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Evils of the Keto Diet

Updated on April 7, 2019
Carolyn M Fields profile image

I have followed the WW/Weight Watchers program for years, from "exchanges" up to the most recent Wellness Wins program.


Why I Know So Much

My very first effort to lose weight was in Elementary School. Apparently I liked fried chicken and cookies just a little too much. I was put on skim milk, and told to “not eat so much.” And so began a lifetime of watching what I ate, and almost always having a “weight problem.”

Over the years (okay, decades), I’ve either been on or researched just about every diet plan that has ever been conceived. Yes, I’ve tried them all, including some of my own invention. I’ve counted calories, fasted for a day, had nothing but liquids, and so on and so forth.

Now that I’ve gained a little perspective and maturity, I’m an advocate of WW (Wellness Wins, or Weight Watchers). It teaches you how to eat, gently encourages you to be more active, and provides much needed emotional and psychological support. And weigh-ins are private. But before I landed here, I did my turn on a low-carb diet.

The Stillman Diet

Dr. Stillman introduced a low-carb, high protein diet back in the late 1960’s. It was also low fat as well, so it wasn’t completely like the Keto diet of today. The Stillman Diet included every kind of meat you might think of, plus eggs, non-fat cottage cheese, and a few condiments. You could also drink all the black coffee, tea, or diet soda that you wanted.

I remember eating cottage cheese with black coffee for breakfast, hotdogs with catsup and American cheese for lunch, and a big serving of hamburger for dinner. I snacked on boiled eggs. I also drank a freakish amount of diet soft drinks back then (I’ve since seen the error of that). The weight would fall off of my body, just about as fast as my energy level dropped.

The Atkins Diet

Stillman was the precursor to Atkins, which lives on to this day. Again, carbohydrates are the enemy. You concentrate on food selection, as opposed to calorie counting. They claim that you will have more energy on the Atkins diet, and a high metabolism. That’s different than the Stillman diet, which left me feeling sluggish after only one day. They also have an entire product line of pre-packaged foods, so it’s theoretically easy to follow. Lastly, there is a concept called “net carbs,” which frankly doesn’t sound that easy to me.

The Keto Diet

The Ketogenic or “Keto” diet is similar to Atkins, except that there are specific targets for carbs and protein. Carb intake allowance is 5 - 10% of your daily diet, and protein should be around 10 - 20% of your calories. The remaining 70 – 80% comes from fat. This builds up ketones in the bloodstream rather rapidly, which can lead to several undesirable side effects, including:

  • Headaches
  • Mental fatigue
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Nausea
  • Vitamins and mineral deficiencies
  • Increased kidney stone risk


What happens when you take keto a bit too far? Eat nothing but meat, low fat cheese, and tea for days? Most likely you will develop ketoacidosis, which is a serious (and even possibly life-threatening) condition. Ketones are produced by your liver, when your body oxidizes (breaks down) fat. Since that’s your primary source of fuel on the Keto diet, you’re going to have an abnormally high amount of ketones building up in your blood.

Your body normally uses carbs (specifically glucose) as fuel, but you’ve essentially cut those out of your diet. When you use fat for fuel, acidic ketones will build up. People on the keto diet check for these ketones, to make sure that they’ve begun breaking down fat to trigger weight loss. What they don’t tell you is that the state of ketoacidosis is actually quite dangerous. For people with diabetes, it can actually be fatal.

Let's Talk More About Health

With the Keto diet plan, you must increase your fat intake to roughly 75% of your total calories. This often means adding highly saturated animal fats and red meat, which are not generally thought of as “healthy” sources of nutrition.

Most dietary guidance will emphasize including a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Since the Keto diet severely restricts these items, it’s not a good plan for the long term.

Finally, if you have any sort of liver problems, kidney condition, heart disease, and/or diabetes, the Keto diet may be especially harsh. You’ll always see the phrase “seek your physician’s advice before starting a diet plan.” It’s doubly important for the Keto plan.

