Health Benefits of a Low-Carb Diet
Eliminating unnecessary foods (carbohydrates) can significantly affect different parts of our body, from the brain and heart to blood sugar and the digestive system.
Various studies report that low-carb diets can help manage diabetes, boost weight loss, reduce triglycerides, and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels . Let’s get into the details.
A Low-Carb Diet Can Help Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is one of the biggest health concerns that can lead to various chronic diseases, from constriction in arteries to kidney dysfunction.
A 2014 study indicated that going on a low-carb diet and minimizing carbohydrate intake in type 2 diabetic patients significantly improved the subclinical inflammatory state .
A Low-Carb Diet Can Boost Weight Loss
Various studies show that a low-carb ketogenic diet can lead to weight loss by activating a metabolic switch to oxidize fats, which can suppress hunger by producing ketone bodies  .
A 2023 study on the effects of low-carb ketogenic diets on weight loss showed that limiting carbohydrate intake can lead to rapid weight loss (due to water weight loss) and sustainable weight loss (fat loss) over time .
A 2007 study comparing different low-carb diets over a year indicated that the lowest-carb diet showed better results in weight loss .
A Low-Carb Diet Can Improve Digestive Health
Different studies have supported the positive impacts of a low-carb ketogenic diet on metabolic health and lower seizure activities, which are influenced by the gut microbiota 
A 2007 study on the effects of nutrition on weight loss and diabetes suggested limiting carbohydrate intake can shift the energy source from glucose and fatty acids to fatty acids and ketones, which can help suppress appetite, boost weight loss, and improve surrogate markers of cardiovascular disease .
Learn More: The No-Carb No-Sugar Diet: Everything You Need to Know
A Low-Carb Diet Can Help Manage Blood Sugar Levels
A 2005 study on 10 obese patients with type 2 diabetes indicated that going on a low-carbohydrate diet for 14 days led to reduced energy intake, weight loss, improved 24-hour blood glucose profiles, insulin sensitivity, and hemoglobin A1c; and decreased cholesterol levels and plasma triglyceride .
Different studies indicate that carbohydrate restriction is an effective approach to controlling type 2 diabetes and reducing medications, even more effective than other approaches  .
A Low-Carb Diet Can Improve Brain Function
Studies on the effects of low-carb ketogenic diets on brain function indicate that a ketogenic diet can positively impact neurological disorders by balancing pro- and antioxidant processes and pro-excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters, and regulating inflammation or altering the composition of the gut microbiome  .
A Low-Carb Diet Can Improve Heart Health
Various randomized controlled trials on the effects of low-carb diets report positive impacts of such diets on reducing body weight and improving cardiovascular risk factors  .
Despite these positive effects, a low-carb diet may lead to temporary side effects in some individuals, especially during the initial adaptation phase.
Side Effects of a Low-Carb Diet
Changing your eating habits and starting a low-carb diet causes your body, especially the digestive system, to go through changes to adapt to the new eating habits.
This initial adaptation phase may cause temporary constipation, diarrhea, low energy levels, nausea, and headaches, which usually fade away after some days, especially if you consume enough water   .
Although these possible side effects may happen in sensitive individuals, some groups of people should take more caution regarding a low-carb diet and consult a healthcare professional first because of their specific needs.
Who Should NOT Do a Strict Low-Carb Diet?
While low-carb diets can be effective for many people, they may not be suitable for everyone. Individuals who should approach or avoid low-carb diets include:
- Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women: Carbohydrates are important in fetal development and milk production. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should go on a well-balanced diet to ensure they meet the increased nutritional demands during these periods.
- Athletes with Those with High-Intensity Training: Some endurance athletes need carbohydrate-rich diets to support their energy needs during intense workouts.
- People with Certain Medical Conditions: Individuals with conditions like kidney disease should consult with a healthcare professional before going on a low-carb diet, as limiting carbohydrates may worsen existing health issues in some cases.
- Those with Eating Disorders: Individuals with a history of eating disorders need to consult a healthcare professional or dietitian to modify the low-carb diet based on their needs.
- People on Certain Medications: Some medications, such as those for diabetes or high blood pressure, may require adjustments when following a low-carb diet. It's important to consult with a healthcare provider to ensure proper medication management.
Learn More: Taking Medications on Intermittent Fasting: Do Medications Break a Fast?
To start a low-carb diet, you need to know the low-carb foods you can and cannot consume. Despite what many may think, you can consume a wide range of foods and drinks.