When people opt for low-carb diets, they hope the side effects will be weight loss. In many cases, they’re right. Low-carb diets also have some negative side effects that range from uncomfortable to painful. Low-carb diets are designed to reduce the number of calories from carbs and increase calories from protein and fat. When you limit carbs, you limit sugary and refined products are removed from the diet. That alone can make a difference in overall good health and weight loss, and it’s a positive difference. What are some of the negative side effects people experience?
Sometimes it’s called the keto flu or induction flu.
When you start a low-carb diet, particularly one that’s extremely low in carbs, like a keto diet, you get flu-like symptoms. It starts in the first few days and can last a week or more. It has flu symptoms, like feeling exhausted, experiencing nausea, and sometimes feeling mentally disoriented and confused. A few people have symptoms of hypoglycemia—low blood sugar. It occurs after the body uses all the glucose and glucose stores, but still requires energy. It then breaks down fat to produce ketones for fuel. When there are no carbs in the system, insulin is reduced, which causes a release of water, sodium, and potassium. It can also cause the brain to have less fuel for a while, hence the brain fog.
When you’re on a low-carb diet, you’re cutting out many sources of fiber.
What happens when you don’t have enough fiber in your diet? You get constipated. Not only does a low-carb diet create dietary changes that can usher in difficulties in the bathroom, but it also reduces the fiber in your diet. Low-carb diets reduce the amount of grain and other high-fiber foods, like beans. That lack of fiber causes constipation. When choosing carbs, choose food that provides fiber.
Ketosis causes halitosis.
Bad breath can be a big side effect of a strict low-carb diet, primarily the keto diet. When your body switches from using glucose to using ketones for food, acetone is produced. It is removed through urination or exhalation. It causes the breath to smell like nail polish remover, sickeningly sweet, or worse due to other by-products also exiting the body. No amount of brushing, flossing, or gargling can remove the smell.
- If you’re on an extremely low-carb diet, you can avoid flu-like symptoms if you drink bouillon or broth. Dehydration, low sodium, magnesium, or potassium can cause the problem. Increasing fluids can also help with constipation.
- Muscle cramps are side effects of low-carb diets. Drinking more water and sometimes supplementing it with magnesium can help. If you have keto breath or strong-smelling perspiration, drinking more water helps that, too.
- Heart palpitations or an elevated heart rate can occur when you initially start a low-carb diet. It’s from dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Drinking broth or more water can help.
- Athletes and people who exercise regularly may notice a reduction in their performance. Drinking a cup of broth or lightly salted water 30-60 minutes before activity helps. It will correct itself in a few weeks.
For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health & Fitness