Over 60 per cent of Australian adults need to lose weight in order to be deemed healthy by the BMI classification. Losing weight helps reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as helps to mange conditions such as insulin resistance and polycystic ovarian syndrome. But, are all weight loss methods good for us? Or are some putting our health at risk?
Pills and portions promising quick weight loss results tempt many dieters. One in particular fad diet, the low-carb diet is touted by many
as the perfect formula for weight loss, when in reality they can be dangerous. This doesn’t however stop the vast number of people who
ditch the carbs in a bid to lose weight. I know plenty of people who have been successful on a low-carb diet in the past, only to have regained the weight (plus a few extra kilos) a few years later. Despite this, many still contemplate following the diet for a second time. Instant gratification easily wins over making the time and putting in the effort to make sustainable lifestyle changes. But, what affects do low-carb, high protein diets (think Atkins) have on our health?
Consequences of low-carb diets
- Increased risk of heart disease: A 25-year study in Northern Sweden showed that switching to a low-carb eating plan resulted in an increase in cholesterol levels, despite an initial reduce in weight loss. Over the course of the study, a decrease in fat intake was see by the participants between the years 1992 and 2005, however after 2005 the levels of total and saturated fat intake began to increase and the amount of complex carbohydrates eaten decreased. As a result, the cholesterol levels began to once more increase despite the introduction of cholesterol-lowering medication
- Risk of nutritional deficiencies: Any eating plan that asks you to cut whole food groups out of your diet is bound to lead to inadequate intake of important vitamins and minerals. Cutting our whole grain bread and cereal products makes meeting fibre requirements hard, which can lead to constipation.
- Long-term weight remains elusive for most people: Research looking at the weight loss results of low-carb diet over the long-term have concluded that they are no more effective for weight loss than including standard amounts of carbohydrates. Ninety-five per cent of people regain the weight they have lost regardless of the diet they follow. For the best weight loss results, sustainable lifestyle changes are needed, not drastic measures of excluding whole food groups.
- Fatigue: Carbohydrates are your body’s number one fuel source, so if you don’t provide your self with enough you can feel mentally and physically fatigued. Going low-carb deplete muscle glycogen stores, making exercise harder. Research shows that muscle fatigue increases with the rate of muscle glycogen depletion.
- Not good for people with poor kidney function: Too much protein can worsen kidney function in people with kidney disease because their body may have trouble eliminating all the waste products of protein metabolism, such as urea. However, research shows that a high protein intake is unlikely to put strain on the kidney health of healthy people.
Even with the health risks, would you cut out carbs to lose weight?