Why are Pickles Good for a Keto Diet?

Pickles are marvellously enticing and delicious. But they have also been found to curb symptoms of keto flu. We look at the benefits.

Why are Pickles Good for a Keto Diet f

“Pickle juice is loaded with electrolytes."

The first pickles date back to 2030 BC when cucumbers from their native India were pickled in the Tigris Valley.

As fridges and freezers were not a thing at the time, methods on how to preserve food had to be found.

The discovery of acidic liquids like vinegar and brine led to the process of pickling.

Pickling, a great legacy of inherited recipes in terms of preserving the surplus, is still the most prevalent method to add a new dimension of texture and taste to fruits and vegetables.

Whether they are fruits or vegetables, they can instantly lift up a dull and boring meal.

While Queen Cleopatra attributed them to her legendary beauty, Julius Caesar and other Roman emperors believed that feeding pickles to their troops would make them physically strong.

No matter the history, what was unknown was how in the 21st century, these humble pickles could be effective for a keto diet.

More specifically, pickles have been found to manage keto flu.

We explore pickles and why they are good to have when following a keto diet.

What is Keto Flu?

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Keto flu is an undesirable consequence of a ketogenic diet. It is not all rainbows and bursts of sunshine.

It is the body’s response to adapt to a new diet that is high in fat and low in carbs.

It involves a series of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

This usually happens on the second or third day when beginning the keto diet.

Although medically, there is not enough evidence on keto flu as it is pretty a new type of diet.

People who decide to switch to an elimination diet like keto have experienced the ugly keto flu symptoms.

Some have even given up their keto diets as a result.

However, they are minor and short-term symptoms when the body withdraws from sugars and carbohydrates.

Why do we get Keto Flu?

The body burns glucose for energy. Fat is reserved as a secondary fuel source when glucose is not available.

As a keto diet involves very little intake of carbohydrates, the body cannot burn glucose. Instead, fat is burned for energy.

As a result, the body feels restricted as sugar is no longer available as a fuel source.

With restricted carbohydrates, insulin levels drop in the body, flushing the sodium out along with the water.

When excreted with water, sodium brings the body’s fluid levels down, making you feel dehydrated, causing other flu symptoms to erupt and flare-up.

In addition to water loss, there is an electrolyte imbalance. The best way to combat electrolyte imbalance is to consume something that is full of electrolytes.

This is where our humble pickles can help.

What are the Symptoms of Keto Flu?

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First of all, keto flu is not contagious. It does not come from any virus where you end up with an increased body temperature or feel incapacitated.

Secondly, keto flu doesn’t happen to everyone who goes on a keto journey.

Some of the main symptoms of keto flu include:

  • Brain fog
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Sugar cravings
  • Dizziness
  • Cramps
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Bad breath

These symptoms are person-specific, more individual than the norm.

One can experience some of these or none of these.

It depends on genetics, metabolic flexibility, and one deciding factor could be your lifestyle.

If you are used to eating foods that are processed and high in refined sugar, you are more likely to face severe keto flu symptoms.

How do Pickles help in managing Keto Flu?

To prevent the dreaded keto flu, you must correct the electrolyte imbalance.

The three electrolytes that our bodies rely on are sodium, potassium and magnesium.

If you are on a keto diet, sodium is the primary electrolyte that you need to balance to make you feel awesome.

Dr Eric Berg says: “Pickle juice is loaded with electrolytes.”

The best way to supplement your electrolyte imbalance and other keto related symptoms is through real food, and pickles are naturally rich in sodium content.

If sodium is an issue, drinking pickle juice can make you feel like a hero within minutes.

Electrolytes also aid with hydration, and pickle juice is indisputably packed with electrolytes and good for bad breath too.

Gail Duff, author of Pickles, Relishes & Chutneys, says:

“The technique of making pickles out of vegetables and fruits was already well-known thousands of years ago.”

What type of Pickles are suitable for Keto?

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Although many keto followers swear by the benefits of pickles, a few have admonished them for added sugars, corn syrup and lectin, which is an unwanted ingredient.

Hence, making your own keto pickle is the healthiest and most straightforward option.

If you are shopping for pickles, choosing the right type can make a massive difference to keto success.

Look for low carb and keto-friendly pickles fermented in mustard oil or extra virgin olive oil. Some of the Asian fermented ones are great.

Fermented pickles that use vinegar as the base for fermentation are also best for gut biome health.

They boost healthy bacteria as they contain probiotics.

If you can’t find fermented pickles, pickles that use vinegar are still keto-approved.

But look at the ingredients list for any added sugars or hidden MSG’s sulphatic content.

The simpler the ingredient list, the better.

One general rule of thumb; if pickles have sugar in them, they are not keto-friendly.

They have a high carb content. Also, stay clear of the sweet variety of pickles with butter and candied flavours.

A Keto-Friendly Pickle Recipe

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Making a keto-friendly pickle is ridiculously easy and healthy. Here is an easy recipe that you can make in the comfort of your home.

Ingredients

  • 450g Kirby cucumbers
  • 3 Garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 sprigs of dill
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cups white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Himalayan salt

Method

  1. Cut the ends off the cucumbers and cut into quarters lengthwise.
  2. Place into a large glass jar along with garlic and dill.
  3. Meanwhile, place the water, vinegar and salt into a saucepan. Mix together and bring to a boil, allowing the salt to dissolve.
  4. Once boiled, remove from the heat and allow it to cool a little.
  5. When it has cooled slightly, pour into the glass jar.
  6. Seal the jar, shake and let it sit for 24 hours. After 24 hours, you can enjoy them.

Pickles have been a staple across cultures and worldwide, with every household having its own gourmet recipe.

Although pickling is an ancient process, it can still be perfected in our modern kitchens for a safe keto journey.

Like everything, the key lies in moderation. Eat in less quantity to seek the positive benefits of ketosis.

Scan through the ingredients to avoid sugars and lectin. Both are known to contribute to weight gain.

Overall, people get keto flu when their bodies are fighting an electrolyte imbalance.

While keto flu is not pleasant, one can make pickles as their perfect snack to beat the keto blues.

When eaten in moderation, pickles make a great accompaniment to any bland dish and still keep you in ketosis.

Hasin is a Desi food blogger, a mindful nutritionist with a Masters in IT, keen to bridge the gap between traditional diets and mainstream nutrition. Long walks, crochet and her favourite quote, “Where there’s tea, there’s love”, sums it all.