Home » The Side Effects of Using a Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss
The ketogenic diet, colloquially called the keto diet, is a popular diet containing high amounts of fats, adequate protein and low carbohydrate. It is also referred to as a Low Carb-High Fat (LCHF) diet and a low carbohydrate diet.
Ketogenic diets are designed to force the body to enter into a state called ketosis. The body generally makes use of carbohydrate as its primary source of energy. This owes to the fact that carbohydrates are the easiest for the body to absorb.
However, should the body run out of carbohydrates, it reverts to making use of fats and protein for its energy production.
Ketosis effectively alters your body’s natural equation from burning glucose to rather start burning fat as fuel. This alteration of the body’s metabolism may come with some possible side effects as the body tries to adjust it functioning.
Changing to the ketogenic diet is not that easy to adapt to especially at the initial onset. However, remember that these side effects are temporary. Some of them can last for a few days while other can last for months.
Therefore you need to give yourself time, both physically and mentally, to effectively make the switch.
While making the switch to a ketogenic diet, there are two physical changes that you may experience. These are the keto flu and keto breath.
This is one thing that anyone starting a ketogenic diet should brace up for. It is a condition in which you experience some of the different side effects that come along with using a ketogenic diet.
Keto flu is often characterized by light-headedness or brain fogginess, headaches, nausea, stomachaches, and muscle soreness. You may also experience heightened feelings of lethargy, irritability and trouble concentrating.
Interestingly, these are all common symptoms of the flu, hence the name. These symptoms are temporary and not everyone using a ketogenic is affected by them.
These symptoms are often caused by the sugar withdrawal occasioned by the significantly reduced carbohydrate intake. Also, an imbalance in your body electrolytes such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium can affect how your body reacts to the effect of a ketogenic diet.
There are two possible reasons put forth why people on ketogenic diets experience this peculiar breath issue.
The body does not store ketones and thus they must be excreted from the body. Ketones can be excreted through the urine as acetoacetate.
They can also be excreted through the breath in form of acetone. So the more ketones you produce, the more acetone you pass out through your breath. Unfortunately, this can cause unpleasant-smelling breath when using a ketogenic diet.
On the other hand, increased protein ingestion can also cause keto breath. This is because the way the body digest fats and proteins is quite different. The digestion of proteins usually produces ammonia which the body excretes through the urine.
However, the increased consumption of proteins may result in the indigestible amounts remaining in your gut system and undergoes fermentation. This produces ammonia which is subsequently released through your breath.
Keto breath can last for about a week to just under a month. It mostly depends on how well your body adapts to ketosis.
This may result from the strict restrictions on carbohydrate intake. A lot of carbohydrate-rich foods are equally rich in vitamins and minerals.
The severe restriction on carbohydrate intake may therefore cause deficiencies in some essential nutrients. Therefore, we should not only be focused on the micronutrient counting in terms of fat, proteins, and carbohydrates but should also remember the vitamin and mineral micronutrient contents as well.
This is often why supplements are mostly recommended when using a ketogenic diet. Supplementation will help to augment any micronutrient imbalance that might occur when using a ketogenic diet.