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Why You May Be Experiencing Numbness Or Tingling On Keto?

Switching to a keto diet can be a major shift from what you’ve been used to eating. For some people, it may be a complete 180 going from fortified, pre-packed, and fast-foods to less processed and more nutrient-dense whole foods. 

Some people experience a common problem when starting a ketogenic diet, a tingling “pins and needles” sensation, or feeling as if their limbs are heavy, especially in their hands, calves, feet, and other parts of the body.

The “pins and needs” feeling, numbness, and heavy limbs that occur are generally caused by a drop in blood pressure, which means reduced blood flow to the limbs. This drop is generally a result of an electrolyte deficiency and can be helped by increasing sodium in your diet.

In this article, I’ll go over the different reasons why you may be experiencing tingling hands and limbs on keto, how to get the tingling to go away, and possible other reasons that may lead to a tingling sensation in different body parts.


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Keto Numbness And Tingling

I’m going to assume that these tingling symptoms only started once you began a ketogenic diet. Now, you are wondering why you’re experiencing this tingling sensation in your hands or other body parts.

You’re not alone.

Many people also experience these same sensations when starting a ketogenic diet, but I find most people experience this tingling or buzzing feeling for one of two reasons:

  1. You have an electrolyte deficiency (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium)
  2. A vitamin deficiency 

Electrolyte deficiency

When first starting a ketogenic diet, your body is going through a significant change. After all, you’re eliminating the primary fuel source your body has been using its whole life and forcing it to utilize free fatty acids and ketones in its place.

From my experience, the majority of side effects people experience the first few weeks on keto are a result of dehydration and lack of electrolytes. 

You may have noticed that when first starting keto, the scale may have dropped significantly, and you may have also had quite a few more trips to the bathroom.

You’re not crazy; there’s a good reason.

On average, you store about 500 grams of carbohydrates in the form of glycogen within the cells of your muscle and liver. In addition, for every gram of stored carbohydrate, an additional 3 grams of water is stored along with it.

Once you begin to restrict carbohydrates from your diet, and before you become efficient at utilizing ketones for fuel, the body is forced to rely on this stored glycogen for energy.

After the stored glycogen is used for energy, the water which was once attached is released, hence why you may pee more when starting keto. 

If we quickly do the math, 500 grams of carbohydrates multiplied by 3 grams of water equates to 2,000 grams (2 kg or 4.41 lbs) of water and carbohydrates. 

This loss of both stored glycogen and water is why it’s not unheard of for people to lose 5-8 lbs of weight in just the first week alone. 

And while losing all that weight may make you do a happy dance, it doesn’t come without its consequences. 

Along with the massive loss of water weight, you’re also flushing out vital electrolytes that are responsible for helping maintain fluid balance, most notably sodium and potassium. 12

Unless you’re purposely going out of your way to replenish sodium and potassium, there may be a good chance you lack these essential minerals. 

For this reason, I would recommend salting your foods liberally with a good quality salt, such as Redmond Real Salt. Also, increase your intake of potassium through keto-friendly food sources such as spinach and avocados. 

Many people may want to also supplement with an electrolyte supplement in the beginning or if you’re highly active and sweat a lot. 

Electrolyte supplements I recommend with a good amount of both sodium and potassium:

Vitamin deficiency 

Another major cause for tingling hands and limbs on keto is a lack of specific vitamins.

While it’s hard to pinpoint the exact vitamins you may be deficient in without a blood test, most people who report tingling or numbness end up being deficient in Vitamin D3 and various B Vitamins, especially B1:

  • B1 (thiamin)
  • B3 (niacin)
  • B6
  • B9 (folate)
  • B12
 Vitamin B1 deficiency especially may lead to what is known as paresthesia. Paresthesia can be described as an abnormal tingling or prickling (pins and needles) sensation. 

In fact, patients who were in the beginning phases of thiamine deficiency already began to experience paresthesia. 345

To help combat this, you can either take a B Vitamin supplement or make sure to each keto-friendly foods that are rich in B Vitamins. 

