Low carb diets such as the Atkins diet and the Paleo diet have become increasingly popular in recent years. However, while low carb diets can be highly beneficial to your health, many people reduce their carbohydrate consumption to dangerously low levels when following these diets. In this article, I’m going to be looking at the risks of consuming limited amounts of carbohydrates and explaining how to follow low carb diets without suffering from them.
1. Limited Energy Levels
Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source. While it is possible for your body to extract energy from fat or protein, it can’t extract this energy with the same speed and efficiency that it does when getting energy from carbohydrates. Therefore, if you reduce your carbohydrate intake too much, you’ll find that your energy levels suffer and you’ll constantly feel fatigued, sluggish and drowsy.
2. Nutrient Deficiency
Healthy carbohydrates (such as fruits and vegetables) are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fiber promotes good digestive health, protects against bowel disease, reduces your cancer risk and much more while vitamins and minerals support all the cells and vital organs in your body and help to maintain optimal health.
By following an extremely low carb diet, you’ll miss out on all these nutrients and their health benefits. In addition to this, you’ll be subject to a number of unpleasant deficiency symptoms including anemia, brittle bones, skin problems and more.
3. Stunted Growth
When you provide your body with optimal amounts of carbohydrates, it uses them to fuel your cells and vital organs. However, if you drastically reduce your carbohydrate intake, your body starts to use fat and protein for energy instead. Protein’s primary use in the body is to build, maintain and repair all your body’s cells. If your body is using protein for energy, it can’t build, maintain and repair your cells at the same rate. This has a negative effect on your growth levels and results in stunted growth.
To avoid carbohydrate deficiency, make sure that any low carb diet you follow recommends that a minimum of 20% of the calories you consume come from carbohydrates. Consuming fewer carbohydrates than this will make you susceptible to the carbohydrate deficiency symptoms discussed in this article. However, by ensuring that at least 20% of the calories you eat come from carbohydrate sources, you can avoid these risks and enjoy the many benefits healthy carbohydrates have to offer.