Detailed Overview of Ketosis: Possible Signs, Benefits and Side Effects

Health & Nutrition ,

Detailed Overview of Ketosis: Possible Signs, Benefits and Side Effects

Ketogenic diet and ketosis are among the top trending topics in the wellness industry. A low-carb diet such as keto creates a metabolic state in the body that has numerous beneficial effects. This article provides detailed information about ketosis, its benefits, downsides, and how to transition successfully.

What is ketosis?

 It is a natural metabolic state in which the body uses ketones and fat as its main source of fuel instead of glucose i.e. sugar. Ketosis provides the body with an alternative source of energy. This state usually occurs when the dieter decides to replace their high carb intake with healthier fats and moderate amounts of quality protein.

Signs that You Are In Ketosis

When the body is in a state of ketosis, there are many biological adaptations that occur. The liver starts to produce fuel which is used by the body and the brain as the main source of energy. Common signs that indicate you are in ketosis include:

  • Bad breath with a fruity smell
  • Significant weight loss within a short period of time
  • Increased production of blood ketones
  • Digestive issues
  • High amounts of ketones in breath and urine
  • Reduced food cravings and long-lasting feeling of satiety
  • Increased energy levels
  • A short-term decrease in performance
  • Short-term fatigue
  • Improved mental focus

Benefits of Ketosis

Is ketosis healthy? Yes. This metabolic state has a lot of health benefits. Using a low-carb diet will force your liver to produce ketones which reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Besides that, it’s believed that ketones play a crucial role in reducing the severity or the development of many chronic diseases. Some of the potential nutritional benefits of ketosis include:

Weight Loss

Ketosis makes people eat less. The restricted intake of carbs in addition to a high intake of fat and moderate protein increase satiety, reduce the level of blood insulin, and promote faster fat burning all of which lead to significant weight loss. Because of all these factors, it’s not surprising that the keto diet can outperform most weight loss diets.

Appetite Control

One of the first signs that you will notice once your body attains ketosis is reduced food cravings. Ketosis is a metabolic state that induces appetite regulation. It reduces the production of hunger hormones, reducing your chances of unnecessary food cravings.

Improved Athletic Performance

This metabolic process has the ability to potentially enhance athletic performance. The ketones are responsible for supplying the body with long-lasting fuel which promotes sustenance during recreational and intense athletic activities.

Seizure Management

Medical reports have shown that the keto diet can help to manage seizures, especially in children. It has some familiar similarities to the Atkins Diet which has also proven to be effective in controlling seizures in both kids and adults.

Diabetes and Prediabetes Treatment

Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes can be managed by ketosis. The metabolic state is responsible for normalizing high blood sugar and controlling insulin response all of which are associated with these two conditions. However, diabetics should continue using prescribed medications even when they are on this diet because ketosis only helps to control the blood sugar and insulin levels.

Side Effects of Ketosis

Is ketosis dangerous? No. But are there side effects that you can experience? Well, this diet is just like any other hence it has some downsides. It takes some days before the body can fully adapt to using fat instead of carbs as the main source of fuel. Possible ketosis side effects include:

Digestive Issues

Dietary changes are bound to affect normal digestive functions. So, introducing a keto diet to your body can cause digestive problems such as constipation and diarrhea. This is mainly due to the lack of fiber in the diet which forms the bulk of food and supports regular bowel movements. Dieters who make drastic dietary changes are usually the ones who experience severe digestive symptoms. Nevertheless, these issues usually disappear after a few weeks.

Increased Heart Rate

There are some people who have experienced an elevated heart rate as a result of ketosis. The increased heart rate which is also known as the racing heart or heart palpitations often occurs during the first few days of using the keto diet. Research shows that this normally occurs as a result of dehydration and loss of electrolytes. Apart from that, elevated heart rate may also be caused by taking many caffeinated drinks. However, this problem can be stopped if you eat more carbs and drink lots of water.

