Diet plays a vital role in most fitness regimes. And, some of the most popular diets out there encourage the restriction of carbohydrates.
Some of the most popular types of this diet include the ketogenic diet, low-carb Paleo diet, and the Atkins diet. They train the body to use fats as primary sources of fuel, instead of glucose.1 But, as with most diets, there are certain myths about low-carb diets that prevent people from trying them. Here are a few such myths, busted.
1. Low-Carb Diets Are Nutrient Deficient And Lack Variety
Consuming fewer carbohydrate-rich foods actually makes room for several other food groups that are high in protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.
Studies have shown that the rising number of diabetes and obesity cases in modern times are a result of not just lifestyle changes, but also modern foods like refined flour and confectionery, all loaded with carbs.2 Hence, the truth is that limiting food groups that are high on carbs allows you to try a greater variety of whole foods that are more satiating and nutritious.
2. Low-Carb Diets Are Not Sustainable
Most critiques of restrictive diets come from the belief that limiting food might not satiate someone, hence causing hunger pangs through the day. This is believed to trigger cravings and, in turn, overeating.
Additionally, a few popular and delicious foods like cheese, chicken, salmon, and dark chocolate are allowed to be eaten on a low-carb diet. Being able to eat these foods without having to count calories ensures that you will stick to the diet.5
3. Ketosis Caused By Low-Carb Diets Is Dangerous
There is a difference between diabetic ketoacidosis and nutritional ketosis. And, while both are a result of lowered insulin levels in the system, ketosis is not a harmful condition.6
Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when the body enters a perceived starvation mode. Meanwhile, nutritional ketosis occurs temporarily during an adaptation phase when you start consuming fewer carbohydrates.7
Ketosis is essentially a bodily reaction as it begins using fats as a primary source of fuel instead of glucose. However, ketosis does run the risk of turning into ketoacidosis. You could avoid this by drinking plenty of water and increasing your fiber intake.8
4. Reduced Carb Intake Causes Heart And Brain Disorders
A low-carb diet reduces the risk of heart disease and improves cognitive performance. Studies state that a low-carb diet reduces fat deposits around the heart. At the same time, it is believed to increase the levels of high-density lipoprotein or HDL, which improve heart health.9 10
Additionally, once the brain has adapted to the new change in diet, it continues to receive an adequate supply of energy. Studies show better concentration, attentiveness, and alertness in dieters who have stuck to the low-carb program.11 12
5. External Factors Lead To Weight Loss In Low-Carb Diets
It is believed that loss of water weight and lower calorie intake leads to weight loss in low-carb diets, not the diet itself. And, although there is a lot of water loss in the initial phase, experts state that it’s a way for the diet to turn the body into a fat-burning system.13
6. Low-Carb Diets Cause Tiredness Due To Lack Of Energy
Studies state that a diet high in fiber, plant-based protein, and fat might reduce fatigue.17 It’s also important to remember that this diet focuses on eliminating simple carbohydrates from your diet. These include carbs from soda, baked goods, and refined or processed foods. Simple carbs are quickly absorbed by the system, causing you to feel hungry very soon.
On the other hand, complex carbohydrates found in beans, fruits, and vegetables, digest slowly, keeping you full, healthy, and active all day long. In other words, this diet does the opposite of causing tiredness.18
Low-carb diets aren’t just about cutting down your carbohydrate intake. They focus on the consumption of healthier food options that are rich in proteins, minerals, fiber, and an array of other nutrients. Focusing on the type of carbs you eat even on a low-carb diet, is the key to its success.
|↑1, ↑2||Westman, Eric C., Feinman, Richard D., Mavropoulos, John C., Vernon, Mary C., Volek, Jeff S., Wortman, James A., Yancy, William S., and Phinney, Stephen D. “Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 86, no.2. (2007): 276-84|
|↑3||Johnstone AM, Horgan GW, Murison SD, Bremner DM, and Lobley GE. “Effects of a high-protein ketogenic diet on hunger, appetite, and weight loss in obese men feeding ad libitum.” Americal Journal of Clinical Nutrition 87, no.1 (2008): 44-55|
|↑4||Nickols-Richardson SM, Coleman MD, Volpe JJ, and Hosig KW. “Perceived Hunger Is Lower and Weight Loss Is Greater in Overweight Premenopausal Women Consuming a Low-Carbohydrate/High-Protein vs High-Carbohydrate/Low-Fat Diet.” Journal of American Dietetic Association 105, no.9 (2005):1433-7|
|↑5||Pesta, Dominik H., and Samuel, Varman T. “A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats.” Nutrition and Metabolism 11. (2014): 53|
|↑6||Manninen, Anssi H. “Metabolic Effects of the Very-Low-Carbohydrate Diets: Misunderstood “Villains” of Human Metabolism.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 1, no.2 (2004): 7-11|
|↑7||Westman, Eric C., Feinman, Richard D., Mavropoulos, John C., Vernon, Mary C., Volek, Jeff S., Wortman, James A., Yancy, William S., and Phinney, Stephen D. “Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 86, no.2. (2007): 276-84|
|↑8, ↑9||Tian Hu, Katherine T. Mills, Lu Yao, Kathryn Demanelis, Mohamed Eloustaz, William S. Yancy, Jr, Tanika N. Kelly, Jiang He, and Lydia A. Bazzano. “Effects of Low-Carbohydrate Diets Versus Low-Fat Diets on Metabolic Risk Factors: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Clinical Trials.” American Journal of Epidermiology 176, no.7. (2012): S44–S54.|
|↑10||Bazzano, Lydia A., Tian Hu, Kristi Reynolds, Lu Yao, Calynn Bunol, Yanxi Liu, Chung-Shiuan Chen, Michael J. Klag, Paul K. Whelton, and Jiang He. “Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat DietsA Randomized TrialEffects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets.” Annals of internal medicine 161, no. 5 (2014): 309-318.|
|↑11||Low-carb diets can affect dieters’ cognition skills. Tufts University.|
|↑12||Effects of Low-Carb Diet on the Brain. University School of Medicine, Cleveland.|
|↑13||Mona Boaz, Olga Raz,and Julio Wainstein. “Low Fat vs. Low Carbohydrate Diet Strategies for Weight Reduction: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy. (2015)|
|↑14||Hamdy O., Porramatikul S., and Al-Ozairi E. “Metabolic obesity: the paradox between visceral and subcutaneous fat.” Current Diabetes Reviews 2, no. 4.(2006): 367-73.|
|↑15||Browning JD, Baker JA, Rogers T, Davis J, Satapati S, and Burgess SC. “Short-term weight loss and hepatic triglyceride reduction: evidence of a metabolic advantage with dietary carbohydrate restriction.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 93, no. 5 (2011):1048-52|
|↑16||Volek, J.S., Sharman, M.J., Gomez, AL., Judelson, D.A., Rubin, M.R., Watson, G., Sokmen, B., Silvestre, R., French, D.N., and Kraemer, W.J. “Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women.” Nutrition and Metabolism 1, no. 13. (2004)|
|↑17||Pharr, Jennifer R., “Carbohydrate Function and Fatigue: A Review.” Nevada Journal of Public Health vol.7, no. 6. (2010): 39-42|
|↑18||Carbohydrates. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.|