No-Carb Diet Plan Benefits, Foods to Eat & Potential Risks?

October 31, 2017
No-carb diet - Dr. Axe

By Jillian Babock and Rachael Link, MS, RD

Take a moment and imagine slashing your carbohydrate intake by 90 percent. It sounds incredibly challenging but still possible. Now imagine following a no-carb diet plan completely free of all carbohydrates, including pasta, bread, legumes, baked goods, sweets and even fruits and vegetables. To many, the thought of a low-carb diet, let alone a diet without any carbohydrates at all, probably seems like a cruel form of torture.

As opposed to the high-carb and sugar-addicted diets that most people living in industrialized nations eat today, no-carb diets tend to spark fast weight loss by reducing foods like grains, fruits and sweeteners. Cutting these sources of carbs from your diet changes what type of macronutrients your body uses for fuel. Each no-carb/low-carb diet is a bit different, but most drastically reduce glucose (sugar) intake over the course of several phases, resulting in a  diet that keeps carbs to about 20–50 net grams or even less daily.

Some people following a near no-carb diet consume up to 80 percent to 95 percent of their total calories from fats and proteins, especially from things like oil, fattier cuts of meat and butter. Compare this to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendation of consuming 45 percent to 65 percent of your total daily calories from carbs! (1)

Is a very reduced carbohydrate diet healthy or even safe? Although it’s very difficult to eat next to no carbs for an extended period of time, when done short-term and in a healthy way, very low-carb diets can be beneficial for the right people. Reduced carb diets, including the ketogenic diet, have well-documented health benefits — including helping treat seizures or epilepsy, obesity, dependence on sugar for energy, and common risk factors for diabetes and/or metabolic syndrome.

While study results are mixed overall, certain large studies have found that low-carb dieting tends to be more effective for short-term weight loss than low-fat diets. And generally speaking, the lower-carb the diet is, the likelier it is to result in very rapid weight loss, especially for those struggling with obesity. On the other hand, carbs are needed for more than energy — they also give us fiber and are found in plant foods that contain essential nutrients, such as antioxidants.

So should you, or shouldn’t you, give low-carb dieting a try? Below you’ll find out how no-carb diets work, which foods are included, potential benefits and also the risks involved.


What Is a No-Carb Diet? Is It Even Possible?

Although comparable to the ketogenic diet, a diet that severely limits carbohydrate intake and focuses on healthy sources of fat and protein, a no-carb diet eliminates carb intake completely. Even foods that have small amounts of carbohydrates are off-limits in this restrictive diet.

While it may come with similar health benefits as low-carb and ketogenic diets, it also comes with a whole different set of risks and challenges as well and must be done very carefully to prevent adverse side effects.

There’s a good chance you’ve heard of low-carb diets like the Atkins diet or the ketogenic diet. These diets tend to be high in fats and protein but low in carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, grains and starches.

The no-carb diet plan takes this concept a step further, eliminating all carbohydrate-containing foods and filling the diet with protein and fat exclusively. This means you eat plenty of meat and fat and no fruits, veggies, whole grains or sweet treats.

This is because carbs are found in pretty much all types of foods, even if it’s only in small amounts. While there are low-carb vegetables, for instance, there aren’t any no-carb vegetables that are completely carbohydrate-free.

While theoretically you could eat very close to no carbs — such as from only consuming things like meat, oils or lard — this is not exactly a very healthy way to eat. Most very low-carb diets include at least some plants for fiber and essential nutrients, with an emphasis on those lowest in carbs like leafy greens or broccoli. Unlike most weight loss diets that usually rely on calorie counting and/or strict portion control, no-carb diets result in weight loss by focusing primarily on reduction of carb-containing foods. Most care more about “net carbs” than total carbs, which take into account how much fiber a food has.

Because fiber is not counted toward net carb grams (net carbs are the amount of carbs left when fiber grams are subtracted from total carbs), you can eat all the fiber you want from non-starchy veggies while still keeping carbs to about 5 percent of total calories and below. Eating lots of low-carb veggies will fill you up and still keep you consuming less than 20–50 grams of net carbs per day. (2)

Some sources of carbohydrates that are restricted on a no-carb diet include (but are not limited to):

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes, including beans, peas and peanuts
  • Grains, such as pasta, bread, rice and oats
  • Dairy products
  • Sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages like soda or juice
  • Condiments like ketchup, salad dressing or sauces
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Crackers and chips
  • Cakes, cookies and sweets

Why would anyone choose to eat a very low-carb/no-carb diet? Most people who try these diets are looking to achieve one of several goals: losing weight quickly (such as by entering “into ketosis”), cutting dependence on things like refined wheat or grains in order to change their overall eating habits, and normalizing markers like blood sugar or cholesterol levels. (3) However, not every low-carb diet emphasizes eating only or mostly unprocessed foods, which is one important area where my opinion differs.


