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Excited about starting keto? A word of caution. An unsupervised keto diet can do you more harm than good.
While the basic tenets of how keto works remain the same, how each individual responds to this dietary shift can vary. Also, if you have any of the following pre-existing conditions, you need to adopt a scientific and extra cautious approach.
If you have uncontrolled Type 1 even type 2 diabetes, building-up of ketones can have very severe repercussions. People with diabetes can develop diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) when their insulin levels fall short when they are sick or dehydrated. Also, some food groups known to benefit people with diabetes, such as whole grains, are ruled out in keto. The ketone build-up can make the blood too acidic, damaging the liver, kidneys, and brain. It could lead to coma or even death. Always seek medical advice before you consider this dietary shift, and arrange to continually monitor your blood sugar, insulin levels, medication dosages, and ketone levels.
While there is a lack of research in this area on pregnant women, overall, expert opinion veers towards the negative. While keto may help a woman who wants to shed weight if it is necessary to become pregnant, a mother-to-be should not go on a keto diet. Animal studies have shown a keto diet during pregnancy to lead to organ dysfunction in the offspring and potential behavioral changes later in life. A growing baby needs glucose, and a lack of it will curb the proper development of the foetus. Pregnant women with gestational diabetes can seek medical advice on balancing their carb, protein, and vegetable intake to keep their blood sugar levels stable.
In addition, there are several other fallouts of an unsupervised keto diet:
Falling off the keto wagon:
The inherent non-sustainability of a keto diet can lead to occasional binge-eating and on-and-off diet adherence. Find a nutritionist who will not only create your diet plan but will help you go the distance. You could also join keto support groups.
Consumption of more fat can lead to loss of muscle mass, leading to a Catch-22 situation. If you happen to stop a keto diet, you will regain the weight. Plus, you now have less muscle mass to help you burn the calories you consume. This will adversely impact your resting metabolic rate and have long-term repercussions.
Kidney stones and gout:
Overconsumption of protein is the culprit here. Excessive ketones can lead to increased uric acid levels and calcium oxalate stone formation. This can be offset by alkalizing the body through good sources of potassium citrate such as lemon juice, avocado, or leafy green vegetables. Overconsumption of red meat or processed meats can lead to gout, a painful variety of arthritis.
Dehydration and the “keto flu”:
This is not an actual variety of the flu. Severely limiting carbs all of a sudden can deplete the water levels in the body and change your gut bacterial composition. Rapid carb withdrawal can make you irritable, tired, dizzy, nauseous, and affect your sleep pattern. You may experience constipation, diarrhoea, or both. Your muscles may feel sore or weak. Follow a well-monitored shift into ketosis and remember to drink plenty of water and electrolytes to offset these symptoms.