
Try mixing quarter or half a teaspoon of sea salt (rich in minerals), to half a liter of fresh mineral water and drink it gradually.
See how it works for you.
We know that drinking salty water is probably not one of the best feelings in the world, which is exactly why we have an alternative for you.
Drinking bone broth, or a simple veggie soup with some added salt, might as well be one of the best solutions to keto headaches.
On top of that, it is not nasty, but rather soothing and relaxing.
Give it a try!
Supplements for Keto Headaches
We gave you a couple of possible solutions that are rather natural and do not involve a certain product.
However, when people of a certain group experience a problem (in this case, keto dieters), there soon comes a product to solve that problem.
Now, we’ve done our research on the internet and among communities of keto dieters.
The result of the research was straightforward and it led us to just ONE product that gets the job done easily.
That is namely the “KetoVitals High-Dose electrolytes”, which is strictly designed for keto dieters.
The main function of this product is to treat conditions linked to the keto flu.
In doing so, it helps with mood elevation, energy levels, sleep quality and last but not least, the problem at hand – Keto headaches.
This supplement from the trusted brand “KetoVitals” compensates for basically everything that the keto diet takes away from you:
NOTE! This supplement WILL NOT compensate for the lack of a quality nutrition plan.
How to Prevent Keto Headaches
Alright, we already mentioned that it is completely normal to experience side effects like muscle cramps and headaches during the initial phase of adaptation.
The body adapts to the conditions and the symptoms go away soon enough, however, you shouldn’t just wildcard it.
Instead, you should highly consider the whole thing with keto dieting and take preventative measures to fill up the gaps in nutrients.
Here are our practical, actionable tips that will help you prevent these unpleasant side effects.
We are basically rehearsing what we said earlier, but we need to do that, in order for it to be the blueprint for your habits.
We recommend you to drink at the very least 2 liters of water every day.
The number can change, depending on how you feel.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t feel thirst and instead, you should always carry a bottle with you.
Drink more water if you live in a hot environment and are active physically.
Drink half a liter during the hour prior to a workout, to water load, and also, drink less during the workout itself, to avoid bloats.
Salt & Magnesium Intake
The lack of sodium is one of the reasons for many of the side effects experienced by keto dieters.
What you can do to bypass that is simply add more salt!
Nevertheless, excessive consumption must not be reached, as in big quantities, salt can be lethal.
Instead of going to the extremes, make sure to just salt your meals a bit more than usual, in case you are experiencing side effects.
Furthermore, you can add leafy veggies like spinach, as well as almonds and fatty fish, to fulfill your magnesium demands.
Magnesium is one of the important electrolytes in the body, which act synergistically with sodium.
Okay well, if the body utilizes fat as its main source of fuel during keto, then it would be a good idea to consume a decent amount of fats.
Include foods like nuts, salmon, avocados and olive oil in your diet.
Avoid Fats from fast foods and packaged chips, and instead, try and get them from the above-mentioned healthy sources.
The lack of some nutrients that keto implies, often leads to unpleasant side effects like cramps and headaches.
The low-carb diet has to be approached in a smart manner, instead of being brainstormed.
Think about it- if you only consume beef and spinach, you won’t get anywhere, as you will deprive your body of many vital nutrients.
This is exactly why we need to bring diversity to the diet, while keeping track of macro and micronutrients.
If you want to ease the whole process without making it time consuming, then you should strongly consider purchasing the KetoVitals supplement, abundant of all micronutrients.
In our personal experience, this is a supplement that changes everything, however, it is never the only factor that does so, as proper nutrition is always a must.