Side Effects Of A Low Carb Diet
There are side effects of a low carb diet. In this post we’ll cover both the bad side effects and the great side effects! If you’ve never tried going sugar free or low carb, it’s understandable that you might feel anxious! Let’s be honest. We all love carbs! We love pasta, pizza, sandwiches, rice dishes, mashed potato, sweet potato chips, biscuits and the list goes on. It’s this love for carbs that causes us to have unstable blood sugars or feel lethargic all the time. Too many carbs in our diet can zap our energy and cause brain fog. So when we go low carb we have to find a balance between giving up the foods we love, while also feeling happy with the nutrition plan we choose. When going low carb or quitting sugar you’ll need natural sweeteners to replace sugar in your diet. Here’s a post that explains three natural sweeteners for a sugar free diet.
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Replacing carbohydrates can be achieved with a low carb diet if you have the right tools. It’s possable to have all the foods you love, while also having a low carb or sugar free diet. The trick is to find healthy alternatives for those high carb foods. Looking for low carb or sugar free recipes online is a great start. See Healthy Recipes here and How To Do Healthy Cooking Hacks here.
Positive side effects of a low carb diet?
Here are just a few great side effects of a low carb or sugar free diet. All of these are covered in more detail later in this post.
- Low Carb Diets Encourage Faster Weight Loss
- A Low Carb Diet Reduces Appetite
- Lose Belly Fat
- Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
- Lower Triglycerides
- Increase Good Cholesterol
- Reduces Inflammation
Symptoms Of Carb Withdrawal.
The list below are some negative side effects of a low carb diet. This doesn’t mean a low carb diet is unhealthy. These symptoms are a sign that your body is adjusting. It’s important to understand that the severity of symptoms is dependant on how low in carbs you go. If you suddenly cut carbs out, or go on a no carb diet, you’ll feel worse than reducing carbs slowly over a couple of weeks. For most people these symptoms only last a few days.
- Headache for the first three days
- Tiredness while your body adjusts
- Sugar cravings for the first couple of weeks
- Irritability due to cravings
- Dehydration if you don’t drink enough water with electrolytes
- Constipation if you don’t get enough fibre (fibre is not a carb, but is found in many foods that are high in carbs)
Differences Between Low Carb Diets And Sugar Free Diets?
What Is A Low Carb Diet?
A low carb diet is simply reducing the amount of carbohydrates you eat. When you go low carb you’ll be cutting out mostly grains as those foods are the highest in carbohydrates. These include wheat, legumes, rice and oats. You’ll also be avoiding all forms of sugar. This includes the natural sugars found in foods such as fruit juices or bananas. You might be interested in this post about ten low carb diet tips for weight loss.
There are three main macronutrient groups; proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Every gram of carbohydrate contains four calories. This might not sound like a lot but most of our meals are packed with carbohydrates, meaning those calories can add up quickly, especially when combined with a diet high in fat (fat has 9 calories per gram).
Consider an average slice of cake. It might have 10g of flour and 16g of sugar. When combined that’s a total of 26g of carbohydrate. Most people on an average American diet consume carbs throughout the entire day. All those grams of carbohydrate will add up, and by the end of the day, most will have consumed around 300g. The most common reason for going low carb is to control blood sugars and diabetes or to lose weight. High blood sugars encourage fat storage and, at the same time inhibit fat burning! That’s one reason diabetics are encouraged to have a diet lower in carbohydrates.
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What Is A Sugar Free Diet?
When you go on a sugar free diet you won’t cut out all carbohydrates, but you will cut out simple sugars. This means you’ll still eat bread and pasta as these foods aren’t high in sugar, but they are high in carbohydrates.
Sugar is processed in the body exactly the same way as carbohydrates are, except at a faster rate. Simple sugars are found in foods like table sugar, soda or honey. The problem with simple sugars is they’re easily digested and absorbed. Simple sugars cause a sharp spike in blood sugar. Complex carbohydrates on the other hand, digest and absorb more slowly. These carbohydrates don’t cause a blood sugar spike as quickly and therefore are healthier. Complex carbs are much safer for diabetics!
Many foods are packed with hidden sugars, so it’s important to read nutrition labels. Having a low sugar diet will also help you to transition to a low carb diet later if thats what you’re aiming for. If you want to quit sugar read this article on natural sweeteners for a sugar free diet.
Low Carb Diets Encourage Faster Weight Loss
Reducing your carb intake is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. Research has shown that people on a low carb diet are able to lose weight faster. This happens because insulin levels are stable which encourages the body to burn off stored fat. It seems that low carb diets work best in the first 6 months for weight loss. After 6 months you might need to increase exercise for weight loss to continue.
A Low Carb Diet Reduces Appetite
One of the most difficult side effects of dieting is hunger. But on a low carb diet you can actually eat more while losing weight faster. For example instead of one bowl of pasta, you could have three bowls of vegetables and still not eat as many carbohydrates! Many people give up on their healthy eating plan because they feel too hungry. But this doesn’t happen on a low carb diet. Instead, you’re going to feel fuller for longer. One study showed that when people eat more protein and fat and less carbs, they tend to eat fewer total calories.
Lose Belly Fat
Ladies you will be happy to hear that a low carb diet specifically targets fat on the tummy! Abdominal fat is actually a health concern. When there’s more fat around the organs, it’s dangerous for our health. Belly fat also increases inflammation and insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes and metabolic dysfunction. With a low carb diet, your heart health and organ health will improve and your chance of developing serious illnesses will reduce.
Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
Hypertension or high blood pressure, is a major factor in the development of diseases like kidney disease and heart disease. A low carb diet can help reduce blood pressure. A low carb diet is also a great way to manage your blood pressure without medication. By eating an unprocessed diet you’ll be eating less sodium and more potassium which will decrease blood pressure naturally. A diet high in processed foods usually contains high sodium and very little potassium! Take notice of the high carb foods you’d normally eat. Most are highly processed because they are made from grains! All grains are highly processed because without processing, we simply couldn’t eat them.
Having a high triglycerides in the body increases your risk of heart disease. Carbohydrates, especially fructose, actually encourages the production of fat molecules. Sugars like fructose or agave are metabolised differently in the liver and cause more fat storage. Those on a low carb diet have lower blood triglycerides once their body has adjusted.
Increase Good Cholesterol
There is good cholesterol and there is bad cholesterol. HDL is good cholesterol and LDL is bad cholesterol. LDL transports fatty cholesterol towards your liver whereas HDL carries fatty cholesterol away from your liver. The best way to increase your levels of HDL are by eating healthy fats and on a low carb diet you are substituting carbs for more healthy fats. The more HDL cholesterol you have in your body, the lower your risk of heart disease will be.
Here’s a video from Dr Borg about HDL Cholesterol:
Low Carb Diets Reduce Inflammation!
Inflammation is a major health risk and can lead to the development of various diseases such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, arthritis and ulcers. Many of the foods that contribute to chronic inflammation actually contain simple sugars and carbohydrates. Therefore on a low carb diet you’re less likely to eat inflammatory causing foods like sugars and grains.
Sticking With A Low Carb Diet
Sticking with a low carb diet for a long period of time can be a challenge. There are many challenges that might make you want to give up. However low carb diets have a high success rate if you push through. One study showed that a low carb diet was one of the easiest diets to follow when compared to 20 other diet plans. This is encouraging news for those wanting to lose weight. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the trick is to find suitable substitutions for the foods you love most. Having your cake and eating it too, is really easy when you know what you’re looking for.
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