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Signs and Side Effects of Ketosis as a Result of Low Carb Dieting

Author:   Peter Sedesse MD

Physiology of Ketosis

The body enters into a state known as Ketosis when there is a lack of necessary carbohydrates to fuel normal metabolic pathways. A diet with an inadequate amount of carbohydrates most commonly results in ketosis and this has become very common with the latest fad diets that stress things like low carbs or no carbs. It is also not uncommon for the body to enter ketosis in the early morning, before we wake up. The glycogen stored in the liver is processed as the main energy source of the body when there are insufficient carbohydrates present. Normal body functions can be supported by the liver’s glycogen for less than one day. After this time, fat is then converted into ketones to be used as the body’s primary energy source. There are a number of negative symptoms present when ketosis occurs.

Waste products from Ketosis can cause water retention

The waste products that are produced are one of the major differences between ketosis and normal metabolism. The amounts of water soluble molecules that are present in the body, especially ones in the bloodstream are greatly increased by ketosis. The individual will require excess amounts of water as a result. Individuals that go on low carbohydrate diets are often surprised at their increase in weight as their body attempts to deal with the water soluble compounds found in the blood through the retention of water. The body’s increased demand for water is directly related to most of ketosis side effects.

Dry mouth, bad breath and thirst

Extreme thirst is among the most obvious signs that most people will experience. Foul breath resulting from a dry mouth is another common ketosis side effect. The body is good at letting you know when it needs something, and in this case, the thirst is caused because the body requires more water to deal with the by-products of ketosis in the blood. The mouth cannot remove excess bacteria without proper water levels, which results in bad breath. There will be a metallic taste in the mouth for many individuals. Prolonged dizziness and headaches can be caused by the dehydration resulting from ketosis.

Lack of energy, fatigue and mental impairment

These other symptoms associated with ketosis will last a few days or as long as a week after you being a low carb diet . These symptoms are the result of the body taking a few days to make the primary energy source switch to fats. The body will experience a lack of calories to burn as energy during the time this is happening. Nausea, muscle weakness and tiredness will result from the lack of energy the first week. The symptoms of muscles weakness and tiredness can be prolonged by severe sleep problems in people whose overall activity level is effected drastically. Basically for a week or two after beginning a low carb diet that puts your body into ketosis, your will not have the energy your body needs to function normally. This can affect anything ranging from muscle strength to memory and decision making.

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