Research Rundown: The Hidden Dangers of Low-Carb Diets
Protein Power and Sugar Busters caused weight loss via calorie restriction, but rigidity of the diets and limited food choices made them impractical for the long term, the study says.
“These diets are generally associated with higher intakes of total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol because the protein is provided mainly by animal sources,” notes Dr. St. Jeor.
Because these diets restrict healthful foods that provide essential nutrients and do not provide the variety of foods needed to adequately meet nutritional needs, the researchers advise anyone thinking about undertaking such a plan to think twice.
Of greatest concern to the researchers is the surplus of saturated fat and scarcity of dietary fiber often found in the various low-carb regimens.
There is overwhelming evidence that very low-carbohydrate diets may carry a host of long-term effects that could prove to be detrimental to dieters. These include:
Increased Cortisol Levels: The hormone insulin actually suppresses cortisol (a catabolic hormone in the body that can cause lean muscle breakdown). However, with low insulin output due to the absence of carbohydrates, cortisol levels could increase. High levels of cortisol have been linked to many diseases including some cancers.
Vitamin and Mineral Imbalances: Deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals may also result from a diet regimen that advocates the elimination of whole food groups, such as carbohydrates. This is why many low-carb diets recommend a good multivitamin and multimineral supplement when on the diet.
High Cholesterol: Very low-carb diets may be beneficial for short-term weight loss; however, there is evidence suggesting this sort of dietary regimen could lead to long-term adverse health effects.
Many published studies have taken a hard line against the diet, suggesting, for example, “hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) is to be expected in a greater part of the adherents to such a diet,” and, “low-carb, high-fat diets seem to be potentially hazardous to health.”
Another recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition says, “While high-fat diets may promote short-term weight loss, the potential hazards for worsening the risk for progression of atherosclerosis override the short-term benefits.”
So the real and final question to ask is … are you willing to sacrifice health for losing weight quickly — especially considering much of the weight loss is from water and lean muscle?