This Is What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Eating Carbs

Low-carbВ dietsВ have been lauded as effective weight loss diets for years, According to a recentВ surveyВ by the International Food Information Council Foundation, consumers rank sugar and carbs as the top reasons for weight gain-the highest ranking since 2011. So why, then, are stories emergingВ that low-carbohydrate diets are unsafe and should be avoided?

Research by professor Maciej Banac of the Medical University of Lodz, Poland, found that "people who consumed a low carbohydrate diet were at greater risk of premature death" with an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer. More research from aВ separate study inВ Reader's Digest revealed that "low-carb dieters-people who got less than 40% of their daily calories from carbs-had a higher mortality risk during the study than did moderate carb consumers (whose diets are 50 to 55 percent carbs)В andВ people who went carb crazy (more than 70 percent)."

So what actually happens to your body when you stop eating carbs?В Keep reading to find out.В

Half Baked Harvest

Juliana Shalek, MS, RD, CDN, and founder ofВ The Nutrition SuiteВ told MyDomaine that following a low-carb diet tends to promote weight loss at a relatively fast rate because cutting carbohydrates reduces blood glucose and insulin levels, which in turn minimizes fat storage in the body. However, Kristin Kirkpatrick, a dietitian at Cleveland Clinic, toldВ Tonic that cutting carbs out altogether may result in fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headaches, irritability, and nausea that can last a few days or even weeks, also known as the "low-carb flu".

If you cut out carbsВ completely, your body will eventually go into a state of ketosis where "small fragments of carbon called ketones are released into the blood because the body is burning fat instead of carbohydrates." Keto diets might sound appealing at first, but fatВ is a slower source of fuel than glucose, which means it takes longer for your body to access it, so it will be harder get going during exercise and other activities.В

Low-fiber diets can have a negative impact on both gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health.

During a keto diet, you'll lose water weight first, whichВ can be misleading, then the non-water weight will follow.В A 2013В meta-analysis published in theВ British Journal of Nutrition that compared low-carb ketogenic diets with traditional low-fat diets found that low-carb diets could be effective in reducing obesity rates. But when you consider the long-term health concerns mentioned earlier, cutting them out altogether doesn't seem like a healthy long-term option.В

Half Baked Harvest

The good news is, there areВ plenty of deliciousВ high-fiber, low-carb foodsВ you can eat that will keep you in shape and feeling good. Since fiber is neither digested nor absorbed, it actually takes up space in your intestine,В giving you a feeling of fullness (and making it easier to minimize snacking and overeating). Registered dietician nutritionist Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, ofВ Maya Feller Nutrition,В says that the daily fiber recommendation for women is 25 grams (although women over 50 should aim for 21 grams instead). "Most Americans are not meeting theirВ daily fiber needs," the expert told us. "Low-fiber diets can have a negative impact on both gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health."

Celebrity nutritionistВ Kelly LevequeВ toldВ Chalkboard that we should also be looking at the "carbohydrate density" of our food rather than cutting them out altogether. Put simply, carb density means the percent of the food mass that is carbohydrate minus the fiber component. As LeVeque explains, most high-net carb foods will end up as sugar in your body. Whole foods in nature don't have a carb density over 30%; even carb-heavy vegetables will have a density well below that. It's processed foods that go well above that and as we all know, should be avoided.

Half Baked Harvest

So in conclusion, do your research and eatВ healthy carbs that haven't been put through a refining process. Registered dietitian Nichola Whitehead defines these as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and fats-you can eat these 15 low-carb foods on a vegetarian dietВ too.В

Shop some of our favorite kitchen essentials to start making your own healthy carbohydrate-fueled meals:

Nordstrom at Home Set of 4 Measuring Cups $39 $23ShopAll-clad All-Clad 4-Quart Stainless Steel Weeknight Pan $250 $180Shop

Up Next: 5 Foods a Nutritionist Would Remove From Your Diet

This story was published at an earlier date and has since been updated.