Low-carb diets, including the extremely popular ketogenic diet, are becoming an increasingly popular way to lose weight and gain better health. There are many impressive success stories. If you are considering trying the low-carb eating plan it is good to be aware of how to maintain good nutrition while limiting carbohydrates.
What is a low-carb diet?
Low-carb diets limit the number of carbohydrates a person eats. This is done by cutting out certain foods high in carbs, such as grains and starchy vegetables, and eating more of others. Carbohydrates offer energy to the body. Those that are not used when eaten are stored for later use and then converted to fat. The idea of a low-carb diet is that if a person is not eating carbs they will not store that excess fat and instead burn stored fat.
Low-Carb diets generally cut out grains and many limit or discourage beans and other foods which may make it difficult to get all the needed B-vitamins. In 2010 a study was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition which pointed to a deficiency in pantothenic acid and biotin (both B-vitamins) when on a low-carb diet. The authors of the study recommended adding supplements to the diet to meet extra needs.
Other experts express concern at the lack of folate and thiamin found in a strict low-carb diet. Low levels of folic acid are especially concerning for women who may become pregnant in the future as they can cause birth defects.
Signs that your body may be lacking in B-vitamins include fatigue, headache, insomnia, upset stomach, depression, muscle pain, and numbness in the hands and feet. Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, confusion, memory loss, muscle weakness, and heart problems.
Why B-Vitamins are Important
B-Vitamins offer many benefits. They help metabolize fats, carbohydrates, and proteins that are needed for body functions and to provide energy. They also support memory and brain function while boosting the immune system. Many studies also suggest B-vitamins can help prevent and battle the effects of stress.
How to get B-Vitamins
To meet your B-vitamin needs while eating fewer carbs make sure to eat a variety of foods from the recommended list. Some great options to get more pantothenic acid include lobster, pork, chicken, broccoli, sunflower seeds, and feta cheese. Biotin can be found in cheddar cheese and cauliflower. Both pantothenic acid and biotin are found in eggs, liver, and avocados.
Get more thiamin from pork, pecans, macadamia nuts, peanuts, flaxseed, chicken liver, and asparagus. Folic acid is found in spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, asparagus, avocado, and chicken livers. Other good sources of folate include salmon, lamb, and crab.
Green leafy vegetables are a good source of B-vitamins in general and as an added bonus they also are high in fiber content which will help prevent constipation.
According to WebMD, most doctors recommend that the lower your intake of carbohydrates, the greater your need is for a vitamin supplement. Adding a B-vitamin supplement, such as ENP’s Super B-Complex, is an easy and very effective way to meet all recommended levels for B-vitamins.
Many people find success feeling healthier and losing weight while on a low-carb diet. If you are going to try a low-carb diet make sure to plan, and use appropriate substitutions, to ensure you are still getting all the nutrients the body requires. Visiting with a doctor about diet plans and adding supplements to prevent nutrient deficiencies are smart choices in your journey towards optimal health.
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