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The ketogenic diet, simply called the keto diet, is a high fat and low or no carbohydrate diet. The ketogenic diet is popular for its quick weight loss benefits. Reports show that the keto diet can help lose up to 10 pounds in just a couple of weeks. The keto diet entails cutting down carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams per day while increasing protein and fat intake. This forces the body to go into a state of ketosis, compelling it to burn fat rather than sugar for energy.
The keto diet has been around since the 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy. Today, the keto diet is hyped as a treatment for diseases like type 2 diabetes and infertility. Animal studies have suggested that the keto diet could have potential benefits such as anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and anti-cancer benefits.
The ketogenic diet is a controversial diet, with some health specialists cautioning against its potential side effects and complications. Here are some of the potential health risks attributed to the keto diet.
The Keto Flu
The keto flu happens in 25% of people who try the keto diet. People trying keto experience symptoms of fatigue (most common), vomiting, lethargy, and gastrointestinal distress. The keto flu happens as the body runs out of sugar to burn fat for energy and lasts a few days. To overcome fatigue, one can drink a lot of water, use natural energy sources such as organic coffee or get lots of sleep.
The keto diet can be helpful for people with hyperglycemia. However, the keto diet in diabetics can trigger ketoacidosis, a state where the blood becomes too acidic. Ketoacidosis can damage vital organs such as the liver, kidney, and brain. If untreated, ketoacidosis is fatal. Symptoms of ketoacidosis include dry mouth, nausea, frequent urination, breathing difficulties, and bad breath. Kidney stones are a known potential side effect of the ketogenic diet. The risk of kidney stones can be reduced by supplementing with potassium citrates.
Loss of Muscle Mass and Weight Gain
The keto diet can also result in loss of muscle mass if eating more fat than proteins. Loss of muscle mass can lead to decreased functional strength and can amplify the risk of falls. The keto diet is restrictive and therefore not sustainable in the long run. Most people regain a lot of weight they lost when they go back to eating carbs. Most of this weight is regained in the form of fat.
Increased Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes
The keto diet is a high-fat diet that can increases cholesterol levels, a risk factor for heart disease. Some studies suggest that the ketogenic diet may also increase the risk of diabetes.
Diarrhea with a keto diet can occur as a result of lack of fiber, intolerance to dairy, artificial sweeteners, or due to an overwhelmed gall bladder. Other dangers of the keto diet are its potential to cause episodes of hypoglycemia, (which makes it risky for people with diabetes), the potential to cause dehydration and loss of electrolytes, reduced athletic performance and nutrient deficiencies.
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