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

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

In diets for weight loss or those that aim to keep 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 intake of the nutrient, but also reduce it considerably, reaching very low rates.

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

In general, the guidance 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 not last more than 10 days, as keeping away from white flour and sweets can be beneficial, but in the long run the lack of carbohydrates – including good or healthy ones, such as whole grains and potatoes – affect the proper functioning of the body.


What is the carbohydrate-free diet?

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

Some suggest removing only simple carbohydrates, such as white flours, 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 and unhealthy foods . When choosing what goes in the dish, it is best to opt for natural and nutritious products, with vitamins and minerals.

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

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

This avoids spikes in blood glucose 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 to reduce some measures and even keep health up to date, giving more disposition.

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

According to clinical nutritionist Ana Paula Lesniovski, the diet without carbohydrates may have advantages for those looking to lose weight, but the appointment of a specialist is important.

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

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

How does the body react without carbohydrates?

At first, decreasing the amount of carbohydrates ingested will make the body seek other sources of energy. This is because, even without the nutrient, the functions need to be maintained.

Then the body uses other stored sources. Nutritionist Ana Paula points out that, when using these stocks, there is a reduction in weight that does not necessarily mean weight loss – it may just be water loss.

In addition, the tissues that start to be consumed, in the absence of carbohydrates, are the tissues and, finally, the adipose. Therefore, weight reduction may not be as healthy as that.

What are the risks of a carbohydrate-free diet?

Carbohydrates are a source of energy for the body. Without the nutrient, the body may manifest 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 carbohydrate per day, other complications can occur, especially in the long term.

And it is not just the lack of carbohydrates that raises concerns, as many important foods, such as vegetables, fruits and cereals are dispensed from the dietary routine, which can generate some nutritional deficiency.

Therefore, it may be that some people are instructed to reduce their carbohydrate intake, for example, to help with weight loss, as long as it is combined with food reeducation so that there is no harm to the body.

What to eat that has no carbohydrate?

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 meats, eggs and hardwoods. However, it is necessary to diversify the dish a little more, especially if the idea is to maintain this diet for a longer time.

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

There is no ready menu, so each person needs a nutritionist to assist in setting 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 rich in protein , which helps maintain muscle, these foods can be very versatile, which reduces the chances of getting sick from the taste.

Lean red meats, 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 meats, eggs have negligible amounts of carbohydrates and are great sources of protein. In addition, they have B vitamins .

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

In addition, the boiled egg is considered an ally to weight loss, as the body spends more calories in digestion than it can supply back. That is, it is a good ally for weight loss.

Milk and dairy products

Most milk and dairy products have 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 carbohydrate-free diet, but it is worth noting the amount of fats.

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

Vegetables and greens

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. Attention needs to be given to the choice, as some may have higher amounts of carbohydrates.

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

Lettuce 1.7g
Raw cucumber 2g
Spinach 2.6g
Raw Strawberry Pumpkin 2.7g
Cabbage 3,1g
Raw broccoli 4g
Chuchu 4,1g
Italian zucchini 4.3g
Aubergine 4.4g
Okra 6.4g


Although fruits are naturally sweeter and, for this reason, they usually have more carbohydrates, some can integrate the diet with low carbohydrate contents.

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

Avocado 6g
Strawberry 6.8g
Acerola 8g
watermelon 8,1g
Lemon 11,1g
Pitanga 10.6g

Vegetable oils and spices

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 quite 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 insignificant amounts of the nutrient and can be combined in food and hydration.

What can’t you eat on a carbohydrate-free diet?

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

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

Fruits are also left out of the menu, as most have a high content of carbohydrates. The banana , jackfruit, mango , tamarind, grape and tucumã are among the rich in the nutrient.

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

Eating a carbohydrate-free diet can severely restrict your diet, which can impact good nutrition. Therefore, it is important that every dietary change is accompanied by nutrition professionals or doctors, who can assist in balanced and healthy food planning.

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