After following a low carb diet for a number of years, I have noticed that there may be many advantages (like losing unwanted body weight), but there are also some disadvantages to be mindful of. Continue reading, as I am going to tell you some of the pitfalls associated with following a low carb diet that I have learned along the way.
So, what exactly are some of the disadvantages of following a low carb diet? Although there are a number of benefits to a low carb diet, there are a number of disadvantages too. Some of these disadvantages include experiencing nutritional deficits, increased risk of heart disease, and experiencing unwanted cravings. The “keto flu” is something that you should be aware of as well. Continue reading to learn more.
After years of following a low carb diet, I noticed a few things that were different about myself. The years I spent attempting to implement this diet has left me with lots of knowledge and experience. I have learned a lot about my body and how foods can really change how the human body works. Today, I want to take the opportunity to pass some of this knowledge on to you, so that you have the opportunity to not have to experience the negatives like I did.
Nutritional Deficits and Low Carb Diets
Where a low carb diet may mean limiting the amount of calories and foods you are able to eat, there is always the risk of not getting enough nutrition from your diet. By being too selective with your foods makes it challenging to ensure you get the most out of your diet. For example, cutting out dairy products will likely result in a lack of calcium, or not getting enough meat in your diet may result in a lack of protein or iron. Both dairy and meat are completely acceptable to have in a low carb diet; however, it really depends on the level of restriction of calories. Take it from me; do not try to over do it. Nutrients are important for healthy living, so if you notice that you cannot get your daily nutrients in consider switching some foods in your diet to balance things out. Another option is to consider food supplements, like iron and calcium supplements. Regardless, do what you can to ensure you receive the appropriate nutritional value from your diet.
Risk of Heart Disease and Low Carb Diets
When doing my research into low carb diets, I noticed that some people who follow a low carb diet might actually be increasing their risk to heart disease. This is because with a low carb diet, carbs are often replaced with foods that are high in saturated fats, like red meats such as beef and pork. As you are likely aware, too much cholesterol can clog your arteries and in the worst-case scenario lead to a heart attack. Always remember that there are a number of food options that provide a similar nutritional value as meat. Foods like fish, nuts, and beans are good replacements for red meats that will lead to an increase in the risk of heart disease.
Unwanted Cravings and Low Carb Diets
If you normally enjoy foods high in carbs, like cheese bagels, thick-crust pizzas, Italian spaghetti, and cheesy garlic bread, then switching these foods out of your diet for low carb foods may result in you experiencing a number of unwanted cravings. Mentally, this may become a challenge for you, as it was for me when I changed my diet, but with time you will adapt to the new low carb diet. Also, there are alternatives to a number of your favourite foods that you could consider, like cauliflower pizza and spaghetti squash. Before you know it, you will not even crave those high-carb foods like you once did. However, this can take some time, so be patient. And it is important that you do not restrict yourself of too many carbs.
Are there consequences to restricting yourself of too many carbs? The ketogenic diet, which puts you in a state of ketosis, requires that you restrict the number of carbs you consume on a daily basis. Sometimes people who follow this type of diet restrict carbs in an extreme way and this can result in what is call the “keto flu.” This can occur when you drastically switch your diet from consuming hundreds of carbs (e.g., 200 to 300 carbs) in a day to consuming very few (e.g., fewer than 20 carbs a day). As a result of this, you begin to experience flu like symptoms. People have described this as feeling extremely fatigued, weakness in their muscles, and poor exercise performance. Others have indicated that they are more forgetful and experience challenges with concentration. I noticed this when I was a university student. Problems sleeping and headaches sometimes result in becoming irritable. It is not a good combination. We all need our beauty sleep, right?
What can you do to prevent the keto flu? There are a few ways to deal with the keto flu. For example, although not the best option, you could simply let the keto flu take its course. After a few days or so your body will adjust to the new low carb diet. However, no one really wants to experience all those nasty symptoms I described above. So, another option is to try a less extreme low carb diet at first to help prep your body for what is about to come. You could slowly wean yourself off of carbs. For example, after setting a target goal, every two to three days you could reduce the amount of carbs you consume by 20 to 30 carbs per day. This will allow your body to slowly adapt to not having carbs in your diet and it will make the process so much easier for you. Finally, given that a ketogenic diet can alter the water and mineral balance of an individual, you could try adding a bit of salt to your meals or including mineral supplements, such as sodium, magnesium, and potassium. These are just a few options to help you with the keto flu.
Overall, I love restricting my intake of carbs because I can see the results of such a diet on my body. However, it’s not only positives. As I have illustrated, there are a number of disadvantages to following this diet. It is important to be aware and informed of these issues that can result from restricting yourself of carbs before you go full force. Use some of the techniques I have outlined in this post to reduce the chances of experiencing the negatives and take full advantage of the positives. I’ve gone through my low carb journey and now I have passed along my expert tips and tricks, so you can too.
For those of you who have tried a low carb diet (or are following one currently), what are some of the disadvantages you have experienced? What have you done to try to prevent or mitigate some of these disadvantages? Please let us know in the comments section below.