- Here Are the Worst Side Effects of the Keto Diet
- Get ready for the keto flu
- Kidney and heart damage
- Yo-yo dieting patterns
- Other impacts
- Nutritional concerns
- Is the keto diet for everyone?
- Is the Keto Diet Safe? Find out about Ketosis Side Effects
- Avoiding Ketosis Side Effects
- The Bottom Line
- What is keto flu and how to avoid it?
- What is keto flu?
- 3 Simple tips to avoid keto flu!
- How to treat keto flu?
- What can we learn from the keto flu?
- How do you deal with keto flu?
- Why the Keto Flu Happens and How to Manage the Symptoms
- What the Keto Flu Is and What Causes These Unpleasant Symptoms
- Groups Who May Be Harmed by the Effects of the Keto Diet
- Tips for Managing Symptoms of the Keto Flu and Following the Ketogenic Diet Safely
- A Final Word on What to Expect From the Keto Flu on the Ketogenic Diet
- Light Headedness, Short of Breath & Dizzy 2 Months In
- Starting a low-carb or keto diet with high blood pressure
- How to Do Keto with High Blood Pressure
- How to do keto with high blood pressure
- What is Ketotarian?
- What is Blood Pressure?
- What Does Healthy Blood Pressure Look Like?
- How to Measure Blood Pressure
- 7 Causes of High Blood Pressure
- 5 Ways To Manage High Blood Pressure
- Low-Carb and Keto Diets for Healthy Blood Pressure
- The Takeaway: Is a Keto Diet Good For Your Blood Pressure?
Here Are the Worst Side Effects of the Keto Diet
It seems like everyone is praising the keto diet these days. But if you’re considering this diet, you’ll probably want to know about the side effects before you decide if it’s right for you.
The keto diet requires adhering to an extremely low-carb, high-fat diet in order to put your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. This makes your body more efficient at burning fat.
In recent weeks, the keto diet has been in the news because some experts say it can cause changes in libido.
“The ketogenic diet can definitely result in a drop in libido when starting the diet, as the dieter will be experiencing symptoms of carb withdrawal and potentially the keto flu,” noted Dr. Nancy P. Rahnama, a bariatric and internal medicine doctor based in California.
“Once the withdrawal and flu-like symptoms have passed, and the dieter has adapted to the lower-carb lifestyle, the libido will most likely reset and potentially be better than prior as a result of weight loss from the diet,” she said.
While the libido warning got a lot of notoriety in the media, actual research confirming this side effect was hard to come by.
“Overall, ketogenic research is limited,” said Stephanie McKercher, a Colorado-based registered dietitian and recipe developer at The Grateful Grazer. “We need more studies to fully understand all of the potential adverse effects of this diet.”
She pointed out that the diet was originally developed for a medical purpose to aid people with epilepsy.
However, there are some side effects, that are well known and that any aspiring keto dieter can get ready for.
Get ready for the keto flu
Most people already know about the keto flu, which can happen when you start the diet. It’s a result of the body adapting to the low-carb state. Lowering carb intake forces the body to burn ketones for energy instead of glucose. Once the body is in ketosis — burning fat instead of glucose — the keto diet is working. But you may not feel so great at first, hence the term keto flu.
Symptoms of the keto flu can include everything from headache, weakness, and irritability, to constipation, nausea, and vomiting.
“With the start of the keto diet, the body switches from using sugar as a source of energy to using the body’s stored fat,” Rahnama explained. “In the process of breaking down fat, the body produces ketones, which are then removed by the body through frequent and increased urination. This may lead to dehydration and flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, dizziness, irritability, nausea, and muscle soreness.”
“With this frequent urination, there is also the inevitable loss of electrolytes, which can exacerbate these symptoms. In addition, as carbohydrates are a source of energy and stimulation, removal of this source of energy will result in increased sugar cravings, brain fog, difficulty concentrating, much like most other withdrawal symptoms.”
For most people, the keto flu only lasts about a week.
Kidney and heart damage
Because the body can be low on electrolytes and fluid on top of the increased urination, that can lead to a loss of electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium, and potassium. This can make people prone to acute kidney injury.
“Dehydration is serious and may result in lightheadedness, kidney injury, or kidney stones,” she said.
This may put the dieter at risk of a cardiac arrhythmia, as electrolytes are necessary for the normal beating of the heart, Rahnama added.
“Electrolyte deficiencies are serious and may results in an irregular heartbeat, which can be deadly,” she added.
Yo-yo dieting patterns
The keto diet can also lead to yo-yo dieting, because people have difficulty staying on the restrictive diet permanently.
That can have other negative effects on the body.
There are few long-term studies on the keto diet, which may be because it’s difficult to follow, so people aren’t staying on it for a long time.
“If trying to go keto causes you to yo-yo and go off and on diets, that has impacts related to weigh fluctuations and increased mortality risk,” added Sharon Palmer, a dietitian from California.
Other side effects can include bad breath, fatigue, constipation, irregular menstrual cycles, decreased bone density, and sleep issues.
Then there are other effects that are not well studied, mostly because it’s hard to track dieters on a long-term basis to find out the lasting effects of the eating plan.
“We don’t know for sure the effects on blood cholesterol, some studies show increases, others show decreases, but we don’t know over the long-term because of a lack of research,” Palmer said.
“There is a fear among health experts that such high intakes of unhealthful fats would have a long-term negative effect,” she explained. Weight loss can often confuse the data in the short term. This is because when overweight people lose weight, regardless of how they do it, they often end up with better blood lipids and blood glucose levels.
The keto diet is also extremely low in certain fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes that are generally thought of as healthy. Without these foods, people on the diet can miss out on fiber, certain vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that only come in these foods. That has significant human health impacts over the long term such as bone loss and increased risk of chronic diseases.
“Hundreds of studies suggest that diets rich in whole plant foods are linked with significantly lower levels of diseases like osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes,” Palmer said. “So, do people want to risk their long-term health just to lose weight more quickly?”
Is the keto diet for everyone?
Not all patients are appropriate candidates for the keto diet, especially those with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or other conditions that may be the result of a previous diet, Rahnama noted.
She also pointed out that this diet can result in such a big change for many people’s metabolic and other bodily systems, that adhering to the diet may even change the effectiveness of a person’s medication.
Patients need to be evaluated and monitored by a physician when they start a keto diet due to the level of dietary restriction. They may need to begin electrolyte supplementation or change any daily medication dosages they take. Talking to your doctor before you begin is a smart idea.
