Are there any substantiated health risks to a high protein, low-carb diet?

  • 3
    This question needs more context, most diets are good for some and bad for others. Making broad statements to answer this won't help anyone.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Mar 3 '11 at 17:37
  • high protein foods can make you pass wind more (eggs, protein shakes) watch out! :)
    – Moz
    Mar 11 '11 at 10:17
  • 1
    Off topic according to the FAQ since the scope change of the site excluded questions not related to exercise.
    – Baarn
    Sep 13 '12 at 16:04

Too much protein is excreted so there are no health risks in that respect. You will also avoid muscle wasting with a high protein diet, however you're likely to have low energy levels from the lack of carbs so maintaining protein-only for more than one day isn't a good idea.

The tryptophan found in protein also needs carbohydrates to be transported, which essentially equates to low serotonin levels for the duration of the diet.

  • What is serotin? Do you perhaps mean serotonin? Jun 20 '11 at 15:03
  • @DR01 it's a wiki, feel free to correct any typos/grammar/spelling
    – Chris S
    Jun 20 '11 at 18:04
  • NOTE: the lack of energy is temporary, and after 3 days it should improve. At least that's how it worked for me and a number of other people I know. Basically the body has to get used to burning fat for energy instead of relying on the carb intake to do it. That doesn't happen overnight. Jun 29 '11 at 17:20

High-protein diets only pose a serious health risk if you do not take in enough fat and/or carbohydrates with them. The maximum for a high-protein diet is 60% protein. The human body only requires 0.36g protein per pound of body weight daily, and my understanding is that high-protein diets are usually regarded in the medical community as unnecessary.

Carbohydrates and/or fats are absolutely essential to both maintaining energy levels and maintaining healthy brain activity. Increasing protein sufficiently that you crowd out your energy calories is going to pose some serious side effects. Other than that, you run some risk of dehydration, and should watch your hydration levels carefully and drink pure water any time you're thirsty.

As always, before starting a diet like this, you should talk to your physician and make sure that your health history won't negatively impact your attempts at it. High-protein diets are meant for bulking up, not losing weight. Be sure to take supplemental vitamins, as you are not going to get all you need from a diet of lean meats.

  • 1
    Energy levels will resume after the first three days of removing carbs. Essentially the body has to get used to burning fat for the energy levels and maintaining the proper blood sugar for the brain to function rather than relying on the carbs to do that work. However, very low carb diets need to be seen as a temporary solution for the purpose of losing weight. Jun 29 '11 at 17:25

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