With so many positive reports on how the keto diet has changed lives and bodies, it's hard not to be convinced to try it out yourself. Though the high-fat, low-carb diet provides a wealth of benefits, from weight loss to improvement in energy, it's not for everyone.
According to Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, founder of Ancient Nutrition and DrAxe.com, those with certain health conditions should avoid attempting keto — especially without professional supervision. Anyone who's pregnant or nursing, has diabetes, liver, or kidney disease, has had their gallbladder removed or has a history of gallstones, has adrenal fatigue, is hypoglycemic, or anybody who is underweight or has recently undergone gastric bypass surgery should not go on the keto diet.
Even if you don't fall into any of the aforementioned categories, there's still a possibility that this diet won't work for you. Most people experience keto flu symptoms, like nausea and dizziness, within their first week or two. But if the following side effects persist beyond those initial 30 days, it could be an indication that you need to stop.
1. You're Exhausted
As your body goes through some major metabolic changes, it's common to feel more tired than usual during the first five to seven days of keto. Dr. Axe says that your energy should increase after one to two weeks of being in ketosis. It it doesn't, you may be consuming too much protein or too many carbs.
"If you're definitely only eating 25 to 30 grams of net carbs per day and still feeling wiped out, it may be time to increase your carb intake and try more of a modified low-carb diet," Dr. Axe told POPSUGAR. "Some people feel better when eating about 50 to 100 grams of carbs per day, especially if they're very active, rather than being in ketosis."
2. You're Having Sleep Problems
If you have a thyroid disorder, high cortisol (stress hormone) levels, or any other hormonal imbalance, it could be that the keto diet is exacerbating your condition and preventing you from getting quality sleep. According to Dr. Axe, it comes down to your individual response to cutting carbs. Don't go to sleep hungry, make sure you're eating enough calories throughout the day, and try taking a magnesium supplement before bed. If none of these work, you may want to consider incorporating carbs back into your diet (especially with dinner).
3. You're Feeling Anxious and Moody
Dr. Axe says that if you already have a stressful and busy lifestyle, now is probably not the time to switch to keto. For everyone else, make sure you're consuming enough calories and healthy fats and staying properly hydrated to prevent irritability. If the keto diet is still impacting your mood, it's time to increase your protein and carbohydrate intake in small increments. "At another point in time when you're feeling more stable and calmer, the keto diet may actually work well for you," Dr. Axe said.
4. You're Having Digestive Issues
The decrease in carbs and fiber and your food intake in general may cause your bowel movements to slow down. This is why it's especially important to drink plenty of water, consume healthy fats, and get your fiber from nonstarchy veggies. If you're still feeling bloated or constipated, try an elimination diet to identify any food allergies or nutrient deficiencies that may be at play here.
5. You're Losing Too Much Muscle Mass and Weight
If this is the case for you, consider switching to a moderately low-carb diet instead. Especially if you train regularly, you'll want to incorporate more complex carbs and healthy fats and proteins to prevent the loss of all that hard-gained muscle.
"As with any diet and wellness program, you should consult your physician before beginning any new diet regimen if you have any questions or concerns, especially if you're dealing with a chronic health problem that requires ongoing treatment," Dr. Axe said. You should also continue any prescribed medications. The most important thing here is to listen to what your body is telling you. It may be that another diet is better for you than keto, and that's OK!