Can the Keto Diet Cause Tremors? Major Analysis

Keto Diet Cause Tremors

Within a decade, recent advances in the nutrition and health field have introduced the population to various dietary changes. There are many new sorts of diets and menu planning that people follow to achieve good health status. The global pandemic of obesity has made people more conscious regarding weight management and dietary changes. The Keto diet is also one of the most popular weight-loss diets followed by a majority of people. But have you thought that can the keto diet cause tremors to your body?

A Keto diet can cause tremors in your body as it is related to weight loss. This diet focused on the restriction of carbs and increased consumption of fats. With each carb molecule, four water molecules are also attached, which helps maintain the body’s electrolyte balance. But, when these carbs are restricted in diet, it can cause a massive electrolyte imbalance in the body leading to tremors and shaking of hands and feet.

We know that in a keto diet, we break our macronutrients into three categories. Our primary source of calories comes from fats which cover about 70-80 per cent.

20-25 per cent of calories come from protein and 5-10 per cent from carbohydrates. Foods like fatty cuts of meat, eggs, dairy, and low-carb fruits and vegetables like broccoli and berries are included in the keto diet. High carb, low protein, and low-fat-based foods like grains, corn, and other combinations in a keto diet should be avoided as they hinder reaching ketosis. It is the general rule to avoid all these products to achieve a ketogenic state.

Causes of the Side Effects on Keto:

Many symptoms arise during the keto diet, but these symptoms are usually shown due to the common issues which we discuss below:

  1. Adaptation process
  2. Dehydration
  3. Electrolyte deficiency

Your body is always in the habit of obtaining energy from carbohydrate sources. It is the primary source of fuel and energy for your body. The body derives glucose from carbohydrates which are essentially taken up by cells for energy purposes. When this energy source is restricted, and a new start like fat is introduced, the body will take time to adjust with this new primary source of energy showing various adverse symptoms.

It takes 4-7 days to reach the ketosis state, and sometimes it may take more than 30 days to 3 months to fully make the body as keto-adapted. During the first week of the keto diet, a person following a keto diet may face the symptoms like keto flu, fatigue, brain fog, headaches, muscle cramps, nausea, and irritability. These symptoms can vary from person to person, and it may take one week to 10 days to resolve these symptoms.

Phases of Ketogenic Diet:

PHASE 1: First 8 to 10 hours of starting the keto dietThe body is still absorbing fuel from previous meals. Within 10 hours after the last carbohydrate-containing meal, roughly 50% of the body’s total energy requirements are being met by free fatty acids (FFA).
Phase 2: 1 to 2 days since starting a dietThe body will rely on FFA and the breakdown of liver glycogen for its energy requirements. Liver glycogen is typically gone with 12-16 hours.
PHASE 3: 3 to 4 days since starting a dietGluconeogenesis has started. The body has drastically increased the production of glucose from protein and other fuels such as lactate, pyruvate and glycerol. Tissues other than the brain are decreasing their use of glucose, relying on FFA and ketones instead. Protein breakdown has increased.
PHASE 4: 4 to 7 days since starting a dietKetosis has started and will continue as long as carbohydrates are restricted. The brain has increased the utilization of ketones. The liver has started to produce ketone bodies in large quantities. Initial side-effects of the ketogenic diet, including keto flu, might appear.
PHASE 5: After 7 days since starting a dietProtein breakdown and gluconeogenesis have decreased considerably Major protein-sparing adaptation have occurred for ketosis Any large fluctuation in blood sugar levels or blood pressure might require immediate attention.

Keto and Electrolyte Imbalance:

Our body needs a balanced blend of electrolytes to function correctly. These electrolytes are not other than minerals. Minerals allow the body to perform essential bodily functions like maintaining and regulating heartbeat, muscle action, controlling the bladder’s function, regulating temperature, and maintaining neurological functions. Essential electrolytes necessary for our bodily functions include calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, chloride, and phosphorus.

Electrolytes can easily be obtained from food and drinks. A diet deficient in carbohydrates is low in all these minerals. A Diet Low in carbohydrates will drastically reduce the electrolyte intake and affect the working of the kidney. There will be more load on the kidneys to excrete sodium, disrupting the electrolyte balance. Carbohydrate intake plays a vital role in maintaining electrolyte balance.

Glucose obtained from carbohydrate breakdown supports the insulin and glycogen mechanism too. Glucose is stored in the muscles in the form of glycogen. Glycogen holds up to three grams of water. When the diet is more minor in carbs, the body’s water stores will also replenish along with glycogen, causing electrolyte imbalance.

