Risks of the keto diet

The keto diet has become popular thanks to the efforts of celebrities – actress Gwyneth Paltrow, basketball player Lebron James and fashion model Kim Kardashian – as a unique method for losing weight. It involves the exclusion of carbohydrates from food and getting calories from fatty foods. But before you get involved in fashion trends, you should study the pros and cons of food thoroughly. One of the first steps in this direction was made by scientists from Yale University (USA).

In their study, they analyzed the effects of a ketogenic diet on gamma-delta T cells, which protect tissues, lowering the risk of diabetes and inflammation.

Scientists have found that the keto diet makes the body burn fat. When the blood sugar level drops due to the low carbohydrate content, the body goes into starvation mode – although it does not experience hunger – and begins to burn fats instead of carbohydrates. This process, in turn, leads to the fact that ketone bodies become an alternative source of fuel. When the body burns them, protective gamma-delta T cells spread in the body.

Risks of the diet

Increase of hunger

When you follow a keto diet, you feel hunger. Just increase the number of healthy fats in your diet. Add coconut oil to coffee, try to cook your favorite dishes in the keto version. Do not be afraid to experiment and do not be afraid to eat fats.


In general, dehydration is not a keto diet problem. This is a universal problem. Get used to the fact that you need to drink clean water 1.5-2 liters minimum. Coffee, tea, fruit drinks, and other drinks are solutions, not water. Carbohydrates hold water in the body. Due to their lack of diet, water drains faster. Please keep this in mind and drink as much as possible!

Electrolyte reduction

Sodium and potassium merge with the water. A decrease in the content of these electrolytes in the body can lead to fatigue, headaches, constipation, and convulsions. To get enough potassium, be sure to include avocados and leafy greens, such as spinach, daily in your diet.

Micronutrient deficiencies

Any unbalanced diet leads to a shortage of vitamins and minerals. On keto, a deficiency of the following trace elements may appear:

  • biotin;
  • iodine;
  • potassium;
  • magnesium;
  • sodium;
  • vitamin e;
  • vitamin d.

To avoid this, make sure that your menu is diverse and includes many vegetables, seafood, meat, poultry, fish, eggs. 

Digestion problems

With a decrease in carbohydrates and an increase in fat, people may experience problems with diarrhea. If, instead of fats, the number of protein increases, then instead of diarrhea, constipation can begin. If you have increased the amount of protein in your diet, reduce it. Otherwise, the symptoms will go away after a while.

Potential risks for a specific group of people

Now, after we have dealt with the incoming and outgoing problems that everyone may have when adapting to keto nutrition, I propose to consider the risks groups of people. These are people with chronic diseases or taking medications on an ongoing basis.

Dangerous low glucose level for people with diabetes

There are almost no carbohydrates on the keto diet. This means that people with diabetes should consult a doctor before starting a keto diet. Since the body will adapt to a low-carb diet, the dosage of drugs and treatment plans should be adjusted, and sugar levels must be strictly controlled. If you take extra doses of insulin and do not work with your doctor to make timely changes, you run the risk of getting hypoglycemia (dangerously low blood glucose level).


Ketoacidosis is a very serious problem that can be fatal, but in most cases, it can be prevented. Ketoacidosis occurs when there is a lot of glucose and ketone bodies in the blood at the same time. As a result, symptoms of ketoacidosis appear vomiting, abdominal pain, dehydration, hyperglycemia, hypotension, tachycardia, drowsiness.

Ketoacidosis often occurs when a person does not monitor the level of glucose in the blood. The best strategy is to see a doctor and take diabetes medications if necessary. Thus, against the background of elevated ketones, you will have low glucose levels and you should not be afraid of ketoacidosis. But you should carefully monitor blood counts.

High levels of cholesterol

The keto diet normalizes cholesterol. But there are some cases in which the level of cholesterol will remain abnormal against the background of a keto diet:

Hereditary hypercholesterolemia. In such cases, the purification of blood from cholesterol is difficult. People with hereditary hypercholesterolemia, going on a keto diet, become even more prone to heart disease. To counteract this genetic disorder, it’s best to follow a low to moderate fat diet (almost eliminating saturated fats and focusing on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3s), with plenty of wholes, natural foods, lots of vegetables, rich in fiber.

Why do keto diets have so many potential risks?

A keto diet has so many risks because it is strikingly different from any type of diet that we are used to following. The main reserves of glycogen are depleted on the first day of the beginning of the keto diet. During this period, the body has no carbohydrates, and there is no beta-hydroxybutyrate yet. And here is what happens:

1. Loss of water and minerals. 

Carbohydrates bind water, and insulin helps keep sodium and water in the body. In the early days of the keto diet, water quickly drains, and with its minerals. At this time, it is necessary to consume additional doses of trace elements in order not to experience the symptoms of keto flu.

2. Hormonal changes. 

By limiting carbohydrates, you shift the balance of insulin and glucagon. This causes changes throughout the body, especially regarding the functions of the thyroid gland and adrenal glands. Most people are rebuilding without any problems. But people with thyroid or adrenal dysfunction need to be very careful.

3. Production of ketone bodies. 

Ketones are a highly efficient fuel source. However, in the initial stages, they can have a diuretic effect and ruin our breathing. But it is fixable and disappears after adaptation.

4. Change in lipid profile. 

Cholesterol levels will change. In healthy people, the cholesterol profile will improve. But for some groups of people, increasing the amount of fat is potentially dangerous.

5. Change in blood glucose. 

For healthy people, lowering blood glucose will bring even more health. But for those suffering from diabetes, taking medications that control blood sugar, it is very important to be careful, consult a doctor and resort to the keto diet with caution.

If you are at the risk group, but you can stick to keto and avoid all the negative consequences, you will soon find that a keto diet offers many benefits and has a beneficial effect on your health. After all, there are a lot of stories when a keto diet helped to cope with diabetes, oncology, and epilepsy.

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