Medical review by Natalie Butler, R.D., L.D.
The low carb diet — also known as the keto diet — became the recent major catchwords for people observing the weight-loss schemes. Also, celebrities like Mama June, Jenna Jameson, and Halle Berry support it. The regimen involves reducing the high concentration of carbohydrates in the diet, to about 50 grams per day or even less, to allow the body to achieve a condition of ketosis, where it has to burn calories (instead of sugar) for energy.
The keto regimen is sometimes known as a fad diet. The diet is unique, unlike popular diets, since it pushes the body into an alternate, natural metabolic condition known as ketosis. You can accurately anticipate some adverse side effects if this happens, particularly those who come down with the “keto flu.” But these keto side effects occur whenever people improperly implement the keto diet plan, typically as part of a high-fat, minimal-carb diet by failing to eat nutritionally-rich foods.
Keto Side Effects
1. Short-term side effects
Just like other significant diets, the keto diet is also most evident at the start of the dieting scheme. Side effects like Hypoglycemia is a very popular side effect. The others include:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Anxiety and confusion
- Shakiness and lightheadedness
- Chills and sweating
It is also very common to see patients that are experiencing low-grade acidosis and constipation. All of these side effects of the ketogenic diet would likely improve when you stick to the diet. This is because your body will start to adapt to the new diet that you are currently consuming. Your body will also make some adjustments in the manner in which it obtains and utilizes its energy.
2. Alteration in Blood Composition
Many adjustments occur in the blood composition of individuals attempting to follow the keto diet. These changes occur due to dietary intake and adaptive processes of the body to effectively deal with the decreased intake of carbohydrates.
The concentrations of cholesterol and lipids in the blood are typically higher than what is considered acceptable. Over 60% of sufferers have increased levels of lipid, and over 30% have towering levels of cholesterol.
If these changes are substantial, and there are health concerns, the individual patient should make a little adjustment in the diet. For example, (PUFAs) polyunsaturated fatty acids can be replaced by other saturated fat sources. In some instances, decreasing the keto ratio and decreasing the percentage of fat in the diet to protein and may be essential.
3. Long-Term Effects
Other keto side effects become apparent and have a more massive impact on you when you follow the ketogenic diet for more extended periods.
Nephrolithiasis, also known as kidney stones, are a severe diet-related complication for children, with about 5% of patients experiencing the condition. However, it is also treatable, and the new guidelines suggest continuing the diet. Kidney stone formation is associated with hypercalciuria and hypocitraturia. When acidosis leads to demineralization of the bone, besides, low urine pH can promote crystal formation and, ultimately, kidney stones.
Categorically speaking, there is an elevated risk of bone fractures for sufferers. This is due to changes in insulin-like growth factor 1 levels and the consequences of acidosis. Acidosis contributes to bone erosion, decreasing their strength, and leaving the bones vulnerable to fractures.
Supplementation of minerals and vitamins is habitually given to patients observing the keto diet scheme to handle these adverse effects. This usually consists of calcium multivitamins and supplements of vitamin D.
4. Side Effects in Adults
Some of the peculiar side effects for adults are increased levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, constipation, and weight loss. For women that are observing the scheme, they tend to have symptoms of amenorrhea and some other inconsistencies in their menstrual cycle.
Dangers of going keto
1. Keto Flu
Many people say they feel sick when they begin ketosis. There may sometimes be nausea, distress in the gastrointestinal region, and acute tiredness, plus lethargy. Keto flu disappears typically within some days.
These keto side effects are felt by about 25 percent of people who attempt the ketogenic diet scheme, with the most severe being fatigue. It’s because your body uses sugar sources as fuels, and when it depletes, it switches to fats usage. This process alone is more than enough to cause your body to feel tired for some days. By getting lots of good sleep and drinking copious amounts of water, you may be able to reduce the symptoms of keto flu. You should also take natural sources of energy to combat exhaustion, such as organic coffee, matcha green tea, or adaptogenic herbs.
If you are on a keto diet, you find yourself rushing to the toilet more often. A simple Google search will reveal to you that many other people are also experiencing the same thing. It’s the sensation of being overwhelmed by the gallbladder— the body organ is responsible for the production of bile, a perfect material that the body needs to break down fats.