Bottom Line

If you follow the Keto diet to the letter, there is no denying that you will take off weight. This is especially true at the start of the diet, when your body sheds water as it adjusts to the extreme reduction in the number of carbohydrates you are eating. Unfortunately, when you reintroduce carbs into your diet, the water weight is likely to return. Of course, you could restrict your carb use for the rest of your life, but I doubt that’s anyone’s idea of a great diet plan.

Here is my advice: if you need to drop a “quick” five pounds to fit into that special dress or pair of pants for an upcoming event, then Keto can be your (temporary) friend. But just like house guests, three days is the limit. After that, it’s time to move on.

Are you interested in using the Keto Diet?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Carolyn Fields


Submit a Comment
  • bhattuc profile image

    Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

    14 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

    Interesting article. Thanks.

  • Carol Morris profile image

    Carol Morris 

    17 months ago

    I get that. It's so difficult in the first weeks, I probably would have stopped too, but my husband is also doing it and so I have him for support. I have always drunk lots of water, so that part is easy for me. I really recommend it as a way of life, if you can get over the "keto flu" (symptoms of the first couple of weeks) and make sure to get enough water and magnesium.

  • Carolyn M Fields profile imageAUTHOR

    Carolyn Fields 

    17 months ago from South Dakota, USA

    Carol Morris,

    Yes, keto does work. My concern is the health effects for people who don't do it properly. They don't drink enough water, for example. I'm glad that you've had positive results. That's wonderful. More power to you. I just haven't been able to get past the "no energy" slump, and other side effects.

    Thanks for reading, and commenting.


  • Carol Morris profile image

    Carol Morris 

    17 months ago

    We started the keto diet two months ago, and have lost quite a bit of weight, but it was not all quickly. Also, one thing is that we eat high fat cheese and not low fat, to get as much fat in our bodies as we can. Yes, we did have those symptoms, but just for a week or so at the beginning, until our bodies got used to the new way of eating. We now have much more energy, don't feel hungry all the time or want to snack like we used to. We feel much healthier than we've ever felt before. Also, my blood test results were better than ever.

  • Carolyn M Fields profile imageAUTHOR

    Carolyn Fields 

    17 months ago from South Dakota, USA

    Thanks for your comments, Kathy. Keto definitely works, and it will take the weight off quickly. My fear is overdoing it. Personally, I can't stay on high protein for more than a day, or I feel terrible. Just no energy. Different strokes for different folks.

  • KathyH profile image


    17 months ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

    One more “trap” that I noticed with the Keto diet! Almost every recipe you look up and decide to try calls for strange - and very expensive- ingredients! They’ll include Amazon links and the author gets a portion of the sale! If you can’t find the ingredients you need in your grocery store, you order online, wait to get them, and find you hate the recipe you made and it may end up in the trash! Some recipes, you may order like three $12 ingredients- I never did that, but a person could do it. Before you know it you may be into a recipe for $40 just to end up wishing you hadn’t tried it! I try to stick with ingredients that are readily found in our grocery store and not too expensive! Just beware that when a recipe calls for some weird oat or fiber powder that costs $15 - and then you only use a couple tablespoons of it- stay away from those types of recipes! Often times the author hypes it up for sales purposes- and take their comments with a grain of salt! Thinking of a Keto chocolate chip cookie recipe I tried that the author swore her kids loved- NO WAY would our 4 year old grandson touch these nasty cookies!! And chocolate chips that contain Stevia for a sweetener are just gross!!

  • KathyH profile image


    17 months ago from Waukesha, Wisconsin

    I’ve been doing a mostly keto diet for about 8 months now and have lost at least 35 pounds. There are days though when it does make me feel really crappy!! Interesting take on this diet! Lately I have had carbs on occasion- probably more like a Paleo diet than Keto. My hope is to lose some more weight- maybe another 25 pounds or so and then to be able to keep it off permanently ( more or less). I lost a lot of weight once before in my life- when our twins were about 4 or 5 years old. It all crept back up on me over about 20 years. So, we’ll see if I can actually keep it off this time! I plan to keep carbs a lot lower than they were at one time though! It’s tough doing the yo-yo dieting thing! Interesting read!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    20 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Carolyn, I always like to read another point of vire. I think I felt better because stayed away from sugar and most processed foods, but I had some stomach problems.

