Low carbohydrate ketogenic diets are associated with a lot of benefits such as increased weight loss, decreased food cravings, increased energy levels, reduced risk of developing diseases, increased brain function etc. Like all diets, keto diet is also associated with certain side effects, but they can be managed easily. Moreover, the side effects that occur are mostly short term and they usually resolve after your body adapts to the diet. Below we will list ten common keto diet side effects and how you can easily manage them through proper diet and supplements.
10 Common Keto Diet Side Effects
1. Increased Urination
A very common Keto Diet Side Effect is increased urination. You may experience an increased urge to urinate a couple of days after starting ketogenic diet. When you are on ketogenic diet, your insulin levels drop resulting in an increased excretion of sodium in urine, which in effect leads to increased excretion of water resulting in increased urination. Furthermore, while on ketogenic diet your glycogen stores are consumed, which releases a lot of water. This excess water is also excreted via the kidneys leading to increased urination.
How to manage the symptom of increased urination?
The increased urination can help remove the toxins from your body. You should increase your water intake to stay sufficiently hydrated. You should also consume electrolyte and mineral supplements.
In the initial stages of being on keto diet before you completely adapt to it, you may develop constipation. This may be due to excretion of excess water in urination leading to change in the consistency of your stools resulting in constipation. Constipation may also result from the changes in the gut bacteria that are induced by the ketogenic diet. The bacteria in the gut play a key role in digestion and excretion. Changes in the gut bacteria can cause changes in your bowel movements and result in constipation. When your body adapts to the ketogenic diet your bowel movements become normal. Constipation can also occur due to magnesium imbalance since magnesium, potassium, and sodium are excreted in excess out of your body.
How to manage constipation due to Keto Diet?
Drink lots of water and stay hydrated. Take 400 mg magnesium citrate tablets to prevent magnesium imbalance. Decrease your intake of dairy products to reduce your calcium intake, which will also prevent magnesium imbalance. Further, you can also reduce your intake of nuts. Consume lots of fiber-rich foods such as fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables.
Although constipation is more common some people may also experience diarrhea. It may again occur due to changes in the gut bacteria. Diarrhea can be a result of lesser intake of fat to balance carbohydrate restriction and instead of consumption of a lot of protein. Remember Keto Diet is moderate protein and high fat, intake of excess protein may result in diarrhea. Diarrhea can also occur if you are allergic to the foods you are consuming such as eggs, nuts, and cheese. In such cases, it is wise to remove those foods from your diet.
How to manage diarrhea due to Keto Diet?
Diarrhea will slowly resolve on its own when your body adapts to the ketogenic diet. Make sure you eat sufficient fat to replace the carbohydrates in your diet. You can also consider taking a binding or bulking agent such as activated charcoal, psyllium husk, and citrus pectin to help you deal with diarrhea.
4. Muscle cramps
Muscle cramps can result from loss of electrolytes and minerals while following a ketogenic diet. People on ketogenic diet usually complain of leg cramps. Increased loss of sodium and magnesium can also cause muscle cramps.
How to manage muscle cramps?
You should drink lots of water, increase your salt intake and eat a diet that supplements the loss of electrolytes and minerals from your body. As your body adapts to the ketogenic diet your muscle cramps will disappear.
5. Drowsiness and fatigue
Drowsiness, dizziness, and fatigue are common during the first few days of the diet. It results from loss of water and electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
How to manage drowsiness and fatigue?
You should drink sufficient amounts of water to prevent dehydration. Generally, increasing your salt intake is not recommended for good health. However, if you are on a ketogenic diet you should increase your salt intake. You can also consume supplements to compensate the electrolyte and mineral loss. Taking magnesium citrate tablets are beneficial except in certain cases, for instance, when you are suffering from kidney problems or when you develop diarrhea. You should also eat foods rich in potassium such as green leafy vegetables, broccoli, fish, poultry, and meat.
6. Low blood sugar
Low blood sugar occurs during the first few days on the diet. Your body is accustomed to utilizing carbohydrate as its main energy source. When you switch to a ketogenic diet, your body takes some time to adapt to using fat as the main energy source. During the initial days on the diet, you may experience transient episodes of low blood sugar when you may feel intense hunger, brain fog, dizziness, and fatigue.
How to manage low blood sugar?
During the initial days if you experience low blood sugar you can increase your carbohydrate intake and gradually reduce it.
7. Keto flu
A very common Keto Diet side effect is keto flu also called the induction flu. It occurs during the first 2-4 days on the diet. Keto flu is characterized by usual flu like symptoms such as headache, lethargy, runny nose, nausea, brain fog, and irritability.
How to manage Keto Flu?
You can easily manage symptoms of keto flu by staying sufficiently hydrated, increasing your salt intake and including sufficient amounts of fat in your diet. Keto flu can also be due to low blood sugar. You should gradually reduce your carbohydrate intake during the course of your ketogenic diet program. Usually, the symptoms resolve on their own when your body adapts to the diet.
8. Sleep disturbances
Some people on ketogenic diet complain of sleep disturbances. This can be due to low blood sugar during the initial stages of following the diet. When your body’s sugar levels are low it stimulates the release of the hormone cortisol to break down the glycogen stores in the body. Cortisol counteracts the effect of melatonin, which helps you sleep leading to sleep disturbances. When episodes of low blood sugar occur at night you may face sleep disturbances.
How to manage sleep disturbances?
You can manage sleep disturbances by eating a snack that has both protein and carbohydrate in it just before going to bed. The carbohydrate increases your insulin levels and the protein provides tryptophan, which is the precursor of serotonin. Serotonin helps improve the quality of your sleep.
9. Keto breath
During the initial stages of the diet, people may experience symptoms of bad breath also called keto breath. Being on a keto diet causes the release of ketones in the body. Acetone is a kind of ketone that is released through the breath. Acetone causes a fruity odor to emanate from your breath. The bad breath usually disappears on its own after 1-2 weeks of following the diet.
How to manage the bad breath?
You should maintain proper oral hygiene, brush your teeth twice a day and use a mouthwash. Use a natural breath freshener and drink lots of water as dry mouth makes it worse. You can also use a gum or mint to mask the smelly breath. You can also do oil pulling with coconut oil.
10. Heart palpitations
Some people may experience heart palpitations during the initial stages of following the ketogenic diet. It is usually common in people who are already suffering from low blood pressure. It occurs due to the loss of water and electrolytes from your body, which decreases your blood volume causing the heart to pump faster.
How to manage the heart palpitations?
You can manage the heart palpitations by drinking lots of water and staying hydrated. You should also consume mineral supplements and slightly increase your salt intake. Your heart palpitations disappear after around 2 weeks of starting the diet.
I hope you got an idea on how to manage Keto Diet side effects. It is always a good idea to have enough water intake and increase fiber-rich foods in your diet. These two things in itself give you good relief for some of the side effects. Also, don’t get disheartened when you get one or more of these symptoms. The symptoms often always go away after a week or two after which you would feel more active, focused and of course way lighter!