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How Safe Are Low Carbohydrate Diets?

There is an enormous amount of talk about low-carbohydrate diets and whether they are safe and effective. Some people actually consume diets low in carbohydrates on a regular basis for many different reasons and not just because they are dieting. A low carbohydrate diet is defined as one that includes less than 100 grams of carbohydrates a day. Some low-carbohydrate diets even advise beginning with 20-50 grams in order to begin losing weight quickly. While low carbohydrate diets are safe, they fall quite short of the recommendations of the USDA’s recommendation of somewhere between 225-325 grams of carbohydrates daily.

There is more fat in a low-carbohydrate diet than you find in the average American diet, and based on the recommendations of lard, butter, cream, cheese, mayonnaise, bacon and fatty meat you may find your intake of saturated fat exceeds current recommendations. Fortunately current studies indicate there is very little evidence to associate saturated fat with cardiovascular disease.

The main argument people have when it comes to low-carbohydrate diets is the need for the brain to have glucose in order to function properly. What many people don’t know if they can obtain this glucose from protein. In addition eating a low-carbohydrate diet causes your body to start burning fat for energy. This process generates ketones the brain can use for additional energy. A nutritionally balanced low-carbohydrate meal should consist of 4-6 ounces of protein from poultry, fish or chicken and 1-2 tablespoons of fat from sources such as olive oil, canola oil, butter, coconut oil, nuts or nut butter.

Sometimes those who switch to a low-carbohydrate diet find themselves plagued by some unpleasant side effects that may include fatigue, dizziness, weakness, headaches and irritability. This should not be of concerns as these effects are not dangerous and only indicate the body’s reaction to your change in eating. In most cases it only takes a few days, but some people may need up to two weeks to adjust to the change in diet.

Some of the side effects are the result of dehydration, so it is essential to drink plenty of fluids and replenish the electrolytes in your body by taking ½ teaspoon of salt every day. The main benefits you will enjoy by changing to a low-carbohydrate diet are more stable blood sugar levels, reduced triglycerides and increased HDL cholesterol levels.

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