What side effects should I look out for on a keto diet?

The short answer is yes, there can be many especially if you do it for a period of over two months or more.

Our stomach lining needs carbohydrates so that the muscus lining stays protected. With less carbs, this mucus lining gets affected causing gut permeability issues making us more prone to food sensitivities and allergies. Our eyes are also protected by a mucus lining and we need enough glucose to make that lining. When we eat very little carbs less than 50 grams (this could vary from person to person) this mucus lining starts to disintegrate and causes dry eyes.

Poor sleep

When you consume below 50-80 grams of carbs, your brain starts to starve of glucose and will wake you up many times in the middle of the night to feed your body carbs. So your deep restorative sleep will be affected and you wake up feeling tired affecting your productivity and mood during the rest of the day.

Hair fall

Keto diets allow just 15-20 per cent protein so don’t be surprised if you notice that you have hair fall. The main iron storage molecule, ferritin, is a protein. So when your protein intake is low it can affect your iron levels and this causes hair fall.

Thyroid levels

Within two months of being on keto check your T3 levels to make sure they are fine. Here’s the problem: Your thyroid gland needs glucose to produce its hormones T3 and T4, and to convert these hormones from inactive to usable effecient active forms. When not enough carbs are present, hormone production and conversion slows. This can worsen a hypothyroid condition.

High cholesterol

A main reason cholesterol levels go up is because you are eating the wrong kind of fats. Checking inflammatory markers like CRP are important to look at the situation with more relevant information rather than just a simple lipid profile.

Rashi Chowdhary is a nutritionist, diabetes educator and creator of The Protein Bake Shop