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Low Carbohydrate Diets

Brad Farra - Friday, May 15, 2009

As a Chiropractor in Portland I provide holistic care, which means I treat the whole person and not an isolated complaint. Nutrition can be an important component of an individual's treatment. Sometimes proper nutrition can optimize the healing process, and other times nutritional advice is aimed at weight loss to improve overall health. I inevitably answer the question about "low carb diets" when weight loss is a goal. I am posting this as a resource for those wanting to lose weight and considering a low carbohydrate diet. Here's why they are wrong and should not be used for weight loss. The most important thing to point out is that the low carb diets are not a long term solution to better health. It's important to start a weight loss plan that you can stick with for the long term. Nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle management are the key factors in a successful weight loss program. I will briefly cover the negative aspects of the low carb diets.

The human body is equipped to burn carbohydrates as a fuel source. Many health concerns arise when the body does not have a source of carbs. When the body does not have a dietary supply of carbs the brain uses ketones for fuel instead of glucose (a simple carbohydrate). This can cause headaches, light-headedness, nausea, and other symptoms.

When you replace carbs in your diet with fat and protein several health concerns arise. With excessive protein you put yourself at a higher risk for gout, a type of arthritis that arises due to uric acid crystals forming in joints. Another type of crystal that forms due to the excessive protein intake of a low carb diet causes kidney stones. The low carb diet is low in fiber and combined with crystal formation this is linked to a higher risk of kidney stones. The low fiber diet causes a cascade of other problems that put you at risk for poor intestinal health and conditions including: constipation, certain colon cancers, poor nutrient absorption, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, and others. If that isn't enough to keep you away...

The high protein, high fat, and low fiber portions of the low carb diet combine to raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease. Furthermore, high protein intake is linked to osteoporosis because the body leaches calcium out of bone as a buffer to avoid acidity.

Exercise is an important component to weight loss. On a low carb diet you won't feel like exercising. A lack of carbohydrate will decrease muscle performance and limit the amount and the intensity of exercise. Without exercise helping you lose weight you run the risk of losing lean muscle mass. A loss of lean muscle mass will directly contribute to decreasing your metabolic rate.

So, if you want to lose weight don't put yourself through a diet that you won't be able to stick with and that will only make you more unhealthy. Choose a long term solution that includes a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fat and protein sources.

I would be happy to discuss any details with you, and remember...

Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.

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