Low carb diet eating helps manage body weight, type 2 diabetes and improve overall health and wellbeing. So it's no wonder it's become widely popular with individuals and health practitioners.
Mounting global scientific evidence shows that low carb eating is no longer a fad. Leading global health authorities recognise that low carb eating can help improve blood glucose control and reduce diabetes medication requirements. In some cases, it can send type 2 diabetes into remission.
However, with its rise in popularity, there continues to be myths and concerns around low carb diets. Particularly on the topics of getting enough nutrients and psychological wellbeing. Below, we explore what the science actually says about these perceptions.
Low carb myth: a low carb diet is nutritionally inadequate
This is not necessarily the case. It's important to remember that not all diets are equal – and this is true for low carb diets. In fact, some low carb diets promote the exclusion of entire foods. This can increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies.
However, the CSIRO Low Carb Diet has been specifically designed to have adequate amounts of all essential vitamins, minerals, trace elements and fibre.
This study shows a low carb diet can be nutritionally adequate if designed and planned properly. In this clinical trial, adults with type 2 diabetes consumed either a traditional high carbohydrate, low fat diet or the CSIRO Low Carb diet. After two years, all participants had a range of important nutritional blood biomarkers assessed. These included folate, b-carotene, vitamin B12, D, E, copper, zinc, selenium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and iron. The blood tests showed all these biomarkers remained within normal ranges on both diets.
This is why if you are to change your diet to a low carb diet — or any other diet for that matter — it’s a good idea to do it using a diet plan that has been scientifically tested. You should also make the change in consultation with a nutrition professional. This ensures the dietary plan you choose is nutritionally adequate.
Low carb myth: a low carb diet will harm your mental health and wellbeing
Again, this is not the case. In our study, we rigorously examined the effects of high and low carbohydrate diets on mood, psychological wellbeing and brain function over two years. The results showed no differences between the two diets.
In fact, the study showed the weight loss achieved with both diets actually improved mood, reduced symptoms of depression and improved the scores of some of the brain function tests.
This means that you can adopt a low carb diet that can improve your blood glucose control and the management of type 2 diabetes without the concern of negatively affecting your psychological health.
So, there you have it. Scientific answers addressing two common myths about low carb diets.
If you are thinking of starting a low carb diet check out the evidence-based CSIRO Low Carb Diet in consultation with your GP or other health care provider.