Got the keto diet go-ahead? You’ll want to boost your water intake before you start.
“Some patients may need to supplement with sodium, as long as they do not have blood pressure issues. Some may even need prescription potassium supplementation,” Rahnama said, adding that she begins all keto diet patients on a magnesium supplement, as it’s an electrolyte that can be taken with low risk of overdose. She also said keto dieters may have to up their carb intake if they have continued issues with hydration.
“Keto is not a great long-term diet, as it is not a balanced diet,” Rahnama said. “A diet that is devoid of fruit and vegetables will result in long-term micronutrient deficiencies that can have other consequences.”
The keto diet can be used for short-term fat loss so long as the patient is medically supervised. But it’s not a permanent weight loss or maintenance solution, Rahnama said.
“The keto diet is a very successful way for rapid weight loss as long as it is done safely, you do not want to cause bigger problems in order to solve a smaller one,” she added.
Is the Keto Diet Safe? Find out about Ketosis Side Effects
People who follow a ketogenic diet often complain of unpleasant ketosis side effects. I’m often asked, “is keto diet safe?”
The answer lies in how you approach keto. I call my approach to the ketogenic diet a “well-formulated keto-adapted diet,” because it maximizes the benefits while minimizing any unpleasant side effects.
Here are a few common side effects of ketosis (and how to avoid them) so they don’t happen to you.
Avoiding Ketosis Side Effects
Low-carb diets often get bad press. And many times, studies show that they “don’t work.”
Why is this? Let’s dive into the so-called “low carb” studies.
In these studies, the participants were reducing their carbohydrates to 150 grams per day. They also didn’t eliminate gluten, and often didn’t eliminate dairy.
Sure, reducing their carbohydrates from 300 grams a day makes 150 grams look like low-carb, but it isn’t!
A well-formulated keto-adapted diet will be closer to 30 grams of carbohydrates per day.
Cutting out these complex carbohydrates, as well as gluten, is essential in order for you to become the keto-adapted fat burner we all strive to be.
Side Effect 1: Craving Sugar
One of the best benefits of becoming keto-adapted is the disappearance of the desire for carbohydrates and sugar, but it can take some time.
However, if you find yourself indulging in carbs on the weekends, whether it is a beer or a piece of pizza, these indulgences will throw you out of ketosis.
This is why I often discuss with my clients the possibility of adding specific supplements: bifido bacteria, 5-HTP, magnesium, and liquid zinc, to help deter those nasty cravings.
Side Effect 2: Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or getting headaches
Some other common and bothersome symptoms experienced by my clients just starting a keto-adapted diet are headaches, dizzy spells, light-headedness, fatigue, and cramping.
These symptoms aren’t experienced by all of my clients, but when they do happen, there are some nutrients that can help. This is a problem that can be remedied with better salt and mineral intake.
On another note: when you have metabolic syndrome, it means you have a lot of insulin circulating in your blood.
You don’t need to be overweight for this to happen.
I have had clients who were underweight and still had extreme blood sugar issues. This excess insulin does many wicked things to your body.
In the book Why We Get Fat, Gary Taubes demonstrates how excess insulin makes you store fat in your fat cells.
We focus on that one undesired side effect because we can see its results externally, but the more harmful effects are actually happening internally.
Side Effect 3: Dehydration
When clients first adapt to the keto-adapted lifestyle, one of the first benefits is a rapid improvement in insulin sensitivity.
Eating low-carb causes insulin levels fall quickly, and your body starts to banish insulin resistance. As insulin levels fall, the kidneys begin to promptly release fluid.
One common complaint I get from clients when they first adopt this lifestyle is that they are up in the middle of the night urinating more than usual.
This will go away eventually, which is a good thing, but there is also some bad news that comes along with it:
- The good news is that when you release that excess fluid, fat oxidation becomes easier.
- The bad news is that as the extra water goes, it also removes essential sodium and electrolytes. When sodium levels fall below a certain level, which can happen quite fast, there are some undesired side effects such as headaches, low energy, dizziness, and cramping.
When you first start your well-formulated low-carb lifestyle, you might even notice that if you stand up quickly, you get dizzy or feel faint.
This may be a blood sugar issue, but it also may be because you are dehydrated! Just drinking water isn’t going to work like it would with a high-carbohydrate diet.
You need to add more sodium. You can add more salt to your food, drink bone broth, or take sodium tablets.
Excess insulin also activates the kidneys to retain fluid.
Not many people address this when talking about how ketosis can affect you.
I had one client who was extremely obese and would fluctuate up to twenty pounds daily because of water retention.
Yep, twenty pounds of water retention! She was experiencing pitting edema in her lower legs.
To test if you also have pitting edema, press your finger into the tissue of your shin bone. If your finger leaves an indentation (basically your fingerprint), you have pitting edema.
Most obese clients complain of this sensation late in the afternoon or after being on their feet all day. What’s happening is the excess water retention gathers in the lower legs and soaks into the soft tissues. During sleep, when the body is horizontal through the night, the fluid is redistributed into the upper body. Come morning, the pitting edema has gone away, but then returns as the day goes on.
This happens to anyone with insulin issues — it is just more noticeable in those who are overweight.
Note: Salt is Your Friend
Salt is not the evil nutrient that your doctor warns you about. You’ve got to start thinking differently.
Just like understanding that eating more fat lowers your risk of heart disease, it is important to understand that a well-formulated low-carb diet requires a lot more sodium.
My favorite way for clients to get more sodium is to consume homemade bone broth. It is so easy to make — you can even do it in a slow cooker!
Bone broth not only helps with getting sodium, but you also get a ton of minerals and electrolytes.
Commercial broth will not have these benefits. It takes a few days to make, but I will often make a huge batch in the pot that my husband, Craig, used to make home brew in (this was years ago … yes, we have come a long way in our journey).
The Bottom Line
The Keto diet and Ketosis is very safe, especially if you are mindful of these side effects that often derail people. Keep your head in the game.
After my previous article explaining what is a keto diet, many have asked me to explain what is keto flu and how to avoid it!
In the original article above, I explain everything you need to know about starting a keto diet. What to enjoy. What to avoid. How to get started. There’s even a free FAQ and diet sheet too.
What is keto flu and how to avoid it?
So, you are interested in starting the keto diet, but you want to know everything about it first, and how to start it, the right way.