  • Carolyn M Fields profile imageAUTHOR

    Carolyn Fields 

    20 months ago from South Dakota, USA

    Thanks, Pamela. As I mention in the hub, I have tried the "high protein" approach, and it's just not for me. My main reason for writing this is the current level of "hype" associated with Keto. I was trying to present another point of view.

    Again, thanks for reading and the comment.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    20 months ago from Sunny Florida

    This is an interesting article as I have tried most diets, including Weight Watchers through the years. I have tried Keto as well. I found I had less inflammation in my body so the arthritis was less painful. However, the diet does get old. I never ate the right quantity of protein and fat. I did eat a lot of salads, berries of various types and eggs.

    Now I am just using moderation, but my weight is where I want it for now.

  • breakfastpop profile image


    23 months ago

    My motto is everything in moderation, period. Deprivation never works.

  • Lorna Lamon profile image

    Lorna Lamon 

    23 months ago

    This is an interesting article - I've never been on a diet, however, friends of mine have tried the Keto diet with some success. It's always good to research these diets beforehand and be as informed as possible. Thank you for sharing.

  • tsadjatko profile image

    The Logician 

    23 months ago from now on

    Great advice Carolyn! Simple and informative. Clears up a question I had about keto, i’ve heard from do many people the weight they’ve lost.

    I must say when I was younger, before age 40, the low carb diet worked great for me anytime I tried it, and fast too! But now at my age it takes 5 times as long for me to lose weight than it did then. Much to be said about metabolism slowing down with age.

    The fastest I ever lost weight was when I was a junior in highschool. I wasn’t overweight but at lunch in the cafeteria I’d eat a chocolate covered ice cream bar with nougats in it. The 7 guys I sat with at my table teased me every time I ate one if these, they called them dingleberries and for some reason thought my eating them was gross. One day one of them said I bet you can’t eat a dozen of them in one lunch period! I got so fed up with the constant hastling me about these “dingleberries” I said put your money where your mouth is! If I eat 12 you will pay for the bars plus each of you pay me a quarter for every one over a dozen and for each one I don’t eat under 12 I’ll pay each of you a quarter. They jumped at the challenge. Then they said we’ll do it on thursday at lunch and I agreed.

    On thursday I bought a dozen dingleberries and sehem on the table so they would melt because they were frozen hard as a rock. I thought I had this all figured out... NOT!

    As I began munching down the ice cream bars my “friends” whipped out a big sign and held it over the table. The sign said “DINGLE BERRY CONTEST” As I’m chewing through the bars they’re telling me how much time I had left. This is when I realized every thursday all periods were shortened by 5 minutes so we could have an assembly at the end of the day! This put a wrench into my plans, but half way through the bars now they were softening up and I was making good time!

    By now everyone in the cafeteria had stopped eating and were gathering around my table cheering me on after every bar I finished. There was so much commotion and cheering that the teacher monitoring the cafeteria stood by the table on an upper level overlooking the whole thing, arms folded and just enjoying me making a fool of myself. Then I finished the dozen with about 10 minutes left!

    It wasn’t until that moment that it dawned on me that to win anything I had to eat more than twelve! I had not thought about that. I ran to the ice cream case, and bought 10 more! Although they were hard as rock I munched them down and in the end wound up eating 22 ice cream bars in 23 minutes. The normal lunch period was 28 minutes but this day it was shortened by 5 minutes.

    Well I know you are wondering what all this has to do with losing weight. After “lunch” I went to my math class during which My teacher asked if I was OK because I was shivering non stop, looked pale and wasn’t participating in class like I usually did. I din’t know how but I managed to sway her concern. So school was out early because wound up they skipped the assembly and ket us out early. By the time I got home all my gums were blistering from frost bite, I had diarrhea the rest of the day and when I woke up the next morning i had lost 15 lbs.

    Not bad for a one day diet! I call it the Fahrenheit diet. Lots of carbs at 0 degrees Fahrenheit!

    otherwise known as the dingleberry diet.


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