Unless you’ve been living on a desert island, you’ve probably heard the buzz about the keto diet. This high-fat, low-carb eating plan has gained a major following in the last few years for helping people drop weight fast. In a 2020 survey, 8% of people said they had tried keto in the last year.
Success on a ketogenic diet all comes down to adjusting your metabolism by consuming specific amounts of macronutrients. Getting your calories from 75% fat, 20% protein, and just 5% carbohydrate forces the body to enter a metabolic state called ketosis, in which fat is burned for fuel. It sounds like a weight-loss dream, but this macronutrient-bending eating plan isn’t for everyone. In fact, drastically changing up your macros can result in some pretty unpleasant side effects. Plus, many health professionals have cautioned that keto isn’t a healthy long-term solution for keeping weight off.
How do you know when it’s time to stop the keto diet? Here are seven warning signs the diet may not be an ideal choice.
And for tips, here’s What Happens to Your Body When You Drink a Smoothie Every Day.
Ugh, the dreaded “keto flu.” Many people report nausea and vomiting (as well as dizziness, weakness, and irritability) shortly after starting keto. If you’re not prepared to ride out a bout of these symptoms, you may want to steer clear of this diet. “Keto flu is pretty common and can last anywhere from a few days to a week or two,” says dietitian Anne Danahy, MS, RDN. She advises drinking plenty of water and boosting electrolytes to minimize the symptoms—which should go away once you’re in ketosis.
Want to learn more about the keto flu? Here’s Why The Keto Diet Might Make You Sick.
Feeling like you just can’t get up off the couch? Keto might be to blame. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy source—so taking them off the menu can lead to some serious exhaustion. Keto fatigue often lifts as the body transitions to using fat for energy, but some people find it an extended struggle while on the diet.
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Switching up your macros can also cause headaches. When in ketosis, the body tends to get rid of fluids faster (as in, you’re peeing more often). Plus, lowered insulin levels from eating fewer carbs can mess with your electrolyte levels. As a result, you may become dehydrated, causing head pain.
Read more: What Are Keto Headaches? We Asked the Experts.
Upping your intake of fat can take its toll on your digestive system. If your body isn’t accustomed to metabolizing large quantities of fat, it may simply expel it—sending you running to the bathroom. For some people, keto-related diarrhea never lets up.
A sense of social isolation is a common pitfall of many highly specific diets. On keto, you may find dining out or eating with friends turns into a bit of a minefield. After all, most restaurant menus and dinner party spreads don’t offer selections that contain 75% fat.
If you’re trying keto, make sure to avoid these 8 Major Mistakes You’re Making on the Keto Diet.
Severely restricting carbs is the key to the keto diet’s success—but this means you’ll miss out on one very important type of carb: fiber. The longer you stay on a low-fiber diet, the more your digestion may slow down. Long-term constipation can lead to complications like hemorrhoids or bowel obstruction.
Though it sounds pretty simple—eat lots of fat and not a lot of carbs—getting into ketosis can be tricky. “If you don’t follow the macros closely (at least initially) you won’t produce ketones and stay in nutritional ketosis,” says Danahy. And if you’re not in ketosis, you may not lose weight as quickly as you’d like. There’s also the simple issue of overdoing it on calories. “With such a high-fat diet, it’s easy to go overboard on calories, which will prevent you from losing weight.”
If you’re looking to lose weight, This Is How Many Calories A Week You Should Eat For Weight Loss.