You have probably heard about the amazing benefits of the keto diet. It is incredible for fast and sustained weight loss, not to mention all the incredible health benefits that you can expect to experience.
Unfortunately, you may have also heard about the keto flu.
What is keto flu?
Keto flu is a real thing and it happens when you quickly jump into a keto diet. There are ways though, that you can avoid keto flu.
Keto flu is feeling the symptoms of “withdrawal” from carbs. Your body goes through changes when it switches from burning glucose to burning fat.
These withdrawal symptoms include dizziness, drowsiness, muscle aches, nausea, and irritability. All of these symptoms are a completely natural reaction to the changes your body is facing Do not despair though, these symptoms do not last forever and you will soon be seeing the benefits of your new eating style.
3 Simple tips to avoid keto flu!
Before you find yourself dealing with any of these keto flu symptoms, there are a number of things that you can do to help to prevent keto flu. These include:
- Start slowly. Don’t just make a harsh change in your diet and leave it at that. Start slowly. For the first couple of days, start with a typical low-carb diet. Get your body used to lower carbs before you restrict them to the extent that you do during the keto diet.
- Stay hydrated. The most common reason that you develop keto flu is due to dehydration and loss of minerals. Be sure to drink lots of water and add plenty of electrolytes, salts, potassium and magnesium to your diet. Ensuring you are hydrated and have enough salts, minerals and micronutrients is imperative to stop cramps and nausea. When you give up junk food, this may be the number one source of salt in many people’s diet.
- Eat more. Your calories being too low in general can also lead to keto flu symptoms. Be sure you aren’t reducing your calorie intake too much. Try not to go low-carb and low-fat. You will not achieve weight loss any faster, but instead, run the risk of weight loss stopping and feeling hungry, irritable and lethargic. When you live the keto lifestyle, remember to increase your intake of healthy fats. Read here for more info.
How to treat keto flu?
If you find yourself already dealing with these symptoms, here are a few things that you can do to ease your discomfort:
- Electrolytes. Ensure you are getting enough salt and electrolytes. I enjoy using both Himalayan pink salt (which contains an amazing 84 minerals) AND regular iodised table salt – iodine is crucial for a healthy metabolism and it is lacking in so many diets. Sodium and potassium are crucial too. Why not drink bone broth, or enjoy extra bacon. An easy and yummy way to beat keto flu. Many people find taking a magnesium supplement can stop any cramping or discomfort they are experiencing.
- Drink lots of water. Like I mentioned before, dehydration is a big part of keto flu. Fight it by drinking water and staying hydrated. Many people add a pinch of mineral salts to their water to help with the cramps and nausea.
- Eat some clean carbs. Go ahead and add in some clean, healthy, nutrient dense carbs to your diet to help combat keto flu. For example, add in extra non-starchy vegetables, extra nuts and seeds, a few low-sugar berries. OK so you may go over your carb limit temporarily, but it may just help ease keto flu to allow you to continue in the long term.
- Exercise. If you feel like you can do it, you might try some light exercise. Some people have found that exercise helps your body become more metabolically flexible, and eases the symptoms.
So, yes keto flu is a real thing, and if you find yourself dealing with it, you can expect to experience these symptoms only for a few days, or up to a week.
What can we learn from the keto flu?
If giving up carbs is tough, just imagine what a stronghold carbs are having on your body – and this “carb withdrawal” may be a necessary evil to go through to serve as a reminder to never go back to your old ways of eating.
It’s yet another reason to stop eating and drinking the addictive junk carbs and sugar.
So now you know what is keto flu and how to avoid it, do you feel more prepared to deal with it?
How do you deal with keto flu?
What did you do to fight the keto flu? How long did you experience it – or did you breeze through the induction/starting phase without a hitch?
If you want to get started living keto or low-carb today, why not get the Low-Carb Starter Pack? The complete beginners’ guide with recipes, meal planner, how-to guides and even a measurement tracker.
Would you like some daily help and support? Why not join my FREE Low-Carb Support Group. I’ll see you there.
Why the Keto Flu Happens and How to Manage the Symptoms
You’ve undoubtedly heard about the ketogenic diet — a high-fat, low-carb approach that forces the body to burn fat for fuel — and decided to consider it for weight loss, more energy, or any of the other touted benefits of the plan. But you’ve heard the stories: Several days into the keto diet, people start to feel sluggish with headaches, difficulty concentrating, and muscle cramps. Some get diarrhea (or alternatively, constipation).
Such symptoms are commonly referred to as the keto flu, says Amy Gorin RDN, in Jersey City, New Jersey, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition. But they aren’t the result of an infection of any sort like influenza. Rather, they’re a byproduct of the body adjusting to a very-low-carb diet as it depletes stored glucose. The body turns to stored fat for energy instead, triggering a state of ketosis, when the liver starts breaking down fat into acids called ketones. For most people, the adjustment period may be mildly unpleasant but not dangerous to their health. Yet people with diabetes who require insulin, those with kidney disease or a history of kidney stones, as well as individuals with a history of eating disorders are among those who should avoid the diet, says Gorin.
RELATED: Does the Ketogenic Diet Work for Type 2 Diabetes?
Like Gorin, Lynn Grieger, RDN, a health coach in private practice in Prescott, Arizona, and a medical reviewer for Everyday Health, has observed an adjustment period of one to two weeks in people who are on the ketogenic diet. She says her clients report low energy levels, which can disrupt their usual exercise routines, along with focus issues and irritability.
What the Keto Flu Is and What Causes These Unpleasant Symptoms
During the initial few days of the keto diet, the body is essentially adjusting its metabolic machinery, says Stephen Phinney, MD, chief medical officer and co-owner of Virta Health, in San Francisco, a company experimenting with nutritional ketosis in its treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms that Grieger and Gorin have seen in ketogenic dieters include:
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Bad breath
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating or “brain fog”
It often takes up to two weeks for symptoms to pass. But Gorin notes that bloating and constipation, which can result from not getting enough of the fiber that many carb-rich foods contain, may persist as long as you’re on the keto diet.
In other cases, symptoms can actually be serious, as was the case for Michelle Alley, a blogger in Utah who writes about health and nutrition for iFit. Alley says she lost feeling in her limbs after following a version of keto where she ate three parts of fat for every one part of protein and carbs. “They call it the pins and needles,” says Alley, explaining she stopped the diet after seven days.
