Potential Side Effects Of A Keto Diet

    Potential Side Effects Of A Keto Diet
    Potential Side Effects Of A Keto Diet

    Keto diet is great for speedy weight loss and other numerous health benefits. We have established the effectiveness of this revolutionary diet in our previous posts. Today, we are going to discuss potential keto side effects that our readers need to be aware of People with diabetes and heart diseases should consult their doctors before going keto. This will help them stay safe and avoid potential keto side effects.

    Let’s recap. A keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that puts a halt on your body’s normal metabolism and adapts it to burning fats. The process of burning fats as a primary source of the body’s energy is called ketosis. But there is a catch. In order for you to adapt and stay in ketosis- you have to survive- you guessed it right, the keto-flu. There are also other keto side effects we will be going in to. These include diarrhea, constipation, keto-breath, diabetes, heart diseases, ketoacidosis and more.

    Keto flu

    Keto flu is one of the first keto side effects that you are going to experience on your keto journey. It is a combination of flu-like symptoms. Nausea, brain fog, headache, fatigue, irritability, dizziness, and muscle cramps are common. For most people, the keto-flu lasts for about a week. Some experience all of the mentioned symptoms while others go through a few of those. Luckily, it is a temporary state that will soon pass and you will have more energy as a result.

    The reason why keto-flu kicks in, is because you have cut your body supply of glucose. This lowers your insulin levels and as a result, your liver starts burning fats into ketones. Ketones are used as a primary source of energy by the body as a substitute for glucose.

    Even though the liver recognizes this change, your brain and other organs take time to adapt. Also, the drop in insulin causes your body to urinate more often. You also lose a lot of sodium as a result. Most of the symptoms can vanish if you replenish our sodium intake.

    You can cure your keto-flu by simple remedies one can do at home. Such as, increase your water intake, eat more fats, transition slowly, and exercise less.

    Young woman suffering from abdominal pain (Diarrhea).
    Young woman suffering from abdominal pain (Diarrhea).


    It’s one of the worst keto side effects to go through. A lot of people are going to experience keto diarrhea in their initial days. It all depends on the individual makeup and how they respond to low fiber in their keto diet. Other possible reasons could be sugar alcohols, high protein intake, and fats sources.

    Sugar alcohols are artificial sweeteners used by people with diabetes. They are sorbitol, xylitol, maltitol, mannitol, isomalt, and lactitol. All of these can cause nausea, bloating and diarrhea. One way to control your diarrhea would be to lower their intake.

    The second reason is consuming high proteins instead of moderate. Remember keto diet is high fat, low carbs, and moderate proteins. Keep your protein intake to 20% of the total diet. A lot of people make a mistake of consuming more proteins because they are just too tempted. Instead, you should focus on increasing your fat intake to 75%.

    Finally, choosing wrong fat sources can also do you harm. You will need to minimize your omega 3 and omega 6 intakes. Our digestive system has a low tolerance for fats coming from seed oils and vegetable oils. These include corn, soybean, sunflower or safflower. Go for monosaturated sources like olive oil, coconut oil, buttercream instead.


    Ketoacidosis is one of the dangerous keto side effects. However, people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are more susceptible to it. It is a condition by which the body produces and stores a lot of ketones. This makes the blood acidic that can damage the kidneys, liver, and brain. Ketoacidosis should be treated immediately because its effects can be deadly.

    A person with diabetes should first check with their physicians before starting a keto diet. It can be even beneficial for you especially for those with hyperglycemia issues. You just need to check your blood sugar levels several times a day and you will be good to go.

    Apart from affecting those with diabetes, ketoacidosis can occur in people even without diabetes. However, those cases are quite a few.

    A small distinction needs to be made here between ketosis and ketoacidosis. Ketosis is a presence of ketones that are not that high enough as compared to ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis occurs in a person whose body does not produce insulin and has high levels of ketones. This combo actually makes the blood acidic and fatal for vital organs.

    Acute pain possible heart attack. Heart disease or Heartache
    Acute pain possible heart attack. Heart disease or Heartache (Cardiovascular Risks).

    Cardiovascular Risks

    Cardiovascular issues are one of the prominent keto side effects. Keto diet should include lots of veggies and lean proteins sources. However, a keto novice makes a blunder of eating too much bacon and butter. Many health professionals are worried about people going on keto without the guidance of a nutritionist or a doctor. The reason is that high-fat diets can increase the risk of diabetes and upshot cholesterol levels. Some even have called it as cardiologist’s nightmare for a good reason.

    One study of 25000 participants showed that people on low-carb diets are at the highest risks of cardiovascular diseases, dying from cancer. The study was conducted at the Munich European Society of Cardiology Congress. Another study found out that people who are on high fat and low carbs diet are at a higher risk of early deaths as compared to those who are on normal diets.

    The safe thing to do is to eat nutrient-rich vegetables, plant-based fats, and proteins. It does not matter whether you are on paleo or keto or vegan– all agree that these sources of food are great for heart health.

    If you are not adhering to this then you are putting the disease in your body, simple. You might lose weight in the beginning but that would be for nothing if you put your long term health at risk. If your idea of keto is butter and bacon then you are terribly wrong.

