Science of low carbohydrate diet: How do low carb diets work?

Science of Low Carbohydrate Diet

Are you wondering which diet [1] suits you? Oftentimes, people will get some advice from a dietitian about certain food regimens. Ketogenic diet or Keto for short involves consuming low carb. Some will say that this low-carb diet is not recommended for long-term because it has a lot of side effects.

In this article, we will talk about the science of low carb diet [2] and its long-term effects.

Long-term effects of low carbohydrate diet.

First, there are no essential carbohydrates. Individuals need carbs for its vitamins and minerals content. Our bodies will not suffer by not consuming glucose. It is often said that carbohydrate intake is important because it will supply energy to the body. The system is much better to run on fat fuel or ketones.

Some people will also say that low carb diet is the same as low calorie diet. These are two separate things. There are also some notions that says, low carb diet will starve the thyroid from nutrients. The thyroid does not need glucose, it needs nutrition. An individual who is on a low-calorie diet may lack nutrients and suffer a thyroid problem.

It is best to do a Ketogenic diet while consuming unrestricted vegetables. The nutrients from the vegetables are vital. But grains are not a part of the list as it is difficult to digest, and it contains gluten. And gluten can turn into sugar quickly.

Barriers of low-carb diet.

Others also say that it is hard to stick into low-carb diet plan for a long time as people may get the tendency to crave. Which is untrue. Keto diet is an example of low carb diet. This is regimen that a person can adhere to because it makes the cravings and hunger go away.

Another is that low carbohydrate meal plan is a high protein diet. [3, 4] In fact, a recommended amount of moderate protein, as such three to six ounces, is acceptable. Protein has amino acids and is necessary to build body protein.


Moreover, there is also a belief that says, Ketogenic diet is not healthy because of the omission of a food cluster. High carb foods are breads, pasta, cereals, crackers, biscuits, waffles, and pancakes. Also, these sort of foods are unhealthy. Vitamin B – rich foods and sources can come from some meals that does not contain grains.

Keto diet consumption as they say, can lead you to a certain disease called, Diabetes. Or it can cause Keto acidosis. This is also untrue. As Keto acidosis will only occur if the person is a Type 1 – Diabetic and the insulin completely ran out in the system. And if there are other chronic underlying conditions. Keto acidosis is when the body reaches high acid levels. This is not something to worry about. Healthy individuals doing a nutritional ketosis will not get Keto acidosis. And keto acidosis differs from ketosis.

Ketosis [5] is a state in which the body system starts the process of fat burning for weight loss. [6]

The true notion is actually, while on a low carbohydrate diet, insulin resistance is fixed. And when you fix the insulin resistance, you allow the body to absorb more nutrients and minerals. For example, potassium, magnesium, chromium, Vitamin A, B – Vitamins, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Omega – 6 fatty acids.

Benefits of Long-term carb diet.

  • Reduce insulin levels [7, 8]
  • Improved heart conditions
  • Weight management or weight-loss improvements
  • Acne reduction
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome will go away.
  • Less fatty liver
  • Less Diabetes
  • Less insulin resistance
  • Better cognitive function
  • Improved mood
  • Less Dementia

Science of low carbohydrate diet: How do low carb diets work? Bariatric Station

Low carbohydrate diet vs. Keto

What is the difference between Ketogenic and a low carb diet? Both diets are low in carbohydrates. But the only difference is that Keto diets requires moderate amount of protein. Most low carb diets have higher amounts of protein. The issue with high amounts of protein, is that there are people who are unaware that they have liver damage. As the body starts to build up too much uric acid and ammonia, it will cause a strong and smelly, foamy urine. This means that the liver and kidney is not breaking down the protein. Excessive amounts of ammonia can create issues in the brain, in kidneys. And this is a toxic effect of amino acids. [9, 10]

Also, a person may have a problem in the gut wherein the microbes are not able to break the proteins down. The goal is to not add or cause stress to the organs like the digestive system or stomach. But, if the protein levels become too low, the body will become weak and immune system turns fragile. There will also be muscle, hair, collagen loss, saggy skin or receding gums.

