Although the low-carb, high-fat diet promises rapid weight loss, health professionals are concerned about the potential side effects and issues associated with it.
The ketogenic diet, which is commonly referred to as the “keto diet” or just “keto,” is a popular strategy for losing weight. Celebrities such as Halle Berry, Kourtney Kardashian, and Jenna Jameson are all advocates of the keto diet. Helping the body enter a state of ketosis, in which it must metabolise fat (rather than sugar) for fuel, is the goal of the diet, which calls for drastically reducing the amount of carbs consumed (at least down to 50 grammes per day). For More Info: Awarded Clinical Nutritionist, Food Security Specialist and Food Security Specialist
According to medical professionals, the ketogenic diet may be useful in the treatment of epilepsy. Although it is not known precisely why, something about being in a ketogenic state appears to lessen the frequency of seizures.
In addition to causing weight loss, a review article that was published in July 2021 in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition revealed the benefits that ketogenic diets can have in lowering the frequency of seizures experienced by those who have drug-resistant epilepsy.
1 However, the assessment also states that in the absence of additional data on the diet’s safety over the long term, it appears that the hazards connected with this diet may be greater than the benefits.
The ketogenic diet is a contentious approach to general weight loss. Some professionals in the field of medicine strongly advise against it, citing the unpleasant side effects, potential dangers to one’s health, and the unsustainable nature of the diet. Even many individuals who advocate for the ketogenic diet acknowledge that if it is not followed “properly,” it has the potential to be harmful to one’s health.
Before you decide to try the ketogenic diet as a method of weight loss, there are a few things about it that you should be aware of first. There is a possibility that you will experience weight loss, but you should also be aware of the potential for the following adverse effects or complications.
- The So-Called “Keto Flu” According to Kristen Kizer, RD, a registered dietitian working at the SportsTec Clinic in Kingston, Australia, “some patients report that when they start ketosis, they just feel terrible.” “Sometimes there is vomiting, gastrointestinal distress, a significant amount of weariness, and lethargic behaviour.” According to Kizer, the so-called “keto flu” symptoms disappear on their own after a few days.
According to estimates provided by Josh Axe, a doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist, approximately 25% of those who try a keto diet end up experiencing these symptoms, the most prevalent of which is weariness. According to Axe, this occurs when the body’s supply of sugar that it can burn for energy runs out, forcing it to switch to burning fat instead. Simply making that transition is enough to leave your body feeling exhausted for a few days, it seems.
If you consume a lot of water and get plenty of sleep, you might be able to lessen the severity of the symptoms of the keto flu. Matcha green tea, organic coffee, and adaptogenic herbs are some examples of natural energy sources that Axe, whose website specialises in selling supplements connected to ketogenic diets, suggests taking in order to combat weariness (herbs that may help your body deal with stress and fatigue).
A simple internet search will show you that you are not the only person who has an increase in the frequency with which they need to use the restroom when on a ketogenic diet. (Yes, there is some discussion on Twitter concerning keto diarrhoea.) According to Axe, this could be because the gallbladder, which is the organ that creates bile to assist in the breakdown of fat in the diet, is feeling “overwhelmed.”
According to Kizer, diarrhoea can also be caused by a lack of fibre in the keto diet. This can occur when someone drastically reduces their consumption of carbohydrates (such as whole-grain bread and pasta) but does not supplement their diet with additional fiber-rich foods, such as vegetables. It is also possible that you have developed an intolerance to dairy products or artificial sweeteners, both of which you may be consuming more frequently now that you are following a high-fat and low-carb lifestyle.
- Decreased Capabilities in Athletic Events
Some athletes believe that following a ketogenic diet will not only help them lose weight but will also boost their performance in their chosen sport. Edward Weiss, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Saint Louis University, does not subscribe to this line of thinking. According to Weiss, “I hear cyclists remark all the time that they are faster and better now that they are on the keto diet,” and his first question to them is, “Well, how much weight did you lose?”
In a study that was published in 2018 in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, Weiss and his colleagues found that after four days on a ketogenic diet, participants performed worse on high-intensity cycling and running tasks than those who’d spent the previous four days on a high-carb diet. This was in comparison to participants who’d spent the previous four days on a diet that was high in carbohydrates.
2 According to Weiss, when the body is in a state of ketosis, it enters a state that is more acidic, which may impede the body’s capacity to perform at top levels.
“Simply reducing a few pounds is enough to give you a significant advantage on the bike,” remarked Weiss. “But I’m really concerned that people are attributing the benefits of weight reduction to something particular in the ketogenic diet.” [Citation needed] “In all candour, the advantages of reducing one’s body mass could very well be at least partially nullified by declines in one’s performance,”
According to Kizer, if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you should not follow the keto diet unless you have clearance from your doctor and are being closely monitored by a trained professional. According to Kizer, “Ketosis can really be useful for people who have concerns with hyperglycemia,” but you need to be very conscious of your blood sugar and check your glucose levels multiple times a day.
