Being sick makes it harder for you to stick to any diet. You feel awful and you want to indulge in some of your favorite comfort foods. This is even harder when you’re on a keto diet because many of the medications you take throughout the process can make you feel worse than before and wipe out all the work you’ve done to get into ketosis. Fortunately, it’s possible to stay keto while you’re sick, whether you’re dealing with a stomach bug or fighting off a cold – and in some cases, sticking to your diet can help you recover faster. If you feel an illness coming on, make sure you’re ready to deal with it while staying in ketosis and continuing to reach your weight loss goals.
What to Eat on Keto While Sick?
It’s normal to lose your appetite when you’re sick. After all, when you have nausea, fever, diarrhea or a sore throat, the last thing you probably want to do is eat.
But if you’re following a keto when you’re sick, it’s important to continue eating small amounts of nutritious food throughout the day. Doing so can help keep your strength up and keep you hydrated.
While most foods are off-limits when you’re feeling under the weather, consider reaching for foods that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates. These foods include vegetables, poultry, fish and seafood, healthy fats such as olive or coconut oil, nuts and seeds, some berries such as blueberries or raspberries, and dairy products including cheese or heavy cream.
Tips How to Stay on Keto While You’re Sick
It’s difficult to maintain any diet when you’re sick. It’s even harder to maintain a keto diet when you’re under the weather. However, you don’t have to undo all the progress you’ve made by abandoning the keto diet when you’re sick. A few strategies can help you stay in ketosis and recover more quickly.
It’s best to stick to your diet, as ketones are ideal for boosting your immune system. You might have to temporarily reduce your food intake, but stick to your original meal plan as much as possible.
Here are some tips you can try to stay keto while you are sick.
Encourage fluids to avoid dehydration. Aim for at least 1 cup of fluid per hour, or more if you have a fever. Use water or a calorie-free beverage option. You can also turn to some electrolyte replacement drink. Search the list of low-carb and no-carb products for additional beverage options on Google. Signs of dehydration include decreased urine output, dry eyes and dry lips.
2. Get enough sleep
The quality of your sleep is of utmost importance to your overall brain function and health. One of the most effective ways to help your body get better is to give it plenty of sleep.
Sleep helps your immune system fight off disease. One of the ways sleep does this is through the release of cytokines, a protein that boosts the immune system during sleep. Thus, sleep is the body’s defense mechanism to jumpstart your immune system.
The immune system also needs energy to function properly. When you are awake, your body uses energy for physical activities such as exercise, but during sleep, your body can divert that energy to restore your immune system.
A study by the Sleep Research Society showed that lack of sleep increases susceptibility to disease, and that getting enough sleep has substantial positive effects on health.
3. Consume more fat
Healthy fats provide you with a great health option, giving you nutrients and boosting your body’s immune function. Some fats are better than others, giving you options to restore your health when you are sick.
Some of the best sources of fat for keto dieters are fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines and mackerel. Homemade bone broth and chicken broth are other great fat substitutes. They are also rich in minerals and vitamins.
Food sources of fat, such as avocados, can balance blood sugar and improve heart health. You can also try nuts. Since nuts have different nutrient profiles, you should try a variety of nuts to get the most benefit.
Walnuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios and pecans are all great low-carb and high-fat alternatives.
4. Maintain diet if possible.
As long as the diet is tolerated, continue the diet as prescribed. If nausea, vomiting or diarrhea is an issue, you may try offering casserole, soups or ketogenic formulas so that every bite and every mouthful meets the prescribed ratios. You may need to temporarily offer reduced calorie or reduced ratio meals, such as broth. Return to the prescribed meal plan when possible. If meals or fluids are not tolerated for more than 24 hours, contact your ketosis team.
5. Try electrolytes
All fluids are not created equal when it comes to relieving dehydration. There are unique minerals called electrolytes that help the body function properly by maintaining fluid balance. Some of these electrolytes are potassium, sodium and chloride.
When a person gets sick, they lose electrolytes through sweating, diarrhea and vomiting. These electrolytes are vital to maintaining the body’s pH level. A lack of electrolytes in the body can lead to muscle cramps and permanent dehydration.
The correct balance of glucose and electrolytes ensures that your body rehydrates as quickly as possible. Some of the best sources of electrolytes for people in ketosis are chicken broth, avocado, eggplant and dairy products. You should also try cruciferous vegetables, greens, fish and low-carb nuts.
6. Avoid becoming too ketotic
If meals are not tolerated for an extended period of time, it is possible to develop excessive ketosis. Signs of excessive ketosis include shortness of breath, irritability, nausea, unusual fatigue and facial flushing. Follow your ketosis center’s guidelines for treating excessive ketosis. This usually involves giving 30 ml of juice. If symptoms persist after 15 minutes, repeat the 30 ml of juice until the symptoms resolve. If symptoms do not improve, contact your ketosis team or seek medical help.
There are different ideas for following a ketogenic diet during illness. You can add other foods to your diet plan and find your middle ground to bring balance to your diet and appetite.
You don’t have to give up the ketogenic diet because of sick, but rather embrace all the benefits. Feeling uncomfortable can help you experience deeper levels of ketosis as you learn more about the health benefits of ketosis.
No food is an inherent cure, but a proper diet can boost your immune response and relieve some of your symptoms. If symptoms persist, you should seek the advice of your doctor.