The ketogenic diet is not a benign, holistic, or natural treatment for epilepsy; as with any serious medical therapy, complications may result. These are generally less severe and less frequent than with anticonvulsant medication or surgery. Common but easily treatable short-term side effects include constipation, low-grade acidosis, and hypoglycaemia if an initial fast is undertaken. Raised levels of lipids in the blood affect up to 60% of children and cholesterol levels may increase by around 30%. This can be treated by changes to the fat content of the diet, such as from saturated fats towards polyunsaturated fats, and if persistent, by lowering the ketogenic ratio. Supplements are necessary to counter the dietary deficiency of many micronutrients.
The same goes for people with type 2 diabetes. While some preliminary research suggests the keto diet may be safe and effective for certain people with type 2 diabetes, there’s still the risk for low blood sugar, especially for those on insulin, and the keto diet omits certain food groups known to benefit those with this disease. For example, a study published in September 2016 in the journal Nutrients highlights the importance of whole grains for helping to control weight as well as episodes of high blood sugar. Whole grains are off-limits on the ketogenic diet.
Here’s what we do know: The keto diet may be useful in treating symptoms of epilepsy, a seizure disorder. “The use of keto in treating epilepsy has the most evidence,” Angelone says. One study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine, for example, followed epileptic patients on the keto diet and found that 36 percent of them had a 50 percent reduction in seizures after three months on the diet, and 16 percent were seizure-free. However, experts aren't entirely sure why the keto diet has this affect, she adds.
Ketosis is a nutritional process characterised by serum concentrations of ketone bodies over 0.5 mM, with low and stable levels of insulin and blood glucose. It is almost always generalized with hyperketonemia, that is, an elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood throughout the body. Ketone bodies are formed by ketogenesis when liver glycogen stores are depleted (or from metabolising medium-chain triglycerides). Ketones can also be consumed in exogenous ketone foods and supplements.
Long-term disruption of menstruation can bring on serious side effects, including low bone density. “This is because estrogen is very important to bone health,” says Yawitz. “Studies have also found prolonged menstrual irregularity to increase risk for cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, and sexual dysfunction. It’s important to contact your ob-gyn if your cycles become irregular or if you stop having periods.”
My question is, does the benefit to using KetoCaNa only extend to significant decreases in oxygen demand/ increases in physical performance/ heightened mental acuity/cognitive performance.? Of course, these are all great benefits, but if I were to use KetoCaNa as a pre-workout, is it going to impair my endogenous ketone production? I usually train fasted with a strong black coffee and L-Carnitine.
“Suddenly and drastically reducing carbohydrates sets your body up for a double whammy of sorts,” says Yawitz. “The brain’s favorite fuel is glucose, which is most easily created from carbohydrates. In very-low-carb diets, the brain has to adjust to using ketones from digested fats for energy. To add to this discomfort, your kidneys release more electrolytes as insulin levels fall.” Additionally, your total body water decreases as carbohydrates become depleted on a keto diet, notes Clark. The result? What’s known as the keto flu, which could cause constipation, nausea, headache, fatigue, irritability, cramps, and other symptoms. Don’t fret, though: Many of these symptoms are short term and should last only a few days to weeks. Make sure to drink plenty of water to help your body cope with these symptoms. And call your doctor if symptoms — especially nausea — are prolonged, advises Yawitz.
I’m not sure if I really understand the idea of exogenous Ketones putting ones body into a state of KETOSIS, in that their own fat cells will be burned for fuel. Won’t the body just use the exogenous ketones and energy and continue to use glucose sources as well? How does taking ketones, make the body burn it’s own fat stores? I always thought that one would have to be in a state of energy deprivation for the body to actually begin to use the TG in the fat cells to generate ATP. Please let me know what I’m missing…
Other causes of diarrhea on the keto diet include consuming a diet low in fiber (fiber helps ward off diarrhea by bulking up stool) and eating processed low-carb foods like shakes and bars that may contain sugar alcohols. These sugar alcohols can ferment in the gut and cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Yawitz suggests limiting foods labeled “sugar free” if you’re prone to gas or diarrhea when you eat them. And you may want to gradually adjust your carbs downward and your fats upward. “Also build your diet around [naturally] high-fiber, low-carb foods like avocado and nonstarchy vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus,” she says. Other keto-friendly ways to get more fiber include chia seeds, almonds, and coconut.
Your glycogen stores can still be refilled while on a ketogenic diet. A keto diet is an excellent way to build muscle, but protein intake is crucial here. It’s suggested that if you are looking to gain mass, you should be taking in about 1.0 – 1.2g protein per lean pound of body mass. Putting muscle on may be slower on a ketogenic diet, but that’s because your total body fat is not increasing as much.5Note that in the beginning of a ketogenic diet, both endurance athletes and obese individuals see a physical performance for the first week of transition.
Amazing article – gonna have to print it and read it again. To much to break down in one sitting. Thanks Ben – you’ve pulled together so much insight and references that’s given me greater confidence and conviction. I’m 50 and use to be super active and a seasoned athlete but after a few ‘mid life surgical interventions’ I had to find a better way… Ketogenics has been that for me… no more inflammation… I can’t tell you how great it’s been to be pain free! Keep leading from the front.
^ Freeman JM, Vining EP, Pillas DJ, Pyzik PL, Casey JC, Kelly LM. The efficacy of the ketogenic diet—1998: a prospective evaluation of intervention in 150 children. Pediatrics. 1998 Dec;102(6):1358–63. doi:10.1542/peds.102.6.1358. PMID 9832569. https://web.archive.org/web/20040629224858/http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/press/1998/DECEMBER/981207.HTM Lay summary]—JHMI Office of Communications and Public Affairs. Updated 7 December 1998. Cited 6 March 2008.