When You Stop Eating Carbs, This Is What Happens To Your Metabolism

Contrary to what your keto friends say, carbs are an important macronutrient to provide energy for your brain and body. It's usually the source or amount of carbs that can pack on the extra pounds. Cutting carbs from your diet can be an effective way to lose weight quickly, as long as you can stick to it. Rather than using carbs as a quick source of energy, your body eventually turns to stored fat for energy.

Low-carb diets may help improve measures like cholesterol and blood sugar levels, making them a promising option for fighting conditions like obesity, according to a 2020 review in Clinical Nutrition ESPEN. They might also help athletes and people with certain medical conditions.

You'll also have to be concerned about what you're eating rather than carbs. While the keto diet emphasizes fats, other low-carb diets will make protein the main macronutrient. You'll need to keep an eye on your protein when you stop eating carbs because your body needs protein to build and repair muscle. As you lose weight, you could also lose muscle mass. Because muscle keeps your metabolism stoked, a loss of muscle mass could wreck your metabolism.

Low-carb diets and metabolism

You'll lose weight after 30 days on a ketogenic diet, but you're also more likely to lose muscle mass, according to a 2021 review in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. Out of 13 controlled trials involving 244 people, keto diets caused a greater loss of fat-free mass (i.e., muscle) compared to non-keto diets, even if people engaged in resistance training.

A high-protein diet might also cause you to lose some lean body mass, but not as much as a lower-protein diet. A 2022 article in Obesity found that people eating up to 79 grams of protein a day on a calorie-restricted diet lost about the same weight as those eating 58 grams per day, but the higher-protein dieters lost less muscle.

Over time, your metabolism might slow as a result of restricting carbohydrates. Per a 2017 article in the American Journal of Physiology, low-carb diets make the body store less energy, which might lead to feeling tired and burning fewer calories. Although this study was conducted on fruit flies, the researchers suggested that a low-carb diet could induce metabolic depression in the long term.

Low-carb is tough to maintain

While a high-carb diet can increase insulin and fat storage, low-carb diets are effective in reducing obesity and the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a 2021 article in Nutrients. Staying on a low-carb diet might be tough, especially when holidays and vacations offer tempting foods that are high in sugar and carbs. Findings of a 2023 article in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance show that athletes might enjoy short-term weight loss and a brief boost in energy, but over time, they might see diminished returns in their athletic performance.

Even though low-carb diets are generally effective at weight loss, you'll have to be careful about gaining the weight back. Cycling up and down in weight can be stressful for your mind and body. Per a 2023 article in Nutrition Today, yo-yo dieting can lower your metabolism, making it harder for you to lose weight.

While low-carb diets can shed pounds in the short term, long-term restriction of carbs could lead to problems such as heart arrhythmias, osteoporosis, and an increased risk of cancer, based on findings from a 2003 review in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition.