THE DOWNSIDE OF THE KETOGENIC DIET | Health & Nutrition


Common keto diet side effects to be aware of before you go low carb

The keto diet has blown up as an ultra-low carb eating plan that can help you drop pounds fast – but its effects on your body go beyond weight loss.

A typical keto diet is comprised of 80 per cent fat, 15 per cent protein, and a mere five per cent of calories from carbohydrates. If you consume 2,000 calories a day, that means just 100 of them are coming from carbs – including healthy carbs like fruits and vegetables. When you eat this way, it triggers ketosis, which means your body has burned through all its carbs and needs to begin burning fat for energy.

It’s true: Following a strict high-fat, low-carb regimen can help move the number on the scale, but there might be some other keto diet side effects that you aren’t aware of. Here’s what you should know about keto diet dangers before you decide to try it for yourself.

You might get hit with the “keto flu”

Keto flu is a real thing. Cutting your carbs to the bone and going into a state of ketosis (where your body burns fat for energy) can bring on a cluster of uncomfortable symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea. The side effects are the result of your body transitioning to using fat as its primary source of energy instead of carbs. Once it adapts to the new fuel source (usually within a week or two), you’ll start to feel better.

You may feel moody

When you’re on a low carb diet you may not be getting the carbohydrates needed to produce serotonin, a brain chemical that helps regulate mood, as well as sleep and appetite – two other factors that can mess with your disposition.

Your eating behaviours could change

Cutting out carbs can cause the brain to release a chemical called neuropeptide-Y (NPY), which tells the body that we need carbs; when we don’t get those carbohydrates our body needs, this chemical builds up and can intensify cravings, which can increase the risk of developing disordered eating patterns like binge eating. It has nothing to do with not having enough ‘will power,’ it’s more to do with the body’s biological response to deprivation.

Initial weight loss could come back

The keto diet is notorious for delivering a quick initial slim down. That’s because carbs hold on to more water than protein or fat. So, when you stop eating them, all that extra H2O gets released through urination. As a result, the scale might read a few pounds lower, and you may look a bit leaner.

That first drop might be mostly water weight. But research suggests that the keto diet is good for fat loss, too. An Italian study of nearly 20,000 obese adults found that participants who ate keto lost around 12 pounds in 25 days. However, there aren’t many studies looking at whether the pounds will stay off long-term, researchers note. Most people find it tough to stick with such a strict eating plan, and if you veer off your diet, the pounds can easily pile back on.

There’s also a side effect called “keto breath”

When your body goes into ketosis, it will start to produce by-products called ketones. This includes acetone – yes, the same chemical found in nail polish remover, which your body actually naturally makes on its own, according to a 2015 review of research. One of the ways ketones are released from the body is through exhaling, and breath usually has a distinct odour that’s different than the common bad breath experienced when there’s a buildup of bacteria in the mouth.

You’ll probably be thirsty all the time

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself parched while you’re on the keto diet. Excreting all that extra water will likely cause a spike in thirst – so make it a point to drink up. There’s no hard and fast recommendation for how much water you should be having on a keto diet. But in general, aim to drink enough so your urine is clear or pale yellow. If it’s any darker, bump your intake.

The bottom line

Eating a keto diet can have some short-term health perks. But in the long run, it also has the potential to create some serious health problems. That’s why many experts say you shouldn’t attempt it on your own. In general, if a person follows a ketogenic diet, they should only do so for a brief time and under close medical supervision.





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