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Understanding the Benefits & Side Effects of the Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet is becoming increasingly popular among those looking to lose weight, but it is important to understand what it is and what it is used for before embarking on this weight loss journey. The diet consists of eating high-fat, low-carbohydrate foods to enter a state of ketosis, in which the body burns fat for fuel instead of sugar. To achieve this, carbohydrate intake must be kept to a minimum, usually under 50 grams per day.[0] This restricts the types of foods that can be eaten and eliminates grains, starches, beans, legumes, sugary foods, root vegetables, low fat/diet products, some condiments and sauces, unhealthy fats, alcohol, and sugar-free diet foods.[1] Foods that are encouraged include meats, fatty fish, eggs, cheese, nuts and seeds, healthy oils, avocados, low carb vegetables, and spices.

When starting a keto diet, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects, such as the “keto flu”. The keto flu is a set of symptoms that appear 2-7 days after starting the diet, including headaches, fatigue, foggy brain, constipation, and difficulty sleeping.[2] This is because the body is transitioning from relying on sugar to eliminating sugar, and losing glycogen molecules that were used to store sugar.[3] Symptoms generally get better when proteins and enzymes are made to use more fat for energy.[3] Additionally, diarrhea is also a common side effect of the keto diet due to a lack of fibre in the diet, and can last anywhere from a few weeks to a month.[2]

The ketogenic diet can be effective for those looking to lose weight but it is important to understand the potential side effects before beginning and to consult a doctor before making any drastic changes to one’s diet.

0. “Ketogenic diet: is it really suitable for everyday life?” Emergency Live International, 8 Feb. 2023,

1. “KETO: Effective or Harmful?” Her Campus, 8 Feb. 2023,

2. “Weight loss: Side effects of keto you probably haven't heard of”, 8 Feb. 2023,

3. “Study shows that keto diet boosts size and strength of aging muscles, improves brain health” UC Davis Health, 7 Feb. 2023,

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