Proponents of low-carb diets, such as the Zone diet and the Atkins diet, claim that limiting the amount of carbohydrates consumed in your daily diet can help with weight loss. While many people do lose weight on low-carbohydrate diets, these restrictive regimens can also make people feel tired, moody and generally weak.
A typical low-carb diet limits your ability to consume most common carbohydrate sources, such as bread, pasta, grains, beans and starchy vegetables. Instead, dieters increase their protein consumptions by eating more meat, fish, chicken, eggs and certain non-starchy vegetables. With the reduction of carbohydrates, low-carb diet proponents say that the body then begins to burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.
People on low-carb diets commonly suffer from weakness, fatigue, dizziness, headaches and constipation, particularly during the beginning stages of the diet. Atkins diet literature calls this the "Atkins flu," often experienced during the initial "Induction" phase of the diet when the body struggles to adjust to a lack of carbohydrates. The Weight-control Information Network website notes that low-carb diets can cause a condition called ketosis, where partially broken-down fats build up in the body. Ketosis can cause nausea, headache and mental fatigue.
Dr. Cecilia Tregear, medical director of London, England's Wimpole Skin Care Centre, warns that low-carbohydrate diets may interfere with thyroid function. "The thyroid gland needs to be activated by carbohydrates and without them it slows down," Tregear told "Daily Mail." Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, explains on the CNN website that a slow-functioning thyroid causes "a generalized slowing of the metabolic processes" that causes symptoms such as fatigue and slow heart rate.
According to research conducted by Dr. Judith Wurtman, former director of the MIT Clinical Research Center's Research Program in Women’s Health, a low-carb diet may make some people more prone to depression. Carbohydrates, says Wurtman, help produce the feel-good hormone serotonin; therefore, a reduction in carbs may cause emotional lows as well as the general tiredness that often accompanies depression.
The Weight-control Information Network suggests talking to a doctor or other health care professional about any issues or concerns you have regarding low-carbohydrate diets. Not everyone can safely follow a low-carb diet, and people with certain health conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease or cardiovascular disease, should consult their physicians before going on any kind of diet to ensure their safety. If you decide to partake in a low-carbohydrate diet, keep a close watch on your mood and overall health, and seek medical advice as necessary.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.