Carbohydrate-free diet: how does it work and what are the risks?

Carbohydrate-free diet: how does it work and what are the risks?

They are present in most foods, whether industrial or natural. Therefore, carbohydrates are also mentioned a lot when it comes to diet.

In diets to lose weight or those that aim to keep your health up to date, without necessarily reducing some numbers on the scale, counting carbohydrates is important, as well as other nutrients.

However, it is quite common to hear about some more restrictive diets, which not only control the nutrient intake, but reduce it considerably, reaching very low rates.

There are those who advocate low-carb diets, called low-carb or zero-carb diets. But there are also those who point out the risks of adopting such radical changes to the menu.

In general, the orientation for those who decided to change their eating routine is to talk to a nutritionist, who will evaluate the possibility of adopting the menu, and not follow this restriction for a long time.

On average, a carbohydrate-free diet should last no longer than 10 days, as staying away from white flours and sweets can even be beneficial, but in the long run the lack of carbohydrates — including good or healthy ones like whole grains and potatoes — affect the proper functioning of the body.

What is the carbohydrate free diet?

healthy food no carbs

The carbohydrate-free diet does not have a stipulated menu. In fact, there are several ways to do it, varying in time and nutrient restriction.

Some suggest removing only simple carbohydrates, such as white flour, while others indicate a much more restricted diet, based only on foods with insignificant amounts of carbohydrates, such as meat and other high-fat protein foods.

The ideal, regardless of the case, is to reduce processed foods that are considered unhealthy. When choosing what goes into the dish, it is best to opt for natural and nutritious products, with vitamins and minerals.

It’s quite common to hear about good and bad carbohydrates, which are actually complex and simple ones respectively.

Therefore, those who are experiencing a dietary change should always prefer the complexes, as they have a low glycemic load, which means that they are digested more slowly, increasing satiety and reducing appetite.

This prevents spikes in blood sugar and rapid drops in blood sugar — responsible for that hunger right after eating.

What is carbohydrate restriction for: is it healthy? Do you lose weight?

There are those who argue that a diet without carbohydrates can be very effective in reducing some measures and even keeping your health up to date, giving you more energy.

But there are those who point out the health risks that this diet can bring, especially in the long term.

A diet without carbohydrates may have advantages for those looking to lose weight, but the indication of a specialist is important.

This is because each organism can respond in different ways to restriction, due to biochemical processes. In other words, while some people will get the expected results and without suffering (such as adapting to the diet), others will not.

The nutritionist also remembers that, when it comes to health, balance is the key to nutrition. Therefore, to keep the body strong and nourished, there is no need to restrict the nutrient.

How does the body react without carbohydrates?


At first, reducing the amount of carbohydrates ingested will make the body look for other sources of energy. That’s because, even without the nutrient, functions need to be maintained.

Then the body resorts to other stored sources. When using these supplies, there is a reduction in weight that does not necessarily mean weight loss — it may just be a loss of water.

In addition, the tissues that begin to be consumed, in the absence of carbohydrate, are muscle and, finally, adipose. Therefore, weight reduction may not be all that healthy.

What are the risks of a carbohydrate-free diet?

Carbohydrates are a source of energy for the body. Without the nutrient, the body can show some symptoms and adverse effects, such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue and difficulty concentrating, as indicated by Ana Paula Lesniovski.

All this because carbohydrates are a source of energy necessary for the maintenance of the body’s activities. And if the diet is very restricted, less than 150g of carbohydrates per day, other complications can occur, especially in the long term.

And it’s not just the lack of carbohydrates that causes concerns, as many important foods, such as vegetables, fruits and cereals, are excluded from the food routine, which can generate some nutritional deficiency.

Therefore, it may be that some people are advised to reduce carbohydrate intake, for example, to help with weight loss, as long as it is combined with dietary re-education so that there is no harm to the body.

What to eat that doesn’t have carbohydrates?


Many foods, even healthy ones, contain carbohydrates. But some can be chosen without fear by those who want to restrict the nutrient in the diet. The most common are meat, eggs and hardwoods. However, it is necessary to diversify the dish a little more, especially if the idea is to maintain this diet for longer.

Ana Paula Lesniovski indicates that, as in other diets and eating habits, preferring fresh products, avoiding industrialized ones rich in sugars and fats, is the best way to plan a meal.

There is no ready-made menu, as each person needs a nutritionist to help set up the routine, but some foods that can be included in the diet are:


Lean meats are great options to compose the menu. In addition to being high in protein, which helps maintain muscle, these foods can be quite versatile, which reduces the chances of getting sick from the taste.

Lean red meat, chicken, fish and pork can be included in everyday life and prepared in different ways. The ideal is always to prepare them with little oil and preferring natural seasonings.


Like meat, eggs have negligible amounts of carbohydrates and are great sources of protein. In addition, they have B-complex vitamins.

Their preparation can be another positive point, as you can vary and adapt them from breakfast to dinner.

Also, boiled egg is considered a slimming ally, as the body expends more calories in digestion than it can supply back. In other words, it is a good ally for weight loss.

Milk and derivatives

Most milk and dairy products contain small amounts of carbohydrates. They are good sources of protein, in addition to calcium and vitamins.

There are lean versions of the products, which contain less fat and can be an advantageous alternative for those who want a healthy diet.

Products such as butter and cheese are released in the diet without carbohydrates, but it is worth paying attention to the amount of fat.

Another point that deserves attention is about vegetable milks, as they do not always have low amounts of carbohydrates. Oat, rice or soy milks are left out of the carbohydrate-free diet.

Vegetables and vegetables

Vegetables are almost a mandatory item in diets, whether for health or weight reduction. In addition to being rich in vitamins, many are low in calories and carbohydrates. You need to pay attention to choice, as some may have higher amounts of carbohydrates.

Among the good ones to integrate the menu and their respective amounts of carbohydrates (in 100g) are:


Although fruits are naturally sweeter and therefore generally have more carbohydrates, some can be part of a low-carb diet.

Options with low nutrient content (every 100g) include:

Vegetable oils and seasonings

When preparing meals, it is always important that the dishes are tasty. After all, maintaining a dietary restriction becomes even more difficult if there is no pleasure in eating.

Therefore, the seasonings and products used in the preparation are important. Among those that can be used freely, as they do not contain carbohydrates, are:

  • Sunflower oil;
  • Corn oil;
  • Soy oil;
  • Canola oil;
  • Palm oil;
  • Olive oil;
  • Butter.

The seasonings can be very varied, according to the dish or taste:

  • Ginger;
  • Chili;
  • Oregano;
  • Herbs in general.


Teas in general, sugar-free coffee and water  are allowed options within the carbohydrate-free diet.

In general, they have negligible amounts of the nutrient and can be allies in nutrition and hydration.

What can’t you eat on the carb-free diet?

low carb diet

On the carbohydrate-free diet, foods that are prohibited — or that need to be considerably reduced — are those high in sugar and made with white flour, such as sweets and bread.

Even some vegetables, legumes and cereals make the list. For example, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, beans and rice.

Fruits are also not on the menu, as most are high in carbohydrates. Banana, jackfruit, mango, tamarind, grape and tucumã are among those rich in the nutrient.

The level of restriction and elimination of foods from the diet will depend on how restricted the menu needs to be. In some cases, not even those low-carb foods can enter.

Going on a carbohydrate-free diet can greatly restrict your diet, which can impact good nutrition. Therefore, it is important that any dietary change is accompanied by nutrition professionals or doctors, who can help in balanced and healthy food planning.

Read Next