The ketogenic diet may appear brand-new and popular, but it has been an epileptic treatment since the 1920s. Today, it’s advertised as a means to help people lose those hard-to-lose extra pounds and touted as a treatment for everything from type 2 diabetes to infertility. According to Kim Yawitz, RD, a dietitian in private practice in St. Louis, “The keto diet can be successful for speedy weight loss.” Even if some weight loss is water weight, it’s not uncommon to lose up to 10 pounds in a matter of weeks.
According to a previous assessment, the ketogenic diet recommends consuming protein and fat in considerably higher amounts while limiting carbohydrate intake to fewer than 50 grams (g) per day. On a ketogenic diet, you will typically consume 70 to 80 percent fat, 20 to 25 percent protein, and 5 to 10 percent carbohydrates.
The diet is incredibly strict and challenging to follow; one baked potato and one slice of bread could provide enough carbohydrates for an entire day. Although many people find this a turnoff, Chicago dietitian Christy Brissette, RD, observes that many of her patients like the diet’s rigor. Some of my customers believe the keto diet is effective for them because there is no calorie tracking required, and the guidelines are straightforward, according to her. They believe they have clear guidelines that can remove any uncertainty from dieting.
But following a keto diet meal list isn’t always easy. According to an analysis, only 45% of participants could follow the technique exactly. According to Yawitz, the low compliance was ascribed to side effects, social isolation, and cravings. Additionally, she notes that some study participants “said the diet was just not assisting them in losing weight.” According to Brissette, she has seen similar reactions. She claims that the keto diet “takes the joy and fun out of eating” and is not sustainable.
Potentials Keto Diet dangers associated with Keto Diet
As you can see, there are a lot of potential advantages and disadvantages to the ketogenic diet. Here, we’ll examine potential risks that any novice thinking about the strategy has to be aware of:
Significant Muscle Loss Could Be a Keto Side Effect
According to San Francisco-based dietician Edwina Clark, RD, the ketogenic diet and muscle loss are still being studied. Even when they maintain their resistance training, those on the ketogenic diet may still lose muscle, according to small studies. This may be because, following exercise, protein, and carbs work better together to create muscle than protein alone. In contrast, one small study found that those who followed the keto diet for three months lost almost the same amount of body fat and experienced roughly the same changes in their muscle mass as those who followed conventional diets. The study was published in the March 2018 issue of Sports. But people on the keto diet did lose more muscle in their legs.
According to Clark, “loss of muscle mass as we age has several major repercussions.” Muscle is metabolically active, which increases daily energy expenditure and reduces weight gain associated with aging. According to Clark, losing muscle mass might reduce functional strength and increase the risk of falling. According to the Institute of Medicine, Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in older people.
Keto might strain your kidneys and increase your risk of kidney stones.
One well-known potential side effect of the ketogenic diet is kidney stones. 13 out of 195 children who were on the ketogenic diet to treat their epilepsy experienced kidney stones, according to a prior study. In the trial, kids who took potassium citrate supplements had a lower risk of kidney stones. If kidney stones are a problem, discuss supplementation with your healthcare provider.
There are better and worse ways to follow the keto diet, according to Yawitz. Putting a lot of meat on your plate, particularly processed meats, may make you more likely to develop kidney stones and gout, a painful form of arthritis. “A high consumption of animal proteins raises calcium and uric acid levels and causes urine to become more acidic. High uric acid can raise your risk of gout, increasing your susceptibility to kidney stones.
Additionally, the ketogenic diet might harm those with a renal illness because they must adhere to a certain diet that their doctor has advised them. According to Davita Kidney Care, people with renal disease frequently need to follow a low-protein diet, which may not be compatible with the kind of keto you’re practicing.
For diabetics, the risk of low blood sugar makes keto dangerous.
For people with diabetes, carbohydrates are crucial for managing blood sugar levels. While a ketogenic diet may help lower HbA1C levels (a two- to three-month average of blood sugar levels), it may also result in episodes of hypoglycemia, which is a severe dip in blood sugar, according to a study published in Diabetic Medicine in May 2018. Angie Asche, RD, a sports dietitian based in Lincoln, Nebraska, says she is “hesitant to advocate a ketogenic diet for persons with type 1 diabetes,” echoing the sentiment of many registered dietitians.
For those who have type 2 diabetes, the same holds. While preliminary evidence suggests that some type 2 diabetics may find the keto diet to be safe and beneficial, there is still a danger of low blood sugar, especially for those taking insulin, and the keto diet excludes some food groups that are known to be helpful for those with this condition. For instance, studies show the value of whole grains in regulating weight and times when blood sugar levels are high. The ketogenic diet forbids the use of whole grains.
The best course of action is to move slowly and get advice from an expert before plunging in. Before starting a ketogenic diet, Asche advises speaking with your doctor if you have a medical problem or are taking medication.
Due to its difficulty, keto can result in yo-yo dieting.
