By now, you must have heard about the ketogenic diet, a lifestyle that insists on significantly cutting down on carbs while optimizing on high-fat intake. And even though its benefits in suppressing appetite and weight loss have been hailed, keto advocates often tend to minimize on the downsides associated with this low-carb diet. However, our dieticians and health experts at ItWorks Keto warn that going for this course as solution for the problems it’s claimed to tackle could be dangerously harmful to the body’s ecosystem. A ketogenic diet is basically a systematic approach to self-starvation, which therefore means that by using it, you are depriving your body of certain nutrients required for its ecological functions. That aside, here are some aspects to consider before going full-on keto:
One of the main disadvantages of the keto diet that most people are unaware of is the fact that there is no long-term research on how beneficial it would be several years down the line. Aside from there being no guarantee that the results will suffice or be as impressive as claimed, it’s unclear whether or not one would regain their lost weight or suffer intense health consequences. What’s promised though are short-term side effects, usually referred to by its users as keto flu characterized by fatigue, poor sleep, constipation, difficulty with exercise, lightheadedness and dizziness during the initial stages when one is undergoing transition. These symptoms can go on for days, weeks or even months until the body adjusts to tapping into fat for fuel.
Altered Hydration Levels
Electrolyte imbalances may be common for a person on a ketogenic diet if they are unaware of their hydration needs. While on this kind of diet, there are extreme demands for regular hydration to counter the depletion of glycogen in muscles as caused by production of lesser insulin by the liver. Water loss against glycogen depletion occurs in the ratio of 3:1 which means that the kidney flushes out more water along with such electrolytes as potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium. An imbalance in these electrolytes causes a lack of body temperature control, cognitive distortion, fatigue, an irregular heartbeat and muscle cramps. It also increases the chances of one getting kidney stones due to inadequate hydration while on the keto diet.
As a restrictive diet, keto can quickly get obsessive and is particularly more dangerous for people prone to disordered eating. This may not exclusively apply to the keto diet but the fact that it’s a style that restricts an entire food group pretty much makes one susceptible. Even if you haven’t had a history of eating disorders, there is a likelihood of developing a negative attitude around food. A vast majority of users may not find the ketogenic diet sustainable, thus they may only stick with it for a few months. Once they fail to meet their expectations with this diet, returning to the original eating habits could trigger feelings of guilt and failure. Worst case scenario, this might result in disordered eating.
Negative Effect on Athletic Performance
There is mixed literature on how a low-carb diet can affect athletic performance but one thing that remains constant is that a lot of it points to a consistent decrease when an athlete is seeking optimal power output. Alongside this, you would be hard-pressed to strength-train and put on weight while on such a diet. This could be why the ketogenic diet is thought of as a better fit for endurance athletes though even for them, it’s still pretty challenging to maintain.
Reduced Intake of Fruits and Vegetables
The intake of fruits and vegetables is extremely limited while on a ketogenic diet. We are all well aware of the significance of fiber, minerals, vitamins and other compounds found in vegetables and fruits. It’s true that there are a lot of healthy yet high-carb foods that one can eat on the keto diet. This could explain why the diet is low in fiber, which definitely makes it potentially harmful in the long term. Fiber does not only offer protection against several gastrointestinal cancers, it also makes for a huge factor when it comes to fullness and weight loss. Furthermore, such a low-carb diet definitely enhances the vulnerability to constipation among its followers.
There might be so many good things you’ve heard about the ketogenic diet but when you look at the drawbacks, they outspan the benefits by far. The simple fact that their long-term side effects have not been fully explored pretty much makes them a no-go for anyone who really cares about their physical health and well-being. With so much being done to find alternatives to food-related problems, it can be easy to trust every conventional solution advertised blindly without looking deeply into the facts. If you have been debating on why you should do the keto diet, now you have every reason not to.