Low carbohydrate high protein (ketosis) diets are popular among dieters and body builders for very effective short term weight loss.
Depleting the body’s carbohydrates stored as glycogen in the liver, our main energy source, triggers the process of ketosis to use stored fat and protein for energy. The thinking is that by means of this process one can reduce body fat and lose weight.
However, prolonged ketosis is dangerous. The ketone bodies harnessed for energy in place of carbohydrates are acidic, and prolonged formation can overwhelm homeostatic pH buffering systems (namely the bicarbonate-CO2 blood buffer), resulting in ketoacidosis. Symptomatically, diet induced ketoacidosis presents similarly to diabetic ketoacidosis, a life threatening condition. PubMed Health describes:
As fats are broken down, acids called ketones build up in the blood and urine. In high levels, ketones are poisonous. This condition is known as ketoacidosis.
Acidosis can lead to severe illness or death. Improved therapy for young people with diabetes has decreased the death rate from this condition. However, it remains a big risk in the elderly, and in people who fall into a coma when treatment has been delayed.
Symptoms include shallow breathing, dry skin, fruity breath, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dulled senses, coma, fatigue, headache, difficulty breathing, and decreased consciousness.
American Dietetic Association spokesperson Dr. Chris Rosenbloom notes “You might be setting yourself up for (health) problems down the road,” and she notes
“in my 25 years as a dietitian, I’ve never met anyone who’s kept the weight off.”
There you have it. There are major risks associated with low-carb diets. Whether you decide to employ one depends on priorities. Know more or have objections? Share them below!
Lori Laffel (1999). “Ketone bodies: a review of physiology, pathophysiology and application of monitoring to diabetes”. Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews 15 (6): 412–426. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1520-7560(199911/12)15:6<412::AID-DMRR72>3.0.CO;2-8. PMID 10634967]