Diarrhea may also result due to the absence of dietary fiber, which results when keto diet adherents are cutting back on carbohydrates and other foods that rich in fiber, such as vegetables. It can also result from a lack of tolerance to artificial sweeteners or dairy products — foods that you may eat more since switching to a low-carb high-fat lifestyle.
3. Reduced Athletic Performance
Some sportsmen also reckon with the ketogenic diet, not only for weight loss but also for enhanced sports performance.
Respondents performed very low on running activities after four days while on a ketogenic diet in a recent survey undertaken by a health and fitness organization as opposed to those who spent four days on a high carbohydrate diet. This is because when the body is experiencing ketosis, the body will have increased acid levels, and this can place an upper limit on the ability of athletes to perform.
4. Weight Regain
Because the ketogenic diet is so stringent, health professionals agree that long-term observation of this diet is not in your best interest. The issue with that is the fact that a lot of people are going to recover a massive amount of the weight that they shed off as soon as they stick back to carbohydrates.
It is truly a problem with any fad diet, but with ketosis, it seems to be more prevalent. Such types of changes in weight may lead to the deterioration of an eating disorder. Keto diet is helpful for people who have problems with managing food portions while eating as well as those with binge eating disorder. But what they need in many situations is a lifestyle coach or a qualified psychologist to support them get to the root of these issues.
Lower muscle mass and reduced metabolism are also prevalent. Weight changes associated with keto diets can reduce muscle mass— this is especially true if you consume much high fat and lower protein. You’re going to lose weight, but it might be a tremendous amount of muscle. The tissue metabolizes fewer fats than calories, and this undoubtedly affects your metabolic processes.
If a person leaves the keto diet scheme and recovers most of their initial weight, it is not always in the same sizes. You are prone to add fats instead of adding lean muscle.
5. Decreased Metabolism
Except you have the approval of your doctor and close monitoring, you should not adopt the keto diet. This is because of some of the essential side effects of keto diet like decreased body metabolism. This calls for close monitoring of the sugar levels of your blood by testing for your blood glucose levels multiple times a day.
The decreased metabolism activates a dangerous state called ketoacidosis in people who have diabetes. It happens when the body and blood process too many keto-acids formed as a by-product of the metabolism of fats. When you do not treat it, it may become deadly.
In people not suffering from diabetes who adopted keto diets, ketoacidosis was also documented, but this complication is quite uncommon. Symptoms of ketoacidosis include frequent urination, dry mouth, bad breath, and difficulty in breathing. If you suffer these after a low-carb diet, it may mean that you have to visit your doctor right away.
6. Vitamin Deficiency
The relationship between vitamins and the ketogenic diet has been the topic for debate for quite a while now. Several thoughts propose that adherence to the ketogenic diet will lead to the deficiency of certain minerals in the body.
Many people who practice the keto diet scheme typically will not get all the nutrients that their body needs. This is because of the restrictions in their diet. For instance, when they choose foods rich in fats but low in carbohydrates, they may lose out on some essential nutrients like Vitamins E, D, C, calcium, magnesium, folate, thiamin, and iron.
To make your body not experience any of those deficiencies when you are on a ketogenic diet, you should add the sources of these micronutrients in your diet. This is to enable that they compensate for the nutrient that the natural high-carb sources would have provided.
7. Kidney Damage
Most of the opponents of the ketogenic diet frequently present this as the reason why people should boycott the ketogenic diet. This is not far from the fact that people practicing the ketogenic diet, there have been increased levels of calcium in their kidneys, resulting in the formation of kidney stones. But this assertion is not entirely correct.
If you are on the ketogenic diet and you are consuming large amounts of Vitamin D and not taking the requisite amount of Magnesium, Vitamin K2, or A, then you are increasing your risk of developing kidney stones. Also, there are scientific research papers that assert that the levels of uric acid in your body will skyrocket for the first six-to-eight weeks of going ketogenic. This is because there is an endogenous competition between uric acid and ketone for excretion.
When you avoid taking a large volume of water when you are on a ketogenic diet, then you have a more increased risk of developing kidney stones. Hence, you should ensure that you drink large volumes of water every day.
The above points are an indication of some of the most prevalent keto side effects that many people undergoing the keto diet scheme reports. A lot of research studies by experts and other nutritionists also show that this assertion is correct. To continually stay safe and healthy, it is in your best interest to seek an expert’s counsel before starting a ketogenic diet. If you are already in the scheme and you are experiencing any symptoms mentioned above, reach out to your doctor.