Our body needs a mix of all the three macronutrients, fats, proteins and carbohydrates, to maintain good health, and carbohydrates provide energy (calories) to the body. Any diet which focuses primarily on the reduction of carbohydrates in the diet is referred to as a low carbohydrate diet, and a no carbohydrates diet is actually a very low carbohydrates diet. While some diets start with a very low carbohydrates phase for a short duration of time, like the Atkins diet, others begin with higher levels of carbohydrates.
Pros of a No/Low Carbohydrate Diet
- Effective weight loss – Following a low carbohydrates high protein diet to lose weight can be effective. Because of the reduced intake of carbohydrates, the body uses the stored glycogen to draw energy.
- Reduced water retention – The initial weight loss is due to the loss of the water weight. The glycogen stored in the body contains water, which is eliminated when the glycogen is used for energy production.
- No limits on fat and protein intake – There is not a lot of restriction on the intake of fat and proteins. So, you can indulge in meat, fish and poultry.
Cons of a No/Low Carbohydrates Diet
- Not good for the long-term – Reducing the variety of foods that can be consumed, controls the calorie intake and also the quantity of food. After the initial weight loss, continued dietary restrictions lead to boredom and may even weaken your resolve. Result – increased craving for high sugar and fat food.
- Fainting – Depriving the body of the required amounts of carbohydrates can cause a rapid drop in the blood pressure, resulting in dizziness or fainting spells when you stand up quickly.
- Increased risk of heart ailments – Increased intake of high animal proteins, cholesterol and saturated fats raises the level of “bad” cholesterol, homocysteine, and iron stores in the body, increasing the risk of heart problems
- Gout – Increased intake of meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, nuts and seeds, which are high in purines, results in elevated levels of uric acid in the blood leading to gout.
- Osteoporosis – Excess protein intake from animal sources reduces the absorption of calcium, leading to osteoporosis.
- Increased blood pressure with age – A low carbohydrates diet has no restriction on the consumption of salt while reducing the intake of fibre-rich diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy products. All this together causes the blood pressure to rise with advancing age.
There are more effective ways to lose weight than a no or low carbohydrates diet. A healthy eating habit is the only solution to good health, and your diet should include all the necessary macronutrients.