The scary things that can happen to you on keto

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The keto diet is about managing carbs to stay in ketosis, but it isn’t always foolproof.

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Surely you’ve been hit by the dozens of dramatic before-and-after photos brought on by the recent spike in popularity of the keto diet. But you may not have seen or heard of the negative effects this intense low-carb, high-fat diet can have on the human body.

The diet is called “keto” in reference to the ketogenic state your body triggers when it gets essentially no carbs, which is its default form of fuel for energy, and tons of fat. If you think about it, that’s a pretty dramatic shift to make overnight. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that aside from hastened weight loss, keto can bring with it some significant complications.

With that being said, before you initial, the dotted line to sign up for it, make sure you understand how this diet can negatively affect the daily functions of your body.

It can trigger “keto flu.”

Your body can have an initially negative physical reaction.


Again, the dramatic shift away from carbs can shock your system — and for some people, that shock comes in the form of the keto flu. “The keto flu is a very real side effect as the body transitions to a ketogenic diet,” Suzanne Fisher, RD, LN, in South Florida told Reader’s Digest. Some side effects include fatigue, dizziness, and insomnia.

It limits your fruits and veggie, which could cause your body to have micronutrient deficiencies.

Keto isn’t built to be a long-term diet.
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On the keto diet, one apple, at 21 grams of total carbs, can steal your entire carb allotment for the day. After all, this is a diet that requires 60 to 80% of your food intake to be fat, according to Men’s Health, and less than 10% can be carbs.


This rule eliminates your ability to eat many fruits and vegetables, as many of them contain natural carbs. But that doesn’t mean they’re not good for you. In fact, they’re part of what you should be eating to maintain a balanced diet. And well, keto is not that. “Keto is not a great long-term diet, as it is not a balanced diet,” Nancy Rahnama, MD, MS, an internal medicine and bariatric specialist in Los Angeles told Reader’s Digest. “A diet that is devoid of fruit and vegetables will result in long-term micronutrient deficiencies that can have other consequences.”

It can cause dehydration.

A lot of the initial weight loss from the keto diet is water weight.

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One of the reasons people on the keto diet see weight loss results so quickly is because most of the initial loss is water weight, according to a Healthline report. That, of course, can result in dehydration if you’re not drinking enough water to combat it. The water weight loss is partially due to the kidneys flushing the water retention that can be the result of consuming extra carbs, which is why it “will come back in the form of glycogen stores if and when you start eating carbs again,” according to Shape.

It can cause you to lose muscle.

It can even cause muscle damage.
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When you take carbs away from your body’s energy fueling system, it begins burning fat as fuel. But if and when it runs out of that, it can also start to steal muscle tissue. “Since your body starts to eat away at muscles as it enters ketosis, your heart, being a muscle, may also be damaged in the process,” Grace Derocha, RD, a certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan told Reader’s Digest.

But most of all, it can make you sad.

It can make it tough to live a normal life.


Keto makes it really hard to live a normal social life. Drinks with friends will propose a challenge. Birthday party? No cake for you. You may just want to enjoy a slice of watermelon on a hot summer’s day. Guess what? It has too many carbs.


This tedious tracking of carbs can be exhausting, emotionally, mentally, and physically. “Most people who wind up trying a ketogenic diet and then deciding not to continue do so because of the emotional and lifestyle consequences,” Alix Turoff, R.D., C.D.N., C.P.T., a dietitian and personal trainer told Shape. “Whether or not we want to admit it, food plays much more than just a physical role in our lives and having such restrictions on the types of foods you can and can’t eat can really take a toll. It might be easy in the short-term to go for carb-free foods but at a certain point, the thought of not being able to eat your favorite foods again can become daunting.”

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