Not everything is perfect, right? So is the keto diet. Just like anything in life, it has benefits and side effects.
So, what are the side effects that you should know before starting a keto diet? How can they impact our lives? And how to minimize them?
The ketogenic diet, known as the keto diet, is simply a new way of weight loss. By limiting carbs and increasing fats, the body gets into a metabolic state called ketosis where it relies on fats to get energy and become a fat-burning machine.
Scientists say that we need more research about the topic pointing that it was originally used for medical purpose to aid people with epilepsy.
For sure we can’t make a general theory about the keto diet that can be applied for everybody but do all the research needed and know all the issues related to your body before starting.
From feeling dizzy and lazy on the keto flu -first days on a keto diet- to experiencing some impacts along the way to weight regain at the end, these are all side effects, some of them will happen to everyone and some others you have to avoid them.
Here are some side effects of the keto diet that you should consider before starting your diet:
Table of Contents
The Keto Flu
Usually referred to as the first phase of the keto diet. It is a period of time when you will get some symptoms because of the change that happens in diet so the body needs time to adapt in order to get into ketosis.
This period can last days or even weeks depending on the person, the mood and the body type. But once you get out of it, you will feel much better in your energy levels and your weight loss results.
Some of these symptoms are:
- Brain Fog (Difficulty to focus)
- An increase in cravings
The cure for the keto flu is time. These symptoms will fade away by themselves because the body will get used to burning fats for energy instead of sugar. However, going through all this might be tempting and unmotivating to keep up with your diet. That is why there are solutions to make this process less painful:
- Increase your salt and water intake
- Consume more fats
- Avoid high-intensity exercises
Constipation And Diarrhea
John Riopelle, DO, a gastroenterologist for Kaiser Permanente in Lone Tree, Colorado claims that every time you make a change in your diet, you might affect your gastrointestinal health.
On a keto diet, the body loses water more than before because the kidney expels more water due to the low levels of insulin. This is usually the cause of intestinal diseases like constipation and diarrhea.
The cure is so easy, just make sure you drink enough water and salt in order to make up for the water loss because hydration here is the biggest enemy to the keto diet. Of course, over time you don’t have to drink as much as when you start because your body will adapt to the keto diet.
However, when you reduce carbs you automatically reduce fibers which are proven to be one of the causes of constipation. A 2012 study published in the World J Gastroenterol documented that Stopping or reducing dietary fiber intake reduces constipation and its associated symptoms.
Low Athletic Performance
Keto diet is one of the diets that minimize inflammation which is considered very appealing for active people. Runners and distant cyclers find helpful for their athletic performance since it gets rid of all the unnecessary loads in the body. But what about other sports?
Being a good athlete is not only about how you train but also what you eat, that is why these performers try a lot of diet in order to see which one is good for them and how they can stick with it.
After sticking with the keto diet for a while, Crossfitters have found that it didn’t impact their ability to train positively. In fact, they claim that they experienced a higher perceived effort of exertion, higher heart rate and lower power during exercising.
This may be applied for high-intensity sports like CrossFit, spinning, running… because they usually require carbs for fuels. Even though on keto, you might feel higher energy levels, if your goal is to boost your performance, then keto diet may not be a good option for you.
If you are an athlete and still want to lose weight on a keto diet, the healthiest way to go is by including meats, nuts, high-fat dairies, and low carbs vegetables instead of relying on keto supplements and shakes.
Changing your dietary habits is hard, especially on a keto diet because you don’t only change the way you eat but also you change your whole lifestyle, that is why this may lead to some problems along the way.
For example, you may forget about the importance of a moderate amount of protein because it is necessary for growth and survival. Lack of protein may cause kidney damage.
Well, the keto diet does not directly affect kidney but the huge focus on fats to the point that we neglect protein does. If you eat a lot of protein, you get out of ketosis and if you eat less you put your kidney at risk.
A moderate amount means 10-15% of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds (~55kg) you need 46 grams of protein per day according to the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake).
Keto diet is designed for weight loss but there is no wonder that you may fall in the trap of weight stagnation or even weight gain. This is also not related directly to the keto diet itself but more to the way you eat, what you drink and what you do on a daily basis.
First of all, fats are the way to ketosis which is your ultimate goal to lose weight easily and without hunger. But eating too many fats can cause the exact opposite because whenever you take more calories than your body needs you will definitely gain weight.
Other things that cause weight gain no matter what your diet is: Stress and lack of sleep. Also, if you do little to no exercises you won’t see results because it doesn’t matter if you are on a diet or not, you should always be active and there is no such healthy thing as “lose weight without exercising”.
[See: Keto Diet: What To Eat?]
Is Keto Diet For You?
Before you embark on a keto diet, define what is your main goal from the diet. The common reason for choosing the diet is weight loss but it doesn’t have to be long term. It is highly recommended to get back to your normal routine once you hit your goals.
If you are an athlete, there is no harm in trying but you should do all the research needed considering the type of your sport.
In the end, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you prepared for some indigestion, at least initially?
- If you eat out regularly, can you find foods that meet your needs?
- Is this diet varied enough to keep you satisfied?
- Are these foods sports-friendly?
The Bottom Line
Being in the shape of your dreams is what we all want, but it is a challenge and may bring some side effects. However, there is nothing wrong with whatever you do. The only wrong thing is to stay in your position fearing the risks and overwhelming about the process.
People quit easily or spend their whole lives in their fears. But you are not like most people.