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Low-Carb Diets for Weight Loss

Low-carbohydrate diets are based on the idea that avoiding foods high in carbohydrate, such as pasta, bread, rice, cereal, fruits, and starchy vegetables, causes weight loss. These diets are usually high in protein and fat.

The appeal of low-carbohydrate diets is rapid weight loss in the first few days. But most of the initial weight loss is water. As soon as you add carbohydrate back into your diet, you will regain the water weight.

Low-carbohydrate diets are not recommended

The American Dietetic Association and the American Heart Association do not recommend low-carbohydrate diets. People who have serious medical conditions, such as kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, should talk to a doctor before starting a low-carbohydrate diet.

Also, the American Heart Association does not recommend low-carbohydrate diets, because these diets often restrict healthful foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and do not provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Although research shows that these diets may not be harmful for a short time (1 year), researchers believe more studies are needed. But there are long-term studies that show the health benefits of eating plant foods that are high in carbohydrate.

The American Dietetic Association recommends including whole grains, vegetables, and beans, because these foods provide a large variety of nutrients and fiber. High-sugar foods, such as candy and soda, are high in calories, provide few nutrients, and should be limited in any diet.

If you are pregnant, do not go on a low-carbohydrate diet, because it may not be safe for your baby.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Last Revised October 21, 2011

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