Because of the water losses that occur as carbohydrate stores are depleted, “rapid, considerable weight loss [at the beginning of the diet] is a common side effect of the keto diet,” claims Clark. In previous studies, obese men who followed a modified ketogenic diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates lost around 14 pounds in one month, compared to the control group who followed a high-protein, medium-carb diet and lost about 10 pounds.
However, maintaining such a limited diet for an extended period can be challenging and leave you vulnerable to weight gain and the yo-yo dieting cycle. According to Clark, persistent yo-yo dieting makes people more likely to develop diabetes and accumulate belly fat.
According to studies, the capacity to follow a diet consistently is more crucial for long-term success than the diet itself, adds Yawitz. Keto is quite restrictive and can be especially difficult for people who frequently attend social events or have carb cravings. On the other hand, the Mediterranean diet permits you to consume entire grains and as many fruits and vegetables as you like. The Mayo Clinic reports that the Mediterranean diet has been associated with various additional health advantages, such as a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, some types of cancer, and heart disease.
Electrolyte loss and dehydration are risks of the ketogenic diet.
According to Yawitz, “sudden and dramatic carbohydrate reduction sets your body up for a double whammy.” “Glucose is the preferred fuel for the brain, and it may be produced most conveniently from carbohydrates. In low-carb diets, the brain has to adjust to using ketones from digested fats for energy. To add to this discomfort, your kidneys release more electrolytes as insulin levels fall.”
On a ketogenic diet, Clark adds, your body’s overall water content drops as carbohydrates are consumed less and less. The outcome? What is referred to as the “keto flu” can result in cramps, constipation, nausea, headache, exhaustion, and other symptoms. Relax since many of these symptoms only last a few days to a few weeks. If you want your body to be able to handle these symptoms, make sure to drink enough water. Yawitz also advises calling your doctor if symptoms, particularly nausea, persist.
You Could Develop Nutrient Deficiencies Due to Keto’s Strict Carbohydrate Restrictions
Poor carbohydrate intake often correlates with low fiber intake. This is not surprising, according to Asche, considering that you eat fewer fruits, whole grains, and starchy vegetables. This may have one particularly unpleasant adverse effect.
According to MedlinePlus, potassium, a mineral necessary for maintaining electrolyte balance and blood pressure, is another probable dietary shortage. Asche claims that reduced consumption of fruits and starchy vegetables is likely to result in inadequate potassium intake. She advises integrating lower-carb sources of fiber, such as chia seeds and flaxseed, and lower-carb sources of potassium in the diet, including avocado and spinach.
Constipation and Other Bowel Issues Are Common on the Keto Diet
Let’s talk about a potentially unattractive side effect of the keto diet: constipation. According to Clark, the ketogenic diet restricts several of the best sources of fiber, such as beans, fruit, and whole grains. “As a result, ketogenic dieters are deprived of the advantages of a fiber-rich diet, such as regular bowel movements and support for the microbiota. The microbiome has been connected to various immunological and mental health processes. Long-term research found that children on ketogenic diets to treat epilepsy frequently experienced constipation as a side effect.
Along with constipation, diarrhea is another potential adverse effect of the keto diet, particularly in the initial weeks. According to Yawitz, some patients get greasy diarrhea due to their inability to properly digest significant amounts of dietary fat.
Lack of fiber prevents diarrhea by bulking up stools and processed low-carb foods like shakes and bars that may include sugar alcohols are other causes of diarrhea on the keto diet. These sugar alcohols have the potential to ferment in the gut and result in abdominal pain.
If you frequently have gas or diarrhea after eating “sugar-free” foods, Yawitz advises decreasing your intake. Additionally, you could want to gradually reduce your carb intake and increase your fat intake. She also advises that you base your diet on naturally high-fiber, low-carb foods like avocado and nonstarchy veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus. Chia seeds, almonds, and coconut are fiber-rich foods for keto dieters.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What are some potential dangers of the keto diet?
The keto diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies, constipation, bad breath, dehydration, and an increased risk of heart disease, kidney stones, and liver problems. It may also be difficult to sustain long-term.
2. Can the keto diet cause nutrient deficiencies?
The keto diet restricts many important sources of essential vitamins and minerals, such as fruits, grains, and some vegetables. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies, especially if the diet is followed long-term.
3. Does the keto diet increase the risk of heart disease?
The keto diet may increase LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, raising the risk of heart disease. However, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between the keto diet and heart health.
4. Can the keto diet lead to liver problems?
The keto diet may increase the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and other liver problems, especially if followed long-term. This is because the diet can cause an increase in liver fat, which can lead to inflammation and liver damage.
5. Does the keto diet increase the risk of kidney stones?
The keto diet may increase the risk of kidney stones, especially in people prone to them. This is because the diet can lead to dehydration, which can cause minerals to form crystals in the urine that can eventually become kidney stones.
6. Can the keto diet be dangerous for people with certain medical conditions?
The keto diet may not be safe for people with a history of liver or kidney problems or certain medical conditions, such as pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, or porphyria. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting the keto diet.