Reducing your intake of carbohydrates is something that more and more people seem to be doing lately, so you might also be asking yourself if it's right for you to do as well. Depending on how many carbs you regularly eat, cutting back on carbs (or attempting to cut them down to nearly nothing) can be really difficult, but it can also have some positive — and obvious — benefits. That being said, there are also some perhaps a bit unexpected ways you damage your body when you reduce your carb intake about which, if you're going to give it a try for yourself, you may want to know more.
Low-carb diets can be pretty effective when it comes to losing weight and managing some chronic conditions. But, just like with anything, with pros often come cons. It's important to check out all potential implications of big lifestyle changes before jumping in with both feet, as well as have a conversation with your doctor or other trusted health professionals, who can help you determine if it might be right for you or not. If you're considering a low-carb or severely restricted, nearly no-carb diet, knowing what sorts of unexpected things that might happen to your body is important.
1. You Might Get Pretty Fatigued
Your body's quickest source of energy is carbs, so if you're not ingesting a ton of those, it might take some time for your body to adjust to tapping into other energy sources. Not only that, but you might still notice that you're more fatigued during activities than you were before, when you were eating bowls of pasta for dinner. In an interview with The List, dietitian Marie Spano said that your body can have a difficult time quickly using fat as an energy source, so endurance might take a bit of a hit.
2. Your Brain Might Not Be Able To Function In The Same Way
As it turns out, your brain off of carbs might not function in entirely the same way as it does when you're eating them. SF Gate noted that you can experience some brain fog and mental sluggishness when you reduce your carb intake. That can be difficult to battle through, particularly if you have to focus on things throughout the day like work, commuting, or childcare.
3. You Might Feel Weak
Weakness and shakiness are less-than-exciting side effects that can come along with some viruses, but they can also be issues when you cut back on your carb intake. Mayo Clinic noted that weakness can happen when you cut back on carbs super quickly. If you're feeling too weak, adding in some carbs and cutting back more slowly might help.
4. There Might Be A Risk Of Long-Term Issues Like Osteoporosis
Depending on how strictly you cut back on your carb intake, you could potentially be at-risk for more serious long-term issues, such as osteoporosis. A 2003 paper published in Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted that osteoporosis, kidney issues, and more are potentially associated with long-term severe carb reduction. That's one of the reasons that you might want to chat with your doctor or another health professional that you trust before you keep your diet change going long-term.
5. It Might Have A Real Effect On Your Mood
If you're concerned about how different lifestyle changes can affect your mood and mental health, you may want to know more about what's going on with cutting carbs. In an interview with Psychology Today, Dr. Judith Wurtman, PhD, the author of The Serotonin Power Diet: Eat Carbs — Nature's Own Appetite Suppressant — to Stop Emotional Overeating and Halt Antidepressant-Associated Weight Gain, said that, in her studies conducted in rats, there have been links found between reducing carbs and lower levels of serotonin in the brain. That being said, evidence appears to be more mixed in humans, with Wurtman and some experts saying it does have a real effect and others saying it might not. The verdict appears to still be out.
6. You Might Experience Painful Muscle Cramps
In an interview with WebMD, Dr. Arne Astrup, MD, PhD, a nutrition expert and researcher, said that people on low-carb diets can sometimes report experiencing muscle cramps and muscle weakness, as well as other frustrating or irritating symptoms and that these sorts of things can be linked with "carbohydrate deficiency." It might not seem like real, long-lasting damage, but it can really affect your life, at least in the short-term.
7. Constipation Could Be A Real Issue
Constipation, too, can be associated with reducing carbs, and that's something that can cause some other issues, particularly if it continues for a long time. Consumer Reports reported that animal protein sources don't contain a ton of fiber, which is why constipation can become a problem.
Reducing your carb intake might still be the right thing for you to do, despite the potential for real (and serious) side effects. But being aware of what the cons are that can come along with it and talking things over with a health care professional that you trust is important so that you know that you're making the right choice for you.