Ask Leah! The Ingles Dietitian

Sponsored: Is a low-carb diet safe?

Sponsored: Is a low-carb diet safe?

Do you think a low or no carbohydrate diet is safe?

It would be very difficult to have a diet that was "no carbohydrates" since even non-starchy vegetables have small amounts of carbohydrates. I do have concerns about low carbohydrate diets like the "keto diet". It's not just a matter of cutting down on a macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrates). Carbohydrates are found in foods like fruits, (starchy) vegetables, dairy products, beans, and whole grains that also have other vitamins, minerals and fiber. Eating fruits and vegetables have especially been linked to disease prevention and reducing your risk of certain types of cancers.

If you severely restrict carbohydrates you aren't getting those other nutrients, or not in the amount you should. There are short-term effects of the keto diet like bad breath and headaches. Some individuals have experienced kidney stones and elevated cholesterol from being on a keto diet. (

If your goal is to lose weight, any diet that restricts calories may help, and if you couple that with more exercise and activity you will see weight loss. With highly restrictive diets like the keto diet you should ask yourself:

  • Can I maintain this sort of diet for the long term... not just a few weeks but months and years? 
  • How will this affect my social life and my time with family and friends?
  • Will I be able to enjoy meals out without always having to ask for special dishes or special treatment?
  • How might this affect my health long-term?

Sometimes it helps to start by taking stock of what you are eating and seeing what you might need to add-- rather than subtract from your diet. A good place to start is MyPlate.

Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN

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