Womens Health

Dangers of a Low Carb Diet

Carbohydrates are fuel for the entire body. Each and every cell depends upon them to function properly and efficiently. The brain relies on glucose to function, and the muscles store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen to help us get through the day without falling over. If you don't get enough carbohydrates your mood, memory and sleep patterns will likely be negatively affected since carbs help create the brain chemical serotonin which is essential to these functions.

Low-Carb Diet Dangers

Many people will attest to the fact that a low-carb diet is very effective for weight loss. And it is. However, this type of diet is difficult to maintain. Muscle relies very heavily upon glucose for energy. If there is an insufficient supply of glucose for the muscles to draw upon, then a form of cannibalization takes place as muscle becomes its own energy source instead of glucose, which comes from carbohydrates. As a result, there will be a loss of water weight which looks great on a scale, but as the muscle mass diminishes fewer calories are burned and the inevitable slowdown of the metabolism takes place. By using protein as an energy source instead of glucose, the body does not have enough protein available for the important functions for which it is designed: making new cells, tissues, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies as well as the regulation of fluid balance.

When carbohydrates are lacking, the body cannot burn fat in the proper manner. Normally, carbs and fat particles combine to be used as energy. When carbs are not available, there is an incomplete breakdown of fat which produces a by-product called ketones. These ketones accumulate in the blood and urine causing ketosis, which is not a natural state. Ketosis does slow the appetite - as it does in starvation - and, it's only advantage is to someone who is suffering in a famine. Following the accumulation of ketones, as often results in low-carb diets, a person will have headaches, dizziness, fatigue, bad breath, and dehydration. With dehydration and lack of fiber comes constipation. This is definitely not a pleasant cycle, nor is it necessary.

Longer Term Effects of Low-Carb Dieting

There are several long lasting effects of restricting carbohydrates. When carbs are lacking, the consumption of proteins and fats increases and along with that there is an increased risk of many different kinds of cancers. Purines, which are broken down into uric acid are increased and higher levels of uric acid lead to gout, a disease in which uric acid crystallizes in the joints causing intense pain and inflammation. Ketosis producing diets also lead to kidney stones. High protein diets without adequate carbohydrate intake can also cause a loss of calcium which leads to osteoporosis.

What Do I Do?

So, here's the question: How do you incorporate carbohydrates in a safe, healthy manner and still lose weight? Actually, the answer is really very easy. Include 2-4 servings of fresh fruit and 3-5 servings of fresh veggies in your diet every day. Eat whole grain products instead of refined flour and keep the dairy at a low-fat level. Eat lean proteins and keep the intake of refined and processed foods to a minimum. It really isn't so hard - and your body will love you for it.

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