This Side Effect Might Change Your Mind About Going Keto

The ketogenic (keto) diet mimics fasting and was invented as a treatment for epilepsy in the 1920s. While it remains an effective treatment for epilepsy (although it has been replaced, in many cases, by medication), it has recently become incredibly popular in the dieting world (via Wiley Online Library). 

The keto diet is a high fat and super low carbohydrate diet. This forces the body to burn fat instead of carbs in a state called ketosis, and this can be beneficial for people with epilepsy, diabetes, and high blood sugar (via Mayo Clinic). Some side effects include bad breath, headaches, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, and difficulty exercising. This batch of symptoms is known together as the "keto flu," according to a book excerpt published in StatPearls. The symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. 

Constipation can be one of the more troubling side effects. It's defined as having three or fewer bowel movements per week; hard, dry, or lumpy stools; stools that are painful or difficult to pass; and a feeling that not all stool has passed (via the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases).  

Causes of constipation from the keto diet

When you start the keto diet, your body is adjusting to a major increase in fats and a decrease in carbs. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should be getting 45 to 65 percent of your calories from carbs. For example, if you need 2,000 calories a day, you should be getting a minimum of 225 grams of carbs daily. On the keto diet, you're only allowed 50 grams of carbs. Carbs provide energy, and the fiber from carb-rich foods can prevent certain diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

You need 21 to 38 grams of fiber in your diet, depending on your age and gender (via Harvard Health Publishing). It's difficult to get enough fiber on the keto diet because fiber is found in certain whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds (via Mayo Clinic). Not getting enough fiber in your diet is one of the major causes of constipation, according to John Hopkins Medicine

It's easy to see why you'd be constipated on the keto diet, and remember, it can last from a few days to a few weeks. Has this side effect changed your mind on the keto diet?