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What Are the Side Effects of a Low-Carb Diet?

K.C. Bruning
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The side effects of a low-carb diet are primarily related to metabolism and a direct physical response to the types of food consumed. Excessive gas and constipation are two of the most common problems associated with this kind of diet. Often a low-carb diet will draw food energy from an increase in protein, of which there can also be an excess in the body. This kind of diet is often referred to as ketogenic, as insufficient carbohydrates can cause ketosis, a condition in which the individual loses unhealthy amounts of water and sodium.

Other common side effects of a low-carb diet include uncharacteristic muscle weakness or cramps and headaches. Some patients also report bad breath and unexplained rashes. These symptoms can be traced to a deficiency of carbohydrates and sugar, which the body needs to create energy and process food properly.

A ketogenic diet is a regimen in which the consumption of carbohydrates is not sufficient to sustain good health. It leads to ketosis, a condition where an excess of ketone bodies impedes the body’s ability to process glucose, a key source of energy. Ketone bodies develop as a result of the breakdown of fatty acids for energy. When there are too many ketones, fat metabolism is compromised and the body begins to excrete excess salt and water. This can often cause a deficiency in those elements.

The muscles and the liver store the energy provided by carbohydrates. As these supplies can last for quite a while, the side effects of a low-carb diet may take a while to develop. Still, it is possible for the body to begin to malfunction in the early stages of a low-carb diet, depending on the health of the individual and the extremity of the diet.

There are several weight lost diets which center on a low-carb regime. Many of these diets focus on high-protein meals with lots of vegetables. One of the most famous of these is the Atkins diet, which was at the peak of its popularity in the 1990s. It has since been discredited by many doctors due to the fact that, while the diet does help with weight loss, the high protein and fatty foods it promotes tend to compromise the general health of the dieter.

Despite the many potential negative side effects of a low-carb diet, there are several conditions for which this kind of regimen is prescribed. It is commonly used to treat diabetes, epilepsy, and obesity. Some doctors may also suggest it for patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome or chronic fatigue syndrome.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
K.C. Bruning
By K.C. Bruning , Former Writer
Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and platforms, including The Health Board. With a degree in English, she crafts compelling blog posts, web copy, resumes, and articles that resonate with readers. Bruning also showcases her passion for writing and learning through her own review site and podcast, offering unique perspectives on various topics.

Discussion Comments

By Spotiche5 — On Jan 28, 2015

@rundocuri- There are some concerns when it comes to eating a low-carb diet, but your friend should continue eating foods that fit this category if this is what her doctor recommends. You should advise her to talk to her doctor about the best diet plan for her that will meet her needs but won't deprive her of important vitamins and minerals.

That being said, complex carbs are much better for people than simple carbs like white rice, white flour, and junk food. Though your friend should check with her doctor first, I think that eating complex carbs like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in addition to lean meats and dairy products will help her avoid the negative side effects that can result from a low-carb diet. As with all foods, moderation is the key to maintaining her health through her diet.

By Rundocuri — On Jan 27, 2015

After reading this article, I'm concerned about a friend who has to eat a low-carb diet. What does she need to do to eat a healthy low-carb diet that won't cause some of the side effects described here?

K.C. Bruning

K.C. Bruning

Former Writer

Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and...
Learn more
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