Keto Diet Side Effects Explained – Causes & Natural Treatments

There is plenty of hype about the ketogenic diet. Some people claim this is the optimal diet to lose weight and stay healthy, while others think it's just another random diet. Based on research, the keto diet can help people with epilepsy, diabetes, arterial hypertension, obesity, heart affections, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, among many others.

However, there are also some keto diet side effects, yet they are irrelevant and less likely to become disturbing. It's worth knowing what to expect once you decide to adopt this diet though.

The Mechanism behind the Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet affects the body in several ways.

At a cellular level, it's worth noting that ketones provide a more efficient burn than actual sugar. Since this is a low carb diet, the amounts of carbs are obviously limited. This process triggers autophagy processes throughout the body, as well as natural anti-inflammatory operations.

Furthermore, the effects of ketones will enhance the mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are some organelles available in most eukaryotic cells. Their main role is to keep the energy production under control at a cellular level. As if all these were not enough, ketones tend to release less reactive oxygen when burned for energy.

When it comes to the overall body, the ketogenic diet will decrease the levels of insulin in the body because of the low amounts of carbs. The body will obviously have to rely on other sources to produce energy and fuel. Therefore, the fat burning process is drastically improved.

But then, are there any problems with keto diet? If yes, how severe are they and what should you expect?

Keto Flu

The keto flu is not real flu, so there isn't much to be concerned about. It's slightly uncomfortable though because the symptoms are similar to the real flu. This side effect might show up in the first few days after ketosis starts. Some of the most popular signs relate to keto diet side effects nausea, headaches, a runny nose or fatigue.

The cause is simple – hypoglycemia. Keeping hypoglycemia under control is a piece of cake and doesn't require any medication.


Keto diet side effects diarrhea is not to be overlooked either. Diarrhea comes with dehydration, so the first step implies drinking a lot of water. This adverse reaction might occur in the first week after taking the diet. Constipation is more common though, yet diarrhea is another reaction to the changes in the microbiome. You change your diet to 180 degrees, so there will be some changes inside your stomach.

Just like keto flu, diarrhea is easy to control by taking a binding agent, such as activated charcoal. This side effect shouldn't last for more than one or two days. When treated, it should be over within the next day.

Bad Breath

While most reactions become history within a few days, some of them will persist over time. From this point of view, keto diet side effects long term include a bad breath. Once you enter the ketosis state, you'll start releasing ketones.

Some of them are released through your breath, hence the unusual smell. Most commonly, ketones will be released through your sweat and urine. You can tell if you have a bad breath because you might also feel a metallic taste.

Top-Notch hygiene is a must. Include mouthwash and perhaps a spray too. Despite being classified as a long-term adverse reaction, the bad breath will disappear within the first month.

Loss of Salts

The fluid balance will be affected as soon as you start this diet. As a direct consequence, you might lose some salts through urine. Fail to tackle this reaction immediately and you might experience keto diet side effects headache and even keto diet side effects sweating.

The loss of salts is sometimes associated with gastrointestinal issues too, like constipation or diarrhea. Again, the solution is pretty simple – keep hydrated. Make sure you get enough salt too, but don't exaggerate. Vegetable broths are ideal at this point, as well as certain fruits, like bananas. Nuts, fish and meat are also rich in natural salts.

Leg Cramps

It's not precisely known whether leg cramps represent a side effect of the ketogenic diet. The truth is that some people have reported it. They are normally benign in nature. They're less likely to cause any trouble, yet you should still keep an eye on them.

Leg cramps are associated with low levels of salt in the blood. The condition is known as hyponatremia. It's an acute condition that won't pose any major problems. Preventing cramps is simple. Have enough salts (the more natural they are, the better) and hydrate yourself round the clock.

Keto Rash

Keto diet side effects rash don't require too much attention unless the problem persists. It can be annoying at times, but it's not dangerous at all. Luckily, it's treatable. Give it time and it should go away within a week or two. If it doesn't, have more carbohydrates for a few days. You'll leave the ketosis state, so the rash should disappear. Once it's gone, lower the carb intake again. If the problem shows up again, it means you might be allergic to ketones.

If the rash is not persistent or embarrassing and you can live with it, then it makes no sense losing the ketosis state.

Sugar Cravings

Just like any other diet, the ketogenic diet will bring in some uncomfortable cravings during the first week. Their cravings will most likely target high sugar foods. This is the optimal test for your willpower. Sugar cravings represent a sign of hypoglycemia too. The brain knows that you need more energy, so it sends you signals. They're perceived as emergency signals – that's how intense your cravings are, even if you consciously know you're fine.

It will take a few days to start producing ketones and enter the ketosis state. At that point, sugar cravings will slowly disappear and this panic calms down.

Low Physical Performance

It takes the body up to a week to adjust to the ketogenic diet and use other sources of fuel and energy. Both the brain and the body will need to learn how to use ketones for survival.

During this first week, you will feel weak. If you go to the gym, your sessions won't be too intense. But once the body gets adapted, you will notice overnight improvements. Your workouts will be even better than when you counted on sugar for energy.

Sleep Issues

A slight disruption in sleep can also occur once you start this diet. It's easy to understand why – the cortisol opposes the function of melatonin. Its levels start fluctuating, so they affect the melatonin, which is usually released overnight.

Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. When stress kicks in, it will affect your sleep too. You're less likely to experience insomnia, but just poor quality sleep for up to a week. The stress hormone will be regulated within the first week, so you'll get back to normal in no time.

Rare Keto Diet Side Effects

The above-mentioned side effects are more common than others, but they're extremely mild. Most people won't even notice them. If they do show up, they'll be associated with a bad day at work or tiredness.

Some other side effects might be more severe, but they're less likely to occur. They're mentioned because dieters should be aware of them, but they'll probably never experience them.

From this point of view, keto diet side effects hair loss might look a bit troubling. This issue is rarely related to the keto diet though. Think about the past year – were there any triggering factors? Giving birth could be one of these issues. If the problem relates to a low carb diet, it's temporary. As long as you get plenty of nutrients, you shouldn't worry.

However, if there's another cause for it, stopping the diet won't stop hair loss as they obviously have nothing to do one with another. It might be a good idea to run some blood tests and observe any potential deficiencies.

On another note, keto diet side effects chest pain might feel a bit dangerous, yet it's not. It's not a popular keto diet adverse reaction, but it might occur. It's not related to your heart, but to your muscles. Like leg cramps, other muscles might be affected too. If you focus on the pain, you'll realize that it's on the outside and not the inside. Stay hydrated and have enough salts.


As a short final conclusion, the ketogenic diet side effects are quite diversified. The good news is that most of them are insignificant and less likely to happen. Even if they do, the truth is they won't bother you too much. Plus, they go away within days only.

The more educated you are, the better you will feel. It's important to know the causes, as well as the simple natural treatments to each of these side effects for your peace of mind.

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