If you’re just starting a ketogenic diet, you’re in the most golden window for supplementing. Why? Because beginning a keto diet is the worst part of the whole process: you have to change your habits, question everything you usually eat, and you may start experiencing keto flu—unpleasant temporary side effects like brain fog and keto breath. Ketosis pills and supplements can help relieve and shorten these symptoms, getting you to ketosis faster. This article explains why keto flu symptoms occur, and how the right ketosis pills can help.
Keto flu symptoms can run the range from keto headache, dry mouth, upset stomach, fatigue, sugar cravings, brain fog, and bad breath (specifically when your breath starts smelling like nail polish remover from acetone ketones). In a way these are positive signs, because they mean your diet is working and you’re gearing up to enter into a state of ketosis, which has all the positive side effects of rapid weight loss, increased mental focus, and higher energy levels.
This adjustment is due to the changeover between energy from glucose (the fuel that comes from sugar and carbs) to energy from ketone bodies (the fuel derived from fatty foods and from burning stored fat in your body). Ketone bodies in your urine and breath are why you may experience a strange fruity-smelling breath, but it’s nothing to panic about: it means that ketosis is right around the corner.
Still, no one wants to spend a week or two feeling off before their body fully adapts to ketosis and they start to lose weight. This is where supplements come in: ketosis pills don’t magically cause ketosis to happen, but they can help lessen these symptoms and get your body accustomed to ketone bodies faster by supplying you with exogenous ketones and other important nutrients.
Exogenous ketones are ketones that are supplied from outside the body. While your body adjusts to your new high-fat, low-carb diet and learns how to regularly access endogenous ketones (the ones made in-house by burning fat), you can help boost your energy and tide yourself over by supplementing with outside ketones, either in ketosis pill, liquid, or powder form.
Next up: the types of keto supplements that can help, especially if you’re just starting out on your journey to ketosis.
Keeping a low-carb, high-fat diet is hardest in the first few days. In fact, the first couple of steps in the Atkins diet involve getting into a state of ketosis, then allowing for an increase of carbs. That leads to people on Atkins having to repeat the diet stages, because once our bodies have access to blood glucose from sugar, it goes straight for it: the easiest energy to access will always be the first to get used up.
Which is why staying in ketosis is the best metabolic state for losing weight and maintaining weight loss: when your body burns fat for its fuel source and is denied access to quick carbohydrate energy, it becomes a fat-burning machine. To help feed that machine, here are ketosis pills and other supplements that you can include in your eating plan.
BHB stands for beta-hydroxybutyrate, and it’s an exogenous ketone supplement that can help you get through keto flu side effects quickly. How? Once you enter ketosis and your body starts breaking down fatty acids for fuel, BHB makes up 78% of the total ketones in your blood (with acetoacetate and acetone filling in the rest).
So, when you’re still waiting to get into ketosis, or if you’re close to dropping out of it and need an extra boost, BHB is the majority of what your body’s looking for, a ketone that can cross the blood-brain barrier and supply direct energy to your mind (goodbye brain fog!).
Not only has BHB been effective at inducing ketosis in animal models without restricting carbs, but this 2017 human study on exogenous ketone supplementation and BHB specifically concluded that “exogenous ketone drinks are a practical, efficacious way to achieve ketosis.”
BHB oil can be taken in pill form or as a powdered drink mix in many different flavors including coffee, chocolate, grape, watermelon, banana, and strawberry varieties. The coffee mix is especially suited for making energy-boosting keto coffee each morning.
Another natural energy booster, magnesium is particularly useful to have an extra supply of when entering ketosis, as it helps regulate blood sugar and supports your immune system functioning. That is because many magnesium-rich foods are high in carbs (certain fruits and beans), and you may well be low on magnesium as you adjust to a new keto diet.
It’s recommended to take between 200 and 400 milligrams of magnesium per day during times like this, which may help decrease irritability, reduce muscle cramps, and improve sleep (each one a common aspect of keto flu). In addition to supplementing, these are some keto-friendly foods that contain magnesium:
Mineral upheaval can be a symptom of any diet, not just a low-carbohydrate diet like keto. When you first switch to a new way of eating, the standard input of nutrients your body is used to processing changes, and with keto especially, the increase in water loss may flush a lot of your staple minerals out of your system.
Electrolytes are minerals like potassium and sodium (salt), which help preserve fluid levels in your cells (neither full to bursting or shriveled and dehydrated), and can go a long way in fighting keto flu symptoms like muscle cramps, headache, and fatigue.
Electrolytes can be had in supplements (we include them in our Premium BHB Oil Powders for example), or from salty foods, including bouillon cubes in recipes, or by eating potassium-rich foods like nuts, avocados, seeds, and dark, leafy greens.
Supplementing with fiber can help improve your digestive functioning while transitioning to ketosis. Many high-carb foods are full of fiber, and when swapping out carbohydrates in favor of healthy fats and vegetables, your fiber supplies may take a hit.
Fiber is what adds bulk to our waste so it can comfortably pass through the digestive system, and on top of that, certain insoluble fibers provide food to our good gut bacteria. A healthy ratio of gut flora not only keeps our digestive health in order but is also a part of our frontline immune defenses: viruses and contaminants that get into our bodies through our food can be neutralized by our healthy gut flora before they take hold.
When starting keto, make sure your fiber input isn’t neglected, as fiber in your diet is necessary to feel and be healthy.
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which are the active ingredient in coconut oil. MCT oil can supply the body with easy-to-digest fatty acids to quickly break down and use for energy, which is especially useful in the early days of ketosis when the body is still stubbornly trying to maintain its fat stores.
MCT oil supplements can help boost your energy, elevate your endogenous ketone levels, and, when included in your morning coffee, can help increase your satiety throughout the day (which is great for those utilizing intermittent fasting techniques).
Most people think of the keto diet as just that: a diet meant to help you lose weight and keep it off. However, the ketogenic diet was first developed clinically to help children with epilepsy, and today it still works medicinally in otherwise healthy adults to reduce and stabilize blood sugar levels, lowering the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
In the short term keto can help you drop body fat, but in the long run the health benefits granted by a ketogenic diet go way deeper, improving your blood pressure, body composition, and risk factors for several dangerous chronic diseases. Once you reach a state of ketosis where your body uses fat to fuel your body, you’ll be functioning at peak levels. If you’re just starting out on your keto journey, today is a prime day to utilize ketosis pills as an extra source of energy.