Many low-carb diets claim to help you lose weight quickly while still enjoying many of the foods you love, such as steak or cheese. While low-carb diets have been shown to be effective in dropping excess weight quickly, there are several distinct disadvantages. MayoClinic.com reports disadvantages that include, among other concerns, a lack of essential nutrients and potential health complications .
Insufficient Fiber and Other Nutrients
Because low-carb diets severely limit your intake of carbohydrates, you may be robbing your body of vital nutrients. Many carb-rich foods, like whole grains, are also full of dietary fiber, which you need for proper bowel function and maintaining a healthy cholesterol level. Many low-carb diets also restrict your intake of fruit and starchy vegetables, so you’re missing out on the vitamins and minerals found there, as well. B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin C all may be lacking with a low-carb diet.
Too Much Fat
Most low-carb diets allow foods that are high in fat, like full-fat dairy products and non-lean red meat. This can encourage people to eat more of these saturated fats than recommended. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a high-fat diet may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and raise cholesterol levels.
Long-Term Weight Loss
Low-carb diets might not have much of an edge over other nutritionally balanced diets in regards to long-term weight loss. While low-carb plans may result in more lost weight during the first three to six months, after one or two years, the amount of weight lost is similar to low-fat and other types of diets. A study done by researchers at Deakin University in Australia also showed no advantage of low-carb diets in long-term weight loss, and found that much of the short-term weight loss was in the form of water and glycogen stores instead of fat.
Other Negative Side Effects
Suddenly restricting your intake of carbs can also result in headache, dizziness, constipation, fatigue and weakness. Another possible consequence is ketosis, which can occur if you’re eating less than 20 grams of carbs per day. With ketosis, your body uses stored fat for energy because it doesn’t have enough glucose. This can cause ketones to accumulate, which can result in nausea, headache and bad breath, according to MayoClinic.com. For people with kidney disease, eating a diet low in carbs and high in protein may worsen their condition. The excess protein is not metabolized properly, and the protein waste products may be difficult for your body to eliminate.
- MayoClinic.com: Low-Carb Diet: Could it Help You Lose Weight?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Grains
- Shape: Low-Carb Diets
- Fitness: Is Your Diet Unhealthy?
- MayoClinic.com: High-Protein Diets: Are They Safe?
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Book Review: The All-New Atkins Advantage
- MayoClinic.com: Low-Fat vs Low-Carb
- Obesity Reviews: Safety of Low-Carb Diets
Perry Miller graduated from Missouri State University in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and nutrition sciences. She covers health, fitness and nutrition for various print and online publications.