Dangers of Low Carb Diets

Are you planning to start on a low carb diet? Do the results promised by most low carb diets sound too good to be true? Read on to find the real truth and the dangers of low carb diets.
| Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Every few years a new form of dieting is developed and many individuals are tempted to jump on the band wagon of shedding excess weight.

Low carbohydrate diet is another one of those diets that seeks to put a restriction on the consumption of carbohydrates in the body so as to reduce weight. This means food items high or rich in carbohydrates such as bread are replaced through consumption of food items rich in proteins such as meat and soya products. However the body requires a certain amount of carbohydrates and restricting consumption of certain food items such as green leafy vegetables that are also rich in carbohydrates can prove to be quite harmful for the body. Therefore it is always wise to select a diet plan that is suitable for you and follow the same under expert guidance.

Not many people are aware that carbohydrates are extremely essential for the body and therefore low carb diets might not be entirely safe. There can be some serious dangers of low carb diets

Facts About Low Carbohydrate Diets

Effect on Glycogen

Low carb diets are also known as ketogenic diets and these cause the glycogen levels in the body to deplete. Glycogen is nothing but storage form of glucose within the body. These stores within muscles and the liver are reduced and that often causes dehydration. This dehydration contrary to belief is not a result of weight loss but can be attributed to muscle loss. Such an effect can be seen within a few weeks of adopting a low carb diet. This problem with low carb diet is unfortunately the very reason why this diet is so popular. It results in a considerable drop in the weight within a few weeks and this is in fact not a healthy sign. Carbohydrates are essential for adequate formation of glycogen. This depletion in glycogen has some grave results including fatigue, loss of energy and muscle atrophy. One of the biggest problems with low carb diet is that it results in lowering of insulin levels and that can be dangerous.

Muscle Loss with Low Carb Diets

Since low carb diets result in loss of muscle these cause the metabolism to reduce and this in turn means that the calorie burning is slowed down considerably. Combining this slow metabolism with the rapid loss of weight and muscle loss, what you see are saggy muscles and the person ends up looking rather pale and tired.

Body's Need for Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates essentially include the ones that should be ideally avoided and those that should be consumed. Avoidable carbohydrates include cookies, candies and baked items, soft drinks with added flavors etc. However our body needs some essential carbohydrates and these are included in items such as brown rice, certain vegetables, fruits, legumes etc. Completely replacing or restricting all carbohydrates can do more harm than good for the body. Many low carb diets falter in banning all carbohydrates. The thought process behind banning all carbohydrates is the belief that they make you fat. The truth is that eating excessively can make a person fat.  

Metabolism Imbalance

As lowered metabolism follows low carb diets what it means is that calorie burning slows down considerably after the initial few weeks or so. Therefore the chances of an individual gaining back the weight and even more are quite high.

Alternative Foods Can Cause Problems

Since many low carb diets advice replacing carbohydrates with meat, long term and increased consumption of meat and other animal products actually can increase the chances of heart diseases, strokes and other problems related to kidneys and even cancers.

One of the biggest problems of low carb diets is that since it stresses on consuming animal products the body does not get the required amount of fiber and fiber is crucial for the digestive track. Research has shown that lack of fiber over a long term can actually cause increased risk of cardiovascular problems, not to mention other common problems such as bowel disorders and constipation.

Why to Avoid Low Carb Diets

The human body also needs certain antioxidants and these are found in fruits, legumes and vegetables among other items. If these are replaced as directed under many low carb diets, it can cause grave harm since antioxidants and other nutrients play an important role in protecting the body against heart problems and certain types of cancers.

The consumption of food in most American households has a large proportion of protein since animal products are already consumed in large quantities. Replacing the essential carbohydrates with more protein cannot really serve the body in any way. Excess consumption of protein can actually have a boomerang effect in the sense that it can cause problems such as kidney stones, gout problems and osteoporosis.

Some other dangers of low carb diets include increased risk in birth defects. It may cause women to become short tempered. Other studies have linked some low carb diets to increased incidence of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Many low carb diets result in individuals remaining deficient in essential nutrients including folic acid which plays a crucial role in neurological development in a fetus. Perhaps the biggest problem with low carb diets is the fact that studies have shown no real significant difference in the weight loss seen with a low carbohydrate diet and the weight loss seen after implementing a normal conventional weight loss program.

Low carb diets, particularly ones that are rather extreme can result in cognitive difficulties since carbohydrates act as a fuel for the brain and therefore restricting essential carbohydrates can cause the brain to use ketones that are a by product of fat after it is broken down and this can in turn affect memory and create problems in mental judgment. Random and excess replacement of essential carbohydrates which is the basis of several extreme low carb diets also results in depression and mood swings. This is because serotonin is the element that controls moods and this is provided by carbohydrates.

The only way to reduce weight is to adopt a diet under the guidance of an expert and adopt healthy eating habits along with a good exercise regime. Remember there are no short cuts to enjoying a healthy life.