The Top Dangers of the Keto Diet
First off, what is ketosis?
While we have all heard about the current fad going on in the health industry, that is the keto diet, most of us have little to no idea about what this kind of diet truly entails. To this effect, this article would first introduce you to Ketosis and its benefits before letting you know about who it is not a good option for and why.
Many people have promoted the keto diet by saying that the body’s way of burning fat instead of glucose or carbohydrates can help a person lose a significant amount of weight in as less as ten days. The keto diet was first ‘invented’ by Dr Gianfranco Cappello who worked as an associate professor of surgery at Sapienza University of Rome in Italy.
Ketosis: How Does it Help?
The keto diet is a diet which systematically eliminates the presence of carbohydrates in your diet by including zero to low amounts of carbohydrate in your meal. The presence of an inadequate amount of carbohydrate, sugar and glucose in your body leads it to go into the state of ketosis in which the body starts burning fats that are present in it to produce the energy it needs for your daily functioning.
This leads to the formation of molecules in your liver called Ketones. Ketones build up in your bloodstream causing a person to go into the state of ketosis. The main aim of a person going into the keto diet is to achieve the state of ketosis.
Experts and doctors alike have said that a ketosis is a mild form of ketoacidosis. This condition that is ketoacidosis generally affect people with type 1 form of diabetes. ketoacidosis is one of the main reasons for the death of people who are under the age of 24 and have diabetes.
However, experts also say that ketosis in itself is not harmful to our body. In fact, many studies have suggested that a keto diet is safe for obese or overweight people in the longer run. It has also been seen that the keto diet helps children with epilepsy regulate the symptoms of the disease. Experts believe that the diet can also help you get more energy through the day.
However, while people who follow the keto diet seem to gain lost weight a year after they stop practising the diet, there are significant dangers to the diet.
The Top Benefits of the Keto Diet:
Every coin has two sides, and so does everything else in life. Therefore, before we jump head first into the dangers of going on the keto diet, let us first discuss what the benefits of going the keto way are.
- It reduces your appetite:
Instead of a diet that makes you relentlessly hungry at all times because of the lack of nutrition, the keto diet reduces your appetite and makes you less hungry.
- You can lose a lot of weight in just a few days:
The best part of the keto diet is that you can lose a massive amount of weights in just the first few days of practising it as compared to a regular diet. All this without going hungry at all.
- There is a decrease in the number of triglycerides in your body:
Triglycerides are fat molecules that are present and circulate in your bloodstream. Increase in the levels of triglycerides in your body can cause various heart ailments to an individual. One of the major factors that lead to an increase in the levels of triglycerides is sugar in the body. With a low-carb diet, you can control the levels of triglycerides in your body better.
- Increase in good HDL Cholesterol:
High-density lipoproteins are called HDL Cholesterols. They actually lower the chance of you having a heart attack. The more fat you eat, the more are your chances to increase HDL cholesterol in your body. Lower carbs tend to hasten the process.
- Low levels of blood sugar and insulin in the body:
This is an advantage to people with diabetes. Low-carb diets tend to decrease the amount of sugar and insulin that is produced by the body. People who take dosages for diabetes can lower their intake of insulin once they start undergoing a diet that is low on the carbs after consulting their doctor.
- It acts as therapy to certain brain disorders:
One of the biggest advantages to the keto diet is that it acts as a therapy to people with certain brain disorders. The brain needs glucose to burn to be able to function. However, the liver can produce glucose from proteins in the case of a major lack of carbs. The brain can also burn ketones which form while undertaking the keto diet. It helps children fight against the symptoms of epilepsy. Recent studies have also shown that the keto diet is extremely important for other brain problems including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- Helps fight against metabolic syndrome:
Metabolic syndrome is a medical condition where you run a high risk of having diabetes or heart disease. The symptoms and signs of this kind of condition include abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels while fasting, high levels of triglycerides and low levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterols. However, a keto diet is very useful in removing all these symptoms.
Now that we know of all the benefits to the keto diet and the process of ketosis, we can have a look at why it is considered unhealthy by some experts and doctors.
Who should avoid the Keto Diet?
Now that the benefits are listed above, you might be wondering as to why you might want to stay away from the keto diet when the benefits are so many and actually quite good for people.
Many people should not follow the keto diet. And if you fall under any of the below-mentioned categories, strictly remember that the Keto Diet is not for you,
- The keto diet is not for you if you are suffering from any form of diabetes and kidney disease. It is also not for you if you have any pre-existing liver, pancreatic or kidney conditions. Also, if you suffer form any rare conditions like Muscular Dystrophy or another condition, this diet is not recommended for you as if may cause problems with your liver, kidney or pancreas.
- This kind of a low-carb diet is also not for you if you suffer from blood sugar issues like hypoglycaemia or type 1 diabetes. It might also not be apt for you if you have type 2 diabetes or/ and are on medication for some conditions. Your doctor’s advice is paramount in that case.
- This kind of diet may also be harmful to you if you are pregnant, nursing a new-born child or have conditions like Gestational Diabetes.
- This diet might also be quite tricky for someone who is suffering or might have recovered from an eating disorder. It is mostly advised that people who have eating disorders refrain from practising the keto diet.
- The keto diet is also not recommended for people who are underweight or have a low body mass index (BMI)
- Children under the age of 18 must refrain from practising the keto diet.
- People who are still recovering from recent surgery and are still under the care of the doctors should and must stay away from the keto diet.
- People who have a major underlying medical condition should always consult their doctors before beginning to take on any low-fat or low-carb based diet. It might end up being detrimental to their health.