Indeed, there are numerous types of the keto diet out there. Grieger says some of her clients who have tried it simply eliminate grains and fruit, and increase their fat intake with foods such as nuts, oils, bacon, and avocado. But the popular form of the plan calls for getting 70 to 80 percent of your calories from fat, 20 to 25 percent from protein, and 5 to 10 percent from carbs.
RELATED: What Are the Risks and Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet?
Groups Who May Be Harmed by the Effects of the Keto Diet
Before even trying the keto diet, you’ll want to check with your healthcare team to ensure the approach is right for you. It is for some: For instance, previous research has shown the diet to provide anti-seizure benefits to children with epilepsy, although it’s not given to them for weight loss. There’s also a growing body of research that suggests the keto diet may be effective in adults with epilepsy, too.
But people with the following conditions should avoid it, say Gorin and Kristen Mancinelli, RD, who is in private practice in New York City:
Eating Disorders The strict limitations of the diet could increase the risk of compulsive overeating.
Kidney Disease or a History of Kidney Stones The ketogenic diet may increase the risk of kidney stones. In fact, one study suggests 3 to 10 percent of children with epilepsy who are on the diet have kidney stones, compared with one in several thousand in the general population. The diet may also put people with kidney disease at risk, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. People with kidney disease must follow a specific diet plan and should work with their healthcare provider to determine what they should be eating.
Diabetes People with type 1 diabetes or those with type 2 diabetes who are on insulin or medication to lower their blood sugar can develop diabetic ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition in which ketones build up in the bloodstream and urine too quickly, making the blood too acidic. And if you have type 2 diabetes and are on medication, a dramatic change in your carbohydrate intake can put your blood sugar levels at risk of dipping to dangerously low levels. Work with your diabetes care team to determine a safe timetable for lowering your carb intake and any medication adjustments that may be required to help keep your blood sugar stable. Those with type 1 diabetes should not follow a keto diet.
RELATED: How to Test for Ketones in Your Urine, and What They Mean
High Cholesterol The risk of ingesting too much saturated fat, which can easily happen on a keto diet, can increase LDL (bad) cholesterol and further raise your risk for heart disease. People with the genetic condition familial hypercholesterolemia, which prevents the body from removing LDL cholesterol from the blood, should also avoid the keto diet, according to the National Library of Medicine.
The dietitians caution anyone with an active health condition to consult a doctor before making any drastic dietary change, including those required by a ketogenic diet.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that the keto diet is difficult to follow. In fact, in its 2018 rankings, U.S. News & World Report rated keto second-to-last in Easiest Diets to Follow and Best Diets Overall, and last for Best Diets for Healthy Eating. “People tend to lose weight quickly the first few weeks following a keto diet, and then the rate of weight loss slows and they usually find it difficult to continue to follow the diet’s principles,” Grieger says.
One reason could be that many people find the high-fat regimen onerous over the long term, says Mancinelli, who followed the keto diet for about five months while writing her book The Ketogenic Diet: A Scientifically Proven Approach to Fast, Healthy Weight Loss. “If you can’t eat a lot of fat, you can’t successfully do a ketogenic diet. Many people believe it’s just a low-carb diet where you avoid grains and starch and sugar, but it’s really much more restrictive than that.” For example, depending on your carb limit, you may need to severely limit your veggie intake as well.
That said, keto has been shown to lead to quick weight loss anecdotally and in research, including a review published in February 2014 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, which suggested the approach could be useful for treating obesity.
Additionally, a review published in September 2016 in the Journal of Obesity & Eating Disorders suggested that a keto diet can confer benefits to people with type 2 diabetes, such as lowering A1C levels (a measure of the two- to three-month average of glucose in the blood), weight loss, lowering triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood) and LDL cholesterol. Again, if you have diabetes, check with a doctor before starting a keto diet.
RELATED: 8 Steps Beginners Should Take Before Trying the Keto Diet
Tips for Managing Symptoms of the Keto Flu and Following the Ketogenic Diet Safely
If you’re thinking of trying keto and have cleared it with your healthcare team, be prepared for the aforementioned side effects. As Alley’s experience demonstrates, in the event of dehydration and an imbalance of electrolytes, keto side effects may not only be unpleasant — they could be serious.
1. Talk to Your Doctor About Supplementing With Sodium if Your Blood Pressure Is Normal
Because the production of ketones spurs the kidneys to remove sodium from your body more quickly, you’ll need to make sure you’re getting enough sodium through your food while on keto. If you don’t, your blood pressure may fall to dangerous levels, Dr. Phinney says. The “pins and needles” feeling and heavy limbs that Alley described may be due to a drop in blood pressure, which reduces blood flow to the limbs, he explains.
Phinney advises anyone trying the keto diet who doesn’t have high blood pressure to talk to their doctor about adding more sodium to their diet. The amount will vary depending on your health needs. Just know that the American Heart Association recommends no more than 2.3 gram (g) of salt daily for adults, including what is ingested in food, with an ideal limit of no more than 1.5 g.
By making sure you have enough salt in your diet, “the light-headedness, the dizziness, the fatigue, the heat intolerance, the headache, and constipation, almost always completely resolve,” Phinney says.
2. Drink Lots of Water, Too
Staying hydrated can help with headaches, says Grieger. Furthermore, old-fashioned H2O can help to minimize (though not eliminate) another unpleasant side effect of the keto diet: bad, fruity breath, often called “keto breath.”
3. Don’t Ditch Electrolyte-Rich Vegetables
Getting more electrolytes from vegetables, such as magnesium and potassium, can also help to minimize headaches, says Grieger. Yet many of our favorite vegetables are “starchy” or high in carbohydrates, such as acorn squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green peas, and corn, and therefore are avoided by ketogenic dieters. In doing so, these individuals are missing out on key sources of electrolytes. Opt for low-carb, electrolyte-rich fare, such as leafy green vegetables, to replenish these nutrients. Gorin recommends avocado and broccoli, in particular, as potassium sources.
RELATED: 10 Quick and Easy Keto Diet Snacks Already in Your Fridge or Pantry
4. Take It Easy
“Usually, I recommend people reduce exercise and avoid high-intensity exercise until their energy levels increase. Getting more sleep or even taking a nap during the day can also help manage energy levels,” says Grieger.
