Diet fads come and go, but the low-carb diet is still popular today. Although it was first developed in the 1860s, the contentious Atkins diet helped it gain popularity in the 1970s. The paleo and keto diets continue to remain popular with it. According to StatPearls, low-carb diets are typically promoted for weight loss and other benefits, including a reduced risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
What Happens to the Body When You Avoid Carbs?
It is typically not advised for healthy individuals to take off carbohydrates because they are a necessary macronutrient (unless they are on a medically supervised diet). So what happens then if you don’t eat carbs?
- You’ll Feel Low on Energy
You’ll likely feel less energetic if you quit consuming carbohydrates because they are the main energy source for daily activities and functioning. As a result, you might feel more hungry and exhausted and need help focusing. In addition, if you’re used to being active and working out frequently, you may need more time to perform athletically.
- Might Feel Dizzy and Have Headaches
Carbohydrates provide a constant and accessible source of the glucose that our brains like. Therefore, your body is compelled to find an alternative source of brain energy when you stop ingesting them. As an alternative to glucose, it will break down fat into ketones. This causes the body to enter a condition known as ketosis, characterized by increased ketone bodies.
- May Experience Constipation.
Since carbohydrates are high in starch, fiber, and water, cutting back on carbohydrates may make it harder to consume the appropriate levels of fiber. Also, remember that fiber makes stools easier to pass by adding weight and absorbing water in the colon. Thus, restricting carbohydrates may make going to the bathroom more uncomfortable. Additionally, since fiber encourages the development of beneficial bacteria in the gut, you can notice changes in digestion or other digestive problems if you stop consuming carbohydrates.
- Might Increase Health Risks in the Long Term.
Low-carb diets have been associated in certain population studies with higher mortality rates. Other studies, including a study from 2022 that was published in Current Developments in Nutrition, suggest that low-carb diets may cause certain people to have higher levels of LDL (“bad cholesterol”). Long-term carbohydrate restriction has also been associated with renal damage, osteoporosis, and decreased physical activity. Additional thorough studies are required to determine the long-term safety of eliminating carbohydrates from your diet because many of the research findings need to be more conclusive.
- Diet Could Be Unsustainable.
An exceedingly restrictive eating behavior challenging to maintain over time is excluding an entire food group. Additionally, studies reveal that persons with restrictive eating habits typically consume fewer foods rich in phytochemicals, which act as anti-cancer protective elements. Additionally, an analysis from 2020 that was published in Nutrition Reviews found that the type of carbohydrates you consume matters more than how much of them you consume. This means you should prioritize healthy grains, fruits, and vegetables over sugary beverages, candies, and baked goods.
The health and function of humans depend on carbohydrates. It may have more negative health effects than positive ones unless you have a medical need to restrict your carb consumption, such as epilepsy or type 2 diabetes.