    Weight Regain

    Keto diet is a lifestyle and not a fad diet. If you take it up as a fad you will regain all the weight you lost earlier. A lot of people start a keto diet as a quick fix. And it can and has helped a lot of people lose weight safely. But the problem lies in mentality. If you think it’s a quick fix diet plan you will get what you ask for. But if you take it up as a sustainable lifestyle choice then its benefits are life-long.

    Don’t start keto if you just want to do it for 30 or 90 days, because you will regain all the weight you lost you struggled so hard for.

    A lot of people get into the keto diet, is because their friends lost a lot of weight with it. Well, they lost it because they didn’t take it up as a fad and were consistent.

    While weight regains is not one of the keto side effects on its own. But it will haunt you if are not consistent.

    People with low motivation and consistency should seek help a professional life coach or nutritionist to help them pull of keto diet.

    Keto diet is excellent for curbing appetite and hence can be attractive to binge eaters as well. But this can contribute to disorder eating in the long term because of yo-yo dieting patterns. Therefore, if a person is going keto to cure his binge eating, he should look for other alternatives like life coaches and nutritionists.

    Diminished Athletic Performance

    One of the keto side effects that affect athletes is the reduction in their athletic performance. Although, it’s not uncommon for the people to swear how much keto has improved their performance.

    The apparent reason is, keto athletes attribute their performance increase to their weight loss. But it’s also true that peak performance will be limited if the body is in an acidic state, said Edward Weiss– a nutritionist at Saint Louis University.

    He further found that athletes performed worse on high intensity running and cycling tasks after 4 days on a keto diet. But the athletes on the high-carb diet performed far better than them. The reason he gave was again the same, i.e. body in ketosis has acidic blood that might hinder peak performances.

    Weiss concluded, that just because you are faster on a bike due to weight loss, does not mean you will perform better on long stretches. In fact, the weight loss benefit is somewhat partially negated by reductions in an athlete’s performance.

    Therefore we can say that marathon runners will benefit more from keto than high-intensity short sprinters.

    Clifton Page Assistant Professor at the University of Miami also endorses this point. He says that a keto diet is beneficial for endurance athletes after they adapt to ketosis.

    Woman checking her breath with hand (Bad Breath).
    Woman checking her breath with hand (Bad Breath).

    Bad Breath

    Few people also experience the smelly breath as one of the keto side effects. It is due to traces of acetone. Acetone is one of the ketones made during ketosis, and it has a typically fruity smell like nail polish remover. This is an indication that your body is in ketosis, burning fats and converting them to ketones for vigor.

    The bad breath usually goes away in 1 or 2 weeks on its own. If it does not then you can take certain measure to resolve it

    Brush twice a day with mint toothpaste. Gargle with betadine mouthwash. Increase your water intake as bad breath can also be caused by dry mouth.

    Use fresh breath chewing gums. This won’t completely eliminate the fruity smell but it will conceal it subside naturally.

    These tricks will help you get rid of bad breath. If however, you still have this keto side effects lingering in your mouth. You can slightly increase your carb intake. Start by increasing 5 to 10 gm per day. This will reduce the effect of ketosis. Although be careful of not eating too many carbs as you might tip the ketosis completely. Avoid this trick if you are a beginner. Go for intermittent fasting and don’t eat for 8-hour window. This one will help you a lot in staying in ketosis without having smelly breath.

    Heart Palpitations

    You might notice your heart rate increase for the first few weeks. Heart palpitations are one of keto side effects that go easily.

    The racing heartbeat is common among people who typically have low blood pressure.

    You can counteract this by simply increasing water and salt intake. When there is less fluid in the blood, the heart pumps harder. So drink lots of water and add salt to your food.

    These keto side effects would go away on its own. But if it doesn’t, you can try adjusting your carb intake a little by 10gm a day.

    You can also go for multivitamins like selenium, zinc, and magnesium. This will replenish the electrolytes lost during ketosis.

    Fainting is possible if exercising without sufficient carbohydrates intake
    Fainting is possible if exercising without sufficient carbohydrates intake


    Caution for Diabetics

    Diabetics should note this important point. If you reduce your carb intake drastically, this will decrease the need for medicine as well. So your standard insulin dose will become higher when you are in keto. So make sure you adjust that accordingly. Your family doctor can help you in this regard. He will guide you on how much does would be safe for you in ketosis.

    Check your sugar levels frequently during initial weeks under doctor supervision.

    Caution for High Blood Pressure Patients

    Similarly, patients of high blood pressure can notice the same thing. When you decrease your carb intake it will reduce your blood pressure naturally. Hence you won’t need a high dose of your blood pressure medicine. Consult your doctor and let him know about your plans for going keto. He will adjust the dosage specifically to your needs.

    AVOIDING Keto Side Effects

    You can avoid most of the keto side effects by doing the following

    • Drink lots of water
    • Increase salt intake
    • Eat moderate proteins and high fats

    You can slightly increase your carb intake as a last resort.

    Follow these guidelines and become the fat burning machine!

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    Hey there, My Name is Elvira Smith. I am a mother and a stay-at-home mom. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism ten years ago. To manage my disease, I used to search different topics. My specific problem with hypothyroidism remains weight management. Adopting a ketogenic diet has done wonders for me. Keto diet helps manage your overall health and well-being. I decided to share my experience and knowledge with others by writing a blog. So here I am.


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