5. Add Fiber-Rich, Low-Carb Foods to Your Diet to Reduce Constipation
Staying hydrated, along with incorporating fiber-rich foods in your diet, such as nonstarchy leafy green vegetables, like broccoli and kale, can also help reduce constipation. “Ketogenic diets are often low in fiber intake due to restrictions on grains, beans, legumes, fruits, and many vegetables,” says Courtney Schuchmann, RD, an outpatient dietitian at The University of Chicago Medical Center in the department of gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition services in Illinois. She suggests reaching for foods like flaxseed and chia seeds, which are high in fiber and low in net carbs, and incorporating them into recipes such as chia pudding, pizza crust, salads, or keto-friendly baked goods.
RELATED: 10 Keto Instant Pot Recipes Too Fast Not to Make
A Final Word on What to Expect From the Keto Flu on the Ketogenic Diet
After your body has transitioned to burning ketones for energy you need, the side effects will likely dissipate. “I felt very energetic. I didn’t have energy dips throughout the day,” says Mancinelli, who says she lost 9 pounds while on the diet.
Still, not everyone is convinced that keto is worth the trouble for people who want to lose weight and keep it off.
“There isn’t good scientific evidence that a keto diet leads to long-term weight loss, and there is a wealth of evidence on the importance of eating whole grains, fruit, vegetables and legumes,” says Grieger, who does not recommend the diet. Indeed, the two “best” diets on U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 list, the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, both maximize whole grains, fruit, vegetables and legumes, while minimizing saturated fat, which is in keto-friendly foods such as butter and coconut oil. If you’re looking for a regimen you can stay on for the long-haul, they may be better options for you.
Light Headedness, Short of Breath & Dizzy 2 Months In
Hi folks. This is my second time doing a keto diet and the weight is falling off. I’m delighted. I never experienced keto flu or any weird side effects apart from struggling to pee in the morning.
I’m just over 2 months in again and am experiencing some severe light headedness. Usually when I stand up. It’s the “head rush” you get when on your knees for hours, but constantly. It’s becoming debilitating and it’s getting worse.
I’ve read up and figured it was dehydration. I’ve upped my water intake significantly the past few days but that hasn’t helped in the slightest. I’ve also upped my carbs slightly to see if I was going too low, but that hasn’t helped either.
Has anyone got any other ideas in what I could try? I’ve slowed now since water weight is gone to losing 1 lb every 3 days roughly. Could this be too much for me and causing the symptoms? Or could this just be late keto flu and it will pass soon?
I’ve had it about a week and there’s no way I’m getting behind a wheel like this and I won’t even pick up my child now without having a couch or bed nearby and “fall plan” just in case (overdramatic I know!).
Any advice would be very much appreciated.
The transition from a high-carb diet to one that’s built around healthy fats can trigger some side effects. Here’s how to dissipate them. Unsplash/Eduardo Roda-Lopes
In the age of the “obesity epidemic,” more research than ever is focused on determining safe, effective, and long-lasting ways to help prevent or reverse unhealthy weight gain. And studies have found that one possible solution is following a very-low carbohydrate diet called the ketogenic diet.
The keto diet drastically reduces the body’s supply of glucose—which is typically obtained from eating carbohydrate-heavy foods like grains and sugar—instead forcing the body to use fat for energy. That may sound similar to other low-carb diets, but there is one key keto distinction: Instead of a focus on lots of protein, the keto diet emphasizes healthy fats, mostly from keto-approved foods like coconut or olive oil, butter, meat, avocado, and eggs.
For this reason, the keto diet doesn’t just help with weight loss. It’s also been shown to reduce the risk for diabetes or heart disease, protect against certain neurological disorders, and improve cognitive function. But that doesn’t mean that adopting the keto diet will be all smooth sailing, either. For many, the transition from a high-carb diet to one that’s built around healthy fats and plenty of vegetables can trigger some side effects.
If you’re considering adopting the keto diet to help improve your overall health, be advised that you may run into one or more of the following challenges. The good news, however, is that most of these will very likely dissipate within several weeks—or even sooner if you follow my advice.
Because you’ll be eating far less carbohydrates than you’re used to while on a keto diet, you’ll likely also be decreasing the amount of fiber in your diet. This can contribute to various digestive changes, including constipation. To help keep things “moving,” drink plenty of water and make sure to eat a variety of low-carb plant foods throughout the day, especially high-fiber veggies like leafy greens, cooked cruciferous veggies and avocado.
You may also want to supplement with a digestive enzyme, particularly one that contains the enzyme lipase. Lipase is the primary enzyme that breaks down dietary fats, which will help with all of the extra avocado and coconut oil you’ll likely be consuming.
- Low energy
Many metabolic changes need to take place in your body in order for you to switch from using fat for fuel instead of glucose. And while this process unfolds, it’s common to experience periods of fatigue, weakness, and brain fog as your body reserves energy for the aforementioned metabolic processes.
One way to help keep your energy up is to make sure that you’re not dehydrated and that you’re also getting enough essential nutrients, especially electrolytes. Many keto dieters find that adding salt to their meals and having some bone broth on a daily basis helps to restore some of the electrolytes that are lost during ketosis, including magnesium, potassium, and sodium. Bone broth also supplies a number of other important nutrients and amino acids, while decreasing potential side effects like muscle wasting, headaches, cramping, and spasms.
And, of course, you should aim to sleep at least eight hours per night and go lighter on your schedule during this transition period, which should prevent you from feeling even more stressed and run down. If you can’t seem to sleep well, try these natural tips to fall asleep fast, or try taking about 400 milligrams of magnesium citrate before bed.
- Muscle weakness
In addition to feeling more tired than normal on the keto diet, you may also experience decreased strength, difficulty recovering from a tough workout, and/or general weakness. For this reason, I recommend saving any intense training sessions for when you’re feeling stronger and more energized—especially if you’re also dealing with signs of hypoglycemia (another potential side effect of ketosis), which can cause temporary shakiness, lightheadedness, and sweating.
So how can you combat this potential weakness? For starters, be sure to eat enough protein to fuel your body—but not too much. On the keto diet, the total amount of protein needed is not very high, about 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight. If you suspect you’re not eating enough overall, try having more non-starchy veggies and fat, instead of more protein, as an excess can lead to dehydration, mood swings and kidney issues (not to mention bad breath).
To replenish sodium levels—if hypoglycemia is an issue—you might also want to try having a glass of water with about one-quarter teaspoon of Himalayan or natural sea salt salt stirred in.
- Increased cravings
According to a 2007 report that appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “One major advantage of the ketogenic diet is that it allows the calorie intake to be cut drastically without producing ravenous hunger.” So even though your overall appetite may be decreased on the keto diet, the reality is that your cravings for carbs or sugar might not be.
