What Is A Keto Diet?
A keto diet restricts the intake of carbohydrates and relies on a higher intake of dietary fat. The underlying goal is to make your body more dependent on fat for energy and not the sugar running in your blood.
On a keto diet, you must cut down your carb intake to under 50 grams per day to enter a state called ‘Ketosis’.
Ketosis gets your body to switch from burning sugar to burning fat for fuel. This might take around 2-4 days at an intake of 20 to 50g of carbs per day.
The keto diet is not only useful for weight loss but provides several other health benefits. It helps to reduce the harmful effects of obesity, and liver disease. In addition, it aids in dealing with intractable epilepsy.
To know more about the Keto Diet in detail, check out our complete guide on the Keto Diet Plan for Women.
That said, like any diet, the keto diet is also prone to a few downsides.
In the following sections, let’s take an in-depth look at the long-term and short-term side effects of a keto diet. Let’s dive right in!
Short Term Side Effects Of A Keto Diet
The Keto diet differs from other low-carb diets as it aims to get rid of carbohydrates completely. Hence, it directs your body’s metabolism to use burning fat instead of burning sugar. It improves brain function, reduces cancer risks, and also improves PCOS symptoms.
But, there are also a few short-term side effects of a keto diet that can upset you, especially at the start. Let's have a look at them!
1) Keto Flu
Keto flu is a group of various symptoms that appear after 2-7 days of starting a ketogenic diet. The severity of the symptoms may vary from person to person.
Some of the most common symptoms are :
- Fatigue or exhaustion
- Mild or excessive headache
- Gastrointestinal discomfort
- Sore throat/Clogged Nose
- Feeling Faint
- Muscle Pain
- Sugar cravings
Causes Of Keto flu
Sugar or carbohydrate is the key energy source in our body. It comes from an array of food items like bread, beans, milk, rice, potatoes, cookies, fruit and fruit juices, grains, and legumes.
But when you switch to a keto diet, your body relies on ketones for energy and not carbohydrates. That is a sudden and very drastic change for your body.
Thus, as you reduce carb intake with the Keto diet, it might lead to various withdrawal symptoms. This cluster of symptoms is known as keto flu.
Keto flu is temporary and the symptoms usually subside within a week or two. During this time, it’s advised that you intake more electrolyte-rich supplements and dietary fats.
5 Easy Remedies For Keto flu
The effects of various keto flu symptoms can vary but certain remedies can help with these effects. So here are some quick keto flu remedies that can help ease your symptoms -
- Drink sugar-free sports drinks, pickle juice, and at least 4L water daily.
- Increase sodium, magnesium, and potassium intake by drinking electrolytes.
- Eat dietary fat like butter, eggs, chia seeds, fatty fish, and more.
- Consume apple cider vinegar.
- Eat potassium-rich foods like avocados, spinach, and mushrooms.
2) Keto Diarrhea
In the first few days of a keto diet, you might have to make frequent toilet visits because of keto diarrhea. It is exactly what it sounds like and is one of the most common keto diet side effects. But, what causes keto diarrhea?
The most obvious reason behind this is the sudden change in your dietary habits. But there are 3 specific reasons why you might have to deal with diarrhea in the initial days of your Keto journey:
1. Increased Intake of Dietary Fats
Generally, your body takes a long time to digest fat. A keto diet demands high-fat food items which is a sudden shift from your regular diet. High-fat food items include avocados, nuts, meat, oil, cheese, chia seeds, and more. Excess of these disrupts digestion and causes diarrhea. Learn more about the different kinds of fat, particularly, saturated and unsaturated fats to make an informed choice.
2. Consumption of Artificial Sweeteners
On the keto diet, you might switch to keto-friendly alternatives for carb-rich foods. Many of these use artificial sweeteners. These artificial sweeteners can lead to stomach bloating and keto diarrhea.
3. Changes in good gut bacteria
A keto diet can change the composition of good gut bacteria over a consistent course of 3 months. This alteration is caused by an increase in ketones in your body. Alteration in gut bacteria coupled with a fat-rich diet leads to diarrhea.The good news is that keto diarrhea is not a long-term side effect. It usually lasts for about 2-3 days. Or less, if you stay hydrated and eat a fiber-rich diet. You can do the latter by including some Low carb Vegetables and Fruits.