Ketosis and How No-Carb Dieting Works

To help you understand the benefits and potential risks of no-carb diets, here’s a bit about how carb digestion and fat-burning works:

Research suggests that for those who lose weight while reducing carbs, it’s likely due to consuming less calories overall and feeling full due to adequate protein and fat intake. Protein and healthy fats tend to be very satisfying, killing most sugar/carb cravings.

Another reason no-carb diets improve weight loss is because of the potential of entering into “ketosis,” which means switching the body to fat-burning mode instead of glucose-burning. Severely restricting carbohydrates to less than 20 grams a day is often needed to enter into ketosis, which causes ketones (substances left behind when the body burns fat) to build up in your body. Ketosis can be beneficial in some cases but also potentially has side effects, such as nausea, headaches, mental and physical fatigue, and bad breath.

Ketosis is the opposite of what happens when you eat foods that are high in carbohydrates:

  • Carbs cause rising blood glucose levels (glucose is the product of the digestion and assimilation of carbs), which trigger the pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin is the hormone that enables cells to take up blood glucose for energy.
  • Insulin essentially helps clear the blood of extra glucose and keep the body in homeostasis.
  • When there’s more glucose present than the cells need — which happens often considering they don’t need an unlimited amount of energy — the excess glucose is converted into glycogen to be stored in the liver and muscle cells. Reserved glucose is then waiting future use.
  • When there is still an excess available, the remainder is converted to fat and stored around the body. Ketosis essentially breaks this cycle.

 

What happens when you eat carbs - Dr. Axe

 


The Best No-Carb Foods

While a very low-carb diet may help you achieve some of the benefits mentioned above, it’s only really likely to work for more than a few weeks if you actually enjoy the types of foods that are very low-carb (meats and oils, for example). Examples of healthy low-carb foods and no-carb foods include: (4)

  • Organic and grass-fed beef, pork, turkey and chicken
  • Pastured eggs from chicken, turkey, etc.
  • Fish and seafood (I recommend wild-caught fish and avoiding shellfish, such as shrimp). Good choices are salmon, haddock or trout
  • Organic or unrefined coconut oil, grape seed, walnut, avocado and olive oil
  • Butter and lard
  • Hard cheese, butter, sour cream and heavy cream (I recommend grass-fed and organic whenever possible, ideally made from raw milk). Approved cheese products include blue cheese, cheddar cheese, goat, feta, Swiss, parmesan and American cheese
  • Herbs and spices, like curry powder, cinnamon, thyme, cayenne pepper, cumin, paprika, chili powder, 5 spice powder, dijon mustard, parsley, oregano, basil, tarragon, black pepper, garlic (whole or ground)
  • Non-starchy veggies (have low amounts of carbs), such as spinach, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green beans, cabbage, cabbage, canned cucumber, tomatoes, Jalapeño peppers, broccoli, bell peppers, lettuce and asparagus
  • Other sweeter veggies have more carbs but can still be healthy. These include tomatoes, zucchini or eggplant, squash, peppers, carrots, etc.
  • Water, tea and coffee have virtually no carbs

On the other hand, limiting the foods below is important for keeping your carb intake very low:

  • All grains (including wheat, barley, oats, rice and other whole grains). This also includes all foods made with grain flour, such as bread, cakes, biscuits, chips, cereal, muffins, pasta, etc.
  • Sugar and foods that contain artificial or added sweeteners (honey, cane sugar, coconut sugar, etc.)
  • Most commercial fruits and fruit juices (juice is high in sugar, with the exception of lime or lemon juice)
  • Most premade condiments, sauces or packet mixes, which tend to be high in sugar
  • Most dairy products that contain milk, yogurt, ricotta or cottage cheese. Higher-fat, low-carb cheeses are allowed because they have very little carbs
  • Alcohol, soda and other sweetened drinks
  • For the sake of keeping synthetic ingredients out of your diet, I also recommend avoiding “diet”or light foods that have reduced fat and artificial ingredients. To make up for lost fat, these products are usually made with extra thickeners, emulsifiers or artificial sweeteners. Although they are not high in carbs, I would also definitely avoid foods made with trans fats or hydrogenated oils, which include most junk foods or fast/fried foods

