The Most Common Side Effects
The most common side effects that are experienced when restricting carbohydrates are:
- Hair loss
It is important, however, to consider how common these symptoms actually are. In studies that put obese patients on a ketogenic diet for 6 months or longer , no side effects or complications were reported.
People on the opposite end of the activity spectrum like marathoners, Ironman competitors, and cyclists have been on a ketogenic diet for up to 3 years without any reported side effects.
In fact, the ketogenic diet helped them burn more fat for fuel than athletes who were on a high-carbohydrate diet.
Even ketogenic diets used to treat epilepsy in children rarely lead to serious complications. The research on children does suggest, however, that they should take magnesium, zinc, vitamin D, and B vitamins as a prophylactic. Researchers also suggest that children should take trace minerals after two years of the ketogenic diet.
Although major side effects are rare on low-carbohydrate diets even after three years of sticking to the diet we must understand what this kind of diet does to the body. With this knowledge, we can prevent or relieve almost all potential side effects and feel better on a low-carbohydrate diet than we did while eating more carbohydrates.
Low Carbohydrate Diets: Understanding The Long
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Diabetes is growing faster now than at any point in human history, yet despite this doctors continue to prescribe low carbohydrate diets, a strategy that is often viewed as the most effective nutrition approach for optimal diabetes health.
On the surface, this appears to make sense because low carbohydrate diets often result in rapid weight loss, reduced A1c values, and decreased blood glucose.
However, more than 85 years of research has clearly demonstrated that low carbohydrate diets cause insulin resistance, the behind-the-scenes condition that complicates and worsens all forms of diabetes .
Longer Term Side Effects Of Keeping Your Body In A Ketogenic State
Following these diets for a longer time may increase your risk of high cholesterol, kidney disease or damage, osteoporosis, abnormal heartbeat, and possibly sudden death.
Your age can be important in terms of the health implications of a ketogenic diet, depending on how much protein you eat.
If you are middle-aged, excessive protein can increase your risk of cancer, diabetes and general risk of premature death.
You can mitigate the risk by only doing extreme low carb dieting for short periods maybe as a kick-start for up to a few weeks.
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You Get Low Blood Sugar
When your body goes without carbs for too long, it can start to affect your blood sugar levels. When you eat food with carbohydrates, your body breaks the digestible carbs down for energy. This causes your blood sugar levels to rise and your pancreas to produce insulin, a hormone that helps your cells absorb blood sugar to use for energy.
When your blood sugar is low, however, you can start to feel extra hungry and crave high-sugar junk foods so your body can replenish its energy source. Keep your blood sugar stable by combining a complex carbohydrate with a protein and a little healthy fat , and you’ll be sure to stick to healthy snacks instead of an all-out binge.
What Is A Low Carb Diet
With Atkins, you will choose food, not calories. While quantity plays some role, it’s far more important to know what your body does with what you eat. The Atkins way satisfies the body, creating greater energy, a steady fat burning metabolism, and less stored fat. Many carbohydrates are really just complex sugars, and when there is too much sugar in your bloodstream, your body stores it as fat. A low carb diet focuses on limiting carbohydrates to help the body burn fat instead of sugar for fuel. This results in you feeling more satisfied and creates more energy, a higher metabolism, and less stored fat.
What does it mean to live a Low Carb Lifestyle?
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Glycogen Ketones And Water Loss
Humans can handle food shortages with some assistance from liver and muscle glycogen the storage form of sugar in the body. Once we start a low-carbohydrate diet, our body tends to rely on glycogen for energy.
For each gram of glycogen used as energy, twice this mass is lost in the water. This is because glycogen retain and attract water.
Once the body enters ketosis, the body is finally able to spare glycogen, but the water loss does not stop. The ketones that are created by the process of fat burning will also lead to more water excretion.
When you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, you will have lower insulin and glycogen levels and higher ketone levels.
This will cause your body to retain much less water and fewer minerals than it did before. This is why it is imperative to maintain adequate fluid and mineral intake, especially in the beginning of a low-carbohydrate diet.
Meal 2 Chicken And Cauliflower Rice
Chicken is a protein rich food with no carbs and cauliflower rice is basically vegetables with very little carbs. This meal works perfectly as an option for anyone on a low carb diet for PCOS weight loss.
1 tbsp olive oil, 453 g boneless skinless chicken thighs, 1/4cup water, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 head cauliflower, 1/5 cups frozen green beans
This recipe makes 4 servings
Calories for 1 serving: 207. Fats: 8 g. Protein: 24 g. Carbs: 8 g
Get directions from Sweet Peas and Saffron .
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Beware Of Excess Protein
A low-carb diet doesnt have to be very high in protein foods. Its enough to simply follow the standard recommendations and include protein content at each meal. The main sources should be eggs, fish, meat, nuts, and legumes.
