The keto diet: Here’s the potential risks you should be aware of

by Laura Forsyth | 15th June, 2023 | Nutrition

While the keto diet has gained immense popularity, it’s crucial to be aware of its potential downsides and limitations. The ketogenic diet, known for its low-carbohydrate and high-fat approach, has captured the attention of many hoping for weight loss and improved health. However, it’s important to delve deeper into the potential drawbacks and factors to consider before embarking on the keto journey. Here, we explore the reasons why the keto diet may not be the best choice.

1. Nutrient deficiencies 

Maintaining a well-balanced diet is essential for optimal health, but the keto diet restricts many food groups rich in essential nutrients. Since carbohydrates are severely limited, it becomes challenging to obtain adequate amounts of fiber, certain vitamins, and minerals. This can potentially lead to nutrient deficiencies and impact long-term health if not properly managed.

2. Negative impact on gut health

The gut microbiome plays a vital role in digestion, immune function, and overall well-being. Unfortunately, the keto diet’s limited intake of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, whole grains, and legumes, can negatively impact the diversity and composition of gut bacteria. Reduced fiber intake may contribute to constipation, digestive discomfort, and an increased risk of certain gastrointestinal disorders.

3. Side effects

The initial phase of transitioning into ketosis, commonly referred to as the “keto flu,” can bring about a range of unpleasant side effects. These may include fatigue, dizziness, nausea, irritability, and brain fog. While these symptoms usually subside after a few days or weeks, they can be challenging to endure, making the diet difficult to sustain in the long run.

4. Unsustainable 

Athletes or individuals engaging in intense physical activities may find the keto diet challenging to sustain. Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy during high-intensity exercise, and the limited carbohydrate intake on keto can lead to decreased performance, fatigue, and difficulty in recovering from workouts. It may be more suitable for such individuals to explore alternative dietary approaches that cater to their specific energy needs.

5. Cholesterol and heart health concerns

The high-fat nature of the keto diet, particularly the consumption of saturated fats, can raise concerns about cholesterol levels and heart health. While some studies suggest that the keto diet may improve markers of cardiovascular health, other research indicates potential risks, such as increased levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Individuals with pre-existing heart conditions or high cholesterol should consult their healthcare provider before adopting the keto diet.

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