The latest trendy diet is the ketogenic diet, which works by getting your body to burn fat as energy through limiting carbs and increasing fat intake. After a few days of consuming a high fat diet, your body goes into a state called ketosis and the body produces ketones, which are organic compounds that replace carbohydrates for energy.
Celebrities followers of the diet include Kourtney Kardashian, Jenna Jameson, and Halle Berry. With all the hype, it’s easy to neglect the not-so-pleasant side effects of the diet. After all, the ketogenic diet was first designed to help seizure patients, not for weight loss, by making the body produce more decanoic acid, which can help control seizures.
So, what are some of the dangers of a ketogenic diet?
1. Low Blood Sugar
Cutting down on carbs means less sugar for your body to use. Having a mild case of low blood sugar can cause excessive sweating, trembling, headaches, anxiousness, and dizziness. Severe cases can include heart palpitations and loss of consciousness.
In the first few weeks of a low-carb diet, water weight is often the first to go. Low carb means a decrease in glycogen and the loss of glycogen means the loss of water. When the kidneys work to remove this water weight, often important electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium,) are flushed out as well. Dehydration can also result in kidney stones.
The state of ketosis can also bring on acidosis, where your blood becomes acidic. Your body self regulates and will often correct the chemistry of acidic blood, so normally the condition is temporary. Extended periods of acidosis can deteriorate bones and cause kidney stones.
4. Deficiencies in Key Nutrients
To avoid nutrient deficiencies while cutting out major food groups, the keto diet takes a lot of education and preparation. Often dieters don’t take the time needed to plan accordingly and as a result develop nutrient deficiencies. This makes the diet hard to healthily follow long-term without the consultation of a dietician and without taking daily supplements.
5. Social Isolation
While the ketogenic diet affects your physical body, it can have adverse effects on your mental health as well. For some dieters, it’s hard to stick to such a restrictive diet when dining out with friends or attending parties, so it may be easier to forgo these types of social interaction. You may feel like the diet is controlling your social life, instead of you controlling your diet.
6. Rapid Weight Gain
Because the ketogenic diet is difficult to stay on long-term and the first initial weight loss is water weight, if you decide to stop following keto, weight gain can happen rapidly. Water weight returns faster than if actual fat was burned.
By cutting out carbs and fruit, both main sources for fiber, the ketogenic diet can cause irregular bowel movements and constipation. Fiber helps to regulate digestion, so you may need to increase your water intake or occasionally take laxatives in order to keep things flowing.
8. Unknown Long-Term Impacts
Low-carb diets (by choice) are a fairly recent phenomenon and not enough time has passed for studies to show the long-term results of following this type of diet. The only people group who follow a similar low-carb diet are people from around the Artic, who survive on fish and blubber. New studies show that people from the Artic over thousands of years may have developed a gene through natural selection that helps the body run effectively off of this limited, low-carb diet.
9. Cognitive Issues
The human brain requires glucose which is found in carbohydrates. The body has to break itself down in order to supplement the loss in carbs. A decrease in glucose can cause headaches, fogginess, a short attention span, confusion, and possible memory loss.
10. Decrease in Physical Performance
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of obtaining quick energy, so if you enjoy high-energy sports or hobbies, you may notice a weakened performance due to the ketogenic diet. Low-carb diets seem to affect the performance of individuals whose sports require quick bursts of energy, such as sprinting and weightlifting. Also, the state of ketosis can lead to muscle loss in addition to fat loss. Carbohydrates aid in muscle tissue recovery and growth.
While ketogenic may be the hottest diet of the moment, its long-term sustainability is still in question. The weight loss can be drastic, but you many find that it’s not worth the negative side effects that the diet causes. If you know someone who’s considering going keto, pass this article along so that they’re fully informed of all the implications of a ketogenic diet.
Our content is created to the best of our knowledge, yet it is of general nature and cannot in any way substitute an individual consultation with your doctor. Your health is important to us!