The effects of the ketogenic diet are often unknown. This diet is based on the consumption of a very low amount of carbohydrates, which forces the liver to produce ketones for use as an energy source.
The effects of the ketogenic diet stem from the fact that it is not a high protein diet. It is based on moderate fat consumption and carbohydrate restriction. The diet consists of the consumption of natural fats and the intake of adequate proteins to achieve the optimal state of ketosis.
The consumption of carbohydrates should represent between 2% and 5% of the total calories, unlike the Western diet in which people consume between 45% and 65% of their calories with carbohydrates.
It is very important to monitor the ketosis process well and not follow this idea for a long time. The ketones that are produced can be as problematic for the muscles as they are useful for burning fat.
How our body works
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy in our body, because once digested they are transformed into glucose, which is transported by the blood and later transformed into glycogen. It is stored in the liver and muscles, and represents the instant energy for our movement.
Even ignoring everything related to glycogenesis, it should be emphasized that to counteract blood sugar, the pancreas generates insulin, which activates the transformation of glucose into glycogen. The more simple hydrates, the more insulin peaks, the more glucose is transformed, to the point where, no longer being able to be stored, it turns into fat.
When we reduce the amount of carbohydrates we consume, the amount of glycogen decreases to such an extent that the body must make use of energy reserves to generate glycogen and therefore fat.
To turn fat into ketone bodies, the pancreas synthesizes a hormone called glucagon and begins a process called ketogenesis. This process releases the ketone bodies. If this situation continues for several days the ketone bodies accumulate in the blood and this is known as ketosis.
So it’s clear that what we get with ketosis is we burn fat to use it as fuel. It is therefore normal that there are diets based on this principle, based on protein foods and not on hydrates. However, the consequences and effects of the ketogenic diet, some of these side effects, need to be considered .
Side effects of the ketogenic diet
- Vertigo and headache. This effect occurs after the third day and is the worst, as the body has no energy and even if you get up quickly, you may feel dizzy. The brain needs glycogen – or ketone bodies – to function.
- Urine with very strong odor. Ketone bodies are also eliminated through urine, which is why its smell is stronger, like that of the breath.
- Bad breath. When our body has an excess of ketone bodies, these are expelled through breathing, so it is advisable to drink a lot of water, because there are people who even notice a metallic taste in their mouth.
- Strong sweat. Ketone bodies are also eliminated with sweat, so it is normal for its smell to be unpleasant, as in the previous cases.
- Lack of appetite. Proteins and fats are very satiating for the body, plus it takes a lot more to digest them than carbohydrates, so your appetite drops significantly.
- Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, difficulty in breathing and general weakness.
- Possible arrhythmias. Problems with the heart’s electrical conduction system and arrhythmias may occur.
- Loss of calcium. Excess protein promotes the loss of calcium through the kidneys (formerly from the bones) and can promote osteoporosis.
- Problems with the functioning of the brain. Its main food is glucose which, in this diet is insistent, and must feed on ketone bodies. By not feeding properly, the brain could suffer some problems.