Short-Term Benefits of the No-Carb Diet Plan

What kind of results can you expect when eating a very low-carb/no-carb diet? Although not every person reacts to ketosis or a no-carb diet positively, research shows that for those who make good candidates, the following health benefits may be experienced: (5)

  • Fast weight loss
  • Enhanced satiety from eating or reduced hunger and cravings (especially for sweets)
  • Better control over insulin and blood sugar (glucose) spikes. This can be especially beneficial for prediabetics or diabetics, although low-carb diets aren’t the only way to reduce diabetes risk factors
  • Neuroprotective effects and enhanced cognitive performance, including less brain fog or dips in energy, improved memory in the elderly, and reduced symptoms of epilepsy (6)
  • Sometimes better sleep, less pain or muscle weakness, and more energy overall
  • Reduced bone loss or osteoporosis
  • In athletes, possible favorable changes in body mass and body composition, along with increase in the relative values of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and oxygen uptake at lactate threshold (VO2 LT) (7)
  • In some cases, lower risk for cardiovascular disease or metabolic syndrome, including normalizing factors like blood sugar or unhealthy cholesterol levels

Weight loss, sometimes even substantial reductions in body fat, are very common when eating a very low-carb diet. The reason this happens is due to the effects of reducing glucose, as described above. Once glucose from carbohydrate foods is no longer available for energy, the body will use stored body fat instead, or fat and protein consumed from foods.

Removing foods like fruits, starchy veggies, pasta and bread from your diet will also cause your body to release less insulin, helping balance blood sugar levels reduce risk for diabetes. While this is very helpful, it’s not the only way to shed extra weight or improve things like blood sugar and cholesterol. Research shows that almost any diet that helps you reach a healthier body weight can reduce or even reverse risk factors for cardiovascular disease/metabolic syndrome. Remember that the diet type of diet for you is the one you can actually stick with.

Here is some more detail on the potential benefits of a no-carb diet:

1. Promotes Weight Loss

If you follow a no-carb diet, you are inevitably going to lose weight. Although research is limited on no-carb diets specifically, there have been a number of studies demonstrating the benefits of very low carb or ketogenic diets on weight loss.

A study in the British Journal of Nutrition, for example, found that following a very low-carbohydrate diet with less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day had a more significant impact on long-term weight loss compared with following a low-fat diet. (8)

Furthermore, fats and proteins tend to be more filling, which can help reduce hunger and promote satiety.

However, perhaps even more likely to contribute to weight loss on a no-carb diet plan is the lack of no-carb foods available. On this diet plan, you eat just meat and fat along with the occasional tea or coffee thrown in. Unless you’re eating coconut oil and butter by the cup, weight loss is practically unavoidable.

2. May Improve Brain Health

Ketogenic diets have been used to treat a variety of conditions throughout history. In fact, they have been used to treat epilepsy since at least 500 B.C. and perhaps even earlier. (9) In children especially, the ketogenic diet has been shown to be effective for controlling seizures with some regimens limiting carb intake to just a few grams per day. (10)

Additionally, some research has found that the ketogenic diet could be a promising treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. (11, 12)

Keep in mind, however, that most current research looks at ketogenic diets that severely restrict carbohydrates but don’t eliminate them completely. More studies are needed to evaluate the effects of a no carb diet plan.

3. Could Help Protect Against Cancer

Some studies suggest that the ketogenic diet could be beneficial in the treatment of cancer by essentially “starving” cancer cells of glucose, or sugar. They note that these cells depend on sugar to survive and are unable to shift and start using fat as energy instead.

A 2014 review hypothesized that a ketogenic diet could result in oxidative stress in cancer cells, which may enhance the effects of chemotherapy and radiation by increasing their sensitivity to these cancer treatments. (13)

In one animal study, mice with prostate cancer who were fed a no-carb diet high in fat had significantly less tumor growth than mice fed a traditional Western diet. (14)

Of course, more research is needed to understand how a no-carb diet may affect cancer development long-term in humans, but these studies show that carbohydrate restriction could be a promising potential approach to cancer treatment.

4. May Reduce Diabetes Risk

According to some studies, following a low-carb, ketogenic diet may help improve blood sugar control and could reduce the risk of diabetes.