Keep in mind that beans, chickpeas, or lentils provide have a certain amount of carbohydrates. If you want to follow a very low carbohydrate diet, you should eat small amounts of them, or suppress them completely.
Why You Should Eat Like A Cave Man
It may sound strange, but theres honestly not that much difference between us and human cave dwellers from 100,000 years ago, at least physiologically! Evolution is a very s-l-o-w process, and the million or so years that hominids like us have existed are a flash in the pan compared to the millennia that life has existed on this planet.
Early man followed a low-carb diet out of necessity. People of the Paleolithic Era ate whatever they could get their hands on, including nuts, berries, wild vegetables and occasional grains. Intermittently, a large hunk of meat in the form of a deer or bison came their way. When it did, everyone gorged themselves on this high-quality protein because they didnt know how long it would be until they had access to more of it. Plus, meat didnt keep very well back then because cave dwellers didnt have refrigeration.
Are you starting to see a pattern here? The Paleo diet depended on foraging for wild fruit, nuts and veggies, supplemented by protein from fish, fowl and sometimes larger game. Thats pretty much what you eat on a low-carb diet. Luckily for us, because of farming, we now have a lot more access to the green, healthy and low-glycemic veggies that are the foundation of a healthy low-carb diet.
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Where Should New Research Go
Challenges in evaluating the evidence regarding the effects of carbohydrate intake on metabolic parameters in diabetes management include variability in study methodology e.g., adherence measurement with regard to carbohydrate intake, small study samples for intervention trials, low retention rates, and confounding by weight loss. The intention-to-treat analysis has been criticized by advocates who focus on the best case scenario results using data from the completers — highly adherent individuals who âstick to the low-carbohydrate intervention plan.â This approach may yield insights about mechanism of action within the low carbohydrate treatment but does not address predictors of response in the general population.
The Carbohydrate And Diet Debate
Despite the fact that carbohydrates make up most of the food that is consumed around the world, some skeptics still question its role in healthy diets. Carbohydrates have been implicated in a number of diseases, which include coronary heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The concept of a low-carbohydrate diet to lose weight and prevent disease has been popularized for many years. Does it have merit, and if so, is it safe?
Low-carbohydrate diets restrict carbohydrate consumption and replace carbohydrate calories with proteins and fats in a variety of combinations. The theories behind low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets are not new. In the late 1960s, quick weight loss was promised by Dr. Irwin Stillman, who created the Stillman Diet. This diet was popularized in his book The Doctors Quick Weight Loss Diet.
Following the success of this diet, Dr. Robert Atkins created a low-carbohydrate diet plan that was promoted in his book Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution. In the early 1970s, excess protein and dietary fat were considered to be dangerous, so initially the Atkins Diet was cautiously received. That was until the 1990s, when Dr. Atkins wrote the book Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution, which received popular acclaim, despite continued medical scrutiny .
The Glycemic Index
Table 4-14. Glycemic Index Values of Sample Foods
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S And Literature Search
The current meta-analysis is reported in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Statement. The protocol for the meta-analysis has been published with the registration number CRD42015020458 in the PROSPERO database and can be accessed at .
We searched databases such as MEDLINE via Ovid, EMBASE and Cochrane Library in Trials for relevant RCT, with the last search date being 28 May 2015. In addition, references from the retrieved publications were thoroughly reviewed for potentially relevant citations not detected by the electronic search. The search terms were related to both groups of intervention and primary and secondary outcomes . Searches were restricted to RCT performed on humans, which were published in English. No restrictions were imposed on publication dates. The complete search strategy is available in the protocol published with the aforementioned registration number.
What Are The Side Effects Of A Low
A low-carb diet can look different for everyone. For instance, many people consume more carbohydrates than their bodies need, and reducing carbohydrates can bring them back into an ideal moderate carbohydrate intake. However, some individuals prefer to minimize carbohydrates further to control their blood sugar or lose weight.
While cutting carbs is not necessary to lose weight, some people prefer to limit the number of carbs they eat because it helps them feel better overall. The best diet for you is one that you can sustain for the long term or that enables you to become healthier. Before beginning a low carbohydrate diet, it is essential to discuss the options with a health care professional.
In general, a low carbohydrate diet restricts carbohydrate intake to 130 grams or fewer each day.Very low-carb diets may restrict carbs to 5 to 10% of total calories.
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Causes Of Keto Side Effects
According to Dr. Marcelo Campos, a Harvard Medical School lecturer and clinical assistant professor at Tufts School of Medicine, no one is quite sure what causes these symptoms. As mentioned earlier, the impact that such a drastic drop in carbs your body and brain’s main source of energy can have on your basic physiology is bound to make you feel pretty icky.
There are other potential explanations:
Dehydration: A quick decrease in carbs can cause fluid loss. If not adequately replaced, you’ll feel the effects of dehydration, including fatigue, headache and dizziness.
