9 Myths About Low-carb Diets - Scientific Evidence For Benefits

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Video: 9 Myths About Low-carb Diets - Scientific Evidence For Benefits

Video: 9 Myths About Low-carb Diets - Scientific Evidence For Benefits
Video: The Truth About Low-Carb Diets and 'Slow Carbs' 2023, September
9 Myths About Low-carb Diets - Scientific Evidence For Benefits
9 Myths About Low-carb Diets - Scientific Evidence For Benefits

9 myths about low-carb diets

The low-carb diet has both its fans and people who find them unhealthy. This article will examine 9 myths that have developed around this power system.


  1. Myth 1: a low-carb diet is the new trend.
  2. Myth 2: low carb diets are hard to follow.
  3. Myth 3: weight loss occurs by removing water from the body.
  4. Myth 4: low carb diets are bad for the heart.
  5. Myth 5: a low-carb diet helps you lose weight by restricting calories.
  6. Myth 6: a low-carb diet leads to avoiding healthy, plant-based foods.
  7. Myth 7: ketoacidosis develops on a low-carb diet.
  8. Myth 8: on a low-carb diet, the brain suffers from a lack of glucose.
  9. Myth 9: diet leads to decreased performance


Myth 1: a low-carb diet is the new trend

low carb diet
low carb diet

In years past, opponents of the low-carb diet saw it as another trendy trend that would be quickly forgotten. However, contrary to this opinion, the nutritional system firmly entered the world of dietetics and was entrenched in it for a long time. This became possible due to the fact that its effectiveness was proved by scientists. They have conducted over 20 studies that have shown that a low-carb diet actually works.

Robert Atkins published his first guide to dietetics back in 1972. This happened 5 years before the first collection of recommendations for composing a low-carb diet appeared in the United States.

Therefore, it is fundamentally wrong to regard this food system as an innovation that will soon be forgotten. It has been around for several decades and has millions of followers around the world.

Myth 2: low carb diets are hard to follow

low carbohydrate diet
low carbohydrate diet

It is believed that following a low-carb diet is difficult due to significant menu restrictions. Opponents of this food system argue that constant deprivation will sooner or later provoke a breakdown.

In fact, a low-carb diet involves avoiding certain foods. However, there is not a single diet that would allow you to eat anything. A losing weight person still needs to limit himself in something. Sometimes you have to cut down on the daily calorie intake, and sometimes give up your usual food.

The hallmark of a low-carb diet is that it can help reduce hunger. Therefore, a person who adheres to such a menu eats up and at the same time loses weight [1], [2]. When you compare a low-carb diet with a low-calorie diet, the benefits are clear. When limiting the daily calorie intake, a person will feel hunger all the time, and when limiting the daily dose of carbohydrates, he will not starve.

19 studies were analyzed. In each of these, people followed a low-carb diet and a low-fat diet. It was possible to establish that most of the participants reached the end in those groups that cut carbohydrates in their menu (79.51% of the subjects), and not fats (77.72% of the participants). The difference in percentage is not great, but it is still present. Therefore, the assertion that a low-carb diet is difficult to follow can be considered a myth [15].

Myth 3: weight loss occurs by removing water from the body

removing water from the body
removing water from the body

The body stores carbohydrate stores in the liver and muscles. Glucose is stored in them as glycogen. The body uses it as a source of energy between meals. Glycogen has the ability to attract water.

Refusal from carbohydrate food leads to the fact that the stores of glycogen in the muscles and in the liver begin to decrease. Therefore, the body loses water. In parallel, the level of insulin in the blood falls. This provokes increased kidney function, which removes fluid and electrolytes from the body.

Therefore, adherence to a low-carbohydrate diet provokes rapid excretion of fluid. However, this does not mean that weight loss is achieved only due to the lost water, studies show that they also lead to a greater reduction in body fat, especially in the abdomen [3].

This is contrasted by scientists who monitored people on a low-carb diet for 6 weeks. They managed to record that during this time they lost 3.5 kg of fat, but gained 1.1 kg of muscle [4].

Moreover, removing excess water from the body is beneficial for health. Therefore, using this fact as an argument against a low-carb diet is not advisable. Few people want to carry around 4-5 kg of excess fluid just like that.

Weight loss with a low-carb diet does indeed decrease. Its loss occurs due to a decrease in fat reserves in the liver and in the abdominal cavity.

Myth 4: low carb diets are bad for the heart

low-carb diets
low-carb diets

A low-carb diet involves eating foods that are high in fat and cholesterol. Therefore, it is believed that adherence to such a nutritional system harms the cardiovascular system and increases the risk of developing cardiopathologies.

However, recent research suggests that saturated fat and cholesterol from foods do not increase the likelihood of heart disease [5], [6].

Moreover, there is evidence that a low-carb diet improves many vital signs of the body [7]. Adherence to this menu leads to a decrease in triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, as well as an increase in HDL (good cholesterol) levels. In humans, blood pressure returns to normal, and insulin resistance decreases [8]. These data are generalized, that is, such results were obtained in the majority of the surveyed people.

However, all studies are guided by averages, but there are some individuals who, on the contrary, have increased their LDL cholesterol levels while following a low-carb diet. Such patients need to take special care of their health.

Myth 5: a low-carb diet helps you lose weight by restricting calories

low carb diet
low carb diet

It is believed that weight loss on a low-carb diet occurs only through calorie restriction. In fact, this is not the only factor leading to the disposal of fat stores.

