5 Things you should know about Keto Diet

by Joanne Perez, MS, RDN, LD
Keto Diet

Who doesn’t know someone who is doing keto? Celebrities and everyday folks swear that it gives you more energy, is effective for weight loss and makes you feel better overall. The ketogenic diet is super high in fat (80%), super low carbohydrate (<5%) and moderate in protein (15-20%). The idea is that if you eat this way, your body will enter a metabolic state called ketosis which means your body uses fat for energy instead of glucose. Sounds like an easy way to burn fat, but its restrictive nature, unpleasant side effects, minimal research as a sustainable weight lose method and harmful effects to your body should make you think twice before embracing the keto lifestyle. 

Here are 5 things you should know about the keto diet:

Keto Flu and Keto Breath

The keto flu is a real thing and is indicative of dehydration. The flu-like symptoms such as aches, cramping, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, general weakness, and a skin rash usually happen during the first week and are the side effects of water and electrolyte loss. When you burn fat, you decrease your insulin levels and have depleted your glycogen stores which results in increased urination. In addition, when you are eating a lot of fat, your liver metabolizes it and converts it to small ketone bodies. These ketone bodies, including acetone (nail polish remover), circulate in your body and diffuse into your lungs. Since your body doesn’t want them to build up in your bloodstream, you will exhale them as metallic-tasting, stinky keto breath.

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies 

You have to wonder when a diet recommends that you take a vitamin and mineral supplement. When people think low carb, they usually think no bread, pasta, rice, etc. But, fruits and vegetables are also carbs, and the keto diet restricts these too. You are only allowed some berries, green leafy vegetables and some non-greens such as tomatoes and onions. This means you are missing out on a lot of foods that provide you with important micronutrients such as selenium, B-complex vitamins and vitamin D. And, we know that our bodies do not utilize the vitamins and minerals from a pill as effectively as from actual food so you still might come up short.

Seriously Harmful Side Effects 

In a study looking at the long-term effects of the diet on pediatric patients who have been prescribed it to manage epilepsy, the following side effects were found: constipation, high triglyceride levels, high cholesterol, diarrhea, lethargy, iron deficiency, vomiting, and kidney stones. In addition, studies have suggested that high fat and low fiber intakes can disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. This can result in a weakened immune system, increased risk for chronic diseases and disruption of your gut-brain connection.

Weight Cycling

Research shows that restrictive dieting doesn’t work as a weight management tool. Once the “honeymoon” phase is over, you will most likely find the diet too restrictive and burdensome causing you to go off it and most likely not only gain the weight back but probably even more. Plus, being in a ketogenic state can increase your fullness and decrease your hunger hormones, but once you are off the diet, your hormones will be off their baseline. This means a new baseline will be set and it will be higher so you will feel hungrier.

Research is Limiting

The problem with most of the research that has been done on the effects of keto on sports’ performance, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and weight loss is that the sample sizes are too small and too few. You can’t say that something improves endurance when only 5 people are included in the study. 

If you are looking to change your life, Healthsoup is a better alternative. Registered dietitians will give you personalized, evidence-based, sustainable and easy recommendations to get you on the right path.