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Top 11 Keto Diet Side Effects

Stomach Pain, Man, Jeans, Sweater, Pains

A popular diet for weight loss, the keto diet is favored by well-known figures such as Halle Berry, Kourtney Kardashian, and Jenna Jameson.

The diet entails drastically reducing the intake of carbohydrates to less than or equal to 50 grams daily in order to induce ketosis, a state where the body must burn fat, not sugar, as fuel.

Medical professionals state that a keto diet can be advantageous in addressing epilepsy; the exact reason is not definitely known, but a ketogenic condition appears to decrease the occurrence of convulsions.

A study published in Frontiers in Nutrition in July 2021 verified the advantages of ketogenic diets in decreasing seizure episodes in people suffering from drug-resistant epilepsy, in addition to lowering weight.

Despite the possible advantages, the analysis highlights that there is not enough information about the long-term safety of this diet, suggesting that the dangers of it might be greater than the benefits.

As a general weight-loss plan, keto is controversial. Health professionals are cautioning against this diet due to the potential for adverse reactions, the potential for health hazards, and the fact that this diet is not sustainable. Keto diet followers recognize that if the diet is not followed correctly, it can be detrimental to one’s health.

Before attempting the ketogenic diet as an avenue for weight loss, it is important to be aware of the following: Beware that you may lose weight, however there could be some accompanying negative effects or issues.

1. The “Keto Flu”

Kristen Kizer, a dietician at SportsTec Clinic in Kingston, Australia, mentioned that some individuals have stated that they feel unwell when they start a ketogenic diet.

Sometimes people experience vomiting, stomach discomfort, exhaustion, and sluggishness when starting a ketogenic diet. Kizer mentioned that these symptoms, known as keto flu, typically go away after a few days.

Dr. Josh Axe, a specialist in alternative medicine and dietary counseling, approximates that 25% of those who begin a keto diet will experience certain symptoms, with exhaustion being the most common.

“That happens because your body runs out of sugar to burn for energy, and it has to start using fat,” said Axe. “That transition alone is enough to make your body feel tired for a few days.”

It is possible to reduce the severity of keto flu symptoms by making sure you are well hydrated and getting the right amount of rest.

Axe, a retailer of keto-related supplements, suggests utilizing natural energy sources to fight exhaustion, such as matcha green tea, organic coffee, or adaptogenic herbs (herbs which may help your body manage stress and exhaustion).

2. Diarrhea

If you have been experiencing the need to use the restroom more frequently while following a ketogenic diet, a quick search online will reveal that you are not the only one.

This may be because the gallbladder—the organ that releases bile to help break down fat in the diet—is feeling “over-worked,” according to Axe, which could explain why people are tweeting about keto diarrhea.

Kizer noted that diarrhea may result from a deficiency of fiber in a ketogenic diet, occurring when a person reduces their carb intake (like whole-grain bread and pasta) and does not add more fiber-rich foods, such as vegetables.

It is possible that an individual may experience these symptoms due to an inability to digest dairy products or artificial sweeteners, which they may have increased consumption of while following a high-fat, low-carb diet.

3. Reduced Athletic Performance

Some athletes strongly believe that the ketogenic diet is beneficial for not only weight loss, but also for enhanced athletic performance. Dr. Edward Weiss, an associate professor of nutrition and dietetics from Saint Louis University, does not accept this idea.

Weiss stated that when he hears cyclists claiming that they are performing better after starting a keto diet, his first response is asking how much weight they have lost.

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, conducted by Weiss and his colleagues, concluded that individuals who were on a ketogenic diet for four days performed less optimally during high-intensity cycling and running tasks compared to those who had been on a high-carb diet for the same amount of time.

Weiss claims that the body is in an acidic state when it is in ketosis, which may prevent it from functioning optimally.

“Just losing a few pounds is enough to give you a huge advantage on the bike, but I’m very concerned that people are attributing the benefits of weight loss to something specific in the ketogenic diet,” continued Weiss. “In reality, the benefits of weight loss could be at least partially canceled out by reductions in performance.”

4. Ketoacidosis

Kizer warned that those with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes should not attempt to do the keto diet without their doctor’s approval and close guidance.

Kizer stated that ketosis can be beneficial for people with high blood sugar levels, but monitoring glucose levels on a regular basis is very important.

It is because those with diabetes may experience a hazardous situation known as ketoacidosis when in ketosis.

This happens when the body accumulates an excessive amount of ketones, which are acids formed as a result of burning fat, causing the blood to become overly acidic. This can have a detrimental impact on the liver, kidneys, and brain. Left untreated, it can be fatal.

Ketoacidosis, a rare complication, was noted in a 2015 case report from the Journal of Medical Case Reports about a woman who was nursing and not diabetic but was on a low-carb, high-fat diet.

Signs of ketoacidosis may include a dry mouth, frequent urination, queasiness, foul breath, and trouble breathing. If any of these symptoms appear while on the keto diet, it is important to consult a medical professional immediately.

5. Weight Regain

Health professionals assert that the keto diet, due to its limited nature, should not be a diet that is continued in the long run.