In one study, for example, 28 diabetic patients were given a low-carb, ketogenic diet for 16 weeks. Not only did this decrease their hemoglobin A1C levels, a measure of average blood sugar over a three-month period, by 16 percent, but most were able to reduce or discontinue diabetes medications. (15)

However, those with diabetes should consult with their doctor before making any dietary changes as it can alter the amount of insulin you need and may lead to adverse health effects.

5. Could Benefit Heart Health

Despite completely eliminating carbs and eating high amounts of fat, a low-carb/ketogenic diet could actually help protect your heart and lower your risk of coronary heart disease.

A study published in Experimental & Clinical Cardiology found that following a ketogenic diet for 24 weeks decreased levels of total and bad LDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides while also increasing levels of good HDL cholesterol. (16)

It’s important to include only healthy sources of fat in your low-carb/no-carb diet plan to maintain optimal heart health. Highly processed vegetable oils, for instance, may fit into a no-carb diet plan, but they are pro-inflammatory and should be limited on a heart-healthy diet.

Additionally, most research looks at how a diet low in carbohydrates may impact heart health, but there is limited evidence measuring how a diet with no carbohydrates at all could affect cholesterol and triglyceride levels.


Dangers of the No-Carb Diet (0r Very Low-Carb Diets)

Some research has found that no-carb diets (or similar very low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet) can potentially cause side effects, complications or worsened symptoms in some people. Depending on factors like your medical history, age, gender, level of activity, body weight and genetic disposition, you may find a no-carb diet to either be very beneficial or very difficult to follow — and also the cause of certain negative reactions.

Given the potential dangers of no-carb diets, overall it’s very important to pay attention to how you feel when changing your diet, including looking for changes in your energy, sleep, moods, strength and digestion. This is how you will ultimately arrive at the level of carbs in your diet that works best for you personally.

Below are eight potential dangers or symptoms that may be caused by greatly reducing carbs in your diet: (17)

  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Trouble exercising due to weakness or loss of interest in being active due to feeling tired
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Digestive problems, such as constipation or diarrhea (usually due to low fiber intake)
  • Acid reflux, gas, indigestion due to eating too much fat and protein, especially when not drinking enough water, getting enough salt or consuming any fiber
  • Irritability or mood swings (which can occur when reducing carb intake, which impacts serotonin levels)
  • Bad breath
  • When carbs are kept very low for extended periods, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, bone loss, and gastrointestinal disturbances are also possible

Why do these side effects sometime occur?

Ketosis has been shown to have adverse effects in some children, and not even every adult responds to eating the same amount of carbohydrates in the exact way same. Because we all have different genetics, metabolisms and abilities to store higher amounts of body fat or muscle, it’s important to tailor your diet to your lifestyle, goals and needs. I recommend that if you try a no-carb diet, you do so in phases to help your body adjust to dwindling glucose levels. Once you’ve eaten this way for a short period of time, you can reintroduce healthy foods into your diet that contain carbs, paying close attention to which foods (and in which amounts) help you maintain your healthy weight, versus which move you away from your target.

To monitor yourself for adverse reactions, when reducing your carb intake to very low levels, consider first breaking the carb-dependence cycle by removing sources like sugar. Gradually keep cutting back on carbs until almost all carbs from your diet are gone in order to switch your metabolism from depending on carbs/glucose for energy to stored body fat.

Then you can do the reverse after several weeks: Increase intake of carbs by around five to 10 grams daily for one to two weeks, giving you time to figure out how many carbs you can tolerate while still losing weight or at least not regaining. You may settle between 25–150 grams of net carbs daily or even more if you’re active. Again, this will depend on your individual metabolism and level of activity.

While a no-carb diet may come with some benefits to health, keep in mind that you can get these same benefits through a low-carb or ketogenic diet instead. Not only are these diets easier to follow, but they are also far less restrictive and associated with less risks and side effects.

Because no-carb diet plans eliminate virtually all sources of carbs, including healthy carbs, there is a much higher risk of nutrient deficiencies. Whole grains, for instance, provide B vitamins, magnesium and vitamin E, while fruits and vegetables contain a wide array of vitamins and minerals not found in meats or fats.

It’s also important to make sure you’re meeting your calorie needs on this plan. Severe calorie deprivation can lead to symptoms like fatigue, low blood sugar and muscle wasting.

Excessively high protein intake could also worsen kidney function in those with kidney disease. Because a no-carb diet is very high in protein, it is not recommended for individuals with impaired kidney function.

