Ketogenic diets are all the rage these days, with many advocates. Followers report improved body composition, increased energy, and improved focus. The reality of these benefits is subject to debate, but that is a topic for another article.

At the end of the day, there are a lot of people who enjoy following the ketogenic diet, and have seen some successes with it, this is all that matters.

Side Effects

However good a diet is though, there are usually some side effects, and the more complicated a diet is (and a ketogenic diet is complicated) the more severe the side effects can be.

In this article we will look at several of the most common side effects of entering ketosis (the period where your body produces ketones as a replacement for glycogen).

Avoid Unpleasant Surprises

This advice will help you to avoid any unpleasant surprises, and mitigate the effects that you are suffering from. Leading to a much smoother ride, and everyone knows that a pleasant diet is one that is much more likely to be continued.

So let’s take a look at some common side effects of ketogenic diets.

Common Side Effect Number One: Dehydration

For some reason the idea that you might be dehydrated turned from something that nobody cared about to one of the MOST IMPORTANT THINGS EVER in the space of a few years.

These days, most experts say that being dehydrated is not dangerous, and you can easily tell when you are dehydrated (you become thirsty).

Breaking Down Glycogen

A ketogenic diet can initially lead to dehydration, this is because your body spends time breaking down stored glycogen (which releases stored water in a 3:1 ratio).

Many Bathroom Breaks

Because of this you will end up going to the toilet a lot more than usual, which can lead to a lot of lost water and therefore dehydration. Incidentally this lost water is the reason why people tend to lose weight very quickly on a ketogenic diet. They are dehydrated!

The solution is pretty simple … just drink slightly more water to compensate. This will prevent dehydration and after a couple of days your body will be back to normal.

Common Side Effect Number Two: Dizziness

With all of that water being lost from the body it is probably not a surprise that you might suffer from dizziness. But it is more due to the loss of potassium and sodium.

The way to solve this? Consume foods that are high in potassium, and foods that are higher in sodium.

Source of Potassium

So considering that you are on a ketogenic diet you’ll have to be careful about where you are getting these from (you can’t eat fruit). Avocados, and leafy greens are excellent sources of potassium, while bacon is a great source of sodium (and the perfect ketogenic food too).

Common Side Effect Number Three: Hunger

Any diet should lead to hunger, that’s obvious. But there is something about removing carbs (almost) completely from your diet that leads to serious hunger pangs.

The type that can lead to you smashing in the doors of the nearest Burger King and making a fool of yourself. So managing hunger pangs is very important.

Managing Hunger

One method is to sleep better. Studies have shown that improving sleep can help reduce hunger by regulating Leptin and Ghrelin levels.

Decaffeinated Coffee

Increasing protein is another way to increase satiety (feeling full after a meal) [2], but if you’re on a ketogenic diet you should have this covered anyway. Perhaps the most surprising trick that you can do is to drink decaffeinated coffee, or a stimulant-free fat burner supplement.

Increase Satiety & Prevent Hunger

A 2012 study by Greenberg & Gelebter found that decaffeinated coffee stimulated Peptide YY a hormone that can increase satiety and prevent hunger pangs. Taken black with no sugar, a decaffeinated coffee will be less than 5 calories too, so perfect for a diet.

Bottom Line

A ketogenic diet may have some side effects, but so does any diet. These side effects should not put you off attempting it.

Just remember that the ketogenic diet is not for everyone.

Assess Your Tolerance

When using exogenous ketones such as bhb salts, be sure to assess your tolerance.

If you love carbs and protein, and don’t enjoy high fat foods then there are other diets that you can follow instead. But if you are determined to try keto, then following these tips will help ensure a smooth ride.

Related: Ketogenic Dieting 101 – A Simple Guide


[1] Taheri, S., Lin, L., Austin, D., Young, T., Mignot, E. 2004. Short sleep duration is associated with reduced Leptin, elevated Ghrelin, and increased body mass index.PLoS1(3): e62 (link)

[2] Halton, T., Hu, F. 2004. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition23(5): 373-85 (link)

[3] Greenberg, J., Geliebter, A. 2012. Coffee, hunger, and peptide YY. Journal of the American College of Nutrition31(3): 160-6 (link)


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