While the negative effects of ketogenic diets are less severe than those of anticonvulsant drugs that treat epilepsy, those who adhere to the ketogenic diet can be afflicted with a few undesirable side effects.
Short-Term Side Effects
Some immediate side effects are more apparent at the start of treatment, especially when patients begin the diet following the first fast.
Hypoglycemia is a frequent reaction in this case, and the symptoms may include:
- A lot of thirsts
- Frequent urination
- Afraid, confusion, or irritability
- Shakiness and lightheadedness
- The chills and the sweat
Patients may also have constipation and even low-grade acidosis. These effects will likely improve when the diet is kept up because the body adjusts to the new lifestyle and changes how it obtains energy.
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Alteration in Blood Composition
In the wake of changes in diet and the body’s adaptation mechanisms to deal with the lower intake of carbohydrates, There are a variety of variations in the blood composition of those following a ketogenic diet.
Particularly the levels of lipids and cholesterol in the blood tend to be greater than what is believed acceptable. Over 60% of people suffer from elevated levels of lipids, and over 30% have elevated cholesterol concentrations.
If these changes are severe and there is a concern regarding their health condition, minor adjustments to the diet may be made to accommodate the particular patient. For instance, saturated fat sources could be substituted for polyunsaturated oils. In certain instances, it might be necessary to reduce the ketogenic ratio and decrease the ratio of fat to protein and carbohydrates on the menu.
If the ketogenic diet is prolonged for a long period, other negative consequences can become apparent and have a larger impact on the individual.
Kidney stones, also referred to as nephrolithiasis, are a common complication among those following the diet, with about five percent of sufferers affected by the condition. However, it is manageable, and the current guidelines recommend maintaining the diet. Kidney stones are related to hypercalciuria and hypocitraturia, in which acidosis triggers bone mineralization to decrease. In addition, low pH levels in urine may encourage the formation of crystals and eventually kidney stones.
There is evidence that potassium citrate supplementation decreases the risk of kidney stones because it binds to and decreases the amount of calcium in the bloodstream. More research is needed, however.
In addition, patients are at an increased risk of suffering from bone fractures. It is due to the lower concentrations of insulin-like growth factor 1 and the consequences of acidosis. Acidosis causes the loss of bone, weakening bones, making them more susceptible to fractures.
To manage these adverse effects, supplements of minerals and vitamins are regularly given to patients following the ketogenic diet. It typically comprises multivitamin, calcium, and vitamin D supplements.
Side Effects in Adults
For those who follow the ketogenic diet, the most frequently reported complications are constipation, weight loss, and higher concentrations of cholesterol, triglycerides, and other lipids. Women can also suffer from amenorrhea and other disturbances to their menstrual cycle.