Furthermore, this diet is difficult to sustain and should not be followed for long periods of time due to the risk of long-term side effects. Those with certain health conditions like diabetes should consult with their doctors before going on a low-carb or no-carb diet as it may affect dosages for medications like insulin.

 

No-carb diet pros and cons - Dr. Axe

 


Is There A Healthier Alternative? How Many Carbs Are Actually Beneficial?

No-carb diets may be helpful in the short term for some people, but they’re not very sustainable or even healthy after a period of time.

I don’t believe that the no-carb diet/ketogenic diet typically should be done for periods of more than three to six months, and after that, you should add good carbohydrates back into your diet. For example, you can safely continue to eliminate or greatly reduce added sugars, refined wheat, and even legumes or dairy potentially for a lifetime if this works well for you — similar to eating a Paleo diet. After an initial detox from things like refined grains, alcohol and sugar — which you may choose to sustain for anywhere from about three weeks to six months — I recommend simply focusing on eliminating major sources of processed sugar and carbohydrates from your diet long-term.

Once you’re working on maintenance (the way you intend to basically continue eating forever), aim to eat a variety of foods, including plants, which contain carbs. After experimenting with how a no-carb diet affects you, you should have a solid understanding of how many carbs daily from plant foods your body can handle. You use this information to sustain a “normal eating pattern” complete with things like fresh veggies, fruits, fats, oils, meats, etc. As low as you can tolerate eating them without finding it difficult to maintain a healthy weight, I recommend eating the following anti-inflammatory foods that are high in things like essential nutrients, fiber and antioxidants:

  • Fruits like berries, citrus, apples, bananas, grapes, mangoes, papaya, pineapple, melon, etc.
  • Legumes, such as red beans, string beans, black beans, horse beans, lima beans, among others
  • All starchy veggies, such as carrots, potatoes, butternut/winter squash, parsnips, beetroot, corn on cob, sweet and white potatoes
  • Potentially whole grains (ideally gluten-free and sprouted grains), such as buckwheat, amaranth, gluten-free oats, quinoa, etc.
  • Unsweetened beverages like coconut water, club soda, coffee, teas

Low-Carb Diet vs. No-Carb Diet

On a typical diet, carbohydrates should make up about 40 percent of the calories that you consume, or approximately 200 grams on a 2,000-calorie diet. On low-carb diets, carbohydrate intake is much lower, typically falling between 20–30 grams of carbs for the entire day.

Cutting your carbohydrate intake by 90 percent can be a major adjustment, but it still allows you to eat some of the foods you enjoy and lets you squeeze in a few servings of nutrient-dense foods like non-starchy vegetables or low-sugar fruits.

A no-carb diet plan, on the other hand, seriously limits what you can eat and drink and even restricts the way you are able to season or spice up your foods.

Most importantly, you’re still able to reach and stay in ketosis on a low-carb diet and take advantage of the multitude of health benefits without eliminating carbs from your diet altogether.

Low-Carb Foods vs. No-Carb Foods

While the food options on a no carb diet plan are extremely limited, there are far more choices on a low-carb diet. In fact, on a low-carb diet, you can even enjoy some fruits and vegetables as well as certain types of low-carb pasta, like shirataki noodles.

This is because almost all types of food, except for unprocessed meats and pure fats and oils, contain at least a few grams of carbohydrates.

For example, eggs are an excellent source of both protein and fat and appear in almost every low-carb food list but still don’t qualify as a no-carb food because there is a minute amount of carbohydrates in eggs.

For this reason, a low-carb diet is much more sustainable, versatile and easier to follow than a no-carb diet plan.


How to Follow a No-Carb Diet + No-Carb Diet Recipes

If you do decide to follow a no-carb diet plan, you will be eating meat and fat/oil for all three meals as well as any snacks. It may be a good idea to gradually decrease your carb intake instead of quitting carbs cold turkey.

A typical meal plan might look something like this:

  • Breakfast: Bacon cooked in coconut oil with keto coffee
  • Lunch: Seared salmon with butter
  • Dinner: Baked chicken breast with bone broth
  • Snacks: Jerky and/or pepperoni slices

While there are plenty of low-carb recipes out there, no-carb diet recipes are a bit harder to come by. Here are a few ideas for dishes that are virtually free of carbs that you can use for no carb snacks and meals:


Should You Follow a No-Carb Diet or Not? Who Is It Good For?

Following a no-carb diet plan for two weeks can seem like a daunting task, and even eating nothing but meat and fat for a day or two seems challenging.