A low-carb diet suppresses hunger, so a person eats fewer portions than before. He does not need to calculate the calorie content of dishes. While adherents of low-fat diets, on the contrary, are forced to deal with these tedious calculations, as they suffer from excruciating hunger all the time. They lose 2 or even 3 times less weight than people who lose weight on a low-carb diet [9].

The undeniable benefit of a restricted carbohydrate diet is its health benefits. In addition to losing weight, a person has a reduced risk of developing diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome and epilepsy [10].

Due to the fact that less carbohydrates and more proteins enter the body, all metabolic processes are accelerated. The fat is gone and the muscles are not destroyed.

Myth 6: a low-carb diet leads to avoiding healthy, plant-based foods

vegetable origin
vegetable origin

A low-carb diet does not involve avoiding carbohydrate foods altogether. Their consumption is decreasing, but not excluded. You can include berries, nuts, seeds in your menu. The daily intake of carbohydrates in the body should be 50 g. Moreover, even 100-150 g of carbohydrates per day is still the norm. Therefore, a person can safely eat several pieces of fruit a day. Even starchy foods such as oatmeal and potatoes are allowed on the menu.

A properly composed diet will provide the body with the necessary amount of fiber, vitamins and microelements. All types of low-carb diets allow for vegetables and other healthy foods.

Myth 7: ketoacidosis develops on a low-carb diet

on a low-carb diet
on a low-carb diet

If a person consumes less than 50 g of carbohydrates per day, the level of insulin in the blood drops, and fat cells begin to actively break down. This leads to the accumulation of fatty acids in the liver, which it begins to transform into ketone bodies.

Ketones have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier in order to provide the brain with energy during a fast. Many people misunderstand two concepts such as ketosis and ketoacidosis.

Ketoacidosis is a dangerous condition that develops in people with type 1 diabetes. A patient's blood level of ketones rises sharply, which leads to acidification. Ketoacidosis is life threatening and can be fatal.

Ketosis has nothing to do with ketoacidosis. Especially when it comes to ketosis, which develops against the background of a diet. If you follow a low-carb diet, this condition is natural and indicates proper metabolism.

It has been experimentally proven that ketosis has a therapeutic effect on the body of people with epilepsy. Currently, active work is underway aimed at studying the therapeutic effect of ketosis on brain tumors and Alzheimer's disease [11]. Therefore, do not confuse ketosis with formidable ketoacidosis.

Myth 8: on a low-carb diet, the brain suffers from a lack of glucose

on a low-carb diet the brain
on a low-carb diet the brain

There is a common misconception that the brain cannot function properly if a person is low in carbohydrates from food. It is believed that a person should receive at least 130 g of net carbohydrates per day. Otherwise, he will not be able to think normally.

In part, these statements are true. Some brain cells can only get their food from carbohydrates. However, other cells are able to use ketones as an energy source. If the body is low on carbohydrates, then most of the brain stops using glucose as the main stimulant and switches to ketones.

The body has another way to get carbohydrates. It is called gluconeogenesis. When few of them are supplied with food, the liver begins to synthesize glucose from protein products and from fats.

Thanks to the launch of such adaptive mechanisms, a person can do without a single gram of carbohydrates, which, of course, does not happen on a diet.

It is possible that in the first days after switching to a new food system, there may be some weakness and fatigue. However, after the adaptation period, everything will return to normal.

Myth 9: diet leads to decreased performance

to decrease efficiency
to decrease efficiency

Indeed, immediately after switching to a new menu, performance may decrease. However, after a few days, the body adapts. Processes will start, thanks to which not carbohydrates, but fats will act as a source of energy.

Numerous studies suggest that low-carbohydrate diets increase the body's endurance when playing sports [12], [13]. However, it is not recommended to load the body immediately from the first days from the beginning of the diet. You need to give him time to adapt. It can take anywhere from several days to several weeks.

There are also studies showing that low-carb diets are beneficial for muscle mass and strength [14].


So, a low-carb diet can benefit your body. It is recommended for obese people with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. You shouldn't consider a low-carb diet as a turnkey solution for all your health problems. Each person's body is unique. Therefore, before deciding to make adjustments to your menu, you need to consult with a specialist.

Low-carb diets include:

  • Pulsed protein and vegetable diet
  • Maggi Diet
  • Kremlin diet
  • Carbohydrate-free diet

The author of the article: Kuzmina Vera Valerievna | Endocrinologist, nutritionist

Education: Diploma of the Russian State Medical University named after NI Pirogov with a degree in General Medicine (2004). Residency at Moscow State University of Medicine and Dentistry, diploma in Endocrinology (2006). Links to sources

  1. The effects of a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and a low-fat diet on mood, hunger, and other self-reported symptoms
  2. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women
  3. Comparison of energy-restricted very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on weight loss and body composition in overweight men and women
  4. Body composition and hormonal responses to a carbohydrate-restricted diet
  5. Rethinking dietary cholesterol
  6. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease
  7. Systematic review and meta? Analysis of clinical trials of the effects of low carbohydrate diets on cardiovascular risk factors
  8. Effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on appetite, blood glucose levels, and insulin resistance in obese patients with type 2 diabetes
  9. A Low-Carbohydrate as Compared with a Low-Fat Diet in Severe Obesity
  10. The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus
  11. The ketogenic diet for the treatment of childhood epilepsy: a randomized controlled trial
  12. Low-carbohydrate diets for athletes: what evidence?
  13. Ketogenic diet does not affect strength performance in elite artistic gymnasts
  14. Effects of a ketogenic diet on strength and power
  15. Low-Carb Diets - Healthy, but Hard to Stick to?


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