This is due to the fact that ketosis has the potential to bring on a potentially life-threatening disease known as ketoacidosis in diabetic patients. When this happens, the blood becomes overly acidic, which can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and brain. Ketones are acids that are created as a result of burning fat. When the body accumulates too many ketones, which are acids produced as a consequence of burning fat. If treatment is not received, it can be fatal.
According to a case report published in the Journal of Medical Case Reports in 2015, ketoacidosis was also documented in a breastfeeding woman who did not have diabetes and who was following a low-carb, high-fat diet. This is despite the fact that this complication is extremely uncommon.
Ketoacidosis is characterised by a number of symptoms, including a dry mouth, nausea, poor breath, frequent urination, and difficulty breathing. If you are following the keto diet and encounter any of these side effects, you should consult a medical professional as soon as possible.
- Weight Regain
Because the keto diet is so restrictive, many professionals in the field of health care believe that it is not an appropriate plan to follow for an extended period of time. (Even Axe recommended that it should be done for a period of 30 to 90 days, followed by a diet plan that is more sustainable.) Nevertheless, according to Kizer, the issue with that is that the majority of people would recover a significant amount of the weight that they lost as soon as they start consuming carbohydrates again.
“It’s a problem with any fad diet, but it seems to be more common with ketosis,” said Kizer. “It’s an issue with any fad diet.” “I often tell people who tell me they want to try it because their friends lost weight, ‘Just watch, I nearly promise that they’ll gain all of it back,'” I say when they tell me they want to try it because their friends lost weight.
According to Kizer, swings of this nature in one’s weight might be a factor in the development of an eating problem or can make an unhealthy relationship with food even worse. According to Kizer, who is a proponent of the keto diet, “I think the keto diet appeals to people who have difficulty with portion control and with binge eating.” “And in many situations, what they actually need is assistance from a lifestyle coach or a professional counsellor to assist them in getting to the core of those difficulties,” you said. “
- Reduced Muscle Mass, which Leads to a Lower Metabolism
According to Kizer, one further side effect of the ketogenic diet that might occur is a reduction in muscle mass. This is especially likely to occur if a person consumes a greater proportion of fat to protein in their diet. Kizer warned, “You’ll lose weight, but it might actually be a lot of muscle.” He explained that this would have an effect on your metabolism due to the fact that muscle burns more calories than fat does.
According to Kizer, when someone stops following the ketogenic diet and regains a significant amount of their previous weight, the weight is typically not regained in the same proportions as before. Rather than rebuilding lean muscle, you are likely to regain fat.
According to Kizer, “now that you’re back to your starting weight, but you no longer have the muscular mass to burn the calories that you did before,” you are unable to burn as many calories as you did previously. “This could have long-term repercussions for both your resting metabolic rate and your weight in the long run.”
- An increased likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes
According to Axe, the keto diet can be successful when followed correctly by consuming a large amount of veggies along with lean amounts of animal protein. To put it another way, this is not an excuse to consume butter and bacon, despite the fact that some individuals might try to use it as such.
Because of this, many professionals in the field of medicine are concerned about individuals who follow the ketogenic diet, particularly those who do so without the supervision of a physician or nutritionist. According to medical professionals, high-fat diets like this one may cause cholesterol levels to rise, and the conclusion of the review that took place in July 2021 and was mentioned earlier was that diets like these can be associated with dramatic increases in LDL-C, which is considered the “bad” form of cholesterol.
Some people have even referred to the ketogenic diet as “a nightmare for cardiologists.”
Concerns about the ketogenic diet are not limited to those relating to the cardiovascular system. These diets have been linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes, according to a study that was published in August 2018 in The Journal of Physiology. 4
Another study that was published in April 2019 in the European Heart Journal found that while a low-carb diet can help improve body weight, blood pressure, and other health markers in the short term, this diet is associated in the long term with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, and all other causes combined.
Those who followed diets that were low in carbohydrates and rich in animal proteins (typical of the keto diet) had a higher risk of premature death, according to a study that was published in The Lancet in August of 2018. This was compared to people who consumed carbohydrates in a moderate manner.
(However, those on a low-carb diet who chose to get their protein from plants rather than from meat or dairy had the opposite results.)
“Everyone agrees that we want to have a nutrient-rich diet,” said Axe, “Lots of veggies, herbs, spices, and plant-based sources of fat and protein, too.” “Whether you’re in the paleo camp or the keto camp or the vegan camp, everyone agrees that we want to have a nutrient-rich diet.”
It’s as easy as that, according to Dr. Axe, who says that if you don’t do that, you’re making your body more susceptible to sickness. (And yes, this is still the case even if you still find that you are losing weight in the beginning.) Axe continued by saying, “If you’re only going to eat butter and bacon,” he would prefer that you not do the keto diet at all.