A no-carb diet is an extreme version of low-carb dieting. It eliminates almost all carbs, including whole grains, fruits, and most vegetables.
While studies show that decreasing your carb intake can help you shed pounds and may have health benefits, eliminating carbs completely is highly restrictive and most likely unnecessary.
Carbs are your body’s primary source of energy. They’re found in grains, beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables, milk, yogurt, pasta, bread, and baked goods. A no-carb diet resembles a ketogenic diet, which limits your carb intake to fewer than 30 grams per day and encourages you to get 70% or more of your daily calories from fat.
Depending on what you choose to eat, a no-carb diet can be more restrictive than keto.
Food and drinks allowed on a no-carb diet include meat, fish, eggs, cheese, butter, oils, water, and plain coffee or tea. If you’re less stringent, you can also eat nuts, seeds, non-starchy vegetables, and high-fat fruits like avocado and coconut since these foods are low in net carbs.
Since this diet focuses on restricting a specific macronutrient, there are no recommendations for daily calorie intake or portion sizes.
Replacing carbs with protein or fat can help you feel fuller and eat fewer overall calories, which in turn promotes weight loss. In addition, very-low-carb diets typically promote rapid weight loss in the first few weeks due to a quick drop in water weight. This is because every gram of carbs holds approximately three grams of water in your body.
A study in 79 obese adults found that over 6 months, those who restricted carb intake to fewer than 30 grams per day lost around 8.8 pounds (4 kg) more than those who instead restricted fat to fewer than 30% of daily calories.
Other studies offer similar results and suggest that following very-low-carb or ketogenic diets for more than 12 months can result in more sustained weight loss compared to low-fat diets. In particular, very low-carb diets have been shown to decrease blood triglyceride levels. Elevated triglyceride levels can increase your risk of heart disease. One study in 29 overweight men found that reducing carb intake to 10% of daily calories for 12 weeks decreased triglyceride levels by 39%, compared to baseline levels.
Cutting carbs, particularly refined carbs and sugar, can aid blood sugar control, which may be especially helpful for people with diabetes. Some studies show that low-carb and keto diets are effective in reducing blood sugar levels.
A 6-month study in 49 obese adults with type 2 diabetes found that those who followed a keto diet had significantly greater reductions in hemoglobin A1c — a measure of average blood sugar — than those who didn’t eat a keto diet.
May cause constipation and low energy
Since a no-carb diet restricts fruits, most vegetables, beans, and whole grains, it can be very low in fibre.
Fibre is important for digestion since it helps maintain bowel regularity. Because of this, a no-carb diet may lead to constipation and digestive discomfort. What’s more, carbs are your body’s primary source of energy. Therefore, a no-carb diet may lead to low energy and fatigue, especially in the beginning.
The metabolic changes that occur in your body when you cut carbs can also cause poor mental function, nausea, and disrupted sleep in the short term.
May lack some nutrients
A no-carb diet may not provide enough vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, B vitamins, and vitamin C, which are abundant in fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods. Additionally, the increased urination that results from restricting carbs may lead to deficiencies in sodium and potassium over time.
Eating a balanced diet with a variety of foods can help ensure that you get enough of the nutrients you need. Additionally, it’s more sustainable than a no-carb diet in the long term.
Highly restrictive with unknown long-term effects
Insufficient studies exist on the long-term effects of very-low-carb diets, so it’s especially difficult to estimate the long-term effects of a no-carb diet. Due to this lack of research, following a no-carb diet over a long period could have severe health consequences.
As a no-carb diet is highly restrictive, very high in fat, and not well researched for safety, it’s not appropriate for those with eating disorders, children, cholesterol hyper-responders, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
We’ll leave you to make your own decision as everyone is different, but we believe in balanced diets. Restricted carbs this intensely also sounds like a legal form of torture and we’re not about it.
Shoutout to healthline.com for some great research on this topic.