Keto Diet Cause Tremors

The blood volume of the body is also reduced as it tries to maintain the average electrolyte concentration. This reduction in blood volume causes the symptoms described as keto flu. The symptoms of keto flu include:

  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Heart palpitations
  • Brain fog
  • Constipation
  • Water retention
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling shaky
  • Weight loss
  • Cramping

Keto-Friendly Electrolyte Sources:

NutrientRecommended intake (per day)Sources
Sodium1500 mg of sodiumDill pickle Tomato juice, sauce, soup Table salt: Add to raw vegetables or meals (1 tsp= 2300 mg sodium)  
Potassium4700 mg of potassiumAvocado Almonds Mushrooms Salmon Spinach & other leafy greens
Magnesium320 mg for women 420 mg for menSalmon Spinach & other leafy greens Pumpkin seeds Cocoa powder

Replenishing Keto Electrolytes:

It is easy to replenish the electrolytes in the body by fixing the electrolyte imbalance caused by the keto diet. You can meet up the electrolyte imbalance by consuming keto-friendly whole foods or by initiating electrolyte supplements. Moderate water intake also plays an imperative role in restoring electrolyte levels.

1. Sodium:

A low level of carbohydrate’s in the body leads to a lower level of carbs in the blood. It increases the released amount of insulin in the blood. Lower levels of insulin are associated with increased urinary excretion. Sodium is associated with urine and is released at a faster pace from the body. Low sodium levels in the body can lead to various side effects such as fatigue, headache, weakness, and difficulty concentrating.

According to American Heart Association, the daily sodium intake recommended is 1.5 to 2.3 grams. In the keto diet, you should increase sodium intake as the sodium is excreted in more quantity. To meet the physical requirements of sodium during the keto diet, you should consume foods having a moderate amount of sodium in them. Some keto-friendly food options include dill pickle, bouillon, and tomatoes.

You can also sprinkle salt on your meals and raw vegetables. But if you are suffering from any sort of chronic disease like kidney disease, hypertension, and congestive heart failure, you should consume sodium in lower quantities.

2. Potassium:

To maintain the sodium-potassium equilibrium, the kidney starts to dump the potassium into the urine. It is done so in response to low sodium levels during ketosis. It can lead to further loss of electrolytes. Muscle twitching, muscle cramps, and heart palpitations are the symptoms of potassium deficiency.

It is recommended to consume 3-4 grams of potassium daily. You can finish the keto-friendly foods containing adequate potassium, such as avocado, almonds, hemp seeds, salmon, mushrooms, and spinach. Other than this, if during keto diet your potassium deficiency is not fulfilled through diet, you can take potassium supplements too,

3. Magnesium: 

Deficiency in the sodium and potassium levels in the body can lead to a decline in essential electrolytes, including magnesium. Muscle cramping and twitching are the symptoms of magnesium deficiency.

Reason for Abnormal Findings:

CALCIUMHYPOCALCEMIA Hypoparathyroidism Acute pancreatitis Hyperphosphatemia Thyroid carcinoma Vitamin D deficiencyProlonged immobilization Hyperparathyroidism Malignancy of bone
POTASSIUMHYPOKALEMIA Excessive loss through vomiting, urination, perspiration and diarrhoeaHYPERKALEMIA
Renal failure Hyperaldosteronism Use of drugs Excessive intake of drugs Condition when potassium moves out of tissue cells into plasma
SODIUMHYPONATREMIA Excessive loss through diarrhoea, vomiting or use of diuretics Excessive water intake Head injuryHYPERNATREMIA
Loss of fluids through diarrhoea Depletion of water Excessive salt intake Diabetes insipidus Heatstroke
CHLORIDEHYPOCHLORIDEMIA Addison’s disease Diarrhea Metabolic alkalosis Respiratory acidosis VomitingHYPERCHLOREDMIA
Cardiac decomposition Metabolic acidosis Respiratory alkalosis Corticosteroid therapy Uremia
MAGNESIUMHYPOMAGNESEMIA Excessive loss from GI Tract Use of drugs Chronic alcoholism Diabetic ketoacidosis HyperparathyroidismHYPERMAGNESEMIA
renal disease and renal failure Treatment with magnesium and magnesium-containing medications
PHOSPHATEHYPOPHOSPHATEMIA Alkalosis Diabetes Chronic alcoholism Recovery from malnutrition Severe diarrhoeaHYPERPHOSPHATEMIA
Renal failure Hypoparathyroidism Excessive ingestion of phosphorus Trauma Heart stroke

Concept of Pseudohypoglycemia:

After a couple of days on a low-carb diet, you might feel exhausted or awful. It is because of the moderate or high blood glucose levels for any length of time. The body adapts to this blood glucose level, thinking that this level is average.

