Do Low Carb Weight Loss Diets Really Work?

Yes, for the short term, but do they really work for the long term too? Below we will look into how well they do in both the short and long term in relation to weight lost, your health and sustainability.

Disclaimer: The following is for educational purposes only. We are not advocating a change in dietary, health or exercise protocols. Please seek the advice or council of your nutritionally educated health care practitioner prior to engaging in any dietary or exercise changes.

According to the Boston Medical Center over 45 million Americans will go on some sort of weight loss diet every year.

As huge as those number sound they are to be expected.

According to World Population Review .com we are #12 in the world for percentage of obesity. We have several states that if taken alone would actually come it at number 1.

Yes, that means if you treated that state as its own Country, then it would be number 1 in the world for its overall percentage of obesity!!!

Let’s just say that America has a weight problem.

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What Can We Do About America’s Obesity Epidemic?

Ok, so we know there’s a problem, but what are we going to do about it?

There are literally hundreds of diets out there, all of which claim to be the second coming, but do any of them actually measure up.

Do people really lose weight with them long term and keep it off or are they just the latest fad conjured up by the diet industry to suck money out of consumers wallets?

Well, the sad fact is that the later is true. Most diets don’t work, they couldn’t possibly work long term because they ruin the health of the body to such an extent that people just can’t continue.

Or, they are so restrictive that people fail because they make it to where people just cannot comply.

So, what about low carb dieting?

Does it work, can you stay on it long term?

It’s been around for a few years now, so it must work, right?

Not necessarily. There are many things that are tens or even hundreds of years old that don’t work, are old wife’s tales or just plain fiction.

People desperate for the quick and easy fix are gullible and willing to believe just about anything to have some beacon of hope to hang onto, eve though deep down they know it’s not true.

We have legions of fans that go to pro wrestling matches and really believe those guys are fighting.

Yeah right. You let a 300-pound man hit you over the head with a steel chair just once and there is no way on Gods green earth you’re still standing.

But a faction of those that attend these meets truly believe it.

The same goes for diets. They want it to be true so bad that it is true for them, whether the science or empirical evidence supports it or not.

So, below we will answer all the top questions people just like you have been searching for online about low carb dieting and its effectiveness or potential lack thereof.

How Much Can I Lose In Two Weeks On A Low Carb Diet?

It’s not uncommon citing empirical evidence that it’s possible to lose as much as 20 to even 25 pounds in the first two weeks. However, we would like to caution you that the majority of that weight will be water weight and not actual fat loss.

In clinical studies they have shown that; the actual amount of fat loss generally ranges between 5 and 12 pounds in the first 14 days depending on many variables such as exercise, protein percentage of calories and other components.

How Much Can I Lose In One Month On A Low Carb Diet?

Empirical evidence shows that many people lose as much as 20 to 30 pounds in the first month on a low carb diet. However, as stated above the majority of the first weight that you’ll lose will most assuredly be water. The amount of fat that clinical studies suggest that you might lose should range in between 7 and 18 pounds.

How Many Carbohydrates Can You Eat On A Low Carb Diet?

Most diets will have you consuming between 30 and 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. Oddly enough, according to several studies it’s not the amount of carbs that you eat per say, but the continued weight loss depends on the amount of protein that you consume.

If you lower the carbs but replace all those calories with just fat, then your progress would according to research be slowed.

If you keep your protein at the level of 65% of total calories or slightly higher, research indicates that you should experience continued weight loss, so long as you also maintain some sort of caloric deficit.

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Are Cheat Days Allowed On A Low Carbohydrate Diet?

Yes, they are and as a matter of fact they are recommended. However, you should not think of it as a cheat day but rather a cheat meal. You could pack in some serious sugar calories in a full day. However, having just one meal seems to only take you out of ketosis for a short period of time.

The real goal with a cheat meal is to raise the metabolism up, shock the body back into change and allow you to deal with any cravings you may have been having since the last cheat meal.

Most people will have a cheat meal once per week. However, empirical evidence suggests that once every 10 to 14 days is preferable.

The reason being that, you stay in ketosis longer and you still get your mental breaks on a short enough time frame so that you still look forward to them. 

Is Fruit Allowed On A Low Carbohydrate Diet?

For the most part no. However, a small serving of extremely low-calorie berries, such as strawberries can be had by most while still remaining in ketosis. Fruit is generally just way too high in carbohydrates to keep you below your threshold that allows your body to keep making ketones.

If your carbs are low enough for the day you might be able to get away with half an apple or something like that.

Remember that you’d likely be far better off using those carbs to eat vegetables which generally have far fewer carbs and provide more volume and fiber than most fruits.

The ratios of food volume just favor vegetables. As an example, you can have 4 cups of broccoli for the same net carbs as 10 to 12 grapes. You’ll stay fuller longer and have better bowel movements with the broccoli.

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Are Low Carbohydrate Diets Effective?

Yes and no. They can be quite effective for short term dieting of no more than 1 to 2 months. However, you would be hard pressed to live on one or stay on it for extended periods due to its built-in lack of nutrients and dietary fiber.

