Atkins Diet Induction Flu: Signs of Problems or Progress

It is very common that I read questions or statements from new Atkineers saying, “How come I feel so tired?” “Why do I have such a headache?” “I have no energy what is this diet doing to me!” One of the problems is no one forewarned them about Induction flu. Induction flu is simply the body burning its last remaining glucose and stored glycogen for energy, and suffering withdrawal effects. It is very similar to what happens when runners “hit the wall” and cyclist “bonk.” In addition to the physical withdrawal symptoms there are the mental symptoms as well. Think of drug addict, are they necessarily pleasant to be around or in high spirits even though they are doing something good. Well the carb addict has the same reaction; I personally was irritable for the first 2 or 3 weeks as I had to figure out how to eat, exert control over what entered my mouth, and regain new comfort foods. It is a dramatic change, and some people resist change.

The good news is it is just temporary. It typically only last a few days, but for some the mental effects might last longer. It also shows you are on the right path and making true progress on getting rid of the excess fat. The silver lining is indeed that by the end if you continue the follow the plan you will be burning fat for fuel.

You’ll have to watch the video for my suggestions on how to lessen the effects.

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  • I am seriously thinking about starting the low carb diet. I know it is not going to be easy, because I really am a carb addict. But it is good to know that the results will be worth the endurance and hard work it will take.

  • Hey Kent,

    Did you see my blog post about the woman who saw your video about the Atkins flu and it suddenly “clicked” for her?

    GREAT JOB, Kent! You are doing a great service to the low-carb community!

    Jimmy Moore, author of “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb”

  • I saw, and that absolutely made my day as well. To help someone else get over the hump to see the promised land makes it certainly worthwhile.

  • JiJi

    I started Atkins yesterday. I feel awful!!! I went to the gym yesterday and felt like I nauseous the whole time. Should I still try to work out during the induction flu?

  • If it were me, I wouldn’t exercise. Have you seen my latest two videos, especially this one ( I deal with the same subject. I believe it is more important to get your eating under control first and get acclimated to the fat burning. I had no energy whatsoever during the first few days (or week) of Induction, and compounding that with exercise would have likely made me quit in frustration. This is not an excuse to never exercise, but give it a few days. Once your body becomes adjusted to its new fuel source, it will become better. It might not be overnight either. Work into your routine or lengthen your exercise schedule gradually.

  • Diane Stauss

    Hi Kent,

    I started the low carb diet about 3 1/2 months ago. I remember going through
    all the flu symtoms, but soon passed after a week or so. I have lost about
    ten pounds and that is just with the diet and no excersise. From 130 to 120 lbs.

    I just recently started developing heartburn and indigestion, which I have never
    had a hisory of. Could this be from the diet? Would appreciate your input.

    Thanks, Diane

  • Hi kent
    Im 25 and have been on atkins for 14 come monday I am so glad I found your site, Im not a brekfast eater and I have
    been doing atkins shakes for brekfast and now I know that is a bad idea! I had my second and final child in Nov and
    now need to reclaim what is left of my body! The diet is not hard for me the excercise part is. I went and payed for
    the gym but cant seem to make myself go! aghhhh any suggestions? Im so out of shape I dont know where to begin.
    My starting weight was 220 today when weighed I was 212 I would like to get down to 145. My mother lost over 100 pounds
    on atkins so I have seen it first hand that it works. Also could you explain a little bit more about being able to have chocolate
    I love dark chocolate…how much am i alowed to have? I look foward to your reply.

  • My suggestion would be to get yourself motivated to do one trip. You don’t even have to hit the lcoker room — go fully dressed in your gym clothes if the locker room intimidates or embarrasses you. (It did me — I didn’t feel like I belonged.) I went during a time I knew it wouldn’t be well populated to lessen the embarrassment. When I did go, I mastered one machine. I knew if I would look less foolish if I was at least doing what I should be at the time. :-) In time, I mastered more and more machines, and even got brave enough to do the Stair Stepper.

    Chocolate is allowed – or more specifically cocoa even on Induction. It is considered a spice. You are allowed as much as you can at your phase carb level. Dark chocolate has more sugar, so it is more restricted. One of new low carb favorite desserts is low carb chewy chocolate bar. It’s a lot like a peanut butter cup flavor:
    2 TBS Butter
    1/4 Cup Natural Peanut Butter
    1/4 Cup Granulated Splenda
    1 cup Low Carb Chocolate Whey Protein
    1/4 cup Vanilla Splenda Syrup

    It’s really good.

