What Are Ketosis Side Effects?

People with heart problems are often warned against high protein diets.
Nausea can be a more severe side effect of ketosis.
When fatty acids are broken down in the body, ketones are formed, eventually leading to symptoms such as darker urine.
Sudden dizziness is a relatively common side effect of ketosis.
A low-carbohydrate diet can lead to ketosis breath.
One possible side effect is a headache.
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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 21 August 2014
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Ketosis is a state in which the body has to use protein and reserves of fat because it doesn't have enough carbohydrates, often as a result of a high-protein and low-carbohydrate diet. Though ketosis on its own is not necessarily dangerous, prolonged ketosis can lead to a state called ketoacidosis in which blood becomes too acidic. Mild ketosis side effects include bad breath and gas; more significant ones include weakness, nausea, and dizziness. If ketosis occurs for a long time and leads to ketoacidosis, side effects can include liver damage and kidney damage, and in extreme cases, death.

In the early stages, the ketosis side effects may be quite minor. For example, acetone is created inside the mouth during ketosis. As a result, many people experience bad breath. Brushing the teeth, mouth and tongue frequently may reduce the effect of the acetone. In addition, drinking more water and eating vegetables may also reduce the effect of the ketosis.

Some people complain of other ketosis side effects — sudden dizziness, weakness, fatigue, and lethargy are quite common. In addition, most people complain of headaches, especially since their body is consuming significantly fewer calories when they are dieting. Although these side effects are not life threatening, they may cause people to make simple mistakes they would not normally make.

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Occasionally, those ketosis side effects are accompanied by nausea and diarrhea as well. Sometime people in ketosis will experience mood changes, such as irritability and depression. If a diet is extremely high in protein and low in carbohydrates, a person may experience gas or constipation, too.

Most people follow a low-carbohydrate diet for short periods of time. If it is followed for longer durations, more severe ketosis side effects may occur as the body goes into ketoacidosis, such as kidney damage and liver damage. For example, excess protein may cause nitrogen to be released into the person’s bloodstream. When this happens, the kidneys must work extra hard to remove it through the urinary system and when fat is consumed, the fatty-acid by-product must be removed by the over-worked kidneys. Prolonged, extreme cases of ketosis can be fatal.

In general, most health care providers will not recommend a low-carbohydrate diet for a period longer than 14 days. In addition, the ketosis side effects are not healthy for pregnant women, so they are usually told to avoid such diets. With any diet plan, it is always best to consult a medical provider. People with certain health concerns, such as high blood pressure and heart disease may be warned against high protein diets as well. If concerns arise while a person is going through ketosis, it is best to ask for medical advice.

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wildhairevie
Post 21

There are side effects for every single thing you ingest. The bottom line is that only you and your doctor know your body's scope and what it's allowing you to do. If you start to not feel better through a higher protein diet, then common sense will tell you to lay off it. Remember there's a happy medium for everything. Use your own good judgment.

anon931947
Post 17

Not quite accurate. Ketogenic diets are not high protein. Excess protein triggers gluconeogenesis, in which the liver produces glucose, hence kicking you out of ketosis.

I'm not saying ketosis is good for everybody, or that it has no side effects.. but high protein intake is certainly not encouraged. (Recommended protein intake is to be calculated according to body weight, for muscle maintenance, as in any other sensible diet).

On the other hand there are other possible (more serious) side effects worth considering, like decreased thyroid activity and temporary insulin resistance (if returning to a high-carb diet).

anon926194
Post 15

I've entered into ketosis recently and have experienced weight loss, increased energy levels, a significantly better mood, and only one downside of diarrhea on occasion, but not bad.

What this article doesn't mention is that various cultures very rarely consume carbohydrates, most notably the Inuit and Sami peoples. Their diet consists of mainly fat with the remainder of protein. They essentially live their whole lives in Ketosis without these 'dangerous' side effects. Additionally, most of these mood swings are likely the result of sugar withdrawals. Since sugar acts on the brain like most addicting drugs, it's not hard to imagine why a lack of sugar would produce withdrawal like symptoms.

