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Question
Posted by: cj | 2011/05/13

what is wrong with carb free diets

dear diet doc

I have heard that carb-free diets are bad and mostly just cause you to lose water - is this true?

thank you

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear CJ
As I have said repeatedly, carb-free diets do cause pronounced weightloss, but the reason why I and my dietetic colleagues have a problem with high-protein diets is that such diets will automatically expose you to high levels of fat, saturated fat and cholesterol because all animal protein foods such as meat, eggs and poultry contain animal fats which in turn contain these 'bad' fats which in turn can exacerbate high blood cholesterol and lipid levels predisposing to heart disease and certain cancers. A high protein intake may also have a negative effect on kidney function and leach calcium out of the body. There is also not yet sufficient evidence that shows that these high-protein diets sustain weight loss in the long-term, which is after all the purpose of trying to lose weight. Then there is also the problem of a lack of protective nutrients (bioflavonoids, phytochemicals, etc which are mainly found in plant foods) and dietary fibre, so that using a high-protein diet for long periods can cause certain deficiencies and constipation. So, if it works for you and you don't use it for longer than about 2 weeks at a time, then that is fine. but please be aware of the potential dangers of such diets. You should still be getting at least 1-2 portions of carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index (GI) at each meal to supply you with fibre and readily available energy. In addition, any carb-free diet that prohibits the use of fat-free milk, yoghurt and cottage cheese will put the user at risk of a calcium deficiency which can lead to brittle bones in younger individuals and osteoporosis in older persons. At the end of the day, human beings are omnivores and we have adapted to eating a mixed, balanced diet, so provided we don't eat highly refined, high-fat carbs, a mixture of foods is still the best for all round good health.
Best regards
DietDoc

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Our users say:
Posted by: DietDoc | 2011/05/13

Dear CJ
As I have said repeatedly, carb-free diets do cause pronounced weightloss, but the reason why I and my dietetic colleagues have a problem with high-protein diets is that such diets will automatically expose you to high levels of fat, saturated fat and cholesterol because all animal protein foods such as meat, eggs and poultry contain animal fats which in turn contain these 'bad' fats which in turn can exacerbate high blood cholesterol and lipid levels predisposing to heart disease and certain cancers. A high protein intake may also have a negative effect on kidney function and leach calcium out of the body. There is also not yet sufficient evidence that shows that these high-protein diets sustain weight loss in the long-term, which is after all the purpose of trying to lose weight. Then there is also the problem of a lack of protective nutrients (bioflavonoids, phytochemicals, etc which are mainly found in plant foods) and dietary fibre, so that using a high-protein diet for long periods can cause certain deficiencies and constipation. So, if it works for you and you don't use it for longer than about 2 weeks at a time, then that is fine. but please be aware of the potential dangers of such diets. You should still be getting at least 1-2 portions of carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index (GI) at each meal to supply you with fibre and readily available energy. In addition, any carb-free diet that prohibits the use of fat-free milk, yoghurt and cottage cheese will put the user at risk of a calcium deficiency which can lead to brittle bones in younger individuals and osteoporosis in older persons. At the end of the day, human beings are omnivores and we have adapted to eating a mixed, balanced diet, so provided we don't eat highly refined, high-fat carbs, a mixture of foods is still the best for all round good health.
Best regards
DietDoc

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