The question that should be on more people’s minds today is: do low carb diet health risks exist, and if so, then what are they? The idea of carbohydrates being off-limits for individuals watching their figure is so popular that some actually cringe when the waiter places the bread basket before me in a restaurant. In fact, one of the first things that came to my mind when I decided to write this article is the scene in that B-grade Ryan Reynolds movie ‘Just Friends’ where the Britney Spears-type character screws up her face and spats something along the lines of, ‘I don’t eat CARBS you idiot!’ when another character offers her some potato chips.
That movie scene may seem extreme, but then again, I actually have friends who ask to ‘hold the bread’ when ordering a sandwich (sigh). As much as I want to say that I’ve avoided this craze, I find myself feeling more uncomfortable and guilt-stricken consuming carbs than any other type of food. I do not adhere to a carb-free diet because I find it nearly impossible to enjoy life when trying to do so, but I can understand why some others do.
But other than the fact that avoiding carbs like they’re the plague is a pain, are there any negative health consequences to doing so? The answer is yes, yes, and YES! I actually didn’t find out how unhealthy it is until the other day, when I came across an article about the dangers of fad diets. I wasn’t surprised that a grapefruit diet, for example, can be very harmful, but the fact that staying away from carbs is dangerous intrigued me. I did more research and it turns out that a large proportion of health specialists support this claim.
Let’s go over some basics for those of you who aren’t sure what carb-free diets actually are. Generally, diets such as these (ex. the Atkin’s diet) recommend a severe restriction of carbohydrates. When individuals do this their bodies go into ketosis, a metabolic state where the body burns fat (as opposed to carbohydrates) for energy. So when normally your body breaks down the carbs you consume for fuel, now it goes straight for your fat cells. Another ‘plus’ of carb-free diets is that you usually feel less hungry when your body is in ketosis and thus eat less.
Now for the negatives…
The least serious side-effects are that although many individuals see initial success in losing weight, this is uaul water weight and muscle mass, and most individuals have a hard time keeping that weight off. Secondly, the increase of ketones produced in the body during ketosis can lead to bad breath!
Now for the more serious effects. According to the American Dietetic association (ADA) and the American Heart Association, low carb diets are way too high in cholesterol and fat. And as most of us know, high cholesterol can lead to heart disease, cancer and stroke! These diets also tend to lead to an increase in protein consumption, which together with a lack of carbohydrates can cause a bagful of other serious health issues, including: kidney stones, kidney failure, cancer, osteoporosis (as we excrete more calcium while on these diets), and gout.
Hopefully if you were thinking of severely restricting your carbohydrate consumption, you will think twice about it now. Personally, this information made me jubilant as now I can enjoy things like high-carb fruits, whole wheat pastas & breads, and granola with zero guilt!