Instead of following a no-carb diet, start by reducing your intake of unhealthy carbs, such as refined grains, junk foods and ultra-processed foods. Other foods and drinks that make the list of bad carbs include soda, fruit juice and anything with added sugar.

If you’re interested in a low-carb diet plan for weight loss, try gradually decreasing your carb intake by shifting to more healthy fats and proteins instead of carbohydrates. For the carbohydrates you do eat, make sure they are high in fiber and important nutrients. Fruits, veggies and whole grains are good options to add to your plate.

You can also try a ketogenic diet, which cuts carbs even further, forcing your body to start burning up fat for fuel instead of sugar.

However, following a no-carb diet is not advisable unless it’s medically prescribed for a condition, such as epilepsy. Not only is it difficult and unsustainable, but a no-carb diet is very likely to lead to gaps in important nutrients that could cause negative effects on health.


History of the No-Carb Diet

Dozens of different very low-carb diets have gained attention from researchers and dieters over the past several decades. No-carb diets like the ketogenic diet were originally designed for patients with epilepsy by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, as it was found that carb-reducing and fasting helped improve the amount of seizures patients had. (18) Since its creation, the ketogenic diet has been tied to benefits like Alzheimer’s protection and reduced insulin-related disorders (such as polycystic ovarian syndrome or diabetes) by many studies. (19)

In the 1990s, low-carb diets became popular for weight loss when physician Dr. Robert Atkin’s published his book “Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution.” (20, 21) Surveys show that during the late 1990s and early 2000s, in the U.S. up to 18 percent of the adult population was using one type of low-carbohydrate diet or another at the peak of their popularity for weight loss! Since then, dietary theories like the Paleo diet, which reduce foods like sugar and grains, have piggy-backed off the low-carb diet craze. The Paleo diet is now one of the most popular diets in the world, while the ketogenic diet also (commonly coupled with intermittent fasting) also continues to gain notoriety.


Precautions Regarding Very Low-Carb Diets

Check with your doctor or health care provider before starting any very low-carb diet, especially if you have any health conditions that require monitoring and medications, such as diabetes or heart disease.

Like with all dietary plans, it’s important to practice self-awareness if you plan to reduce your carb intake drastically or eliminate sources of glucose/carbs all together. Monitoring your reactions closely and speaking to your doctor beforehand are especially important if you have a history of being underweight or suffering from fatigue. Very low-carb diets are most likely to cause negative reactions for people who tend to be very thin to begin with, are very active, the elderly, those who have a hormone-related health condition or anyone with an autoimmune disorder. You also shouldn’t attempt a no-carb diet if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. 

No-carb and low-carb diet side effects can include low energy, increased cravings, irritability, constipation, digestive issues and weakness. Following a no-carb diet for an extended period of time is not recommended unless under medical supervision as it is likely to lead to nutrient deficiencies.

If you have diabetes, you should talk to your doctor before adjusting your carb intake. Changes in carbohydrate intake can alter the effects of medications like insulin and your dosage may need to be recalculated. A no-carb diet is also not recommended for those with kidney disease as excessive protein intake may cause damage to the kidneys.

If you’re interested in reaping the benefits of a low-carb or ketogenic diet on weight loss and health, it’s best to try these less-restrictive diets instead as they are safer and easier to follow.

As always, listen to your body, and if you experience any negative side effects, talk to your doctor immediately and consider increasing carbohydrate intake.


Final Thoughts on a No-Carb Diet

  • Very low-carb or no-carb diets (such as the ketogenic diet) are usually used short-term to help people lose weight quickly and potentially to improve certain health conditions like sugar dependence, brain fog or diabetes. Very low-carb diets are not a great fit for every person but may be beneficial for you if you if your goals are to reduce body fat, detox your digestive system, and you’re willing to at least temporarily eat only very low-carb foods.
  • “No-carb foods” and very low-carb foods include high-protein animal foods, non-starchy veggies like leafy greens, oils like coconut or olive oil, butter, and hard cheeses. Very low-carb or no-carb diets eliminate or at least greatly reduce all sources of glucose, like grains, legumes, starchy vegetables, fruits, and sugars or sweeteners of all kinds.
  • Potential dangers and risks of near no-carb diets can include fatigue, weakness, mood swings, constipation, indigestion, trouble sleeping and even nutrient deficiencies if sustained for too long.

Read Next: Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet vs. Low-Fat Diet: Which Helps You Live Longer?


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