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Side effects of the ketogenic diet
People adhere to a wide variety of diets in order to live healthier or lose weight. However, some of these diets have certain health problems. When people switch to a ketogenic diet, for example, various flu-like symptoms can occur in the first few weeks.
A recent study by the University of Tasmania found that ketogenic diets can lead to flu-like symptoms within the first few weeks. The results of the study were published in the English language journal "Frontiers in Nutrition".
Flu-like symptoms from ketogenic diet
A change in diet should contribute to health benefits. With a ketogenic diet, however, various flu-like symptoms appear in the first days of the change in diet. These symptoms peak in the first seven days and subside after about four weeks, according to the latest study. The severity of symptoms appears to vary.
Goals of ketogenic dietary change
A ketogenic diet is often consumed to promote weight loss, improved cognition, and better memory. Sometimes people try to protect themselves from cancer or type II diabetes with such a diet. However, this form of diet can cause side effects that are often discussed, sometimes referred to as keto flu.
Information from 101 people was analyzed
For their study on this topic, the researchers evaluated the information of 101 people from 42 online forums about keto flu, such as symptoms, severity and time course of the side effects.
Why did the evaluated data come from social media?
The researchers focused on social media because discussions about health issues are widespread here. In this way, the experiences of people who have already tried a ketogenic diet can be evaluated. The current study uses posts from online forums and analyzed their content to gain new insights into the side effects of ketogenic nutrition.
What side effects did you experience?
Consistent with previous medical research, various reports of headache, difficulty concentrating, and gastrointestinal upset after adopting a ketogenic diet were identified. In addition, they show other common symptoms such as tiredness, nausea, dizziness, lack of energy, fainting and changes in the heartbeat. Often there was more than one symptom, with the degrees of severity differing.
When did the side effects decrease?
The results of this study confirm the sudden onset of symptoms that peak in the first week and decrease after four weeks. If the symptoms manifested, they usually disappeared within a little over two weeks.
Limitations of the study
The results of this study were limited to conversational threads in online forums, so there was no corroborating evidence that ketone levels were elevated. Likewise, people's experiences in online forums may not be representative of the larger pool of people who adhere to a ketogenic diet. Nevertheless, the identified symptom patterns can provide important clues for future survey-based approaches, the researchers explain. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Emmanuelle C. S. Bostock, Kenneth C. Kirkby, Bruce V. Taylor, Jason A. Hawrelak: Consumer Reports of “Keto Flu” Associated With the Ketogenic Diet, in Frontiers in Nutrition (Published 3/13/2020), Frontiers in Nutrition