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Low Carbohydrates diet can make you sick

A lot of people around me are talking about the low carbohydrate diet. It has become popular and Yes! People have lost quick weight.

In actuality, low carb diet are talking about reducing simple carbohydrates found in sugary foods, pasta and bread and increasing the complexed carbs found in whole grains, starchy vegetables, and beans.

Unfortunately, the message is somewhat lost in translation. People have simply reduced the intake of ‘carbohydrates’. I have asked around… people do not understand the difference between the simple and complexed carbs. They have simply stopped eating the carbs – a must nourishment for the brain and the human system. It is the simple carbs that is the ‘stubborn weight gain’ culprit.

I will list down the difference between the simple and complexed carbs, in my upcoming articles. For the simplicity purposes, I have not differentiated the types of carbohydrates. Read on…


What are carbohydrates?

“Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. Though often maligned in trendy diets, carbohydrates — one of the basic food groups — are important to a healthy life.” – Source

USA based Institute of Medicine suggests a recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 120g/day of complexed carbohydrate for healthy brain functioning.


What are low carbohydrate ‘weight loss’ diets?

Ideally between 45-65% of one’s dietary intake, carbohydrates have gained a totally uncalled for notoriety, due to an ill-conceived notion that they make you put on weight.

Yes! A 20% drop in carb consumption can help, if the agenda is to drop quick weight for the upcoming family wedding and any other social do. It, at best, is a quick fix. Anything more than that can be medically termed as Carbohydrates Deprivation.


Ill effects of carbohydrate deprivation?

According to American Academy of Family Physicians, diet that restricts carbohydrate intake to 20-60g/day, which is less than 20% of total calorie intake/day is called as low carbohydrate diet.

When there is deprivation of dietary carbohydrates, body takes up energy from stored glycogen resulting in a quick weight drop. Once the stored glycogen gets consumed, the body begins to make glucose by the process of gluconeogenesis, wherein glucose is manufactured from other substances in liver. Also it starts to metabolize body fat into ketone bodies (although less efficient) which then serves as a fuel to provide energy.

Excess of ketone bodies causes acidosis by dropping PH levels in our blood, which can cause immediate health issues like fatigue, dry skin, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and fruity smelling breath.


1: Effects of Carbohydrates deprivation on Brain

Glucose is very important for healthy brain functioning and maintaining neuronal excitability. In healthy brain, glucose is virtually the only substrate used for energy metabolism, as other substrates like fatty acids cannot cross blood brain barrier (a barrier that allows selective movement of elements into the brain). So in hypoglycemic conditions, other tissues can shift the source of energy to other substrates but brain cannot.

Long-term adherence to low carbohydrate diet can affect cognitive ability with impairment in central executive function, attention, mood, short-term memory, Visio-spatial memory and auditory & visual attention.

Studies have shown the association of low carbohydrate with less alertness and more fatigue and sleepiness.


2: Effects of Carbohydrates deprivation on Digestive System

Some variants of low carb diet restrict intake of dietary fiber (considered as a good carbohydrate), which can result in constipation.

Some variants of low carb diets restrict starchy food, which severely limits the necessary dietary intake of microbiota accessible carbohydrates (MAC). Low gut microbiota can have a deleterious effect on health and contribute to a number of ailments.

Low carb diet is nutritionally deficient diet as many food rich in carbohydrate are also rich in vitamins and minerals. It can induce weakness, exhaustion, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic infections, cell mutations and weight gain!


3: Effects of Carbohydrates deprivation on Athletic performance

Studies prove that carb deprivation deteriorates athletic performance of a dieter be it strength training, sprint running or any other field activity. Most athletes know about muscle glycogen and how carbs are the primary source of body fuel during exercising, as these are dependent on glycogen for fuel.

A fine macronutrient balance of 45-65% – 15-30% – 15-30% ratio of carbs-proteins-fats helps sustain a fine balance of blood glucose and serotonin and keeps feeding muscle glycogen stores.

Low carb diet can make an athlete sluggish and keeps him/her below peak performance.


4: Effects of Carbohydrates deprivation on Heart Health

American Heart Association opposes low carbohydrate diet, as it is associated with increased risk for coronary heart disease.

A 2009 study published in proceedings of the “national academy of sciences” found that such diets are associated with increased risk of atherosclerosis and also has impact on lipid profile.


5: Effects of Carbohydrates deprivation on Hormonal system

Reduces thyroid output, increases levels of Stress hormones (Cortisol), reduces testosterone levels and reduces levels of female hormones.

a :: Low dietary intake of carbohydrate can lead to a condition called as sick euthyroid syndrome, characterized by reduced level of serum T3, increase level of reverse T3 (rT3), without thyroid gland dysfunction. T3 the most active thyroid hormone is helpful in metabolism and regulation of blood sugar.

b :: Patients with this syndrome usually are cold and sluggish with low energy level. All of this can seriously deteriorate your training over a long period.

c :: Increase cortisol and reduced testosterone- a marker of excessive training with low carb diet, leads to reduced muscle mass and increase in body fat, which can negatively affect your performance.

d :: Low carb diet is associate with increase in muscle breakdown with less protein synthesis

e :: Low carb diet also affects hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and can lead to hypothalamic amenorrhagia (irregular periods), reduced fertility, hypoglycemia, increase in waist circumference, osteopenia and other mental health issues, with low level of luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, estrogen, Progesterone and testosterone.


Is the initial weight loss water loss or real weight loss?

In the initial phase of low carb diet people experience significant loss of weight very quickly due to elimination of water from the body.

Each gram of glycogen is bound with 3-4 g of water. When blood glucose level drops glycogen along with water is released from its stores – resulting in water loss. This water loss or so-called “water weight” return almost immediately as soon as you switch back to normal diet.


Right Nutrition and personalized Exercise plan is a MUST for a healthy and sustained weight loss. Do consult a related professional before you embark on a low carb diet.
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