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The Positives And Negatives Of The Keto Diet

Man's back in the fieldAs we discussed in our previous blog, the Keto diet was originally used in people with epilepsy to help control seizures, though it is now more commonly used as a weight-loss diet in obese people.

The Keto diet works to rewire the way our body creates and uses energy. It can be a drastic change, which means there are some positive benefits and effects you may notice, as well as some negative ones.

Everybody is different, and while the Keto diet may work for some, it may not work for all. There are some people who are NOT recommended to try the Keto diet. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, those with diagnosed or suspected Kidney, Liver or Pancreas issues, those with diagnosed or suspected eating disorders, young children or teenagers (unless medically recommended, or epileptics who find their seizures are not managed by medication), people who have had their gallbladders removed, those with Thyroid disease, people with MS, and those sensitive to dietary cholesterol.

People who have diabetes may utilize the Keto diet but ONLY under direct medical supervision.

People with diabetes may not go into proper nutritional Ketosis, and may instead experience something called “DIABETIC KETOACIDOSIS”. Ketoacidosis happens when our bodies believe that we are seriously starving, and starts to break down proteins in our bodies too quickly. This can cause a serious complication in people with Type 1 diabetes where the body will not produce enough insulin to move glucose from the blood into the cells. This means that there is too much glucose and ketones that build up and accumulate in the blood. This can lead to some scary and serious side effects that are considered medical emergencies.

Nutritional Ketosis however, is more or less harmless to your body in the short term.

Some of the best noted benefits of the Keto diet include:

1. Increased Energy: You may notice that you’ve got more energy during the day, and because you’re feeling so much better you’re more inclined to exercise and participate in the things that you love.

2. Weight Loss: As mentioned before, the Keto diet is often used for weight loss, and may help to boost your metabolism.

3. Decreased Appetite: Because your body no longer relies on sugar for energy, you may realize that you’re no longer reaching for a sugary snack at 3pm to help you finish off your work day. Your cravings may also change to reflect healthier eating habits (such as reaching for some coconut shavings instead of a bag of chips).

4. May Improve Acne: Acne can be caused by many things, including diet and sugar intake. The Keto diet aims to help reduce carb intake as well as level out blood sugar which may help acne in some people (Paoli, 2012).

Along with the positives it is also important to note some of the negative effects that may occur with the Keto diet, though many can be addressed and managed. Some of these include:

1. The Keto Flu: Any time our bodies adapt to a new diet there will be some undesirable effects. Dubbed the “Keto Flu”, people may experience flu-like symptoms in addition to sugar cravings for a few days, up to a few weeks. Symptoms can be avoided by making sure you stay hydrated, avoid strenuous exercise for the first few days, replace your electrolytes, and get adequate sleep leading up to the beginning of your Keto cycle.

2. Nutrient Deficiency: The Keto diet requires you to limit the amount of carbs you eat, which means you may be eating less fruits, veggies and leafy greens. Luckily, there are Keto-friendly sources to make sure you’re getting everything you need. Deficiencies to watch out for include:

  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Choline
  • Folate
  • Biotin
  • B Vitamins

3. Sodium Drop: It is imperative to make sure you are getting enough Sodium into your body while eating a Keto diet. Sodium is the most important mineral and electrolyte in our bodies. Without enough Sodium serious consequences may happen such as seizures, coma, or death. Aim to add 3,000 – 5,000mg of salt to your diet when eating Keto. You can do this by just adding more salt or by consuming bone broth. Himalayan Pink Salt is a high quality salt that can be added to almost anything, and is a great place to start if you’re concerned about your sodium levels.

4. Dehydration and Loss of Electrolytes: The Keto diet has a diuretic effect on the body due to the limiting of carbohydrates. This means that in addition to shedding fat, our bodies shed water and electrolytes. Make sure you drink plenty of water and replenish your electrolytes during your Keto weeks!

5. Liver and Kidney Issues: Because the Keto diet is so high in fats, eating the wrong kind of fats (ie. Trans fats, fatty meat like bacon) can hurt your liver and its ability to function. If you aren’t careful, the nutrient deficiencies and too much protein can put too much stress on your kidneys and cause problems as well.

As long as you are aware of the changes that Keto can make in your body and prepare to work with them by supplementing your diet as usual, you can expect to gain more energy and other benefits!

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only, it is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any illness or disease. Please consult a professional for your healthcare needs.

Studies Cited:

Paoli, A, et al. “Nutrition and Acne: Therapeutic Potential of Ketogenic Diets.” Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22327146.

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