What Are the Side Effects of a Low-Carb Diet?


Quick Answer

A number of side effects are associated with a low-carb diet, including minor ones such as bad breath and nausea as well as major issues, such as kidney problems and osteoporosis, according to WebMD. Checking with a doctor or nutritionist before beginning a new diet helps an individual to determine if it meets his specific nutritional needs.

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Full Answer

According to the Mayo Clinic, studies on the Atkins Diet have been limited to about two years, so the long-term effects are uncertain. The Atkins acknowledges that during the early phases of the diet there is the potential for headaches, constipation, dizziness, weakness and fatigue. Restricting carbohydrates to less than 20 grams per day, as recommended by many low-carb diets, causes the body to enter ketosis, the condition responsible for these side effects.

Some experts believe low-carb diets cause serious side effects, according to WebMD. While the short-term studies of these diets show a decrease in cholesterol, there is a concern that consuming fatty protein sources could cause a long-term increase. For individuals with existing kidney problems, the increase in protein places additional strain on the kidneys. Some of these experts are concerned that the increase in calcium in the urine indicates a loss of bone density, leading to osteoporosis. A higher urinary concentration of calcium is also associated with the formation of kidney stones. Other medical experts point out that ketosis itself is an unhealthy metabolic state.

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