Keto diets are all the rage nowadays and while those before-and-after photos by friends on Facebook can make you want to jump on the bandwagon, there are still some surprising side effects to the keto diet that you need to be aware of.
They’re mostly just irritating and inconvenient and can be easily remedied but are also potentially dangerous if ignored.
1 – Keto Flu
No, it isn’t the actual flu but the body’s natural response to making ketones an energy source. Expect brain fog, fatigue, nausea, and headaches. When electrolyte levels (like sodium, magnesium, and potassium) drop, this contributes to this under-the-weather feeling as the kidneys expel excess water.
Fortunately, these symptoms are temporary and can be managed by increasing your fluid and electrolyte intake. Homemade broths for sodium, nut butter to get magnesium, and cooked spinach for potassium are just some of what you can take to fix your electrolyte levels.
2 – Bad Breath
If you’re just switching over to keto, you might want to lay low on the dating scene for a while.
Bad breath is actually one of the top complaints of keto dieters (and their significant others).This is because one of the ketone bodies (the compounds made from fatty acid metabolism) is acetone. Yes, the same one used in nail polish. Ketones are released through exhalation, urination, and sweating although you could say that nail salon smell at least confirms that you’re in an active state of ketosis.
Again, as your body adapts to using ketones, this side effect should disappear.
3 – Hair Loss
Hair loss on a keto diet is not a certainty but it’s also not uncommon. A study on teens on keto discovered that of the 45 participants, two of them suffered from hair thinning. There are several potential reasons for this.
First, restricting carbs and calories are can contribute to hair loss and thinning. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies (particularly zinc and biotin) may also be contributing factors as well as unfavorable shifts in the microbiome because the diet is high-fat in nature. Just make sure you’re not cutting off too many calories or protein and increase probiotic intake. You can also talk to your doctor about adding zinc and biotin supplements.
4 – Constipation
Because of the lack of carb-rich whole grain, starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, fruits, and pulses, fruits in a ketogenic diet, you may not be getting the 25-38 grams of fiber recommended each day. Unsurprisingly, this is why many keto dieters complain of constipation. High-fiber but low-carb foods like chia seeds, avocado, broccoli, flaxseed, and almonds should help you get the necessary fiber in. Also, make sure you’re taking enough salt and water.
5 – Diarrhea
Keto dieters can also experience the opposite effect in the form of diarrhea.This is because a lot of them like adding coconut oil or MCT oil (concentrated medium-chain triglycerides extracted from palm kernel or coconut) to their meals.
While our bodies can more quickly process MCTs, too much of it will still overload the kidneys so they may not get processed efficiently.Those on keto call it “disaster pants,” and you may laugh hearing about it but not so when you’re experiencing it.
To mitigate this, don’t go overboard on the MCT and other fats, make sure you take them with food and drink plenty of water.
6 – Weight Rebound
While keto has been praised as a way to shrink a few dress sizes in no time at all, a “cheat” day or even slightly slacking off on the rules can bring all that weight lost back. But the reason results are more immediate in low-carb diets is that most of the initial loss in weight is from water. This is because our bodies store each gram of carbs with 4 grams of water.
This is why just eating a few additional carbs can easily result in a bump up the weight scale. But instead of panicking, just note your portion sizes and take quality high-fiber carbs. Pairing them up with protein sources and healthy fat will also help.
If it all seems like a lot of work, just keep the thought of your own before-and-after photo on Facebook as inspiration.
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