Food preferences and ingrained dietary habits can take some time to change, so it’s expected that you might deal with some temporary symptoms of “withdrawal” as you remove certain comfort foods from your diet. In many cases this might be more of an emotional issue than a physical symptom, so be patient with yourself and remember that your taste buds are capable of changing. Be sure to eat enough calories in general, and allow time for your preferences to sort themselves out, which will happen as you start feeling better overall.
Eating more healthy fats, fiber, and adequate amounts of lean protein will help kick those cravings, as will regular servings of probiotic-rich, fermented foods.
Many people don’t realize just how connected their digestive system is to their nervous system. When your diet changes, so does the production of hormones and neurotransmitters that affect how you feel, sleep and behave. You might notice that for the first couple weeks on the keto diet you’re feeling unmotivated and generally crummy, but this doesn’t mean that the diet is doing harm.
In short, it takes time for your brain to adapt to its new energy source (remember: fat, not carbs), so hang in there. If symptoms like lack of sleep, sluggishness, or lingering headaches are contributing to your poor moods, try getting more magnesium from foods like leafy greens, avocado, and salmon to help. You should aim to eat at least two cups of raw, green, leafy vegetables per day, in addition to other non-starchy veggies that you enjoy.
Also, remember that meditation, exercise, and journaling are great, non-food ways to improve your mood fast.
Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food as medicine. He recently authored ‘Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and Five Surprising Steps to Cure It’ and he operates one of the world’s largest natural health websites at http://www.DrAxe.com. Follow him on Twitter @DRJoshAxe.
Starting a low-carb or keto diet with high blood pressure
The research to date shows that blood pressure often declines in people following carbohydrate-restricted diets:
Obesity Reviews 2012: Systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials of the effects of low carbohydrate diets on cardiovascular risk factors
Archives of Internal Medicine 2010: A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet vs orlistat plus a low-fat diet for weight loss
Cardiovascular Diabetology 2018: Cardiovascular disease risk factor responses to a type 2 diabetes care model including nutritional ketosis induced by sustained carbohydrate restriction at 1 year: an open label, non-randomized, controlled study
South African Journal of Critical Care 2013: Low-carbohydrate and high-fat intake can manage obesity and associated conditions: occasional survey
In a small study, people with metabolic syndrome who followed a ketogenic diet for 12 weeks experienced significant reductions in blood pressure, going from an average of 141/89 to 123/76, along with weight loss and other health improvements. In fact, by the end of the study, many of them no longer met the criteria for a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome:
Journal of Medicinal Food 2011: A pilot study of the Spanish ketogenic Mediterranean diet: an effective therapy for the metabolic syndrome
In a recent very-low-carb diet study, researchers had to discontinue blood pressure medications in 11% of participants due to reductions in blood pressure:
Cardiovascular Diabetology 2018: Cardiovascular disease risk factor responses to a type 2 diabetes care model including nutritional ketosis induced by sustained carbohydrate restriction at 1 year: an open label, non-randomized, controlled study
This is based on consistent clinical experience of low-carb practitioners. ↩
This effect occurs in individuals with “salt-sensitive” hypertension, who respond to higher salt intakes with an increase in blood pressure:
Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension 2012: Mechanisms and consequences of salt sensitivity and dietary salt intake
This is based on consistent clinical experience of low-carb practitioners. ↩
How to Do Keto with High Blood Pressure
The traditional ketogenic diet calls for some foods that can cause high blood pressure such as bacon and deli meat. Which begs the question: Is the ketogenic diet safe for those with high blood pressure? With some of the allowed foods also linked to high blood pressure, it doesn’t seem that way.
That said, many argue that the traditional ketogenic diet is safe for high blood pressure — not because of the diet, but because of the results. Ketogenic helps with stubborn weight loss, which can have an immense impact on blood pressure levels, as being overweight is one of the top culprits of high blood pressure. That said, there are ways to adopt a ketogenic diet without exposing the body to certain trigger foods. Find out how to do keto with high blood pressure, ahead.
With amazing benefits, many want to know how to do keto with high blood pressure. | ThitareeSarmkasat / iStock / Getty Images Plus
How to do keto with high blood pressure
The ketogenic diet has become one of the trendiest lifestyle changes out there. However, one look at it’s allowed foods will leave you scratching your head. “The average ketogenic dieter is eating pounds of processed meats, bacon, beef, cheese, and dairy from factory-farmed animals,” writes Dr. Will Cole in his book, Ketotarian: The (Mostly) Plant-Based Plan to Burn Fat, Boost Your Energy, Crush Your Cravings, and Calm Inflammation. “The conventional ketogenic diet also allows you to have sugar-free, artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and diet drinks all in the name of being ‘low carb,’” he adds.
With that, combined with other factors — such as the lack of vegetables in a ketogenic diet — Dr. Cole set out to create a ketogenic diet that is healthier, in sync with diet restrictions, and just as (if not, more) effective than its traditional counterpart. As a result, Ketotarian was born.
If you’re wondering how to do keto with high blood pressure, you’re not alone. And, lucky for you, the Ketotarian diet makes it possible. With processed foods off the list and many approved foods that lower high blood sugar, adopting a ketogenic diet with high blood pressure is now possible.
What is Ketotarian?
Ketotarian is the answer to how to do keto with high blood pressure. But, what is Ketotarian? According to Dr. Cole’s book, Ketotarian is a mostly plant-based diet that can change your body from sugar-burning to fat-burning and, as a result, boost energy, nix cravings, and combat inflammation. Not to mention: Many of the foods (aka veggies) in the Ketotarian diet are known to help lower high blood pressure among other ailments.
The key to any keto diet is low carb, high fat. And while both the traditional ketogenic and Ketotarian diets achieve this mission, the side effects of eating highly processed foods and artificial sweeteners (allowed in the conventional diet) can have a detrimental impact on your health over time. Ketotarian is a way to put the body into ketosis without exposing it to foods that cause high blood pressure. And, instead, nourishing it with foods that can lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and other heart-threatening ailments.
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The ketogenic diet is known as a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that can incorporate a lot of meat and cheese, not to mention (high-quality) salt.
So how is it that people are reporting healthy blood pressure levels and even an improvement in blood pressure on a keto diet?
Aren’t these foods supposed to be terrible for you?
