Well-Being//

Is the Keto Diet Worth its Weight (Loss)

It has been hitting the headlines lately and for all the wrong reasons. Here’s the lowdown on the pros and cons before you blindly start following a fad.

Photo by Noah Buscher/ Unsplash
Photo by Noah Buscher/ Unsplash

You must have heard about the Keto diet in the media for its apparent quick weight loss. Keto diet is said to be an extremely low carbohydrate and high fat diet that replaces carbohydrates with fats. This carbohydrate reduction puts your body into a metabolic condition called “Ketosis” that makes your body incredibly efficient at burning fats for energy purposes.

Ketosis is also capable of turning fats into ketone bodies in the liver. However, is the Keto diet worth the starvation and effort one puts into it? We cannot say “YES” right away because it has various health limitations that are never told directly. So here I am going to throw light on those health implications that occur because of the unsustainable nature of the diet.

Water Weight Loss

Keto diet is one of the most popular and excessively followed diets because on the surface it seems effective. In the first few days of the Keto diet, a person can experience a substantial loss of water weight. It happens because carbohydrate is restricted and the glycogen stores in the muscles are diminished. Glycogen is responsible for the water retention in the body, so when glycogen levels fall, the body’s water weight falls consequently. This is how Keto diet is responsible for initial water weight loss in the body which is not the same as fat loss.

Keto Flu

Adhering to an extremely low carbohydrate and high fat diet can result in “Keto Flu” that can be characterised by everything from headache, fatigue, weakness and irritability to constipation, nausea and vomiting. The logic behind getting Keto flu is described as when the body starts using fats over carbohydrates, ketone bodies are produced. In the process of removing ketones through urination, dehydration and flu-like symptoms seem to appear that can affect the health status of the individual in the initial days of ketogenic diet. The dehydration can also cause an  electrolyte and blood volume imbalance in the person.

Risk of Kidney and Heart Damage

On account of excessive urination and dehydration, the body can get depleted of electrolytes and fluids that can lead to loss of some important electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium and potassium. This abrupt loss of fluids and minerals can make people prone to acute kidney injuries. It can also put the individual at risk of a cardiac arrhythmia as electrolyte balance is necessary for the normal heart beat. 

Ketoacidosis

Ketoacidosis occurs when the body gets loaded up with too many ketone bodies. Acid is produced as a byproduct of burning fats, and as a result blood becomes too acidic that it starts harming organs like kidneys, brain and liver. It can even be more dangerous for people with either type I or type II diabetes. Symptoms of ketoacidosis include frequent urination, nausea, bad breath, breathing difficulties and dry mouth. If it’s left untreated, it can be fatal. 

Weight Regain

Keto diet is believed to be highly restrictive, that’s why it is not recommended to follow this diet in the long term. Due to unsustainable diet conditions, people tend to regain a lot of weight that they lost as soon as they go back on carbohydrates. Such to and fro weight fluctuations can lead to disordered eating and worsening the unhealthy relationship with specific foods. When people switch back to carbohydrates, they are more likely to regain fats instead of lean mass. 

Loss of Muscle Mass

Another health complication of Keto related weight fluctuations can be a loss of muscle mass because you’re eating much more fat than proteins. People lose weight but it might actually be a loss of muscles. It can have an effect on the body’s natural metabolism as well. When an individual goes off the Keto diet and switches back to carbohydrates, he gains much of his original weight. But it’s not in the same proportions as before, instead he is now stocked up with fats instead of lean muscles. Now they are back at their original weight but they no longer have the muscle mass to burn calories faster as they did before.

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