Halitosis

Bad breath is one of the most common side effects of ketosis. It’s normally characterized by a fruity and slightly sweet smell which resembles the nail varnish remover. Halitosis is caused by high amounts of acetones, which is a byproduct of metabolized fats.

When the blood has high levels of acetone, the body will try to get rid of it and that’s why some are eliminated via breath. Apart from that, it can be eliminated via urine or sweat. Halitosis is an annoying condition that may greatly affect your social life. The distinct smell has a pungent odor that can put other people off. However, this bad breath will also go away after a few days or a couple of weeks.

Leg and Muscle Cramps

In some people, ketosis may result in leg and muscle cramps. Although these two conditions may be termed as minor issues, they can make you feel miserable. They are unpleasant and can restrict your physical movements. Leg and muscle cramps are associated with loss of water and minerals. This is because ketosis usually forces the body to flush out the excess water weight that’s responsible for obesity.

Besides that, glycogen, a type of glucose that’s found in the liver and muscles normally binds water. So, when the glycogen content in the body is reduced and not replenished, the muscles end up without water which causes a functionality strain.

Other Side Effects of Ketosis

They are less common but some people may end up experiencing them. These side effects are normally experienced by people who have underlying health issues, breastfeeding mums, expectant women, and children with epilepsy. They include:

  • Kidney stones: as much as it’s very uncommon, kidney stones may affect epileptic children who are on a keto diet.
  • Ketoacidosis: there are a couple of reports that link ketoacidosis to ketosis. Ketoacidosis is a serious health condition that occurs if the diabetes is uncontrolled. This is however very common in breastfeeding women who are using very low-carb diets.
  • High blood cholesterol: some people may experience an increase in the level of blood cholesterol, especially the low-density lipoprotein which has serious health effects and can increase your risk of developing heart disease.

How to Minimize Potential Side Effects

The side effects of ketosis are often experienced during the initial phase of using the keto diet. They can be mild or severe depending on the number of carbs that you have eliminated from your diet. Furthermore, genetics also plays a crucial role in determining how you will experience these side effects. Effective techniques which you can use to minimize the potential side effects of ketosis include:

  • Hydrating: if you are aware that you’re in ketosis, drink plenty of water. Make it a habit to drink at least 2 liters of water every day. So much water is usually lost during the onset of ketosis through frequent urination. Taking more water is important as it helps to prevent dehydration and other symptoms that are caused by loss of water in the body.
  • Increasing your mineral intake: leg and muscle cramps, headaches, and migraines which occur during ketosis can be combated by taking foods which have high amounts of minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
  • Take more salt: sodium is a vital electrolyte that is normally excreted in large amounts during ketosis. To replenish its reserves, you need to increase your intake of salt by adding it to soups, keto-friendly foods, and drinks.
  • Eat more fiber: there are various leafy greens and fruits which have low amounts of carbs e.g. spinach, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale, nuts, seeds, and berries that help to promote the digestive health. Consume them in moderate quantities in order to minimize the possibility of you developing digestive complications.
  • Avoid intense physical activities: if your body is in ketosis, don’t push yourself so hard. If you must exercise, ensure that it’s only moderate during the first couple of weeks.
  • Gradually introduce a low-carb diet first: drastically cutting down your carb intake can increase the potential and severity of ketosis side effects. To ease the transition process, try to gradually introduce a low-carb diet to your body. This will give it ample time to prepare and adapt to the new dietary changes.

Final Thought

Ketosis is a metabolic state that has a lot of health benefits. When it’s done correctly, you may end up experiencing long-term weight loss and reduced chances of developing chronic diseases. And although there’s a high likelihood of developing the keto flu which may result in various side effects, it’s usually a manageable condition that lasts for a few days only.

Sources

  • https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/ketosis
  • https://charliefoundation.org/diet-plans/
  • https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/ketogenic-diet/
  • https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00108524

 

 

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