The Risks of Low Carb Diets: Who Should Avoid Them?

Low carb diets have been popular for decades, but there are potential long-term health risks associated with them. Complications such as cardiac arrhythmias, impaired cardiac contractile function, sudden death, osteoporosis, kidney damage, increased risk of cancer, deterioration of physical activity, and lipid abnormalities may be related to long-term restriction of dietary carbohydrates. Vitamin or mineral deficiencies and gastrointestinal disorders can also occur when carbohydrates are restricted for a long period of time. On the other hand, low-carb diets can be beneficial for heart health, as they can increase good cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

The reason why they can be so effective for losing weight is because people tend to eat the wrong types of carbohydrates. Short-term studies suggest faster weight loss with low-carb diets compared to low-fat diets, but long-term data show similar results. Some low-carb diets heavily restrict carbohydrates during the initial phase of the diet and then gradually increase the amount of carbohydrates allowed. Fiber is an important source of B vitamins and can help lower cholesterol, so it should not be eliminated from the diet.

However, low-carb diets can put you at many health risks. Low carbs keep insulin low, which should make you lose weight effortlessly while enjoying chicken wings, salmon, eggs and butter. But in reality, a recent review of long-term low-carb versus low-fat diets found that both low-carb and low-fat diets reduced people's weight and improved their metabolic risk factors. Low-carb ketogenic diets have no metabolic advantage over non-ketogenic low-carb diets.

Studies show that some people successfully lose weight on a low-carb diet, just as they do on a low-fat or Mediterranean-style diet. But eliminating carbohydrates completely on a low-carb diet is not sustainable in the long term. Low carbs can also lower T3 levels, alter cortisol-to-testosterone ratios, interfere with a woman's delicate hormonal balance, contribute to muscle loss, and prevent muscle mass gain. In conclusion, it's perfectly healthy to follow a low-carb diet as long as it includes a variety of nutritious, whole grain, and unprocessed foods. However, it's important to be aware of the potential risks associated with long-term restriction of dietary carbohydrates.