Side Effects of a Low-Carb Diet

Side Effects of a Low-Carb Diet

Published: 09:09AM 19 January 2023

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Jayti Shah

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Everyone's definition of a low-carb diet will differ. Many people, for example, consume more carbohydrates than their bodies require, and reducing carbohydrates can return them to an ideal moderate carbohydrate intake. However, some people prefer to reduce carbohydrates even further in order to control their blood sugar or lose weight.

While carbohydrate restriction is not required to lose weight, some people prefer to limit their carbohydrate intake because it makes them feel better overall. The best diet for you is one that you can maintain over time or that allows you to become healthier. It is critical to consult with a medical professional before embarking on a low-carbohydrate diet.

What happens in a Low-Carb Diet?

When you eat a low-carb diet, also known as a keto diet, your body goes through a process called ketosis. It occurs when ketones accumulate in the bloodstream. Low carbohydrate levels in the body cause a drop in blood sugar levels. This, in turn, causes fat to be broken down in order to use energy. You may experience forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and restless sleep. You may become annoyed and anxious.

Side Effects of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet

The different kinds of adverse reactions you may experience while on a low-carb diet are determined by your anatomy, people's eating habits, and how significantly you minimize your carbs and total caloric intake.

Here are some of the common low-carb diet side effects:

1.Leg cramping

To enter ketosis, you must eliminate sources of important nutrients and minerals that are required for proper muscle function. Among these minerals are potassium, calcium, and sodium. Your leg muscles will cramp if you don't get these minerals from low-carb foods, your leg muscles will cramp. A 'rapid heartbeat' may also lead to mineral loss.

Muscle cramps (Image courtesy - iStock photo)

2.Stones in the kidney

Another side effect of ketosis is that it lowers your blood pH, causing your blood to become acidic. Waste products in the blood have small crystals in the kidneys and form kidney stones when the blood is acidic.

Kidney stones (renal calculi) (Image courtesy - iStock photo)


Being in ketosis causes an excess of ketones to accumulate in the body. Excess ketones can be harmful to one's health and are excreted in the urine. Excess sodium is also excreted through the urine when your body is in ketosis. Excessive urination can dehydrate the body. Dehydration symptoms include dizziness, tiredness, sore throat, frequent urination, dark urine, dry skin, confusion, and headaches.

Dehydration (Image courtesy - iStock photo)

4.Menstrual cycle disruption

A low-carb diet causes significant weight loss. Most of the time, your body is under stress, which can disrupt your menstrual cycle. In severe cases, you may also experience amenorrhea or the complete absence of periods.

Absence of periods (Image courtesy - iStock photo)

5.Hunger and indigestion

Because fibrous foods such as whole grains, beans, and legumes all contain carbohydrates, you become constipated when your body is in ketosis. Fiber is the most important component because it keeps you fuller for longer and promotes smooth bowel movement. Being in ketosis means avoiding foods high in fiber, which causes constipation and hunger.

Indigestion (Image courtesy - iStock photo)

6.Low blood sugar levels

When your body goes too long without carbs, it can begin to affect your blood sugar levels. When you consume carbohydrates, your body converts digestible carbs into energy. This causes your blood sugar levels to rise and your pancreas to produce insulin, a hormone that aids in the absorption of blood sugar for use as energy by your cells.

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) (Image courtesy - iStock photo)

How do carbs fit into a healthy diet?

Giving up carbs can be so effective for weight loss because most people eat the wrong kinds of carbs, to begin with. Refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, white pasta, sugar, and so on) spike your blood sugar faster than the healthier complex carbs found in whole grains and fruit. Depending on your level of activity, White recommends sticking to portioned servings of those healthy complex carbohydrates. It is recommended that your diet consists of approximately 40 to 65 percent carbohydrates.

Is it possible to live without carbohydrates?

Some organs can survive without carbohydrates, while others cannot. As a result, following a lower-carbohydrate diet consists of lowering, but not eliminating, your intake of carbohydrate-containing foods.

Will I lose weight if I cut out carbs?

If you suddenly stop eating carbs, you will lose weight. However, at first, it is primarily water weight. Another reason that eating low-carb results in weight loss is that protein and fat are more filling than carbs. This increase in satiety reduces your overall hunger and food intake throughout the day.


While a low-carb diet may be appropriate for some people in certain circumstances, there are risks involved. It's a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before making any dietary changes, especially if you take medication, have diabetes or high blood pressure, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Understand that a low-carbohydrate diet is not required for weight loss and is not superior to any other diet that results in a calorie deficit. Food quality is critical for good nutrition and weight maintenance.

Jayti Shah is a Clinical Nutritionist with a master's degree in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association (IDA). Over the last 9 years, she has helped 400 clients in their clinical and weight loss journeys. She works with SocialBoat as a nutrition consultant.

At SocialBoat, we offer custom diet plans and guided workouts to help you achieve your goals in a 360-degree approach. Our gamified experience ensures that you don’t find workouts boring and we reward you for being consistent with your efforts.

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