It is best to consume meat products between three to eight ounces per meal and it should be high in quality.

When adding in a minute fasting, things are going to change because the body will adapt to the calories. And it is more conservative with the protein. The individual will not need as much protein in minute fasting.

The reason why both the Ketogenic diet and low carb diets are healthy, is because of the reduced carbs. High carb diets create the most side effects. especially to the lens, fluid pressure and nerves in the eyes. Also, it can lead to damage in the liver with inflammation, cirrhosis, and fatty liver. Even causing problems to the heart and brain.

Between these two diets, the Ketogenic diet is the best option. As long as the one being practiced is the healthy version. Make sure to adhere to the contents of the regimen to ensure that it is safe and suitable.

Science of low carbohydrate diet: How do low carb diets work? Bariatric Station

Zero carb vs. Low Carb in Keto

Are these two diets the same? There are certain foods that has zero carbs [11] and there are others which has lower but smaller amounts. It is actually the carbs that determines whether an individual is going into ketosis or not. The higher the carb, the less the ketosis. The lesser the carbs, the deeper the ketosis will be. And ketosis is fat burning.

Here are some of the foods which has zero carb:

  • All meats (e.g. lamb, chicken, pork)
  • All fish (e.g. sardines)
  • All seafood (salmon)
  • Butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Whole or heavy cream
  • Coffee
  • MCT oil

Quick notes: Insulin Index [12] is a scale of foods that are non-carbohydrate in nature. And these are the foods like fat and protein that have the capacity to influence insulin.

Meanwhile, the glycemic index [13] is the scale of carbohydrates that affect blood sugar levels. So, those that high in the scale would be foods that turns into sugar really quick and thereby raises the blood sugar. Low in the scale are carbohydrates that have the least effect on the blood sugar. (e.g., low: celery and high: jellybeans)

Low carbohydrates food samples:

  • Eggs
  • Vegetables (Low in glycemic index but, Fiber is a carbohydrate also, it has no influence in insulin).
  • Hummus
  • Berries
  • Lemon juice
  • Nuts (Avoid certain nuts as it also contains high amount of cashew, like cashews. Walnuts are the best to consume as it also has Omega-3 fatty acids)
  • Seeds (e.g. Sunflower, pumpkin)
  • Sour Cream
  • Whey protein powder
  • Chives
  • Avocado

Quick notes: The nutritional facts located on the back label includes carbohydrates, fiber, sugar. What is a net carb? [14] A net carb contains the total carbs minus the fiber, sugar alcohols or sweeteners.

The lower that you lower your carbohydrate the more you will go into ketosis. Keep in mind to keep your proteins in moderate amounts.

Science of low carbohydrate diet: How do low carb diets work? Bariatric Station

Are you following a low-carb diet but still feeling hungry with cravings?

There are actually seven reasons on why you still feel hungry and craving while on a low-carb diet.

  1. Not doing fasting with low-carb diet. Frequent eating triggers the insulin and can make people hungry. Majority of those who starts keto diet without fasting, will not see near results.
  2. Hidden carbs. Look at the carbs on food choices.
  3. Dietary fat is too low. Keto is not low fat. So, increase fat to fast longer.
  4. Give it time. It might take days to weeks to see results. Make sure to do it right.
  5. Low nutrient food. Eat in high quality. Lack of nutrients gives signal to the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that handles hunger.
  6. Insulin resistance. Cells will not absorb nutrients especially Vitamin D, Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium.
  7. Low bile levels. The fat-soluble nutrients are not extracted or not getting proper digestion.


A low-carb diet aids in losing weight. There are also certain low-carb regimens that have therapeutic benefits. It can help lower risk for developing Diabetes or Metabolic Disease. Bear in mind to follow the food selections and all diet plans requires time to get results.


Founder, Certified Ketogenic Diet and Ketosis Health Coach.

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