The ketogenic diet has become more and more popular in recent years as a way to lose weight and even manage blood sugar levels. The plan involves eating a low-carb, high-fat diet, and has plenty of celebrity fans including Gwyneth Paltrow and Halle Berry. However, the hardcore diet can also cause plenty of unwanted side effects.
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The keto diet is very restrictive compared to other low-carb plans, with only 20 grams of carbohydrates allowed per day.
But while other diet plans balance the reduced carbs out with lots of protein, the keto diet is more controversial because it’s all about eating foods that are high in fat.
This formula can put your body into what’s called ketosis – which is where your body becomes more efficient at burning fat for energy.
This is where the weight loss benefits come in; but dieters may find they notice a few other results too, which aren’t quite so welcome.
The keto diet can cause unwanted side effects
The keto plan involves a low-carb, high fat diet
Beginners on the keto diet plan often report having headaches, and it’s not just from keeping track of counting macros throughout the day.
Headaches are a common side effect of the keto plan – and it’s all down to the restrictive nature of what you can eat.
Drastically cutting back on carbohydrates and sugar will put your body into ketosis within two to seven days.
The headaches are a sign of the carb withdrawal – much like you’d experience if you suddenly cut back on your daily coffee.
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As your body begins to use ketones rather than glucose, your blood sugar can drop, which may lead to symptoms such as brain fog and headaches.
Anyone who’s skipped a meal before will know that it can be caused by hunger too, but thankfully it usually passes once you get used to the new diet plan.
However, staying hydrated and eating nutritious meals should help to ease the pain – and you may want to hold off on any intensive workouts until it subsides too.
A headache is just one of a few key symptoms that can crop up once you start the keto diet.
How to follow the keto diet
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In fact, the diet is known to come with what’s called “keto flu” – a range of side effects that many people experience when they first embark on the low-carb, high-fat regime.
While any diet can make you feel a bit rough while your body gets used to the change, the switch in energy stores can really take its toll and leave you feeling fluey.
The restrictive diet plan can cause unwelcome symptoms such as tiredness, diarrhoea, cramps, and even weakness.
Carbs give you energy as well as plenty of fibre, which is why when you cut them out so drastically you can experience unpleasant symptoms that make you feel sluggish.
However, some lucky keto followers won’t experience the side effects or will barely notice them – while for others they may put them off entirely.
The best way to prevent the dreaded flu-like symptoms is to ease in slowly, by gradually cutting down on carbs rather than going all in from the start.
Plus, if you’re already experiencing the headaches and stomach issues, you can reintroduce a few extra carbohydrates to give your body a chance to get used to the new diet.
The good news is the “keto flu” symptoms should only be temporary while your body adjusts, lasting a maximum of two weeks.