Keto diet – Side effects


The keto or ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet. It is a popular breakthrough in weight loss. Weight loss focuses on eating right, matching your body requirements according to your lifestyle.

This diet has been popular among working professionals, busy moms, fitness freaks and sportspeople of all ages, celebrities and social media influencers.

What is a keto diet?

The ketogenic diet favours more protein and fat intake and less carbohydrate in your diet. You need to cut back carbs such as sugar, pastries, soda and white bread.

Eating high-carb food with a lack of physical activities, you are most prone to weight gain. Carbs are always an essential nutrient for your body, but keep a watch on the calories you take.

The ketogenic diet helps tweak the body’s metabolism into a fat-burning state, namely Ketosis. It does this by (almost) eliminating carbs and focusing on fats, thereby fetching significant dividends for rapid weight loss.

Benefits of keto diet

The ketogenic diet has a range of potential health benefits.

The top benefits of the keto diet include,

  1. Improving your cholesterol
  2. Improves blood pressure levels
  3. Maintains blood sugar levels
  4. Reducing your appetite
  5. Boosting weight loss
  6. Lowering your triglycerides.

Keto diet risks

Adopting the keto diet for long durations harms your health, including an increased risk of the following health issues:

  • stones in the kidneys
  • a high level of protein in the blood
  • deficiencies in minerals and vitamins
  • a fat build-up in the liver

Many individuals refer to the keto diet’s adverse side effects as ‘keto flu.’ Constipation and tiredness are two of the possible side effects.

As the body gets used to its new energy source, these symptoms are more common at the start of the diet.

Persons with Diabetes who are insulin-dependent, people with eating disorders, people with renal illness or pancreatitis and women during pregnancy and breastfeeding should avoid the keto diet.

A keto diet is not recommended for people using sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors for type 2 Diabetes. This drug raises the risk of Diabetic Ketoacidosis, a severe condition in which the blood acidity rises.

Side effects of the keto diet – An overview

 Here are the notable side effects of following a keto diet,

  1. Keto flu

Keto flu is a short-term side-effect of ketosis, which could cause lethargy, nausea and headaches. It happens due to a sudden alteration in eating patterns and a limited intake of carbs. As per research published by National Center for Biotechnology Information, short-term side effects of the ketogenic diet are nausea, vomiting, headache, difficulty managing energy loss during exercises, and constipation.

  1. Major nutrient deficiency

Since the diet involves low-carb intake, its followers may deprive themselves of essential nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium and zinc. Such deficiency of nutrients may cause fatigue, skin rashes, constipation, loss of appetite, lack of focus, and mood fluctuations. Disease conditions such as Anaemia may also develop due to vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency, which could also lead to Osteoporosis.

  1. Heart diseases and Diabetes

Based on a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, those following a low-carb diet have higher low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, a risk factor for heart disease. Since the keto diet is fat and protein-centric, it could increase the risk of type 2 Diabetes amongst its practitioners.

People can lessen the keto diet’s adverse effects by doing the following:

  1. Ensuring that they obtain adequate vitamins and minerals from their food by consuming more healthy fats like olive oil, fatty fish and avocados rather than saturated fats.
  2. If weight loss is their objective, they should avoid processed foods that contain saturated fat and gradually reintroduce carbohydrates once they have reached a moderate weight.

Adults side effects

The most common problems for adults on the ketogenic diet are weight loss, constipation, elevated cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Women may also develop Amenorrhea or other menstrual cycle irregularities.

Other side effects

  • Excessive thirst.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Fatigue
  • Hunger
  • Tachycardia
  • Confusion, anxiety and/or irritability.
  • Lightheadedness and shakiness.
  • Sweating and chills.

In conclusion

 Unlike other low-carb diets that emphasise protein, the keto diet centres on fat, contributing to 90% of daily calories. The keto diet focuses on ketone bodies produced by the liver from stored fat rather than sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates (such as grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits).

The health hazards linked with the keto diet (covered in this article) may accumulate over time. As a result, consult a doctor and a trained nutritionist before starting a keto diet.

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