Today's post is a public service announcement. Over the last several days I have been googling like crazy and have not found one person who has written about what happened to me on the Ketogenic Diet.
I had been planning to write a post on how incredible I felt, my philosophy about Keto and why I think it's a good medicinal approach for healing severely damaged metabolic systems. And maybe there will be time for that eventually. But right now I need to talk about something way more important - how terrible Keto made me feel.
The first few days were ok. I was expecting the "keto flu", "low carb flu", "detoxing" symptoms (whatever you want to call it really). Sluggish, headache, body aches, nausea... but about Day 4 things started to shift a bit. I wasn't really tired or sluggish anymore, and I felt overall fine... except for those pesky body aches.
I was doing everything by the book. I was taking extra minerals and salt for electrolytes and staying hydrated. I would get lightheaded every now and then and then I'd go drink a big glass of water with some salt and it would alleviate my lightheadedness completely.
I started taking Epsom Salt baths for the body aches. It helped initially. After Day 5, though it wasn't enough. Laying down was extremely painful so I needed to take a bath right before bed in order to fall asleep. But the effects of the Epsom Salt started wearing off before I could actually fall asleep and I ended up back where I started.
So I went to Plan B - Tylenol. That helped for a few hours of relief. On Day 7 I woke up too early with the kids. Needing to go back to sleep I took some more Tylenol... nothing. I took Ibuprofen... nothing. Now my pain management wasn't working and I started panicking a little.
The next day the salt baths stopped being as helpful, and they didn't help as long as they used to. I went to my doctor (who prescribed Keto Paleo for me in the first place) and he told me to call the dietitian. I was honestly upset. I knew at this point the dietitian couldn't help me, but I obliged and scheduled with her for the following morning.
That night was horrible. I even tried a stronger pain killer around 2am and it did not help in the slightest. Every time I would start to relax and fall asleep (sitting up or laying down) the pain would flare and force me to get up and move around.
I finally passed out at 4:30am. I was tired enough by that point that I could take a salt bath and fell asleep immediately afterward. At 7:00am I talked to the dietitian. She had no new advice for me other than what I was already doing. She said that in her seven years she had only ever had one other patient with pain as extreme as I was describing.
Later we met with the doctor. I explained my symptoms and he smiled this knowing smile and said "I've only known one other person with symptoms like you're describing. Me." Apparently he and his wife attempted 10-day water fasting and both times he tried he had symptoms that perfectly matched mine and only went away when he started eating food again. (Fasting puts you into ketosis also.)
He ordered me to pull the plug on keto for now, go home and eat 4-5 bowls of rice to make sure I would get bumped out of ketosis. I did. And I am all better now. Thank the Lord! Iakabos was doing the exact same plan I was and he did not have the adverse reactions at all.
This is apparently a rare reaction to going into ketosis, and maybe shouldn't necessarily discourage the average person from attempting it. BUT if you try a Ketogenic Diet and have the symptoms I've listed below, know that your gut is right when it tells you "this isn't just normal detoxing, something's wrong".
My doctor couldn't explain to me what exactly was going wrong; it's quite mysterious. But what he did know is that you have to be able to sleep, and unmanageable pain is unacceptable. If you are doing a Ketogenic Diet under the care of a physician, feel free to share this information with them and ask if you should take a similar course.
If you are doing a Ketogenic Diet on your own, perhaps you should also consider getting your body out of Ketosis to alleviate your symptoms. Here is a detailed list of what I experienced so others can compare if they are suffering with a similar issue:
SIGNS THAT MY BODY WAS REJECTING KETOSIS
Severe body aches are the main symptom that I and my doctor experienced. These were not just any body aches but had specific qualities to them such as:
- Lasting longer than a few days, which is the typical detoxing period.
- Starting at the upper back and radiating all the way down to mid-calf.
- Arms may also be sore.
- Not responding to pain medication.
- They get better when you get up and walk around.
- They become unbearable when you lay down or try to sleep.
- They do not ease up or get better, but instead continue worsening.
- At their worst intensity they are about an 8 on the pain scale. (NOT normal body aches!)
- Also may have a headache that increased when body aches did and went away when the body aches did.
- The body aches leave after you eat enough carbohydrates to take you out of ketosis.
I hope this can be helpful to others who might share similar symptoms. If you happen to come across this and think it might be you, feel free to comment or email if you have questions or need more information. I might be able to point you in the right direction.
I'm not a doctor, BUT I am a person who has quite a bit of experience in detoxifying and restrictive diets. I knew this reaction was abnormal and I want others to know that they aren't going crazy. It's totally a thing. A rare thing maybe, but a thing.