This article reeks of this so called conventional wisdom that told us to avoid fats and eat more grains. So we did, and got fat and diabetes for our trouble.

anon351612
Post 14

Sorry but I've been on it for about two months now. The initial mood swings come from quitting sugar as it's an addictive substance. Once you get over the initial withdrawal symptoms, you actually feel more energised and alive than ever before. It's simple. Don't do this diet if you're diabetic. Otherwise, I recommend it to everyone.

anon267754
Post 9

Masai people eat high-protein no-carbs without any health issues. Same for Inuit. They are obviously in a ketosis state most of their life without any side effects. On the contrary, analysis revealed that they have excellent health and are immune to most diseases found in high-carb, average-protein, low-fat cultures.

Ketosis is a natural state of the body. Being high in carbs is not, the proof is that as soon as we eat them the body answers with production of insulin to avoid a high concentration of sugars in the blood. Still the main opinion is that carbohydrates are the preferred fuel for the human body. It's pathetic.

anon162781
Post 6

I put my self into ketosis to get rid or excess fluid round my joints as i have bad arthritis as its been the only effective way to do so. I tend to do it for a week to ten days. I have not as yet had any side effects such as others describe but usually feel very well on the diet! I've done this diet every years for 10 years now to good effect.

It does help you lose weight rapidly. I lose two pounds a day; that's why i can only do it for up to 10 days at the very most. But this said, it is extreme and i do it with my doctor's ok and i monitor my weight carefully throughout to not go to extremes. I want to keep my curves, not look like a stick insect. hope this helps!

anon157420
Post 5

@EarlyForest: People following low-carb diets tend to lose weight quickly in the beginning due to fluid loss. The carbohydrate stores in the body maintain the levels of fluid in your body - thus when one's carbohydrate intake is severely decreased, dehydration results.

Basically, it's essentially water weight that is being lost. In order for one to truly and effectively lose weight in the long run, you must burn more calories than you take in - simple as that.

EarlyForest
Post 3

So out of curiosity, how do diets that are so low in carbs work? If the side effects of ketosis are so dangerous, then how do people follow diets like that and lose weight?

I can definitely say that I have experienced some of these side effects, since I once went on an almost no-carb diet, but I cracked when the headaches started getting bad. Of course, I felt horribly guilty too, and was really moody, which I now know what an effect of the ketosis.

But back to the topic, how do people on low carb diets stay healthy and avoid going into long-term ketosis? Is there some trick to doing it that I just missed out on or what?

pharmchick78
Post 2

Excellent article. I will definitely be showing this to some of the girls who come into my clinic following those crazy diets.

It's things like this that make it so all-important to not try to do any serious dieting without talking to your doctor first.

So many people I see try to go on diets like this, end up with serious ketosis after a few weeks, and then go into crazy mood swings because of the ketosis, crack, and start binging and gain it all back.

Doing something like that is really just setting yourself up for failure, since the mood swings, irritability, headaches, etc, are just physical effects that you will experience -- it's not something that you can control by force of will or anything, no matter how strong your desire to lose weight is.

So if you really want to lose weight and do ketosis right, then talk to a doctor or nutritionist. There's no need to set yourself up for failure by going into extended ketosis and experiencing the "losing weight" side effects.

googlefanz
Post 1

How funny -- I don't think that I had ever seen an article talking about the side effects of weight loss. Because that's basically what ketosis is, right, the process of weight loss?

This was really informative too, since it helped me to understand why exactly losing too much weight is dangerous. I mean, you always hear about how anorexia is dangerous and bad for the body, etc, but no one ever gives a scientific explanation for it.

But now I know! I will be sure to trot out my new knowledge about the side effects of ketosis at my next awkward lull in dinner table conversation.

Thanks wisegeek!

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