Top Ten Low Carb Myths
Myth #1: Carbohydrate restricted diets eliminate fruit, vegetables and all other carbohydrates.
False. Carbohydrate restricted diets do not eliminate nutritionally dense vegetables and fruit. In fact, people following this diet eat more vegetables and eat them more frequently. Fruit such as berries can be consumed in moderate amounts.
Myth #2: Low carb diets can cause kidney or liver damage because of the increase in protein consumption.
Not true. According to this study, there were no harmful effects from a high protein diet in healthy individuals. Furthermore, low carb diets are high fat, moderate protein diets, and although protein and fat intake are increased as carbohydrate intake drops, the amounts recommended are not harmful to the kidneys or liver. This study shows that a low carb, ketogenic diet can actually help the kidneys heal.
Myth #3: Weight loss on controlled carbohydrate eating plans is caused by calorie restriction.
Actually, there seems to be a “metabolic advantage” from low carb diets in which the resulting weight loss is more than can be explained simply by the reduction in calories. “Biologically speaking, a calorie is certainly not a calorie.” (Manninen 2004)
Myth #4: Controlled carbohydrate programs promote cardiac risk.
Quite the opposite. According to many studies, (1, 2, 3) controlled carbohydrate programs reduce markers for cardiac risk, including reducing blood pressure, fasting glucose, triglycerides and inflammation and increasing HDL cholesterol. In one study performed at Stanford, a low carb diet performed better than three other higher-carb, lower-fat diets in nearly all markers of cardiac risk factors.
Myth #5: Controlled carbohydrate programs are short-term only, and not suitable for long-term adherence.
Many followers of controlled carbohydrate programs consider it a lifestyle. This study followed low carb dieters for three years and concluded that long-term weight maintenance is possible on a low carb diet.
Myth #6: Controlled carbohydrate plans do not promote fat loss, but cause loss of protein/lean body mass and total body water.
False. Controlled carbohydrate plans favorably affect body composition. In this study, participants following a low carb diet lost more fat and less lean body mass compared to those following a low fat diet.
Myth #7: Glucose is the only fuel the brain can use, therefore the body needs dietary glucose in the form of carbohydrates.
Incorrect. “Brain cells are metabolically flexible because they can derive energy from both glucose and ketone bodies (made from fatty acids).” (Seyfried 2003) While the brain does require some glucose to function (which can be made through gluconeogenesis), the majority of its fuel can come from ketones, which are made from fatty acids.
Myth #8: Controlled carbohydrate eating regimens are deficient in vitamins and minerals.
Controlled carbohydrate eating programs allow followers to eat nutritionally dense meat eggs, vegetables, and fruit. By making good food choices, those following a low-carb lifestyle can avoid any nutritional deficiencies.
Myth #9: Weight maintenance is impossible on a controlled carbohydrate eating program.
Wrong. The authors of this study, which followed low carb dieters for three years, stated that “it is possible to achieve and maintain long-term weight loss using a low-carbohydrate diet.”
Myth #10: Ketogenic diets are dangerous.
Much to the contrary. This study found no harmful effects from a chronic ketogenic diet. In addition, the ketogenic diet is being studied for its neuroprotective effects and as therapy for conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, Parkinson’s, diabetes and epilepsy.