POPSUGAR: The Pros and Cons of Going Keto
By Isadora Baum
Nowadays, there are so many different diet trends popping up that it can be hard to keep track of what's good and bad. And you'll likely find mixed reviews; while some experts tout the benefits, others shine a spotlight on what's bad.
Still, humans are curious by nature — it makes sense that you'll want to give some of the more popular diets a shot. A hot one many of you know about by now? The ketogenic diet.
What's the Keto Diet?
First off, what the heck is the keto diet, anyway? Put simply, it's a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein diet that puts your body in a state of ketosis. When your diet is lacking in carbs but is high in fat, your liver creates ketones, which are substances made when the body breaks down fat for energy, says Zuckerbrot. The process of ketosis metabolizes fat to provide energy, meaning you're burning fat, as opposed to carbs. As a result, you might lose some weight, as your body is in fat-burning mode.
Potential Side Effects
Sounds like a diet with benefits, right? Sure, this way of eating can be spot-on for certain individuals, and it may even be easy to sustain, but there's no way to avoid the shaky transition, which can result in some unsettling side effects, often called the "keto flu," says Zuckerbrot.
When you stop eating carbs and replace them with a higher intake of fat and protein, your body needs time to adapt to the changes, and it can take days to weeks to recover, she says. You might experience brain fog, fatigue, muscle cramps, diarrhea, or nausea. And while eating protein will keep you fuller longer, it alone will not ward off hunger pains you may be feeling until your next meal. The lack of carbohydrates may cause your blood sugar to drop, leaving you feeling moody and tired, she explains.
What's more, you might also be hungrier and notice cravings for carbs as your body is working to adjust.
Also, don't be surprised if your breath starts to reek. "Acetone, one of the ketones [being produced],can cause your breath to smell like nail polish remover," she says. Also, on a more serious note, Ahmed Abdelmoity, MD, FAAP, director of neurology and chief of epilepsy and clinical neurophysiology at Children's Mercy Kansas City cautions "other potential side effects that will need monitoring" and notes "early detection can be urinary tract stones, as well as weaker bones (osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis)." When you're not eating enough carbs and taking in too many fats and proteins, you could take calcium away from your bones. And when you're on keto, your urine pH levels become more acidic, which can deplete the body of calcium and increase the risk of kidney stones due to the added stress on the kidneys, he says.
Learn more about the Division of Pediatric Neurology at Children's Mercy.