The low carb flu

english-bulldog-feeling-sickWhen first embarking on a paleo, primal or high fat/low carb eating approach, you can expect to feel awful!  This phenomenon is called, “the low carb flu”.

Symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • nausea
  • upset stomach
  • brain fog
  • sleepiness
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • chills


It is often the reason why people give up. They feel so terrible that they think that it just doesn’t work for them.  The “flu” can last anywhere between 2  days and a few weeks.  Each person is different, although most feel better within a week. Others make the transition without any discomfort at all.

What causes the low carb flu?

Your body has been used to burning glucose for energy from all the carbs you have been eating in your “previous life”. Now your body has to learn to burn fat for fuel instead. This transition phase, as your body tries to adapt itself,  is what causes the carb flu symptoms. It is more technical than that but I try to keep things simple for my readers.

Is there a way to ease the pain?

Yes, there is.

  • Drink lots of water
  • Consume chicken/beef broth and take a multi-vitamin to replace the electrolytes lost in those first few days as your body expels the water you have been retaining.
  • Eat more fat like butter, olive oil, coconut oil, etc. to speed up the transition process.
  • Don’t eat too much protein as the body can transform protein into glucose so if you eat too much of it in the first few days it will slow down the transition.
  • Pamper yourself – it always makes you feel better

I would hate to see you giving up before reaping all the wonderful rewards of eliminating grains from your diet. If you are prepared to stick it out and get over the “flu”, then you can expect the most amazing health benefits, such as:

  • Stable blood sugar
  • Loss of  unwanted fat (especially unhealthy belly fat)
  • Reduction or elimination of allergies
  • Balanced energy throughout the day
  • Clear skin and better teeth
  • Reduction or elimination of systemic inflammation
  • Improved sleep
  • Decreased appetite and cravings for sweets
  • Stable moods

My personal goals are weight loss, keeping my hay fever allergies under control and ensuring my blood sugar levels remain normal, and for me a low carb option that excludes grains and includes lots of healthy fat is the most effective way to achieve those objectives.

If you are a top performance athlete doing frequent and intense workouts, then  it’s probably a good idea to up the carbs. But remember, you’d have to eat a lot of starchy sweet potatoes and bananas to get anywhere near the same amount of carbohydrate you used to get from bread, pasta, cereal, and fizzy drinks.

low carb bananaSo in summary – you will feel worse before you feel better. You are not dying.  It doesn’t last long, and hopefully all will be forgotten when you improve your health and your body becomes a lean, mean fat-burning machine!

Google “low carb flu” or ” induction flu” for more information on this topic.

About Nicky Perks

Passionately sharing information about the paleo/primal, high fat/low carb lifestyle that will rock your world! I am on my own journey to good health and a slim body. My goal? To enjoy the ride as life on this beautiful planet is just too short to do it any other way.

Posted on April 4, 2013, in Primal 101 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. A multi-VITAMIN will not replace electrolytes (which are mineral substances, not vitamins) unless it also contains magnesium and potassium – you should also salt your food to taste, ideally from now onwards but certainly don’t restrict salt when you crave it in the first few weeks because sodium is also a vital electrolyte, i.e., you’d die if you totally cut it out of your diet. Even a multi-vitamin with multi-minerals will only provide the RDA, which is on the low side, so do some intelligent research or seek out advice from experienced low-carb people in this. And don’t stress about finding the RIGHT salt, hand mined from the northern slopes of the Himalayas or anything daft like that, common table salt contains socium and will do the job for this purpose.

  2. Thanks for the helpful information.

  3. Your style is so unique in comparison to other pople I have read stuff
    from. I appreciate you for posting whe you have the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this page.

  4. Ahh so glad to read this! I started Whole30 eating 5 days ago and have felt awful for the past 2 days!!! Thought I was getting a stomach bug…but pretty sure it’s just the low carb flu. Thanks for the great info!

  5. Hey! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?

    My website looks weird when viewing from my apple iphone. I’m trying to
    find a theme or plugin that might be able to correct this
    issue. If you have any recommendations, please share.
    Thank you!

  6. Thank you for this

  1. Pingback: ….Carb Flu | For the love of……

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