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High blood pressure is a risk factor for a handful of serious conditions related to your heart, brain, and kidneys. Learning how to manage and prevent high blood pressure is an essential part of keeping your whole body happy and healthy.
But there’s a right way and a wrong way to use the keto diet to improve your blood pressure.
If you’re wondering what the best eating plan is for optimal blood pressure, read on to learn how food and lifestyle affect this crucial aspect of your health.
What is Blood Pressure?
As your heart beats, it pumps blood that circulates throughout your body.
This process is what pumps oxygen and nutrients to every tissue and organ in your body, making sure that everything is running properly.
Your blood travels throughout your body in blood vessels. And the vessels moving blood away from your heart and to the rest of your body are called arteries.
As your blood runs through your arteries, it naturally pushes against the sides of them; this exerts a pressure on your arteries which is called your blood pressure.
Your blood pressure is a combination of the force and rate of your heartbeat, and the elasticity of the walls of your arteries.
What Does Healthy Blood Pressure Look Like?
When your heart beats, it contracts and relaxes in a rhythmic manner.
This ebb and flow of contraction and relaxation is how blood keeps pumping through your body. Each time your heart contracts it raises the pressure of your blood a bit, and when it relaxes, it lowers it a bit.
These two rhythms of the heart are measured to determine your overall blood pressure. They’re called:
- Systolic blood pressure: Taken while the heart is contracting and pumping blood into your blood vessels
- Diastolic blood pressure: Taken while the heart is relaxing and refilling with blood
Blood pressure is measured in units called millimeters of mercury (mmHg), and represents both your systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Results are read as: systolic/diastolic mm Hg.
For example, if your systolic blood pressure is 138 and diastolic is 85 it would read; 138/95 mm Hg.
Below is a breakdown from the American Heart Association of what blood pressure values mean in terms of your risk for high blood pressure (also called hypertension).
Note: high blood pressure can be indicated by high systolic, high diastolic, or both.
Healthy blood pressure is a systolic reading of 120 mm Hg or less, and a diastolic reading of 80 mm Hg or less.
When your blood pressure becomes slightly elevated, you are at risk for developing high blood pressure; this is a good time to implement diet and lifestyle prevention.
High blood pressure is broken down into stage 1 and stage 2, these are the stages where medication is usually prescribed.
If your reading is higher than 180/120, this is considered a hypertensive crisis. At this point, you should contact your doctor immediately or go to the hospital.
You may be wondering what the big deal is with blood pressure. So your blood is moving through your body faster and a little more aggressively — what could possibly go wrong?
But there are some pretty serious risks that come with chronic high blood pressure.
Risks of High Blood Pressure
Some of the risks associated with high blood pressure include:
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD): High blood pressure can cause your blood vessels (arteries) to harden due to sustained stress; this results in a thickening of the artery walls, which can decrease the blood flow to your heart while raising blood pressure even more. This combination can result in heart disease.
Heart Failure: Your heart can no longer pump enough blood and oxygen to your other organs.
Heart Attack: Blood flow to the heart is blocked, and your heart muscle begins to die due to lack of oxygen.
Stroke: High blood pressure can burst or block arteries that send blood and oxygen to your brain. A lack of oxygen to your brain is considered a stroke, and without adequate oxygen, brain cells can start to die.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): Hypertension is a risk factor for CKD and is associated with a more rapid progression.
How to Measure Blood Pressure
The most common way of measuring your blood pressure is using a blood pressure cuff that straps to your upper arm.
The cuffs are pretty straightforward to use; you simply strap it on to your upper arm, and follow the directions, the automatic blood pressure readers do most of the work.
However, here are some tips to make sure you’re getting an accurate reading:
- Sit still: Try to relax as much as possible, don’t exercise or drink caffeinated beverages 30 minutes before you take your measurements.
- Seating position: Make sure your back is straight and your feet are on the ground, legs uncrossed. Your arm should be supported, with your upper arm at heart level.
- Measure at consistent times: You want to get an understanding of your blood pressure over a few days, not just one reading. It’s best to measure at the same time each day to see what your fluctuations are day to day (if any).
- Take multiple readings: When measuring your blood pressure, take two or three readings at a time, a couple of minutes apart to make sure you’re getting an accurate read.
7 Causes of High Blood Pressure
Several different lifestyle and diet factors can lead to hypertension. Here are some of the most common causes of high blood pressure:
#1 Too Much Salt (Sodium)
Sodium is an essential mineral that your body needs to function properly. It has an intimate relationship with potassium, and these two minerals work together to balance the fluid and blood volume in your body.
But problems occur when there’s an imbalanced ratio of potassium to sodium.
The Standard American Diet is very sodium-rich and much lower in potassium. This is one of the reasons that so many people in the U.S. experience high blood pressure. It’s also why your doctor likely told you to cut down on the salt.
These two minerals are involved in an intricate dance in your body, but to put it plainly; sodium makes your body hold onto more fluid. This means a higher volume of blood and water in your body.
Under optimal circumstances, your kidneys will help your body excrete extra fluids and maintain a healthy balance. When you have too much sodium and not enough potassium, your kidneys hold on to more water.
This extra stored water increases your blood pressure (more blood means more pressure), and puts a strain on your heart, arteries, kidneys, and brain.
When you’re under stress, your sympathetic nervous system, also known as your “fight or flight” response is activated.
Hundreds of years ago when our hunter-gatherer ancestors were roaming around the forests looking for food, this fight or flight response served us very well.
You’re out hunting for dinner, and a hungry lion sneaks up on you out of nowhere.
In this scenario, you don’t really want to sit there and think about your options. There’s no time for thoughtful contemplation.
Instead, your sympathetic nervous system gets switched on, and you’re in fight or flight mode. Your heart starts beating faster, increasing your blood pressure, and your blood starts flowing to your arms and legs so you can bolt.
Unfortunately, this ancient survival adaptation is still very much in play today when more modern-day “lions” pop up. Things like traffic, unruly children, demanding bosses, work deadlines, etc.
So stress turns on your sympathetic nervous system, and your sympathetic nervous system increases your blood pressure. This is why doctors say that stress literally kills — high blood pressure from chronic stress leads to heart disease.
#3 High Levels Of Insulin (Insulin Resistance)
Insulin resistance and hypertension have a cause and effect relationship. High levels of insulin can increase the reabsorption of sodium by your kidneys.
As you learned above, high levels of sodium increase the volume of your blood and can, therefore, increase your blood pressure .