- People who are taking a prescribed form of medicines and are not quite sure whether the diet will interfere with their healing or not should always consult and listen to the doctors in case they want to embark on a ketogenic diet.
- People with a history of mental health should refrain from the keto diet for their own benefit.
- Women who suffer from irregular menstruation should stay away from the keto diet as it will only worsen their condition and inevitably their menstrual cycle.
- People suffering from any from of chronic respiratory disease should also stay away from the keto diet as the presence of a large amount of ketone in their body will interfere with their respiratory systems and can worsen their conditions.
Better to be safe than sorry if you fall under these categories and stay away from the keto diet. There are many other forms of weight loss that might help you if you really want to lose the excess weight and are making a bid to be more conscious of your health in the future.
The Top Dangers of Going Keto
Now that we have the list of people who should not do the keto way let us see what the actual dangers of going keto are.
1. The keto flu:
The keto flu is caused when your body does not have enough carbohydrates to produce energy for its daily functions. It, therefore, needs to burn fat as a fuel to continue its functioning. In a keto diet, your carbs consumption are actually equal to the amount of carbs that are present in one fruit or half a piece of bagel.
The burning of fat by your body puts you in a state of ketosis, one of whose negative effect is the keto flu. During the keto flu, brain fog, fatigue, dizziness and insomnia are common side effects.
2. Low Levels of Blood Sugar:
While in most cases of the keto diet, people experience a stable level of blood sugar, studies have found out that the low-carb based diet is not really good for the health of people in the longer run. It is therefore not recommended that people without blood sugar issues begin a keto diet without fist consulting their doctors on the health hazards posed by the keto diet. You might want to ease your body into the keto diet instead of diving into it head first and without warning.
3. Deficiency in nutrients required:
The keto diet obviously negates a large chunk of food that you can actually eat. Many of these foods that are completely ignored by the keto diet contain essential vitamins and minerals. Some of these foods include leguminous plants, beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. The keto diet is in no way a balanced diet and thus is not a good option for the long term. Deficiencies in essential nutrients in your everyday diet will cause severe nutritional deficiencies in the body which is not good for your health.
4. Constipation and problems in proper bowel movements:
Negating the importance of fruits and vegetables can be detrimental in other ways too. These foods are rich in fibre and keep your bowel movements regular. Without these, you will have trouble in a bowel movement that will eventually lead to constipation. It is always advised to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables as well as fats like ghee and oil. It is also a good idea to keep yourself hydrated constantly.
5. Loss of electrolytes:
With the beginning of your body going into the state of ketosis, your body starts dumping stores of glycogen from your body. This increases the number of times you may urinate and can undoubtedly lead to a loss of electrolytes in the body. What is important to know is that electrolytes are important for the normal functioning of the heart and the heart beats. It also leads to a loss of sodium, magnesium, potassium and more and it can run you the risk of suffering from cardiac arrhythmia
6. The decrease in the amount of sodium in your body:
Salt or sodium is a necessary component of every diet. However, on a keto diet, an individual may suffer from a lack of sodium that may lead to hyponatremia or low blood sodium. This can lead to leg cramps, loss of energy, confusion and vomiting on a regular basis.
With the loss of water in your body which is a very regular side effect of undergoing the keto diet where you drink a very less amount of water, it causes dehydration to an individual. With dehydration can come fatigue, tiredness and more. This is a major drawback of the keto effect.
8. Damage in the kidney and formation of kidney stones:
Dehydration can lead to more serious condition. They include kidney injuries and stones. High levels od nitrogen that is created by the proteins in your body can increase the pressure on your kidney and lead to stone formation and damage to your kidney cells.
9. The loss in muscle strength:
If you are in the state of ketosis for a long period of time, you also start losing the tissues in your muscles. While proteins build muscles, carbohydrates and glucose are necessary components to maintain and help build those muscles. Lower levels of carbohydrates can lead to damage in the muscles. This can lead to problems like muscles degeneration shortly which is extremely harmful to our health.
10. Heart ailments:
While you might lose the muscles in your heart due to them weakening as a result of the keto diet, the diet might also cause very low pressures that can lead to deadly potentials in the human body. Heart ailments are one of the biggest demerits of the keto diet.
11. Keto breath:
Due to the state of ketosis that is being attained by the body, the body tries to expel ketones from the body by means of exhalation. It leads to your breath smelling like acetone, and it might smell bad to you for a while, but eventually, it settled down if it does not then, there might to trouble with your body. This is definitely a side effect of the keto diet.
How do we plan the Keto Diet properly?
If you are a beginner when it comes to weight loss with the help of the keto diet, you should always plan the keto diet properly before taking the plunge into the world of keto. To remain in the state of ketosis, one must always consume lower amounts of carbs, typically less than fifty grams a day.
You can include natural fats in your diet like butter, olive oils and more. Include a lot of seafood like fish, meat, eggs, cheese and vegetables. The lower the amount of carbs in your diet leads to a faster loss in weight.
You should also start avoiding high carb-based food including cola, beer, potatoes and much more. Basically, just try and avoid sugary foods as much as possible if you are to undergo the keto diet. Avoid processed food in your diet as much as possible. The food you eat should be high in fat and mid-range in terms of proteins.
Five per cent of your energy should come from carbohydrates, 15-25% from the proteins and about 75% of your energy should come from the fats.
Now that we have discussed about the food intake while undergoing the keto diet, you also need a minimal amount of fluids in your diet. They include water, tea and coffee. Make sure there is no presence of sugar in your drinks. Use of milk or cream in your diet is fine. Sometimes you can also have an occasional glass of wine sometimes.