Electrolyte loss: Fluid loss can also cause losses of electrolyte minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Electrolytes regulate your body’s water balance, muscle function and blood pH, among other processes. Side effects of an electrolyte imbalance may include muscle spasms and muscle weakness.
Campos also hypothesizes that keto flu could be caused by changes in the gut microbiome, detoxification or an immune system reaction.
May Cause Dangerously Low Blood Sugar
Low carb diets like keto have been shown to help manage blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
In particular, some studies suggest that keto may help decrease levels of hemoglobin A1c, a measure of average blood sugar levels .
However, individuals with type 1 diabetes may be at a high risk of more episodes of low blood sugar , which is marked by confusion, shakiness, fatigue, and sweating. Hypoglycemia can lead to coma and death if not treated.
A study in 11 adults with type 1 diabetes who followed a ketogenic diet for over 2 years found that the median number of low blood sugar events was close to 1 per day .
Individuals with type 1 diabetes typically experience low blood sugar if they are taking too much insulin and not consuming enough carbs. Thus, a low carb keto diet may increase the risk.
Theoretically, this could also happen to individuals with type 2 diabetes who are taking insulin medications.
Even though low carb diets have been shown to improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes, they may also increase your risk of low blood sugar events especially if you have type 1 diabetes.
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Restricting Certain Foods Can Affect Your Weight
If you are on a low-carb diet, and cutting out large groups of vegetables, fruits and grains, you may not be getting enough vital nutrients to manage your weight effectively. These types of diets can increase your risk of micronutrient deficiencies and constipation because of their low fibre content.
- Missing important antioxidants and phytochemicals.
The Low Carbohydrate Diets That Researchers Use To Create Insulin Resistance In The Laboratory Setting Are Very Similar To The Low Carbohydrate Diets That People With Diabetes Are Told To Eat In The Real World
How could this be the case?
Doctors are quick to prescribe low carbohydrate diets because they result in immediate weight loss, improved blood glucose control, reduced cholesterol, and reduced blood pressure.
However, in the long term, research shows that low-carbohydrate diets high in fat and protein including meat, dairy products, eggs, fish, and oil actually worsen diabetes health, increase cancer risk, increase cholesterol, increase atherosclerosis, harden blood vessels, and increase all-cause mortality .
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What Is Your Experience With A Low Carbohydrate Diet
If you’ve ever tried a low carbohydrate diet, tell us about your experience in the comments below.
About the author
Cyrus Khambatta, PhD
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You Eat Too Much Protein
Getting enough protein in your diet can help you lose weight, and it’s an important macronutrient that will help you build lean, fat-burning muscle mass and keep you full. But when people cut out carbs, that leaves only two macronutrients: Protein and fat. And as good as protein is for you, it’s not a free-for-all.
“People think, ‘I can eat as much protein as I want.’ protein still has calories. In fact, one gram has four calories, so I see what people do is they lower their carbs and then they increase their fat and their protein to high amounts,” says White. This means people are taking in way more calories than they intend to. For weight loss, men should shoot for 56 grams a day, while women need around 46 grams. For more, see 7 Ways Eating Too Much Protein Can Harm Your Health.
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The Reviews Authors May Have A Conflict Of Interest
Caroline Apovian, MD, a codirector of the Center for Weight Management and Wellness at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, criticized the reviews dramatic findings. She pointed out that some of the study authors are proponents of a plant-based diet, which could skew their objectivity and goals.
Beyond that, she noted that many of the studies the review is based on were examining the long-term effects of, for example, high protein intake. She has recommended, and will continue to recommend, following the keto diet short term for some patients. Ketogenic diets are not diets, says Dr. Apovian, whos a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School. Theyre treatments for certain conditions, including extreme obesity. For example, a patient with obesity might need knee surgery, but the surgeon will refuse to treat her until she loses weight, in which case a keto diet might make sense, Apovian says. In those instances, it can be safe and effective. We would never recommend that anybody be on a ketogenic diet chronically for the rest of their life, she says.
Her takeaway? Dont distort reality, and dont use a review to denigrate a diet that we use to get weight loss, she says.
Data Extraction And Quality Assessment
One investigator collected the following data: article title, primary authors name, year, country of origin, study design, blinding, dietary composition, dropout rate, intention-to-treat analysis, characteristics of the study population and the mean changes in end points from baseline to the end of intervention, with measures of variance. The main end point was weight loss and secondary end points were risk factors of CVD, including blood lipid levels , fasting insulin and glucose concentrations and systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure . If data were lacking, the authors were contacted to obtain additional information. For studies that had more than two intervention groups, the most appropriate one was chosen. If data were published as updates, results of the longest duration periods were included.
Methodological quality was evaluated by two authors using the Cochrane Collaborations tool for assessing risk of bias indicating the following bias categories: selection bias performance bias attrition bias reporting bias and other biases. The nature of the trials required an open intervention with no blinding of the trial participants or the investigators. Any disagreement was resolved by consensus.
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