Elevated levels of insulin can also activate your sympathetic nervous system, which drives up your blood pressure.
For this reason, keeping your blood glucose and insulin levels steady is essential to managing blood pressure. Both impact your sympathetic nervous function and your sodium to potassium ratio.
#4 Excess Fructose Consumption
Simple sugars and blood sugar both play a role in hypertension.
There is a direct correlation with the rising levels of fructose consumption in the Western world and the rise in hypertension.
Animal studies indicate that high fructose diets can lead to hypertension in a couple of different ways:
- Fructose may upregulate sodium transporters, resulting in a higher level of sodium in the body, which raises blood pressure.
- Fructose may activate vasoconstrictors (compounds that constrict blood vessels) and inactivate vasodilators (compounds that expand blood vessels). This leads to blood vessel constriction, which increases the pressure of blood in your vessels.
- Fructose may activate your sympathetic nervous system, which stimulates an increase in blood pressure.
#5 Adrenal Disorders
Some adrenal disorders can lead to hypertension. Specifically, if your adrenals are secreting excessive amounts of the male sex hormone aldosterone, you can end up with too much sodium retention.
This will throw off your sodium/potassium balance and can increase blood volume leading to hypertension.
Smoking can increase both your heart rate and blood pressure, largely due to the nicotine found in most cigarettes.
One of the many reasons people can become so addicted to cigarettes is due to the effect they have on your nervous and vascular systems.
Nicotine increases blood pressure by increasing cardiac output (heart beats faster), while simultaneously increasing vascular resistance — this makes it harder for your blood to push through your blood vessels.
At the same time, nicotine activates your sympathetic nervous system, which plays its own role in waking you up and getting your blood pressure moving.
Pharmaceutical medications usually have long lists of side effects, and raising your blood pressure is a common one. Some medications that can affect blood pressure are:
- Over the counter NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
- MAO inhibitors (antidepressants)
- Birth control pills
- Antidiabetic drugs
- Steroid drugs
Always consult with your health care practitioner before starting or stopping any medications.
5 Ways To Manage High Blood Pressure
#1 Eat Low-Carb To Manage Insulin
Cleaning up your diet can have a profound effect on your blood pressure, with the two main blood pressure culprits in your diet being sugar and salt.
Researchers performed a systematic review and meta-analysis including 14 studies with over 1000 participants to determine the role of blood sugar in the management of high blood pressure.
The results of the analysis revealed that a lower glycemic diet (a diet that keeps blood sugar low), is correlated with lower levels of blood pressure.
These results are not surprising given that blood sugar stimulates insulin, and insulin stimulates your kidneys to reabsorb sodium, and more sodium leads to higher blood pressure.
A low glycemic diet keeps your blood sugar low by limiting the amount of carbohydrates that you absorb at one time. Most low-carb diets fall into the category of low-glycemic, including the ketogenic diet.
#2 Lower Your Salt Intake To Balance Your Sodium/Potassium Ratio
The ratio of sodium and potassium in your body is a crucial factor in blood pressure control. When you retain too much sodium your fluid levels rise, increasing the volume of blood in your blood vessels and leading to hypertension.
To maintain this delicate balance you need to increase high potassium foods while limiting foods that contain excess sodium.
Many heavily processed foods are full of sodium for taste and preservation purposes. Focusing on a diet full of whole food options like fresh meat and vegetables will help shift this balance.
Some foods with a high potassium content include spinach, swiss chard, avocado, salmon, radishes, whey protein, and turkey.
#3 Decrease Fructose Intake
There’s a strong correlation between the increase in fructose consumption in the Western world and the increase in the incidence of hypertension.
Fructose consumption may increase blood pressure by increasing sodium retention, activating your sympathetic nervous system, and causing a restriction of your blood vessels.
Avoid foods like high fructose corn syrup, fruit juices, candy, maple syrup, and other food containing high levels of fructose to help lower your blood pressure.
When you exercise your heart rate increases, which will cause a short-term increase in your blood pressure.
Over the long run, however, physical activity can actually help lower your blood pressure and enhance your heart health. The exact mechanism by which exercise reduces blood pressure and risk for hypertension is not yet understood, but there are a few strong theories.
Exercise may benefit hypertension by:
- Enhancing kidney health
- Increasing insulin sensitivity
- Decreasing body weight
- Increasing parasympathetic response (therefore decreasing sympathetic response)
- Reducing emotional stress
- Improving the strength of your heart
#5 Weight Loss
Being overweight or obese us a huge risk factor for high blood pressure.
Research shows that your blood pressure rises as your body weight increases, and losing even 10 pounds can have a significant effect on your blood pressure if you’re overweight or obese.
One of the primary complications of being overweight is metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms that increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
By decreasing your body weight, you lower your risk of metabolic syndrome — and with that the risk factors for heart disease like hypertension.
Low-Carb and Keto Diets for Healthy Blood Pressure
Choosing the right foods is essential to managing your blood pressure — even if you’re on medication. And a low-carbohydrate or keto diet can help.
Here are just a few ways a low-carb diet can support healthy blood pressure:
Keto Supports Heart Health
If you have some weight to lose, cutting down on your carbs may not only help you shed pounds, but it can also support heart health.
Keto Balances Blood Sugar
When you’re following a keto diet, you automatically cut down on foods that cause a rise in blood sugar and insulin.
It’s Low in Sugar
While it’s true that salt can undoubtedly play a role, there’s good reason to believe that sugar may actually be more impactful on blood pressure than salt
As you learned earlier, insulin can cause sodium retention and stimulate your sympathetic nervous system — ultimately leading to hypertension. By following a diet that’s low in sugar, you avoid the potential pitfalls that come with high levels of insulin in your body. Keto is also low in fructose, which can raise blood pressure.
Some research even suggests that following a low-fat diet that’s high in carbs may increase your risk for high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome.
The Takeaway: Is a Keto Diet Good For Your Blood Pressure?
Following a healthy keto diet is a great way to help manage your blood pressure.
Keto not only keeps your insulin in check, but it helps you avoid certain foods that can increase your risk for hypertension like high fructose corn syrup and other refined carbohydrates.
One area of caution: Many keto-friendly foods also fall under the category of processed food. Make sure you’re watching your intake of processed meats, cheese, and other low-quality packaged foods that contain excessive amounts of sodium.
If you’re just starting keto, or need a little guidance on how to follow a clean keto diet check out this kickstart guide for tips and lists of foods to eat and avoid.