Ketosis Symptoms: What Should You Expect?
Ketosis is a state that people seem to be striving for in the fitness community these days. How can you tell when you’re in ketosis? What are the ketosis symptoms you should expect when you get there?
You’ve likely heard of the ketogenic diet. Maybe you even know someone that has tried it. And right now, the keto diet is the “it” diet. Celebrities rave about it. Many individuals are utilizing it.
But what is happening on a physiological level? And what does ‘ketosis’ actually mean?
Very simply, the keto diet puts your body into a state of ketosis. The diet consists of a high-fat and protein diet with a very low carbohydrate intake. In a state of ketosis, instead of using glucose (carbohydrates) for fuel, your body uses ketone bodies, which means your body is in a catabolic state.
With a lack of glucose, stored fat is broken down by the body into fatty acids. The liver then uses these fatty acids to make ketones – which the body then uses for energy.
How can you tell if your body is using ketones for fuel? Various ketosis symptoms arise indicating whether or not you are in ketosis. Let’s take a closer look:
A Brief History of the Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet came about as a way to treat children suffering from epilepsy. It offered a treatment method – other than expensive and potentially harmful medication – to help control their seizures. It also proved to be a cheaper option for families. Thus, doctors began recommending it.
Then, it hit the mainstream. Individuals started using it as a way to lose weight. And it works. Various studies have proven this. For instance, a 2013 study concluded that one of the major ketosis symptoms – and possibly benefits – is weight loss. And it further noted an improvement in participants’ cholesterol levels, blood pressure measurements, and glucose and insulin levels.
But wait. You’re probably thinking that sounds great. And it is a great weight loss method, as well as an excellent way to improve your body composition and overall health. However, various cautions – specifically using the diet in the long-term – do exist. It’s crucial that you understand the risks and do it properly so that you don’t experience any negative effects. Keep on reading to find out more!
Ketosis Symptoms: How You Know You’re in Ketosis
Before we dive into the long-term effects, let’s take a look at the basic ketosis symptoms.
You’ve started the keto diet. You’ve been eating high-fat, moderate protein foods, such as beef, pork, coconut oil, nuts, and more. How do you know you’re in ketosis?
The following ketosis symptoms may arise and can help you tell whether you’re in ketosis or not:
- You have bad breath. Acetone is a byproduct of ketosis and it leaves the body through your breath and urine. Consequently, it creates a less than ideal smell! Yet, regular teeth brushing can help! And you can use this as a sign as to whether you are in ketosis or not.
- You’ve lost weight. As mentioned before, weight loss is a key ketosis symptom – especially for those who are overweight. However, even if you aren’t overweight, you may experience initial weight loss due to water loss and fat loss.
- You have a decreased appetite. More studies are needed to explore this ketosis symptom further. But past research shows a link between appetite suppression and ketosis (which, again, is great for weight loss and healthy weight maintenance).
- You feel fatigued – at least at first. As your body switches over into a ketosis state, you may feel weak and tired. Once this initial fatigue passes and your body adapts, you may experience an increase in concentration and energy. Your focus and memory may even improve!
- You have increased ketones in your blood. Various at-home kits exist that allow you to measure your ketone levels. You can also measure your ketones via your breath or your urine.
- You experience increased thirst. Due to water loss, dehydration is a serious side effect of the keto diet. For anyone on the keto diet, it’s important to drink water consistently throughout the day. Don’t let yourself get to the point where physical issues arise from dehydration.
- Your muscles become cramped or begin spasming. This diet creates water and electrolyte imbalances. As a result, you may experience muscle cramps or spasms. Again, replacing water and electrolytes can limit this effect.
- You may experience digestive or stomach issues. This has to do with your body adapting to a new energy source. Thankfully, many people report this easing off over time.
- It may impact your sleep. Some research shows that initially you may have issues sleeping. Yet, other studies showed improvements in individual’s sleep. Overall, you may notice a change in your regular sleeping patterns.
The Long-Term Effects of Ketosis
So what happens when the body stays in a ketosis state? What are the long-term ketosis symptoms?
Research indicates positive short-term effects with a ketogenic diet. Studies also show that a ketogenic diet in the long-term promotes an ideal body composition and a favourable body mass.
However, long-term adverse effects exist as well. Long-term consequences can include liver complications, low protein levels in the blood, kidney stones, and nutritional deficiencies.
There’s been varying evidence regarding liver complications. For instance, one study showed one participant to have liver issues after going on the keto diet. Yet, it may depend on the person’s condition before going on the diet. Some individuals may be more prone to complications with the liver. More research is needed on this ketosis symptom.
One very common long-term ketosis symptom involves nutritional deficiencies. The diet limits the types of food you can eat. As such, you must get certain vitamins and minerals via other foods. If you plan on going on the ketogenic diet, it’s important to be aware of what sources of food you need to eat to get all the nutrients your body needs. Kidney issues, like kidney stones, may happen as well. And there has been varying evidence indicating the body’s use of muscle mass as energy when glucose is not present. Yet, this shouldn’t occur if you are properly fuelling your body via the correct nutrients.
The keto diet has further been associated with higher levels of LDL, or ‘bad,’ cholesterol. This is primarily due to the high saturation fat content in a keto diet. In turn, it may promote heart disease and other cardiovascular issues. Again, monitoring your diet can help lesson this effect.
Lastly, a person may experience serious mood swings. The brain functions best on glucose. And a low-carb diet may cause severe ups and downs. If you’re prone to mental health issues, it’s likely best to avoid this type of diet or ensure you are monitoring it very closely.
But there are ways you can limit the long-term effects. For instance, you can monitor your nutritional intake to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need. You can book an appointment with your doctor before switching your diet to make sure that you aren’t at a serious risk of any ill health effects. These long-term effects aren’t the end all, be all. There’s been many celebrities and individuals who have been on the ketogenic diet for years – with no negative repercussions.
So Should Your or Shouldn’t You?
Many experts agree that the keto diet has numerous benefits. The weight loss benefit is the #1 reason many people go on it. In turn, maintaining a healthy weight may reduce your chances of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and more.
Yet before you venture on any major diet change, it’s important to check with your doctor. They can discuss your options with you. And they can further determine if the ketogenic diet is right for you and your health. It could potentially be the answer you’ve been looking for!
Check out our keto chocolate recipe while you’re here!