3) Leg Cramps on Keto Diet
A Ketogenic diet can cause severe and painful leg cramps. It’s caused because of a drop in certain essential nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and sodium.
This leads to reduced calcium in your body. Additionally, a decreased intake of vital electrolytes also leads to keto leg cramps.
A quick solution for the leg cramps caused by Keto is to increase your electrolyte intake. And don't forget to keep yourself hydrated!
Ketoacidosis is the state in which there’s a very high level of ketones running in your blood for a long time. If left untreated, it can turn your blood acidic. Moreover, this can damage your internal organs like the liver & kidney, which can make it fatal.
Ketoacidosis is a risk, almost exclusive to people with Type-1 Diabetes. However, the keto diet can also cause ketoacidosis in a non-diabetic person. This might occur under the extreme situation of starvation.
Common symptoms of ketoacidosis are:
- Frequent urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Weakness or fatigue
- Shortness of breath
5) Keto Hair Loss
On the keto diet, you might not eat enough protein, calories, and micronutrients. This leads to a shift in energy and forces your body to prioritize essential body functions. And of course, hair growth is not one of those functions!
The keto diet and hair loss are linked to each other primarily due to the following two reasons:
- Keto causes the reduction of various crucial minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. This factor might also contribute to hair loss.
- Gut health is generally related to the well-being of your skin, hair, and nails. If you have gut issues, it might increase stress levels. This leads to telogen effluvium (shifting of hair follicles from growing phase to rest phase).
6) Keto diet and Depression
Ever since the 1920s, the ketogenic diet has been prominent for treating epilepsy. Besides, various experts also believe that it might help treat depression and other mood disorders. But there is a potential downside to it.
A major chunk of the food items that you eat in your staple diet contains carbohydrates in one form or the other. Likewise, whatever you eat there are high chances that they’re loaded with carbs.
So when you cut off such a high intake of carbs, it’s only natural to experience withdrawal symptoms.
One such withdrawal symptom of the keto diet is depression. This might be caused because of 2 reasons:
- Restraining yourself from eating an entire food group can make you agitated. As a result, it might lead to frustration and annoyance.
- A keto diet leads to a reduction in the consumption of magnesium, zinc, and selenium. A reduction in these minerals leads to increased cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone released by your brain when you are under stress. Thus, less of these minerals means more cortisol and a higher chance of depression.
You may experience these short-term side effects in the first few days or weeks of starting a keto diet. The severity of these side effects varies and may subside over some time. So once you get used to your keto diet plan; things will get back to normal.
Long-Term Side Effects of Keto Diet
Some side effects of a keto diet extend from more than a few days of discomfort. These keto side effects influence your long-term well-being. This raises questions about the safety of following a keto diet.
Detailed studies on the severity of these side effects are still to be conducted. But, there are enough reasons why you must consider these before getting started.
1) The Yo Yo Effect
The yo yo effect, also called weight cycling, is a term for losing weight, regaining it, and then losing it again. The change in your weight is like a yo-yo, which goes up and down a thread.
A keto diet discards various food items that are otherwise a common part of the modern diet. Thus, this makes it hard for you to follow it for an extended period.
This dieting pattern leads to an increased fat percentage and excessive muscle loss. It also increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Besides, it causes excessive frustration and mood swings.
In general, most people relapse to their old eating habits just after a few weeks of dieting. This cycle of dieting, relapsing, and dieting again leads to weight cycling.
2) Keto Diet Side Effects On Kidney
A prolonged keto diet may have severe side effects on your kidney.
One of the potential keto side effects is kidney stones. A study on 195 children, observed that 13 subjects developed kidney stones while following a keto diet.
Another reason for kidney stones is the reduced amount of citrate in your body. The keto diet reduces the amount of citrate you release while urinating. Generally, citrate binds to calcium, reducing the chance of kidney stones.
Besides, during a keto diet, along with high fat from meat and egg, you may end up taking a lot of animal protein. High animal protein tends to make urine acidic by increasing calcium and uric acid levels. This puts a lot of stress on the kidney.
Not to mention that a keto diet is high in fat, which can increase the chance of kidney injury. This is due to fat accumulation in the kidney coupled with mitochondrial dysfunction.
