All the Negative Side Effects of the Keto Diet

The keto diet has recently gained popularity, especially with several stars claiming the diet works wonders for their health and physique. And while there are a lot of healthy foods incorporated into the keto diet, those who have tried the diet have reported some pretty negative side effects.

The keto diet is a diet that’s very low in carbohydrates, high in fat, and fairly moderate in protein. Any change in diet can result in bodily changes, both good and bad, but here’s what you should be wary of if you’ve been considering going keto.

Vegan protein sources

The keto diet is low in carbs, high in fat, and moderate in protein. | Rimma_Bondarenko/Getty Images

The keto flu

The keto flu typically comes in the beginning stages of starting on the keto diet. Since you’re putting different foods into your body, the body needs time to adjust to a new food plan. Your body needs carbohydrates in order to have energy. When you eat a very low-carb diet, the body then starts to burn ketones, the byproducts of fat breakdown, instead of carbs (hence the name “ketogenic”). When that happens, your body needs to adjust to this new method, and you might feel symptoms similar to the flu. The switch catches the body off guard, and it may feel sick until it can regulate itself and adapt to the new process. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, constipation, muscle cramps, headache, and weakness, among others.

Keto diarrhea

One of the typical symptoms of starting a keto diet is nausea and vomiting, but with stomach problems often comes diarrhea, too. “Keto diarrhea” is real, and it can actually be a problem. According to, the keto diet’s high fat intake is responsible for the uncomfortable diarrhea you might experience. The body isn’t very good at digesting fat, so when it’s forced to do so, it often comes out in the form of diarrhea. You might think diarrhea is another symptom of the keto flu, but there is actually a separate reason for it.

Low libido

Since you’re eating fewer carbohydrates on the keto diet, your body has less energy — and ultimately a lower sex drive. But besides the low energy, switching your diet to the low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein routine can also lead to changes in your hormone balance, according to The Independent. Too few carbohydrates can mess with your thyroid, which is responsible for regulating hormones throughout the body. Therefore, you’re not really in the mood for sex. Plus, when you first start the diet, you generally won’t feel too well, which can also lead to not wanting to do anything that requires much energy.

Kidney and heart damage

According to WebMD, the keto diet can raise cholesterol. Too much cholesterol can eventually lead to serious heart problems including heart disease, heart attack, and heart failure. It’s important to watch that you don’t eat too many fatty cuts of meat or fish while trying to incorporate more protein into your diet. More protein can also mean more calcium, and too much calcium can lead to kidney stones. Plus, too much protein can do damage to those who already have kidney problems, since it makes the kidneys work harder to process your food and can negatively affect kidney function.

The keto diet isn’t for everyone. If you’re considering starting it, discuss the positives and negatives with your doctor first to make sure it’s a beneficial decision.

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