Side Effects of The Keto Diet

Ketosis is a process through which the body transforms the accumulated fat into ketone bodies in the blood. These are then used as a source of energy. 
Side Effects of The Keto Diet

Last update: 24 November, 2018

The keto diet is about consuming reduced carbohydrates, which forces the liver to produce ketones to use as fuel. 

It’s not a high protein diet, but it is high in fat and restrictive when it comes to carbohydrates. The keto diet consists of an intake of natural fats and proteins that promote the optimal state of ketosis.

Carbohydrates must make up between two and five percent of your daily calorie intake. This is contrary to western diets, where 45 to 65 percent of the calories come from carbohydrates.

It’s essential to have the ketosis process under control and not spend too long following this diet.

Because, although they’re great at burning fat, ketones can be harmful to the muscles. So, you must be especially careful.

Following the keto diet

How does our body work?

Carbs are the main source of energy in our bodies due to their transformation into glucose after consumption, which is then transported through the blood, to finally turn into glycogen. The latter stores in the liver and muscles and it’s the instant energy our body has when we’re moving.

If you decide to ignore glycogenesis, you still must know that in order to counteract the glucose present in blood, your pancreas will generate insulin, which activates the transformation of glucose into glycogen.

The more simple carbs you eat, the higher the insulin peak. The more glucose your body is transforming, the more of it becomes fat. 

Ketosis: definition

When you reduce your intake of carbohydrates, glycogen levels significantly decrease, and therefore the body must use the stored energy to generate glycogen. This stored energy comes from f a ts.

In order to turn fat into ketone bodies, the pancreas synthesizes a hormone called glucagon, and finally starts the process called ketogenesisThis process releases the ketone bodies. If this keeps happening for several days, the ketone bodies accumulate in the blood and this is what we call ketosis.

So it’s obvious now that if we can burn fat to use it as fuel with ketosis, it’s normal that there are diets based on this very principle. The keto diet includes protein and a few carbohydrates, but you must keep in mind the consequences of following such a diet and the side effects you might experience from ketosis.

Side effects of the keto diet

Body odor

  • Smelly urine. Ketone bodies usually leave the body through urine, so the smell of it might be stronger.
  • Bad breath. When your body has an excess of ketone bodies, it tries to release them through your breath, which is why you must drink lots of waterMany people claim to experience a metallic taste in their mouth.
  • Excessive sweating. That’s right, ketone bodies can be released through sweat as well, so prepare to have a stronger body odor. 
Excess sweat

Health problems

  • Dizziness and headaches. Symptoms begin to appear after three days of following the diet. The body has no energy and with sudden movements, you might get dizzy. Your brain needs glycogen -or ketone bodies- to function, that’s why this symptom is so common.
  • Decreased appetite. Protein and fat keep you satiated. They’re harder for the body to digest than carbohydrates, so you’ll naturally eat less.
  • Nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, breathing problems, and overall tiredness.
  • Irregular heartbeat. It is possible that you experience interruptions in the electrical impulses of the heart, causing arrhythmia.
  • Reduced calcium levels. The excess protein favors the loss of calcium through the kidneys and might even increase the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Loss of muscle massWhen you spend too much time in a ketosis state, your body first uses fat as energy, but then it starts to consume muscles to use the amino acids as fuel. 
  • Problems with brain function. Since the brain runs on glucose and keto diets make it ‘disappear’, it starts running on ketone bodies. By not feeding the brain properly, it might not perform as it should.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.