The Keto Diet has become popular with people looking to lose weight and improve their health. It involves significantly reducing carbohydrate intake while increasing the amount of fat and protein you eat. This puts the body into a state called Ketosis, where fat is burned for energy instead of carbs.
Not everyone prescribes to the keto diet or the ketogenic diet to lose weight. Our nutritionist gives us short term and long-term side effects of following this diet especially without supervision.
The short-term side effects include:
- During the transition phase, when the body switches over its fuel supply from glucose to ketones, it experiences flu-like symptoms, also called Keto-flu.
- During the first few days, the body loses a lot of water, sodium and other minerals like potassium, magnesium etc. In fact, the initial weight lost is due to water loss and not fat loss. The symptoms are dehydration, frequent urination, excessive thirst, dizziness, drowsiness, headaches and muscle cramps.
- Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia is another side effect. The noticeable symptoms during the transition phase include fatigue, hunger, confusion, anxiety, irritability, tachycardia, light-headedness, shakiness, sweating and chills.
- Smelly breath – Acetone is one of the ketone bodies and it has a characteristically fruity smell similar to that of a nail-polish remover.
- Constipation – is a common side effect in the beginning due to dehydration and drastic change in diet composition. Occasionally, some people also experience diarrhea due to high fat diet.
- Disturbed sleep.
However, there can be some more serious long-term side effects too:
- The level of lipids and cholesterol in the blood increases due to high fat intake.
- Acidosis causes the bone to demineralize and erode. It increases the risk of bone injury and fracture.
- Ketosis results in low urine ph. Bone erosion leads to hypercalciuria. The low pH leads to formation of crystals and kidney stones.
- Women experience disruption of the menstrual cycle, and in extreme cases, amenorrhea which means complete absence of periods.
Though researchers do not know for certain the long-term effects of the keto diet, there has been research done on the long-term effects of consuming high-fat, low-carb diets, which are below:
1. Cutting out carbs long-term has been linked to heart rhythm problems
2. Your ability to exercise might suffer
3. Being keto long-term may lead to vitamin deficiencies
4. A long-term keto diet could have a negative impact on your gut and digestion
5.Focusing on eating fat-rich foods might compromise your health long-term
6. You might not want to do the keto diet long-term if you have a history of pancreatitis or high triglycerides
Considering these risks, people who have kidney damage, individuals at risk for heart disease, pregnant or nursing women, people with type 1 diabetes, pre-existing liver or pancreatic condition and anyone who has undergone gallbladder removal shouldn’t attempt the Keto diet.