Dangers of Going Keto

The low-carb, high-fat plan promises quick weight loss, but health experts worry about their side effects
and complications.

The ketogenic diet—also known as the “keto diet” or just “keto”—has become the latest big thing in
weight-loss plans. The diet involves cutting way back on carbohydrates, to 50 grams a day or less, to
help the body achieve a state of ketosis, in which it has to burn fat (rather than sugar) for energy.
Doctors say that the keto diet can be helpful in treating epilepsy; it’s unclear exactly why, but something
about a ketogenic state seems to reduce the frequency of seizures.

But as a general weight-loss plan, keto is more controversial. Some health experts warn against it
entirely, citing unpleasant side effects, health risks, and the diet’s unsustainable nature. Even many keto
diet proponents admit that, if the diet’s not done “the right way,” it can be the opposite of healthy.
Here are a few things you should know about the ketogenic diet before you try it as a way to lose
weight. Yes, you might drop pounds, but you should also watch out for the following side effects or

The “keto flu”
“Some people report that when they start ketosis, they just feel sick, there can sometimes be vomit,
gastrointestinal distress, a lot of fatigue, and lethargy.” This so-called keto flu usually passes after a few

People who try a keto diet experience these symptoms, with fatigue being the most common. “That
happens because your body runs out of sugar to burn for energy, and it has to start using fat,” “That
transition alone is enough to make your body feel tired for a few days.”

You may be able to minimize the effects of keto flu by drinking plenty of water and getting plenty of


If you find yourself running to the bathroom more often while on a ketogenic diet, a quick internet
search will show you that you’re not alone. (Yes, people are tweeting about keto diarrhea.) This may be
due to the gallbladder—the organ that produces bile to help break down fat in the diet—feeling

For any exclusive diet plan for any specific individual, consulting a qualified Nutritionist is recommended.
Diarrhea can also be due to a lack of fiber in the keto diet, which can happen when someone cuts way
back on carbs (like whole-grain bread and pasta) and doesn’t supplement with other fiber-rich foods,
like vegetables. It can also be caused by an intolerance to dairy or artificial sweeteners—things you
might be eating more of since switching to a high-fat, low-carb lifestyle.

Reduced athletic performance
In a recent study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, Weiss and his colleagues found
that participants performed worse on high-intensity cycling and running tasks after four days on a
ketogenic diet, compared to those who’d spent four days on a high-carb diet. The body is in a more
acidic state when it’s in ketosis, which may limit its ability to perform at peak levels.

“Just losing a few pounds is enough to give you a huge advantage on the bike, but I’m very concerned
that people are attributing the benefits of weight loss to something specific in the ketogenic diet,” “In
reality, the benefits of weight loss could be at least partially canceled out by reductions in

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you shouldn’t follow the keto diet unless you have your doctor’s
permission and close supervision. “Ketosis can actually be helpful for people who have hyperglycemia
issues, but you have to be very mindful of your blood sugar and check your glucose levels several times a

That’s because, for people with diabetes, ketosis can trigger a dangerous condition called ketoacidosis.
This occurs when the body stores up too many ketones—acids produced as a byproduct of burning fat—
and the blood becomes too acidic, which can damage the liver, kidneys, and brain. Left untreated, it can
be fatal.
Ketoacidosis has also been reported in people without diabetes who were following low-carb diets,
although this complication is quite rare. Symptoms of ketoacidosis include a dry mouth, frequent
urination, nausea, bad breath, and breathing difficulties; if you experience these while following the
keto diet, check in with a doctor right away.

Weight regain

Because the keto diet is so restrictive, health experts say it’s not an appropriate plan to follow long-
term. But the problem is that most people will regain a lot of the weight they lost as soon as they go back on carbs.
“It’s an issue with any fad diet, but it seems to be extra common with ketosis,”

For any exclusive diet plan for any specific individual, consulting a qualified Nutritionist is recommended.
These types of back-and-forth weight fluctuations can contribute to disordered eating or can worsen an
already unhealthy relationship with food. “ the keto diet appeals to people who have issues with portion
control and with binge eating,” in many cases, what they really need is a lifestyle coach or a professional
counselor to help them get to the bottom of those issues.”

Less muscle mass, decreased metabolism
Another consequence of keto-related weight changes can be a loss of muscle mass, especially if you’re
eating much more fat than protein. “You’ll lose weight, but it might actually be a lot of muscle because
muscle burns more calories than fat, that will affect your metabolism.”

When a person goes off the ketogenic diet and regains much of their original weight, it’s often not in the
same proportions, : Instead of regaining lean muscle, you’re likely to regain fat. “Now you’re back to
your starting weight, but you no longer have the muscle mass to burn the calories that you did before,”
“That can have lasting effects on your resting metabolic rate, and on your weight long-term.”

Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
The keto diet includes lots of vegetables and lean sources of animal protein. In other words, it’s not an
excuse to eat butter and bacon—although some people may try to do just that.

That’s why many health experts are concerned about people on the ketogenic diet, especially those who
try it without the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist. Doctors say that high-fat diets like this one may
raise cholesterol levels, and some studies suggest that they increase the risk of diabetes. Some have
even called it a “cardiologist’s nightmare.”

Just this week, a 25,000-person study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in
Munich suggested that people on the lowest-carb diets had the highest risk of dying from cancer,
cardiovascular conditions, and all other causes. Another study, published this month in the Lancet, also
found that people who followed diets that were low in carbs and high in animal proteins (typical of the
keto diet) had a higher risk of early death compared to those who consumed carbs in moderation. (The
opposite was true, however, for low-carb dieters who opted for plant-based proteins over meat and

“Whether you’re in the keto camp or the vegan camp, everyone agrees that we want to have a nutrient-
rich diet,” Lots of vegetables, herbs, spices, and plant-based sources of fat and protein, too.”

“If you’re not doing that, you’re promoting disease in the body—it’s that simple,”(And yes, that’s true
even if you still lose weight in the beginning.) “If you’re just going to eat butter and bacon, you don’t do
the keto diet at all.”