We’re huge fans of lower carb eating around here. Cutting out refined flours, dumping junk carbohydrates, and slashing added sugars is one of the best things you can do for your health.
Study after study has proven this approach to eating can help you feel and look years younger. And most importantly, it can help protect you against some of the most devastating chronic diseases from diabetes to heart disease.
But a recent study, published in the Lancet, has suddenly cast doubt on low-carb eating. Frightening headlines claiming low-carb diets are just as dangerous as those high in junk carbs are suddenly everywhere.
And understandably, it has left many folks confused and wondering if they’ve made a mistake in cutting back on carbohydrates.
Low carb eating is NOT dangerous
So let’s clear one thing up right away. Lower carb eating is NOT dangerous.
Low carb eating isn’t unhealthy. And in fact, cutting back on carbohydrates has a bunch of health benefits.
Most of those shocking headlines failed to make clear what the study ACTUALLY found. And that is that very low carb diets are just as dangerous as very high ones.
In other words, diets that don’t provide you with enough carbohydrates for your body to function effectively are, naturally, dangerous.
As I’ve explained before your body needs carbohydrates to function properly. They are a critical source of energy that helps fuel all your systems. Without enough carbs, your body will struggle to perform the most basic functions.
It turns out that, as with most things in life, moderation is the key.
Low carb doesn’t mean no carb
In general, you shouldn’t get more than 70 percent of your calories from carbohydrates. But you should also avoid routinely getting less than 40 percent of your calories from carbs. When you do, you’re straying into very low carb territory. And in the long-term, that could have some severe health consequences.
Most experts agree the best approach is to aim for around 50 percent of your calories to come from healthy, complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, quinoa, barley, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower.
But the truth is most folks eating a typical Western-style diet eat far more carbs than that. And even worse, many of those carbs aren’t the healthy variety at all. Instead, they’re the kind of junk you find in the snack food aisle, hidden in desserts, and coating fried foods.
So go ahead and aim for a lower carb lifestyle. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Indulge in organic grass-fed meats, eggs, and dairy foods. And avoid heavily processed foods made with added sugars and refined flours.
Warning signs you’ve taken low carb TOO far
But living lower carb doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time measuring portions and counting carbs. Just keep an eye out for the following four signs you’ve taken low carb too far.
Complex carbs keep blood sugar levels stable. Not getting enough of them can send your blood sugar plummeting. The result is often frequent headaches.
2. Cold shivers:
Your body requires carbs to function. And that includes your thyroid. Your thyroid uses converted carbohydrates as fuel to produce the hormones which help maintain your body temperature. Without enough carbs to work with, you end up feeling cold all the time.
When you first start cutting back on carbohydrates, it’s normal to feel a bit irritable. After all, you’ve given up something you enjoy. And your body is used to having a steady infusion of sugary junk carbs.
But that grumpy feeling should clear up after a few days. If your mood doesn’t improve—or you’ve been low-carb for a while, and it’s getting worse—then chances are you’ve taken it too far.
Your body needs carbohydrates to produce serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. And when you’re not creating enough serotonin mood issues from grumpiness to depression can be a result.
4. Brain fog:
Your brain craves carbs to function. And without enough fuel, you can end up struggling to concentrate, failing to focus, and being generally forgetful.
In a study out of Tufts University eliminating carbs caused volunteers to perform poorly on memory-based tasks. But their memories bounced back when they began eating carbohydrates again.
If you suspect you’ve taken low-carb eating too far, don’t panic. And don’t start gobbling down junk carbs and added sugars either. Just concentrate on adding more healthy carbs back into your diet again.