Ketogenic diets inspire a lot of controversy with medical professionals and nutritionists weighing in heavily on one side or the other. Often viewed as a short-term fix, the low-carb fad still has a lot of support. Healthline claims that many proponents cite benefits such as quick weight loss and improved blood sugar levels. There have also been many keto advocates who point to benefits for seizure patients and possibly other brain related conditions. To the extent that this low-carb plan reduces the intake of processed foods and unhealthy carbohydrates, there are indisputable health benefits, as is true with many other diets too.
In spite of some of the positive benefits of this eating regiment, there are definite dangers that must be considered. Before keto dieters go on this low-carb eating plan, they should realize the downside and what to expect. The symptoms range from mildly uncomfortable conditions to more serious concerns. A visit with your doctor is always recommended before any drastic lifestyle change. Since we are all different, the advantages and disadvantages of such changes will differ. Many dieters complain about the “Keto Flu” which is unpleasant and causes constipation, fatigue, sleep problems, dizziness, and an inability to exercise at previous levels. The danger of feeling terrible at first is real and is something to consider and be compared against other diets with less side effects and similar results.
Below are 10 Ketogenic Diet Dangers You Should Know About
1. Low blood sugar is a possible problem.
Diabetics might leap for joy at the idea of low blood sugar, but the truth is, it can be uncomfortable. The reason this condition happens is because your body uses fat instead of carbohydrates for energy in a low-carb eating plan. Symptoms of low blood sugar are fatigue and headaches. In most cases, the blood sugar levels return to normal and the symptoms subside in a few days.
2. Hydration levels will suffer.
Dehydration is a definite issue associated with low-carb diets. This means your body becomes depleted of glycogen, and for every gram of glycogen lost, 3 grams of water are eliminated. When the kidneys flush out the extra water, the electrolytes required by your body such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium are also flushed out which can lead to vitamin deficiencies. Another symptom of dehydration is kidney stones.
3. Acidosis can develop.
During ketosis, your blood may become acidic. Usually this problem is temporary since your body adjusts. Monitoring this situation is advised since a prolonged period of acidosis could cause bone breakdown or kidney stones.
4. Nutrient deficiencies are likely without supplements.
Strategically eating nutrient-rich food to get the vitamins and minerals you need takes some effort. This is why so many dieters take supplements to make sure they are getting what they need. Long-term nutrient deficiencies can lead to health problems. The amount of recommended supplementation depends on the individual. Consulting with a dietician to manage this possible problem makes sense.
5. Low-carb meal plans are hard to maintain over time.
People miss carbohydrates and find it difficult to sustain a low-carb regiment. Food is about so much more than fuel for the body. It is an emotional issue and it can be difficult to give up favorite foods long-term. Skipping out on social events where dieters feel they will be tempted to eat carbohydrates is common. Social isolation can be devastating. Because of these types of reasons, most people don’t stick with these restrictive diets longer than a few months. The emotional consequences of “giving up” can be many; leading to feelings of guilt and anxiety. Eating a piece of cake at your best friend’s wedding or a piece of watermelon on a picnic is enough to make some people stay away.
6. Following a low-carb, high-fat menu causes the loss of water weight that is not lasting.
What that means is that you aren’t becoming healthier. While the scales are painting a picture of weight loss, it is primarily water weight that you are losing. As soon as you return to your old habits, the weight will pile back on quickly. Many medical professionals and nutritionists believe the only diets that work long-term are diets that become lifestyle changes that can be maintained.
7. Constipation is an uncomfortable side effect that is common.
Due to the the limited fiber intake of low-carb diets, constipation is sure to occur if you’re not careful to take preventative measures. The good news is that dieters can manage this issue by increasing fluid intake. In the worst cases, stool softeners can also be used to eliminate the problem.
8. There is not enough research for people to know how a low-carb eating regiment will impact their life.
This low-carb health solution has not been thoroughly studied over the necessary decades to see how it impacts health over a lifetime. As reported by Tyler Tolman’s research, the only people studied who fit into this group are people living in the Arctic who are forced to survive on fish and whale blubber for long periods of time due to extreme conditions. It is noteworthy that they show a higher incidence of stroke as compared to Western society.
9. Cognitive problems are common.
There is a danger of memory loss, confusion and headaches when dieters stop eating carbs. In reaction to this change, your body is forced to make up for this shift by making its own carbs. Your body accomplishes this by breaking down the body to access them. Since your brain is fueled by glucose, it is no surprise that it is negatively impacted by carb consumption.
10. Lower carb intake may compromise athletic performance.
Certain sports are definitely affected by low carb consumption. Power sports seem to be particularly sensitive to this type of dietary change. Weightlifting and sprinting are two examples of athletes who report compromised performance with reduced carbs. Many endurance athletes report benefits from this lifestyle change. So, the jury is out about eating carbs and how it impacts performance in a variety of sports, since the results are mixed with different athletes either weighing in favorably or negatively depending on their sport of choice.
As is true with any eating regiment, there are pros and cons depending on the dieter’s goals. Fads like the ketogenic diet come and go, so it is common for the long-term impact to a dieter’s health to never be fully understood. For this reason, it makes sense to proceed with caution with any lifestyle change like this and to consult with a doctor before starting.
Possible negative side effects should be taken seriously. Mental fog, kidney stones and the brain fog prevalent with this type of eating regiment are very unpleasant and should be compared to the side effects for other types of eating solutions before committing fully to the keto diet frenzy. If the diet is not going to offer a long-term solution, it is important to decide if losing a few pounds quickly is worth the downside, especially if the weight loss is short-lived.