If the blood sugar level falls quickly, it is due to the improved healthier food choices leading the body to a panic state. Falling blood glucose levels secrete the stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. They coax the liver to break down the glycogen stores into glucose. They also dump the freshly made glucose into the bloodstream even if the blood sugar levels are above average.

This all reaction is known as psuedohypoglycemia as it mimics the symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia. The body is since, in not a real threat situation, you cannot do a lot about shakiness, sweatiness, anxiety and pounding pulse, and heart-beat.

When the blood sugar drops to below 70 mg/dl, it is the time when real hypoglycemia kicks. The body secretes cortisol and adrenaline when the blood sugar gets low. Adrenaline causes uncomfortable symptoms in the body.

Keto Diet Cause Tremors

Is Keto for Everyone?

Although the Keto diet has many benefits regarding weight loss, it is still not suitable for everyone. This diet can cause significant changes in the body system of any person, and it should be used cautiously. People suffering from chronic disorders like diabetes and high blood pressure are recommended not to diet.

A Keto diet can be chosen for short-term fat loss or for managing the diseases like epilepsy under strict medical supervision. It is so because the level of dietary restrictions in a keto diet might require electrolyte supplementation and changes in medication dosages.

The Keto diet has proved that it is associated with positive effects on the diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Extended research on essential tremors has shown positive results related to it. Keto can relieve the symptoms of neurological issues. The ketogenic diet is associated with protecting the brain against any neurological dysfunction.

Ketosis and Neurological Conditions:

EpilepsyKetosis stabilizes neurotransmitters in the brain and has been shown to reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in patients.
Alzheimer’s diseaseKetones can reduce oxidative stress in the brain, and have been shown to improve cognitive and behavioural performance in human and mouse models of Alzheimer’s.
Parkinson’s diseaseKetosis may improve brain energy metabolism and lead to increased tremor control, balance and mood.
Mood and migrainesKetones may reduce anxiety and depression-like behaviour. Case studies have shown that migraines improve on a ketogenic diet.

Also Read: What Happens If You Don’t Eat Enough Fat On Keto? Incredible Findings

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Can the keto diet lead to shaking?

 It is recommended to save energy for intense training sessions if you are on a keto diet. You can lead to the signs of hypoglycemia, which can cause temporary shakiness, lightheadedness and sweating.

What are the negative side effects of the keto diet? 

Side effects of the keto diet include bad breath, fatigue, constipation, irregular menstrual cycle, decrease bone density and sleep issues.

What are the symptoms when someone comes out of ketosis? 

The symptoms include weight gain, bloating, blood sugar spikes, increased hunger and sugar addiction.

Why does a person feel weird and tired on a keto diet?

People can feel exhausted and tired on a keto with insufficient fuel in the form of fats. Eating a balanced diet regularly is the best way to provide plenty of energy for the body.

Can keto cause health problems?

A Keto diet can cause low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutritional deficiencies, and an increased risk of heart disease. A Keto diet is even not safe for people suffering from pancreas, liver, thyroid and gallbladder.

How long does keto weakness last?

 Keto weakness can lead to keto flu which can last for more than a week. It includes some other symptoms, such as fatigue, nausea, headache, diarrhoea, muscle cramps, bad breath, skin rashes, and mood swings.

How can you fight keto fatigue?

 You can fight keto fatigue by staying hydrated, replacing electrolytes, getting plenty of sleep and consuming enough fat.

Is the keto diet hard for kidney functioning?

A Keto diet can put stress on the kidneys and can lead to kidney stones in some cases too.

Dr. Zainab Naeem

Hello! My name is Dr. Zainab Naeem, and I am a Nutritionist/Dietitian by profession. I am also impassioned to spread knowledge about ‘9Lifestyle medicine’, ‘Human Nutrition’, and ‘Dietetics’ so that people can stop believing the wrong concepts about food and habits they have adopted over the years, which hinders the real joy of their life. This site is an excellent platform for me to share some of my medical knowledge and experience extracts. The power of words helps me to spread up-to-date and current research studies.

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