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Dangers of Ketogenic Diet, Uncovered

Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen · Dietetics and Nutrition

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Mar 09, 2022

    Dangers of Ketogenic Diet, Uncovered

    If you’re planning to lose weight, you probably came across the ketogenic diet, an eating plan that focuses on consuming high amounts of fat, moderate protein, and little carbohydrate. But while the keto diet proves to be effective for many people, you must still proceed with caution. Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of ketogenic diet.

    Short-Term Dangers of Ketogenic Diet

    Let’s begin with the possible health issues you might experience should you decide to go with the keto diet for a short period (less than 2 years).

    Reports say the short-term side effects of the ketogenic diet include a collection of symptoms, including:

    • Insomnia
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Fatigue
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Constipation
    • Difficulty in exercise tolerance

    Many people refer to this set of symptoms as “keto flu.” The good news is keto flu usually resolves within a couple of days or weeks after starting with the diet. To ease these dangers of ketogenic diet, experts recommend getting adequate fluids and electrolytes 1.

    Long-Term Dangers of Ketogenic Diet

    While the keto flu is a short-term issue that typically resolves without treatment, the potential long-term dangers of ketogenic diet are a different story. This is because they involve serious health conditions that affect various organs.

    These health conditions include:

    High Cholesterol

    Like mentioned earlier, the ketogenic diet requires high-fat consumption. And when you’re required to eat fatty foods, it’s hard to steer clear of unhealthy fats, such as unsaturated and trans fats.

    In fact, reports say the keto diet is associated with increased levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol, which is a significant risk factor in heart diseases 2.

    Nutrient Deficiency

    Under the ketogenic diet, you need to closely watch your carb intake from all sources including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However, remember that these food groups are also vital sources of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that the body needs to function well.

    For this reason, one of the potential dangers of ketogenic diet is nutrient deficiency.  

    The symptoms of a nutrient deficiency depend on the lacking nutrient. For instance, lack of magnesium might lead to muscle cramps, weakness, or convulsion. Night blindness may result from vitamin A deficiency. Lack of fiber in the diet may lead to constipation.

    Kidney and Liver Problems

    Being in the ketogenic diet means your liver has to metabolize high amounts of fat. This might worsen existing liver problems you have.

    Likewise, the kidneys also help metabolize protein, and the ketogenic diet may overload them.

    Fuzzy Brain and Mood Swings

    The other potential dangers of a ketogenic diet are brain fog and mood swings.

    Doctors say the brain needs sugar from good sources of carbohydrates. Depriving the brain of carbs may lead to fuzzy brain and mood swings.

    Do Experts Recommend the Ketogenic Diet?

    With all the potential dangers of ketogenic diet, do experts recommend this regimen?

    Some experts do not advise the general public to go through with this diet. One, the weight loss benefit doesn’t happen to everyone. Second, the ketogenic diet is not sustainable: with the possible long-term side effects, one cannot use this diet for years on end.

    Still, the keto diet may be beneficial for some people. Experts say it reduces the frequency of seizures in children with epilepsy. Likewise, it might be able to help diabetics by controlling their insulin levels and sensitivity.

    To better understand if the ketogenic diet is a good eating plan for you, consult your doctor.

    Key Takeaways

    While the keto diet proves to be effective for many people, it still has some drawbacks. Some of the potential dangers of ketogenic diet include having high cholesterol, nutrient deficiency, kidney and liver problems, and fuzzy brain and mood swings.

    The best way to know if the ketogenic diet will work for you is to consult your doctor.

    Learn more about Special Diets here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Expertly reviewed by

    Chris Icamen

    Dietetics and Nutrition

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Mar 09, 2022

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