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Ketogenic diet is good but its disadvantages will shock you

By Dr. CaissaTangco

Although a ketogenic diet is gaining popularity due to its weight loss effects and other benefits, there have been a few reports on its disadvantages. We present a few of its disadvantages and its misconceptions:

  1. A rather practical disadvantage of the diet is that some people find it hard to sustain it, especially those who regularly attend social functions, attend school, or regularly purchase cooked food in restaurants.

Compared to individuals that follow a ketogenic diet for treatment (as with children with uncontrollable epilepsy) who are forced to do it for survival reasons, those following the diet for weight loss would be more tempted to stray from the diet due to inconvenience. Obviously, this issue can easily be resolved by having more discipline – for example, by preparing packed lunch or dinner for those who attend school or have daily work. Fortunately, there has been an increase in the number of food establishments and catering companies that consider dietary restrictions when planning their menu, so this inconvenience when dining out or attending social functions should be lessened.[1]

  1. Most published studies that focus on the side effects of ketogenic diets involve children with refractory epilepsy, as this diet was first used as treatment for their condition. Studies show that the common early side effects in these children are dehydration and gastrointestinal complications (changes in bowel habits, vomiting).Long term complications include electrolyte imbalance, changes in blood chemistry, and hypoglycemia. Fortunately, these studies have also shown that most of these complications improved with conservative management, and most of those who experienced these effects still continued with the ketogenic diet. Although there have been reports of severe side effects, it should be noted that most of the participants in these studies have significant underlying brain injury, which places them at risk for complications. Most of these studies conclude that in children with uncontrolled epilepsy, most of the side effects of ketogenic diet are transient and can be controlled conservatively, however, considering this set of patients, severe side effects should be monitored closely by experts.[2]


  1. One concern is a ketogenic diet may decrease bone mass and density in the long term. A study done in mice placed on a short-term ketogenic diet revealed a decrease in bone mass density and had negative effects on the mechanical properties of bones.[3] However, we have to consider difference between ketosis and the lifespan of the two different species before definitive conclusions can be made. There have also been reports of decreased bone density in children who sustain a ketogenic diet for a very long time. However, a study on adults with a genetic disorder called GLUT-1 deficiency syndrome, who were maintained on a ketogenic diet for more than 5 years did not show any major negative effects on bone mineral content and density.[4]Moreover, it should be noted that other factors related to obesity –like increased abdominal fat and diabetes also contribute to poor bone health and increased occurrences of fracture; therefore, definitive conclusions on the effect of a ketogenic diet on bone density of these individuals cannot be made.3

  2. Another side effect mentioned in literature is kidney damage. Again, there is conflicting evidence regarding the effect of a ketogenic diet in the kidneys. Most of the studies that report renal damage include subjects that follow very high protein diets. It should be emphasized that a ketogenic diet is not equivalent to a low carbohydrate, high protein diet, in fact, advocates of ketogenic diet recommend a low to normal amount of protein.   It should also be noted that individuals with an underlying kidney disease, including those that have not yet been clinically diagnosed, are more susceptible to metabolic changes in the kidney, and that those with intact kidney function can tolerate high levels of protein in the diet without negative effects.[5] More interestingly, there have been a number of studies that report a reversal of kidney damage in diabetic patients who are put on a ketogenic diet.[6]

A ketogenic diet, similar to other dietary interventions, have advantages and disadvantages. Individuals who have underlying conditions that put them at risk for other diseases are more susceptible to developing side effects associated with dietary changes. The bottom line is that major dietary changes should be made under the proper guidance by experts, even in normal individuals, but most especially in those with pre-existing medical conditions.
Ketogenic diet is good but its disadvantages will shock you Ketogenic diet is good but its disadvantages will shock you Reviewed by Tutorials By Umair on 10:03 AM Rating: 5

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