4 side effects of the keto diet
So many people nowadays swear by keto-diet being the holy grail method for weight loss and having countless benefits for our health, but unfortunately, nothing can be that perfect.
A Keto diet can come with a whole baggage of side effects you should be cautious about before deciding to enter the keto world – where you cut down on carbs and consume high fat, high protein meals only.
1) The keto flu
There have been reports which claim that certain people start feeling sick after going through a few weeks on a keto diet.
This health condition is been known as Keto flu, where the person experiences typical flu-like symptoms like fatigue, malaise, vomiting, nausea, dizziness, and many other issues around.
Although it has nothing to do with actual flu – which is an infectious condition.
Symptoms mostly appear 2-7 days after starting the diet and last for about a week or two.
The mechanism behind this state is not entirely explained, but it’s considered to be related to altered electrolytes, water, and insulin level.
To put it in simple words
Keto flu is caused by metabolic adaptations and the body’s response to physiological changes caused by a drastic switch in diet.
As the body gets used to the state of ketosis, these symptoms clear up on their own
The good news is, it’s a reversible and easy-to-manage condition, just like cases of flu, these symptoms can be alleviated by drinking a lot of fluids and getting proper sleep.
If you are on a Keto diet and rushing to the bathroom more often than others, you are certainly not the only one experiencing the issue.
Numerous people around the world have reported Keto diarrhea and this is major because the body is using fat as an energy source instead of Carbohydrates.
The cause of keto diarrhea can be multifactorial:
The most important cause as already mentioned is a high-fat diet:
The more fat we consume more energy and bile our gut needs to digest and absorb it since it can’t keep up with the mass of fat and bile secreted from the liver acts as a laxative – all these results in diarrhea
Especially noteworthy for those with a sweet tooth who have trouble letting go of candy and tend to use quite a lot of sugar alcohols as constituents for carbs.
Accordingly, the Scientific Committee for Foods (SCF) of the European Economic Community (EEC) stated– “excess consumption of alcohol sugars may have a laxative effect.”
Altered gut microbiome
At the start of the keto diet, some of our”friend” gut bacterias might die off and release toxins which are then washed off by diarrhea.
Dairy product consumption
Some people tend to start their journey of keto with high amounts of low-carb dairy products which causes them to experience discomforting diarrhea since dairy is a well-known trigger of GI distress and inflammation.
- There are certain things you can do to decrease the frequency and severity of diarrhea:
- Ease into the keto world – it gives the body more time to adapt to the transition
- Cut down on dairy
- Add probiotics to your ration to replenish the microbiome
- Avoid boluses of fiber- since insoluble fiber can activate the bowel movements
- Artificial sweeteners in moderation
- Minimize saturated fats
Most importantly, during diarrhea of any cause, you must replenish fluids and electrolytes.
So don’t forget to stay hydrated!
3. Low energy levels during workouts
As we already mentioned, at the beginning of the keto diet you might experience short-term fatigue, which is due to the body’s adaptation to change.
However sometimes that exhaustion can stay longer and affect your workouts, this fact is especially remarkable for physically active people or those who do sports for a living.
A lot of athletes and fitness enthusiasts have reported low energy and strength levels during their workouts and athletic performance.
This may be due to the low carb content whilst being on a Keto diet.
Various researchers claim that the keto diet can benefit you if you’re an endurance athlete but can work against you if you do high-intensity anaerobic workouts – where carbohydrates are the main source of energy.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise in November, Jenna Gillen, an assistant professor states:
“Low-carb and high-fat diets are less than optimal for performance, especially considering that athletes rely almost exclusively on carbohydrates for intense and high-energy expenditure activities, translating into overall lowered performance and results.”
Unfortunately, there’s still not enough evidence of the keto diet being beneficial and safe in the long run for physically active people.
If you are someone who has type 1 or types 2 diabetic conditions, you must not follow the keto diet without the permission of your doctor or physician.
According to research, a low-carb, high-fat diet can have a beneficial effect on blood glucose levels and insulin resistance, despite the fact there are substantial risks.
During keto, people suffering from diabetes and taking insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents can suffer severe hypoglycemia if the medications are not appropriately adjusted before initiating this diet.
While a low-carb diet for type 1 diabetes has many proven benefits, some health professionals believe it is controversial.
The main potential risk is hypoglycemia and diabetic Ketoacidosis – ketone body accumulation, which is an emergency and needs to be treated promptly.
So insulin dosages should be adjusted and discussed with a healthcare professional.
For those with Type 2 diabetes, the keto diet is considered to be safe and beneficial, since it can aid patients with weight loss and metabolic state.
From another point of view, diabetics who are insulin-dependent also have a risk for Diabetic Ketoacidosis just like in type 1 diabetes and need to keep a track of their blood sugar levels daily.
All types of metabolic disorders require us to be extra careful when making such radical changes to diet, so be sure to consult your endocrinologist.
So, is the Keto diet good for you or not?
The Keto diet is good in certain ways and it delivers for all your weight loss goals. Still, the person who is following the keto diet may have to consume certain unhealthy fats like red meat, which is not healthy by any means.
There are also no studies and observations regarding its long-term effects and this is why it’s been followed by people for the short term only.
This is where it’s always recommended that you must follow a healthy diet that is sustainable for a long time.
Follow the Keto diet to achieve your short-term fitness goals only.
To sum up
Follow a healthy and balanced diet, which includes fresh fruits, veggies, lean meat, nuts, olive oil, and lots of water instead.
Not only this would help you in getting better health over a long period, but it will also avoid the occurrence of any unwanted health issues in the whole process.
National Center of Biotechnology and Information: