Try 5 keto headache remedies proven to work within 30 minutes.
Learn why a keto headache happens on a low carb diet and find out how long yours will last.
See how to prevent a keto headache from recurring in the future.
Keto Headache Cures
If you need immediate keto headache relief, here are five different proven remedies you can use to cure it within 30 minutes. This works just as well if you have a keto headache first day in versus a keto headache two weeks in.
1. Drink warm water with half teaspoon of table salt.
You might want to try the simplest solution first. Add half a teaspoon of table salt to a 24 ounce glass of warm water (3 cups) and drink it. This should cure your headache within 20-30 minutes if it’s being caused dehydration or sodium deficit.
I have tried this drink both cold and warm. When the water is cold it’s damn near intolerable, but when the water is warm, I can get it down.
2. Drink a carton of bone broth.
If warm salt water isn’t to your tastes, then try sipping down a carton of bone broth. You can drink chicken or beef bone broth, doesn’t matter. Drink 16 ounces (2 cups) or more to ensure you get enough sodium.
The beef bone broth pictured above is a bland, almost tasteless drink that I much prefer with a spoonful of butter added. Butter improves the taste and keeps you inline with your keto macros as it adds a lot of fat.
3. Drink vegetable bouillon dissolved in two cups of water.
Boil two cups of water in the microwave, then drop in a bouillon tab and stir it with a spoon to help it dissolve. Drink up. This is a good headache remedy if you’re doing vegan keto. It’s also surprisingly delicious.
The vegetable bouillon is definitely the best tasting of the 5 keto headache remedies. I had never even heard of it before I started my research into keto headaches. Great find!
4. Drink zero carb chicken broth with added salt.
Add 2 cups of zero carb chicken broth to a microwavable cup, pour in a full teaspoon of salt, microwave for 1 minute then sip until it’s gone says Myles from Low Carb IO who found that water with a teaspoon of salt wasn’t enough sodium for him.
5. Drink some butter and salt-infused coffee.
If your keto headache won’t go away and you were a coffee or soda drinker, then try drinking a cup of coffee with two tablespoons of butter or coconut oil and a half teaspoon of salt says one Redditor who cured persistent keto headaches.
The gist of the advice in these 5 different remedies is that if you’re experiencing a keto headache, then drink something with lots of salt and water. If the salty drink doesn’t work and you’ve also cut out caffeine, then drink some coffee.
You can also eat carbs as a keto headache cure if it feels like a real emergency, but I realize that you’d probably prefer a cure that keeps you in ketosis if you have a choice.
Keto Headache Causes
Now that your keto headache is resolved, you might be wondering why it happened in the first place. There are several possibilities:
- Dehydration – A keto diet makes you pee more often than normal which leads to dehydration which leads to headaches. This is why drinking more water is a commonly suggested remedy for keto headaches, even eating high water foods.
- Sodium Deficit – According to this summary of low carb side effects, people who restrict their carbs have lower insulin levels which leads to less sodium absorption and results in a sodium deficit which requires supplementation (at least a 1/2 teaspoon of table salt per day).
- Sugar Withdrawal – Most likely tied to dehydration and sodium deficit (especially if you were consuming much of your water from sugary beverages), but drastically cutting your sugar intake has been reported to cause headaches.
- Caffeine Withdrawal – Many people stop drinking caffeinated sodas and lattes when going keto and thus suffer caffeine withdrawal headaches. A keto starbucks coffee might help.
- Histamine Sensitivity – If you’ve ruled out dehydration, sodium, sugar, and caffeine as potential sources of your keto headache, then you might suffer from histamine intolerance. High histamine keto foods include:
pickles, sauerkraut, aged cheeses, cured meats, beef jerky, shellfish, nuts. Try eliminating those foods from your diet if keto headaches persist.
Keto Headache Duration
Your keto headaches should go away within 30 minutes of when you drink 1/2 a teaspoon of salt in some warm water or broth.
If left untreated, your keto headaches will subside typically within 3 days but could last up to 3 weeks. It depends how fast your body takes to fully fat adapt.
Keto and Migraine Headaches
Keto headaches are different than true migraine headaches. Migraines can be neurological disorders. While there is no real ‘cure’ to migraines, there are studies showing the potential of ketosis actually protecting you against true migraines.
Keto Headache Prevention
You can prevent keto headaches from recurring the same way you cure them. Drink salt water, bone broth, or vegetable bouillon daily.
You can reduce the recurrence of headaches by shortening your transition period from carb adapted to fat adapted. To do this, cut your daily net carb intake to less than 10 grams per day and add butter or olive oil to all your meals so you still feel full and satisfied after eating.
What’s Next from Mr. SkinnyPants?
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Sources for this article:
1: The Ketogenic Diet book by Lyle McDonald, page 79.
2: 3 Common Keto Conundrums by Ruled Me.
3: Low Carb Side Effects by Diet Doctor.
4: Trouble shooting headaches on the Keto diet by Real Ketones.
5: Low Carb Diet Side Effects by Ketogenic Diet Resource
6: Histamine Intolerance by Judy Tsafrir, M.D.
7. Keto & Migraines by Keto Nutrition