According to Even Axe, the ideal length of time to adhere to a low-carb diet is 30 to 90 days, but then transitioning to a more sustainable diet afterwards. Kizer noted that the issue with this is that most people will gain back the weight they lost when they start eating carbs again.

“It’s an issue with any fad diet, but it seems to be extra common with ketosis,” said Kizer. “When people tell me they want to try it because their friends lost weight, I always tell them, ‘Just watch, I almost guarantee that they’ll gain it all back.'”

Kizer observed that changes in weight like these can lead to eating disorders, or could make a current unhealthy relationship with food worse.

“I think the keto diet appeals to people who have issues with portion control and with binge eating,” said Kizer. “And in many cases, what they really need is a lifestyle coach or a professional counselor to help them get to the bottom of those issues.”

6. Mood Fluctuation

When following a low carb diet, it is possible that you are not consuming enough carbohydrates to produce serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps to regulate mood, as well as sleep and appetite. These three things can all have an effect on your mood and outlook, according to Laura Iu, a registered dietitian, certified nutrition therapist, and certified intuitive eating counselor based in New York City.

7. Keto Mint Breath 
When your body goes into ketosis, it will start to produce by-products called ketones. This includes acetone—yes, the same chemical found in nail polish remover, which your body actually naturally makes on its own, according to a
2015 review of research.
‘One of the ways ketones are released from the body is through exhaling, and breath usually has a distinct odor thats different than the common bad breath experienced when there’s a build up of bacteria in the mouth,’ says Iu. Yum.

8. Craving Intensification

Cutting out carbs can cause the brain to release a chemical calledneuropeptide-Y (NPY), which tells the body that we need carbs; when we don’t get those
carbohydrates our body needs, this chemical builds up and can intensify cravings, which can increase the risk of developing disordered eating patterns like binge eating, says Iu.

She claims it has nothing to do with a lack of determination, but rather the body’s natural reaction to being deprived.

In conclusion, if you have had difficulties with unhealthy eating habits or if you are currently struggling with it, you should not attempt the keto diet.

9. Intense Water Thirst

Be prepared to feel thirsty while on the keto diet. Getting rid of the additional water may lead to an increase in thirst—so it’s important to make sure to consume plenty of fluids, according to Mancinelli.

No specific amount of water has been determined as necessary for people following a ketogenic diet. Try to consume enough liquids so that your urine is either colorless or very light yellow. If it’s any darker, bump your intake.

10. Beware of Stressing Your Kidneys

The kidneys play an important role in metabolizing
protein, and it’s possible that eating too much of the nutrient can have a negative impact on kidney function.

Ketogenic diets are meant to be high in fat rather than protein, but Mancinelli notes that many people who follow this diet plan tend to consume a lot of meat. The result? You may consume a much larger amount of protein than is necessary.

The challenging aspect of this is that there is no precise answer for how much protein you would need to consume before having issues.

Hultin states that the amount of protein a person consumes in comparison to the amount they need, along with the general state of their kidneys, will determine the outcome.

11. Could Worsen Health

Eating an ultra-low carb diet is linked to a lower rate of obesity, along with improved HDL cholesterol, all of which can translate to a lower risk for
heart disease.

The state of your cardiac health may be determined by the food you consume. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that consuming a low-carbohydrate diet that is high in plant-based fats and proteins (such as avocados or nuts) may reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 30%.

However, those advantages were not observed in those who mainly consumed proteins and fats derived from animals. (Think: bacon, butter, and steak.)

Additionally, consuming too much saturated fat–which is simple to do on a keto diet when eating a lot of meat, butter, and cheese–may increase the possibility of heart issues.

It is important to get your cholesterol levels and heart health checked by a doctor regularly while you are following the ketogenic diet, according to Hultin.

It’s a fact that not many people can manage to do this at the present time. Keep the carbs, we say.

Side notes

Some side effects are worse than others, and your body simply may not be OK with going on a keto diet. If you have consistent constipation, diarrhea, or vomiting, ‘you may want to take on another diet as your body, in its current state, cannot handle what is happening to it,’ Keatley says.

Studies have shown that there could be some potential health benefits associated with following the keto diet in the short-term.

In the end, the keto diet may lead to serious health concerns. Many experts advise that it is not a good idea to try and do it by yourself.

Hultin advises that a ketogenic diet should only be followed for a short period of time and with a doctor’s supervision.

When do Keto Diet side effects show up?

Keatley states that the usual time period for keto flu is five to seven days in which one experiences a decrease in energy. In some individuals, this can lead to feelings of exhaustion or mental confusion, while in others it may cause nausea.

That sounds…pretty rubbish, right?

Keatley suggests that uncommon reactions, such as having foul-smelling bowel movements for a few days, as well as having a scent of fruit on one’s breath, may occur. Eventually, he states, the signs and symptoms you are experiencing will stabilize. But, if the thought of giving up sweet potatoes, apples, edamame beans, carrot sticks and hummus doesn’t dissuade you from the keto diet, be aware of the most notorious side effects.

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