Are Low-Carb Diets Healthy For You?

August 28, 2023

Low-carb diets are becoming an increasingly popular diet trend around the world. Individuals who are on low carbohydrate diets claim that these diets help them to lose fat, build muscle, and even think more clearly while eating a variety of delicious meats, cheeses, and desserts. However, some of those who are more cautious tend to wonder if this diet actually lives up to the hype. It might sound great, but is it truly a safe and effective way of losing weight? Many health experts are starting to examine low-carb diets and see how they affect the human body. Keep reading to find out if a low-carb diet is safe and healthy for you to follow.

The Health Benefits Of Low-Carb

When trying to decide if a low-carb diet is right for you, it is helpful to see if the health benefits of low-carb diets outweigh the risks. The typical low-carb diet will allow you to eat plenty of protein and fat while limiting your carbohydrates to approximately twenty to sixty grams per day. For most individuals, the primary benefit of going low-carb is losing weight. Without carbohydrates, the body is not able to retain a vast amount of water, therefore, you end up losing a ton of retained water weight.

Many find that they stay fuller for longer when eating more protein and fat, and as a result, end up eating fewer calories overall when following a low carb diet. Low-carb diets are also recommended for patients with diabetes, as they are eating fewer carbs, meaning that they are consuming less sugar as well, resulting in lower glucose levels. Some people claim that they experience other health benefits, such as lower levels of stress, improved concentration and focus, and increased strength.

The Health Risks Of Low-Carb

Though low carb diets do have numerous benefits, there are also some health risks associated with it. One concern is that many individuals tend to eat an abundant amount of saturated fat and animal products. This may lead to an increased risk for heart problems due to higher cholesterol levels, and there is evidence that links diets high in meat to increased rates of cancer. If individuals following a low-carb diet are not careful, they may not consume enough essential nutrients as they are not eating enough produce, which can lead to severe nutritional deficiencies.

Another issue is that carbohydrates are usually a vital part of our metabolism. The body uses carbs as a source of energy during exercise and when we are active. Athletes may find that they feel dizzy, nauseous, or fatigued due to the lack of carbohydrates in their system. It may be possible to be healthy on a low-carb diet, but it requires a lot of care to avoid excess saturated fat and ensure you get enough nutrients.

Low-Carb & Weight Loss

The science between low-carb and weight loss explains why some people are willing to brave the health risks of low-carb diets. Any type of weight loss is essentially just caused by burning more calories in a day than you consume. There are plenty of ways to achieve this goal, but a low-carb diet is one of the simplest. Many individuals on a low-carb diet don't even bother to count calories, as instead of counting calories, they simply do not ingest any carbs, making this diet very convenient and easy to stick to. Low-carb diets can also help you lose weight due to the amount of proteins and fats you consume. The body gauges satiety based on fat intake, so eating a higher percentage of fat makes you feel full quicker. Protein takes a while to digest, so it provides you with energy for hours, which keeps you from craving snacks and eating less overall.

Low-Carb Leads To Ketosis

If you heavily restrict your carbohydrate intake to less than twenty grams per day, you will be putting your body into a state known as ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic process where your body burns fat for fuel instead of carbs, resulting in weight loss and muscle gain. Many people like the fact that low-carb leads to ketosis because they can use it to burn accumulated fat. The only problem with normal ketosis is that it can make your breath smell unpleasant. Also, an excessive buildup of ketones can cause problems within your body.

In extremely unusual cases, a person can experience ketoacidosis, a potentially fatal condition, which typically only occurs among people with diabetes who are eating almost no carbs at all. The symptoms of ketoacidosis include extreme thirst, dehydration, vomiting, fruity-smelling breath, and mental confusion. Ketoacidosis might sound scary, but keep in mind that this is a rare side effect that generally only affects people with diabetes. A normal low-carb diet will not cause this condition.

Is A Low-Carb Diet Safe In the Long Run?

A low-carb diet typically does not have too many health problems associated with it when it is used as a form of weight control for a duration of time. However, people who find that they do well on low-carb diets may be wondering, "are they safe in the long run?" Unfortunately, not a lot of research has been done to determine how effective and safe a low-carb diet would be in the long run. However, it does appear that following a strict, low-carb diet can have some long-term effects.

A study performed in 2018 from the Brigham and Women's Hospital of Boston, examined over 15,000 individuals over the course of twenty-five years, who followed a moderate, high, or low-carb diet around the age of fifty. Scientists discovered that low-carb dieters tend to live four years less than the other types of carb dieters. This seems to be caused by the excessive intake of meat and dairy products, which can cause oxidative stress and heart problems. However, further studies are needed to fully understand the long-term effects of a low-carb diet and how it affects the human body in the long run.

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