Keto Headaches — Here’s The Only Guide You Need
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Keto Headaches: Why They Occur And How To Prevent?

Written By: Lakshmi Jaisimha
11 July 2022

A keto diet is a low-carb and high-fat diet. It helps your body use fat rather than sugar (glucose) for your energy needs.

In recent years, this diet has been earning attention for its ability to stimulate weight loss.

But this weight loss and other benefits of the keto diet may come with some side effects you may confront while starting this diet. One of the most common side effects many people suffer from is headaches.

Let us understand why keto headaches happen and how you can prevent them as you shift to the new diet plan.

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What Happens In Your Body When You Are On Keto?

The initial stage of the keto diet probably would not feel great since your body is learning to swap its energy source. The carbohydrates input is left only up to 5% to 10% in a ketogenic diet. Also, your body begins producing energy through the breakdown of fats. 

With such a low amount of carbohydrates and fat decay, most people encounter the problem of keto flu symptoms.

You may encounter brain fog, difficulty focusing, feel excessively tired and sometimes experience headaches. 

It only takes a few days to pass this situation. But you can reduce your side effects by doing keto and intermittent fasting together, incorporating exercises to help drain carbohydrate supplies faster, and consuming electrolyte-rich foods to support the change.

What Are Keto Headache Symptoms?

When you shift yourself to a Keto diet plan, your body needs time to adapt to it. For some people, keto headaches symptoms may start appearing within a few days of reducing their carb intake. 

Symptoms generally peak within the first week and fade by week four of the keto diet. The severity of symptoms can vary from mild to severe, depending on the individual. The most commonly seen symptoms or signs of keto headaches include:

What Are The Causes of Keto Headaches?

Following are the several keto headache causes that occur during the first few weeks when you are on the keto diet:

  • Low Blood Sugar

When you are on a high-carb diet, your brain concentrates on using glucose to produce energy.

But as soon as you shift to a keto diet, your body begins to burn stocked fat for power instead of glucose.

As your body gets into this phase of ketosis, it could result in your blood sugar levels dropping. This condition is known as hypoglycemia, which can cause a throbbing and dull headache in the temples.

  • Dehydration

Many people notice a ton of weight loss during the first few days of beginning a very low-carb diet.

It’s because when your body begins shifting into ketosis, you start feeling an increased urge to urinate. 

If you are not drinking enough liquid to undo this water loss while you are pursuing the keto diet, it can bring headaches and dehydration.

  • Electrolyte Imbalance

When you limit carbohydrates, your body develops less insulin. A decline in insulin affects your kidneys to excrete more sodium. Thus leading to electrolyte imbalance

Dehydration can also lead to potassium, sodium, and magnesium imbalances.

This loss of electrolytes not only causes a keto headache, but also nausea, fatigue, vomiting, and cognitive impairment among other things.

How To Treat Keto Headache And Other Symptoms?

Luckily, there are a few ways to deal with and even prevent headaches when starting keto. It is necessary to stay hydrated and devour a nutrient-rich diet to minimize your chance of dehydration and fasting headaches.

  • Drink Sufficient Water

In the initial days of following the keto diet plan, your body starts losing extra water weight, making it more essential to stay hydrated.

You can start with 8 glasses of water a day, but it’s better to listen to your body and drink water whenever you are thirsty.

  • Get More electrolytes or Supplements

Your body begins to feel low when the degree of essential electrolytes like magnesium, potassium, and sodium is inadequate.

You will need to replenish these electrolytes to feel healthy and active. Eating electrolyte-rich foods or water-rich foods or drinks can do better for your body. Here are some ideas for your diet.

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  • Add Potassium-rich foods like mushrooms and avocados.
  • Include adequate magnesium. You can add dark chocolate cashews, peanut butter, and leafy green vegetables to the diet.
  • You can include more salt to your keto lunch ideas to upgrade your daily sodium intake or put a dash of salt into the water. Don’t overdo it though.
  • Say No To Intense Workouts

With an ordinary diet, your body consumes glycogen and glucose reserved in muscles for a powerful flare of stamina. As glycogen supplies become exhausted, you may not have sufficient glucose to fuel your training.

Research indicates that what we eat on keto diets can limit our performance by 20% during the early stages of the diet. However, performance can improve when your body adjusts to the keto state. 

Until that stage, you may need to stop intense training or workout because it can drive more strain on your body and cause headaches.

  • Avoid Sugar Substitutes or Sweeteners

Other symptoms you may face while on ketosis are diarrhea and constipation. Reducing the intake of foods and beverages that contain sugar substitutes may help relieve these signs.

Also, you can start eating fermented foods, such as kimchi and sauerkraut to improve keto diarrhea or constipation. 

But if you need something to relieve your sugar cravings, add a low-carb fruit to your diet.

  • Get Enough Sleep

When following the keto diet, keto insomnia is common. But they can lead you to painful keto headaches in the morning along with poor productivity the whole next day. Here’s how you can sleep better:

  • Although your carb intake is limited, try having most of it later in the day. Carbs help you to stay full when you go to sleep.
  • Do not eat very late in the evening. Eat dinner at least two to three hours before going to sleep.
  • Sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Most people sleep early on weekdays and stay awake late at night on weekends. Such irregularity can lead to distress in the sleep process. 

Bye-Bye Keto Headaches

Being on a ketogenic diet can be a challenging job. The keto flu symptoms like keto headaches can make life miserable enough for you to quit the diet. But don’t give up yet.

Focus on the good parts, the keto diet benefits, the extra weight you will lose, and how much better you will feel when you are healthier, more active, and as a result, have a more confident personality.  

Drink more electrolyte water and keto-friendly energy drinks. Eat high-quality food. Sleep well and move your body often. 

And if all this doesn’t help with your keto headaches, consider visiting a good dietitian who knows all about the keto diet and can help you stay by it in the long run.

You can also subscribe to our newsletter so you get the latest updates on the keto diet with more tips and tricks on how to make it work for you without much effort!



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