B Vitamins can be found in foods such as:

Another great way to get in B Vitamins is by using nutritional yeast. If you’re unfamiliar with nutritional yeast, it can easily be used as a seasoning or mixed in foods. 

I like to season my eggs with nutritional yeast or even mix some in kefir for a meal packed with B Vitamins.

If you find it hard to get in B vitamins from diet alone, supplementing with a good quality B vitamin can go a long way.

B Vitamin I recommend

Other Causes Of Tingling Hands And Feet On Keto

Aside from an electrolyte or vitamin deficiency, here are a few other reasons you may be experiencing tingling hands on keto. 

If you find yourself asking, can keto cause pins and needles? Keto can create the sensation of heavy limbs or “pins and needles” for a variety of reasons, including an imbalance of electrolytes, dehydration, a drop in blood pressure, or a vitamin deficiency. 

Drop in blood pressure

If blood pressure drops too low, blood flow to the limbs may be reduced, which will cause the “pins and needles” sensation you may be experiencing. 

You can usually help combat this by making sure to get a sufficient amount of sodium on your ketogenic diet. 

Salts I recommend:

Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy affects nearly 20 million people in the United States alone. 6

What is peripheral neuropathy? Peripheral neuropathy describes a variety of conditions, all of which involve damage to the peripheral nervous system. 

The peripheral nervous system (PNS), connects the central nervous system (CNS) to the organs, limbs, and skin. The PNS sends sensory information, such as the hands and feet are cold.

This may lead to the prickling, numbness, and tingling in various parts of your body. 

 Diabetes is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy due to high blood sugar levels damaging the nerves. Between 60 and 70 percent of people with diabetes suffer from some degree of neuropathy. 7 

Since neuropathy can affect the sensory nerves, damage can cause tingling, pain, numbness, or weakness in limbs such as your hands or feet. 

Other causes include:

  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • B Vitamin deficiencies 
  • Infections (such as shingles and Lyme disease)
  • Injuries
  • Chronic kidney and liver disease

Natural treatments of neuropathy

Aside from drugs, there may be certain things you can do to help alleviate the symptoms of neuropathy.

These include:

  • Using warm or cold packs (unless it makes the problem worse)
  • Stress relief techniques (meditation, massage, and acupuncture)
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machines.

If you’re interested in trying a cheap and effective TENS unit at home, this is the one I use and recommend:

Can keto cause neuropathy? There is no reason to believe that a ketogenic diet would lead to neuropathy, and may help to treat neuropathy associated with diabetes. 8

Numb Lips On Keto

While most individuals experience tingling in the hands and feet, there are some that experience tingling or numbness in their lips instead.

The same causes for tingling sensations are attributed to the tingling and numbness that people experience in their lips.

To help combat numb lips on keto, you should ensure you are staying well hydrated and taking in a reasonable amount of electrolytes, especially sodium and potassium.

Again, this may be accomplished by ensuring you are salting your foods liberally, but also consuming enough potassium through keto-friendly sources such as avocados and green leafy vegetables. 

And/Or you could also supplement with them.

Electrolyte supplements I recommend:

How Do You Get Your Hands To Stop Tingling

If you are experiencing a tingling sensation in your hands or other extremes while on a ketogenic diet or fasting, ensure you are getting in an adequate amount of electrolytes and staying well-hydrated.

You may also want to ensure you are eating a variety of nutrient-dense whole-foods, especially those rich in B vitamins. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are signs that your body is in ketosis?

Like numbness or tingling in your hands is a sign of being in ketosis, there are several other signs. These are namely weight loss, dry mouth, fatigue, and others.

Does tingling hands mean I'm in ketosis shock?

While it's difficult to say for certain, but it does seem to be an indicator that you're experiencing ketosis shock or the keto flu.

Why am I experiencing different symptoms after starting the keto diet?

The main reason why you start experiencing flu like symptoms after starting the keto diet is because your body is responding to the lack of carbohydrates.


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