  • Jacqueline

    Calling it the Atkins Flu pretty much sums it up. At first I had headaches and felt sluggish. I was constantly going to the bathroom getting rid of all the excess in my system. Similar to the flu. The next couple days after that, I felt like a drug addict constantly craving carbs. All this lasted for a week, now I feel great. I sleep better at night and have more energy during the day. Once you get past all that initial stuff, everything seems to balance itself out. I was always a binge eater. Now I binge on strict protein which fills you up faster so I don’t eat as much. Essentially this is shrinking my stomach. What I have learned for this so far is that persistance pays off. If you restructure your diet, the faster you adapt, the quicker the results. I find I don’t think about food unless I am hungry now.

  • Rosalinda

    I will be starting the diet this week. I am concerned about all the meals I have to eat. I don’t eat much. I can go all day on one meal. Last week I had two scrambled eggs and sausage and felt stuffed all day. Will I survive the two weeks eating all that food? Will I really lose weight eating all that food when my body doesn’t require so much food intake?

  • fatima

    Hello. I am starting atkins induction today. Thank you for the “flu” that I have to look out for:) This recipe is good, but is it induction friendly? I am sure I have heard somewhere that whey protein is a strict no no for induction, including whey protein isolate, which in itself is extremely low carb. Though one can use these once induction is over, can one use them in induction?

  • fatima

    May I also ask which induction friendly foods can be stalling? thank you.

  • fatima

    Hello again:) thank you for your reply. Not much of a cheese/dairy person anyways. Hehe:) Thankfully, I have not had a single “flue” sign, and it is the second day though I’ll still be on the look out for it:)
    I’ve just kept a food diary and realised, my home food has not drastically changed, but has actually gone for the better:) For example, breakfast used to be either tea and toast (if I had no time or even skipped it), or when I did have time a “vegetarin fry up” (fried eggs, toast, margarine and beans), dinner (and luch or supper. We normally just eat two times a day after breakfast:) my cultural dishes of rice and curry, largely made with just meat and fish. Now, my breakfast is actually healthier. Just a boiled egg is so filling. Vegetable sticks for snacks under the allowed category of salad foods which I can still eat in my main food courses and fill half a plate and still be under 15 net carbs the whole day! And the usual plate of white rice and curry (which did no harm to my family as apart from being a little overweight we are all fine healthwise:) is now replaced with less meat (I cannot believe how my appetite has lessened and no hunger:) and the half plate veggies! How this can be less unhealthy I do not know. I feel I am eating more of salads than I have ever done before, and am eating the same or even less amount of meat that did not do any harm before. Also, my tummy feels less bloated:)! I feel great:)! Hehe:)

  • Melissa

    Hi Kent,

    I started eating low-carb 8 days ago, and I could not believe how bad I felt. I didn’t know about the “induction flu” for the first several days, but when mine continued over the first 4 days everyone seems to talk about I was worried that maybe my problem was something else (although I had my blood work done 2 wks. before and everything was okay). I am going into the second week and I still feel exhausted and weak. I found a video you made about it where your “flu” lasted 31/2 weeks and I cannot tell you how much better that has made me feel. Maybe I will just be following along your progress. Thanks for all you do and for the support you provide. I have hope now that I can feel good in the future!

  • Zainab

    Hi Kent, I have been big all my life and not im tipping the scales at over 250 pounds. i need help, i really do because its so hard. all i crave is sugar and carbs. i started atkins on saturday so this is my 4th day and i feel absolutely weak, i can hardly move let alone exercise.i have watched your video on the flu, this is so terrible, i think i also have a sore throat or something, i am just soi weak, the good news is i have lost in these for days about 8 pounds so im happy with that but ofcourse it doesnt show, i would like to be in contact with you via email if possible because i always have so many questions and i just want to know that i am doing the right thing and i alos want to know that there is someone there for me to ask and get feedback. is this possible, i dont even know how i will get feedback from you for this message but im hoping you will reply to my email address which is PLEASE i know you are busy but i REALLY NEED to get this weight off in a year and i just need to ask so many things if you dont mind. the first question is i cant exercise now because i feel very weak, do you think i can still lose weight without exercise for now, till i get my energy back also im fully in ketosis now, the strip is purple.i am going to do this for the next year and my goal is to lose 100 pounds by my birthday in april. please reply to the email address. thank you so much.and anyone else with any advice or inspiration please also help me make my dream come true. im taking my life back.