3) Keto Diet And Heart Problems
A Keto diet is full of fat-rich food. Fat can be both healthy and unhealthy, depending on the kind of fat you’re eating. Bad fats can increase the risk of various life-threatening diseases. This is because they get accumulated on the inner walls of the heart.
Unhealthy fats are present in food items like red meat, butter, margarine, and highly refined oils. These can lead to a high risk of coronary disease and also, heart attacks.
Additionally, heart problems are also linked with what you stop eating. When you stop eating fruits, legumes, and whole grains, you reduce dietary fiber. This fiber generally helps to protect your heart.
Keto diet side effects on the heart are also directly related to your kidney. On a keto diet, the body is low on electrolytes because of excessive loss in urination. This might lead to irregular heartbeats, also called arrhythmia.
4) Ketogenic diet and bone health
One of the more recently explored side effects of a keto diet is its impact on bone health.
The results showed that the keto diet led to an increase in bone breakdown. Also, the study reported a decrease in the ability to form new bone and overall bone metabolism.
Besides, these negative effects are partially reversed after the reintroduction of carbs.
However, it’s important to note that these findings aren’t conclusive and a lot of longer-term research needs to be done to confirm this.
5) Negative Effects on Blood Vessels
After days of restraining yourself on a diet, a cheat day feels like gentle rain on a hot summer afternoon. But, is that feel-good feeling good for you?
Exposing your body to high-carb meals after being on a keto diet for weeks can harm your blood vessels. This is dangerous as it leads to poor cardiac health. It also increases the risk of arrhythmia and heart attack.
An abrupt increase in carb intake can damage the inner linings of your blood vessels. This damage can lead to blood vessel diseases like hypertension, stroke, and aneurysms.
So, make sure that your transition from a Keto diet to regular carb-based meals is slow and gradual.
6) Reduced Athletic Performance
Keto is good for athletes engaging in long-duration endurance sports. But the opposite link between the keto diet and athletic performance might not be true.
Athletes who take part in short-duration, high-intensity activities should avoid the keto diet. This is because they need a high burst of energy, which comes from carbohydrates.
A study on 14 male and female athletes who were following a keto diet for several weeks showed a drop in performance.
This keto side effect is also applicable to those who indulge in daily activities. Especially those that require a sudden burst of energy such as sprinting or HIIT.
7) Keto Diet and AFib
AFib or Atrial Fibrillation is a state of irregular heartbeat. It is often very fast, which leads to a poor blood supply. Some of the common symptoms are:
- Chest Pain
- Shortness of Breath
- and Dizziness.
This is not a life-threatening condition, but its recurrence is problematic.
AFib is one of the long-term side effects of a keto diet. People who are on a keto diet are more prone to AFib.
Though it’s treatable, it might put you at a higher risk of heart attacks and cardiac arrests.
Long term side effects of a keto diet may be rare but can have a major impact on healthy living. These side effects may come to light after several months. So, you must weigh these side effects of a keto diet against its benefits before making your choice.
Other Keto Side Effects
Apart from the side effects of a keto diet mentioned above, you might also experience:
- Sweating and chilling
- Tachycardia (a rapid heartbeat that may be regular or irregular)
- Never-ending hunger
Having the right diet and following the right steps is the key to a healthy keto diet And adding the right supplement to it can go a long way to help make that process quicker and smoother.
One such supplement is kApex. It’s a great power-packed supplement designed to make your Keto Journey a whole lot easier.
By improving your digestion, it helps deal with possible constipation on the Keto diet.
The properties of kApex also help in better fat adaptation and utilization in your body, which can lead to better results with Keto. kApex also gives your body a burst of energy and improves cell function. This helps you feel and perform better during your workouts and otherwise.
kApex is, therefore, a great value addition to help deal with the side effects of a keto diet.
You can have 1-2 capsules with each of your meals to improve fat digestion and fat breakdown. This will help you enter and maintain Ketosis much easier.
In conclusion, if you want to start a keto diet plan, weigh both the side effects of a keto diet and its health benefits. Make sure that you’re prepared to follow it and have the necessary knowledge to make the most of it. And only then, decide what works best for you. It is advised that you consider expert advice and only then bring this drastic change to your diet.