Benefits and Potential Issues
Low carb diets offer several potential benefits, including:
- The low carb diet has been shown to be as or more effective for weight loss compared to other diet plans; however, like all diets, the concern is sustaining weight loss and transitioning into a maintenance phase (Shai, 2008).
- Additional benefits associated with the low carb diet include increased insulin sensitivity; improved blood glucose levels (Feinman, 2015); decreased triglycerides; increased HDL-cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) (Musunuru, 2009); and improved blood pressure.
- Therapeutic benefits have been seen in individuals with polycystic ovarian syndrome (Goss, 2014), gestational diabetes, cancer, gastroesophageal reflux disease, squizophrenia, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, epilepsy, and age-related macular degeneration (Hite, 2011).
- When it comes to quality of life, many low carb dieters report having increased energy during the day and improved sleep at night.
Like all diets, the low carb diet comes with a number of potential negatives; many of which can be overcome with time and commitment.
- The low carb diet can be restrictive, which may make it harder to follow.
- You will need to plan ahead with this diet since many prepackaged foods are loaded with carbs.
- When starting a very low carb diet, some people may experience flu-like symptoms during the first week, or they may not have any symptoms at all. It just depends on the person. The symptoms are a result of eliminating carbohydrates from the diet, which causes the body to switch to burning fat for energy instead of carbs. Cutting out carbohydrates also has a diuretic effect on the body and if not treated, dehydration can occur.
- The low carb diet can elevate LDL-cholesterol levels (“bad” cholesterol) due to the increase of saturated fat in the diet.