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Keto 101: What Are the Side Effects of a Keto Diet?

Are there any long-term keto side effects? What about the keto flu — will I get it? From the benign to the slightly uncomfortable, get ready to learn all about keto side effects and what you can do to prepare.

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Keto side effects: the downsides of the keto diet

The benefits of the keto diet are numerous. From weight loss to a reduced risk of health complications, there are many reasons why so many people have opted to “go keto.” However, before you start your keto journey, it’s important to educate yourself on the possible side effects of the keto diet. While negative side effects are few and usually quite mild, and the only long-term side effect seems to be weight loss, it’s important to know that there are, indeed, side effects. Read on to find out more about the common keto side effects.

Keto Flu

The most common side effect: the keto flu

The so called keto flu is an almost inevitable side effect of going on the keto diet. Ketosis is a state your body isn’t used to, and as a result, it is going to need some time to adjust. As it first starts burning fat and producing ketones, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Weakness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Sugar Cravings
  • Poor sleep

And the main reason for keto flu? Dehydration. You’ll notice that as you enter ketosis, you may have to urinate more frequently. This is because your body is making ketones, therefore eliminating waste created from breaking down fats. This increase in urination may lead to dehydration and a lack of important electrolytes like sodium and potassium, and this deficiency can bring on many of these symptoms.

Keto Flu

What’s more, before going keto, your body used carbohydrates as its main source of energy. Naturally, your body will give you signals to feed it what it knows. So, get ready for some intense sugar cravings and other withdrawal symptoms while experiencing keto flu.

The good news, though, is that the keto flu doesn’t last more than a week at most. The best way to combat keto flu is with plenty of water and no-sugar electrolyte drinks or supplements, rest, eat plenty of fat, and be patient. Though unpleasant, this set of keto side effects is only temporary and you’ll come out better on the other side of it. You can do it! That being said, if your keto flu symptoms last more than a week, or are accompanied by diarrhea, fever, or vomiting, contact your physician to rule out more serious issues.

Keto Rash

What about the keto rash? Will I get it? What can I do about it?

A far less common keto side effect is the so-called “keto rash.” Researchers are not completely sure what causes this type of dermatitis. There is, however, a strong correlation between it and being in a state of ketosis, ergo the nickname “keto rash.” It is a rare side effect characterized by the following:

  • A red, itchy rash on the chest, upper back, neck, and abdomen
  • Red spots that have a web-like appearance
  • Grains and cereals (this includes whole grains like quinoa and bulgur)
  • A lingering dark brown pattern on the skin once the spots are gone

A keto rash is not dangerous or contagious. The best way to combat it is to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and nutrients and eliminate any known food allergies. If that doesn’t help, you may have to give the keto diet a break or talk to your physician about anti-inflammatory medicines.

I have diabetes. Can I be on the keto diet?

In theory, yes. However, it is particularly important for diabetics, especially those with type 1 diabetes, to consult a physician before starting the keto diet. Diabetes is a disease that hinders the body’s ability to process blood sugars, otherwise known as blood glucose. There are two types:

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition where your pancreas produces little to no insulin. Those with type 1 diabetes are often born with it and need to take insulin in order to survive. Even though the keto diet can improve blood sugar control and even reduce insulin needs, there are complications that may arise for those with type 1 diabetes. One of the main concerns is that of blood sugar levels becoming too low. This could lead to some serious complications, including slurred speech, dizziness, or even loss of consciousness. If you have type 1 diabetes, please consult your physician before starting the keto diet.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes affects the way the body uses insulin. Unlike in type 1 diabetes, those with type 2 diabetes can make insulin, but the body doesn’t use it effectively. Type 2 diabetes is more common and can develop at any stage of life. It is often linked with obesity. The keto lifestyle can truly help many type 2 diabetics because it helps the body to maintain low but healthy blood sugar levels. What’s more, keto is known for weight loss, another important step towards combating type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition where your pancreas produces little to no insulin. Those with type 1 diabetes are often born with it and need to take insulin in order to survive. Even though the keto diet can improve blood sugar control and even reduce insulin needs, there are complications that may arise for those with type 1 diabetes. One of the main concerns is that of blood sugar levels becoming too low. This could lead to some serious complications, including slurred speech, dizziness, or even loss of consciousness. If you have type 1 diabetes, please consult your physician before starting the keto diet.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes affects the way the body uses insulin. Unlike in type 1 diabetes, those with type 2 diabetes can make insulin, but the body doesn’t use it effectively. Type 2 diabetes is more common and can develop at any stage of life. It is often linked with obesity. The keto lifestyle can truly help many type 2 diabetics because it helps the body to maintain low but healthy blood sugar levels. What’s more, keto is known for weight loss, another important step towards combating type 2 diabetes.

Other Keto Side Effects

Other possible keto side effects

Though the positives seem to outweigh the negatives, there are some other keto side effects that could arise and are worth mentioning:

  • Long term effects on the heart:The American College of Cardiology released a study that links low carb diets to an increased risk of developing AFib, a serious condition that causes the heart to beat irregularly. Having AFib ups the chances of stroke and heart attack 5-fold. It was found that those with a low daily intake of grains, fruits, and starchy vegetables are significantly more at risk of developing AFib.
  • Kidney stones are a well-noted potential side effect of the ketogenic diet. To help avoid this, make sure you’re not over-doing it on the processed meats. These make your urine more acidic as well as increase uric acid and calcium levels, a combo that makes you particularly susceptible to kidney stones.
  • For many people, the long-term exclusion of high fiber foods can lead to digestive issues like diarrhea and constipation.

As with any diet, it’s important to listen to your body and pay attention to any side effects that come up. When in doubt, consult your physician.

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Now that you are familiar with the possible side effects, it’s time to go keto. Let Green Chef guide you through the start of your keto journey. Our keto meal plans are perfectly portioned to help you make healthy choices. What‘s more, we deliver only the freshest and tastiest ingredients, straight to your door. Take the keto plunge today!

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