The ketogenic diet has gained a ton of popularity in the recent years, but it’s not all butterflies and unicorns – there are keto diet dangers you need to be aware of before starting this diet.
There are two categories of adverse effects that the ketogenic diet has on your body.
One is the effects your body undergoes when entering ketosis, and the other is the reactions or problems that can be exacerbated due to this diet.
The Keto Flu
The Keto diet, in a nutshell, consists of reducing your carbohydrate intake to the point that your body begins to use fat instead of carbs as fuel. When your body reaches this state of relying on fat instead of carbohydrates it’s called “ketosis”. When your body reaches ketosis it can have some uncomfortable, albeit generally harmless, effects.
Some beginning symptoms of ketosis may include:
- “low-carb flu” – tiredness or fatigue, keto diet headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea or stomach ache
- feeling thirsty all the time
- dry mouth
- ketosis or acetone breath – may smell sort of fruity, but not in a good way
- metallic taste
- sleep problems
- cold hands/feet
- frequent urination and strong urine smell
- brain fog
These symptoms vary greatly from person to person, and shouldn’t last more than two days. If any of these symptoms become severe, consult your physician.
Your body should adjust quickly to the new source of energy and you should feel much better shortly. Here are some things you can do in the meantime to take the “edge off” the keto flu symptoms.
- Eat small protein snacks frequently. Remember not to go crazy with the protein, since your body can turn them into carbs.
- Drink water – stay hydrated!
- Drink chicken or beef broth for the sodium that will also help you stay hydrated.
- Eat some healthy fats, to keep your body fueled.
- Rest as much as possible.
Keto Diet Dangers
While being in ketosis is a natural state that your body has the ability to function in, there can be some factors that could make being in ketosis dangerous. It’s always wise to run your diet plans by your physician, especially if they involve a drastic change like cutting out carbs.
Here are some important keto diet dangers to watch out for.
Keto diet and constipation – High fat/low fiber diets tend to cause constipation. Constipation is not really a dangerous side-effect, but it is uncomfortable. This effect can be managed by adding MCT oil to your diet along with foods that are higher in fiber.
Ketoacidosis – While on the keto diet, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes sufferers must be aware of their glucose vs ketone levels. If both of these are high, your body is not making enough insulin and your blood becomes too acidic. This is called ketoacidosis, which can eventually end up in a diabetic coma. That’s why it’s very important to check your blood ketones and glucose.
Kidney damage – Ketosis can be hard on your kidneys due to the fact that it increases your blood acidity and overburdens them. The processing of extra protein forces your kidneys to produce more calcium, sodium, and potassium, which can increase the probability of developing kidney stones.
Keto diet and high blood pressure? – This one piggy-backs on the previous one, and I included it because there are contradictions out there about this. Keto actually helps you lower your blood pressure, but due to the increased loss of water and electrolytes, could cause your blood pressure to decrease too much.
License to eat crap as long as I maintain ketosis – I get it, the keto diet sounds great – eat a ton of cheese, make fatty coffee, and eat no-bread burgers. The truth of the matter is, that being in ketosis does not necessarily mean you are healthy. The same rules apply when you are on the keto diet as when you are off of it. Quality is key. Eating healthy fats and healthy keto foods is still as important as ever.
The ketogenic diet can be a marvelous tool to sculpt your body, lose fat, and look great. It is wise, though, to listen to what your body tells you through the way it reacts to your diet. Keep an eye out for symptoms that are severe and be sure to stay hydrated.