Tackling the Side-Effects of the Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet doesn’t simply promote rapid and healthy weight-loss. When followed as intended, this diet causes the body to enter a new metabolic state that’s known as ketosis. It’s reasonable to expect that there will be an adjustment period before one’s body is completely accustomed to this new metabolic condition. During this time, some of the side-effects can be pretty inconvenient and downright uncomfortable. Fortunately, they are both normal and temporary. You can also take specific actions to minimize the discomfort while your body adjusts to its ketogenic state.

Keto Flu

Flulike symptoms can make themselves known in the first weeks after starting the ketogenic diet. Fatigue, irritability, muscle aches, nausea and other symptoms of the flu may appear and then last for anywhere between a few days to three weeks or more. This is caused by the loss of water and salt in your body that is characteristic of the beginning stages of the ketogenic diet.

Hydration is essential to combating this temporary ill feeling and electrolyte supplements can also play a substantial part in minimizing the discomfort. Usually keto flu symptoms will go away on their own with no additional intervention.

Keto Breath

While this side-effect may not make you feel sick, most people don’t like having bad-smelling breath. Acetone is a ketone that’s produced when the body begins burning fat as an energy source. It has a very strong smell not unlike nail polish remover. The increase of acetone in your body can result in strange or fruity-smelling breath or urine.

There are no special steps to take to fight keto breath that you wouldn’t take to banish typical bad breath. Sugar-free gums and mints are helpful, as is hydration and ensuring that you practice good oral hygiene.

Constipation and Diarrhea on the Ketogenic Diet

Gastrointestinal discomfort can come with the territory as the body transitions into a state of ketosis. The low fiber content of the ketogenic diet can lead to constipation, whereas a drastic reduction in fat intake (along with the reduction of carb intake) contributes to diarrhea.

To avoid constipation, make sure to eat fiber-rich vegetables frequently as a part of your meal plan. At the same time, you should increase the amount of water and salt that you consume.

Diarrhea can easily be avoided on keto as long as you do not attempt to drastically reduce the amount of fat that you eat. Your body needs dietary fat to thrive on the ketogenic diet.


The side-effects of transitioning into ketosis can make it difficult to get lasting, restful sleep in the first few weeks. This is common and is often attributed to the bloating that many dieters experience as they change their diets and get accustomed to a new way of eating. There are numerous things that you can do to help yourself find better sleep, including:

  • Making sure that your electrolytes are balanced
  • Having dinner long before bedtime, as going to bed with a full stomach can cause discomfort that leads to sleeplessness
  • Minimizing screen time at bedtime
  • Creating a sleep schedule and sticking to it
  • Avoiding caffeine after 3 o’clock in the afternoon

Sometimes these side-effects will occur no matter how much you try to ward them off. The fact of the matter is that your body will be adjusting to a whole new way of processing, so some adaptation is necessary. This comes with some inherent growing pains but remind yourself that these symptoms are normal and temporary. You will get through it and you’ll be glad that you stuck with the ketogenic diet.