Since if done properly, they place your body into a state of ketosis you will metabolize fat. However, because you have to nearly abstain from fruits and copious amounts of vegetables, they have shown not to be health promoting in the long term.

Will Low Carb Diets Cause Hair Loss?

Both the empirical and scientific evidence suggest that no, these types of diets should not cause hair loss, however they may contribute to the problem as we will now explain.

Low carb diets are typically lower in certain vitamins and minerals that are needed by the body for proper hair growth. If these deficiencies are allowed to go on for long periods, they then could contribute to hair loss if hair loss is already happening. But that is all together different from causing it, which there is no evidence to support.

The fact that these diets are so high in protein lends itself to supporting the claims that high protein diets stimulate hair growth. Though there are some issues with this as well, since high protein diets have actually been shown to lower testosterone rather than raise it.

Yes, we know that this flies in the face of what you may have associated with manliness. You know, eat lots of meat, get big, have high testosterone levels, be alpha.

This interestingly turns out not to be true at all. There are multiple studies that show testosterone increasing when men switched from a high protein diet to a high carbohydrate diet.

One such study showed that men who switched from meat eating to a vegan diet had significantly elevated testosterone levels that stayed elevated the entire time they were vegan.

They actually lowered again if the subjects went back to meat eating.

Do Low Carb Diets Raise Cholesterol?

Yes, they do. The reason being is that when you cut out the carbs and replace them with protein you tend to eat more meat. If you used only cholesterol free protein powders, then the blood level cholesterol should in theory not change according to studies. However, since most people just eat more meat to compensate, yes, the levels of cholesterol rise.

Do Low Carb Diets Make You Tired?

There seems to be an initial period of tiredness reported by diet subjects in studies for the first few days. However, once they were in ketosis for at least a few hours the energy levels reportedly rose, and hunger pangs diminished. So, no, the diet should not make you tired after the initial adjustment phase.

One thing to note is that in virtually all the studies for all the diets people felt different, tired, hungry or something during the first few days of adapting to the new diet. This is normal and typical, with change comes adaptation, with adaptation comes discomfort.

Can Low Carb Diets Cause Headaches?

No, they should not cause headaches long term. However, in the first few days of adjustment there have been people who have complained of headaches until their bodies adjusted and normalized. But in the long term, no.

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Will Low Carbohydrate Diets Damage Kidneys?

The real question is, will high protein diets cause kidney damage. Because simply the absence of carbs would not damage them but would the addition of copious amounts of protein do it. The answer is no. High protein diets have not been shown to cause kidney damage in healthy adults without pre-existing damage or disease.

Studies have however shown that high protein diets can and do exacerbate pre-existing conditions of kidney damage and or disease.

This is to say that; if you already have kidney damage or kidney disease, consuming a high protein diet from animal sources may exacerbate these conditions.

Can You Have Stevia On A Low Carb Diet?

Yes, stevia is a natural low-calorie sweetener derived from the Stevia Rebaudiana plant. Just the ground up leaves, before being concentrated are more than 200 times sweeter than sugar.

Because just a couple of milligrams are needed to say sweeten a cup of coffee there is not enough material there to register as caloric, so it has zero calories per serving.

Yes, you may consume stevia during your low carbohydrate diet without concern.

Are Low Carb Diets Safe?

No, low carbohydrate diets are not safe in the long term. They lack the nutrients needed to achieve optimal health, they lack the fiber needed for proper digestion, microbiome proliferation and regulation of the transitory time of food through the digestive tract which sets the stage for intestinal cancer and polyp formation.

You simply cannot get all the nutrients, phytochemicals, fiber, living enzymes and co factors that your body needs for optimal health on a diet that is low in over all fruit and vegetable mass.

That’s just not how we were designed. The best data suggests that we are actually frugivore/herbivores who have applied an omnivore diet to our species and convinced ourselves that this is a good thing.

Every time that we add more animal protein to our diet we suffer from it in the addition of discomfort, disease and other problems.

No, sorry to have to say it, but a high protein diet with carbohydrates low enough to induce ketosis is not healthy or safe in the long term.

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Sources

1. https://www.bmc.org/nutrition-and-weight-management/weight-management

2. https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/most-obese-countries

3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031938412002806

4. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2722768

5. https://journals.lww.com/co-clinicalnutrition/Abstract/2014/01000/Protein_diets,_body_weight_loss_and_weight.13.aspx

6. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6?fbclid=IwAR12p0kJ_vyhqHZ-gwV4ARAYkEKN8czblSFZ7pIr-h6lvFb14H-K5qEyqZg

7. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/346764

8. https://forum.lowcarber.org/archive/index.php/t-270103.html

9. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0024320587900865

10. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article-abstract/5/1/29/4729867

11. https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/25/3/425/21929/Effect-of-a-High-Protein-High-Monounsaturated-Fat

12.https://thejournalofheadacheandpain.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s10194-019-1057-1