While a low-carb diet can help you lose weight, eliminating major food groups from your diet may cause you to fall short on a few key nutrients. A low-carb diet may not provide enough of some of the B vitamins, vitamin E or calcium, according to a 2010 study published in the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition." Constipation is also a common side effect, which may be due to a lack of fiber. If you're thinking of adding a supplement or vitamins to your routine while on a low-carb diet, consult with your doctor to discuss what fits your needs.
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Nutrients Lacking on a Low-Carb Diet
The nutrients you're missing on a low-carb diet may vary depending on your food choices. However, according to the 2010 JISSN study, nutrients meeting less than 50 percent of the reference daily intake, or RDI, include biotin, chromium and vitamin E. Other nutrients that fall a little short -- between 50 and 75 percent of the RDI -- include pantothenic acid, vitamin D, calcium, potassium and magnesium. These numbers are based on a sample meal plan from one of the most popular low-carb plans.
Although low-carb diets typically encourage you to get your fill of low-carb veggies, you may still have a tough time getting enough fiber on your plan. It's recommended that adults aim for 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day, according to the University of California at San Francisco. This may be why constipation is one of the most common complaints of people following a low-carb diet.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Whether you add a vitamin and mineral supplement to your daily routine should be up to you and your doctor. However, some popular commercial low-carb plans recommend it, according to the authors of the 2010 JISSN study.
While it may be difficult to get adequate amounts of some essential vitamins and minerals, making a few tweaks to your food choices may help. For example, eggs, including the yolk, are rich in biotin, pantothenic acid and vitamin D, and they are virtually carb-free. Salmon is also a good source of vitamin D and can help you get a little more magnesium in your diet. To get more chromium, make broccoli a regular part of your meal plan. Also, be sure to include low-carb nutrient-rich veggies to add even more potassium, calcium and magnesium to your diet. Good choices include kale, spinach and broccoli. Replace your usual vegetable oil with sunflower oil to get a little more vitamin E. Almonds, which have 3 grams of net carbs per 24 kernels, are another healthy low-carb way to consume more vitamin E. Low-carb diets count net carbs, or digestible carbs, which are the total carbs minus total fiber.
To help improve bowel movements and get more fiber in your daily diet, you may consider fiber supplements. However, it's important to note that these supplements are a source of carbs, and the amount may vary -- from 1 gram to 5 grams of net carbs, depending on brand.
Adding high-fiber low-carb foods may also help bump up your fiber intake. Healthy options include spinach, broccoli, zucchini, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and avocados. To up the fiber content of your meals, stuff your morning omelet with broccoli, fill your lunch salad bowl with spinach greens and enjoy a serving of roasted Brussels sprouts with dinner.
Low-Carb Nutrition Shakes
When cruising down the supplement aisle of your grocery store, you might notice low-carb nutrition shakes on the shelf. If you're struggling to fit in a meal because of time constraints, these types of drinks may serve as a quick alternative. While they are low in carbs, be sure to read the nutrition label to make certain you're drinking one that fits your plan and be careful to count the carbs appropriately. For flavor and extra nutrition, you can also use these drinks as a base for a smoothie. Then add kale, a spoonful of peanut butter or spinach and some mint extract.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: Prevalence of Micronutrient Deficiency in Popular Diet Plans
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Low-Carbohydrate Nutrition and Metabolism
- Rush University Medical Center: The Skinny on Low-Carb Diets
- University of California at San Francisco: Increasing Fiber Intake
- Colorado State University Extension: Water-Soluble Vitamins: B-Complex and Vitamin C
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin E
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Magnesium
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Kidney Disease: High- and Moderate-Potassium Foods
- Atkins: Carb Counter
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron
- Benefiber: Fiber Supplement
- Meta: Metamucil Sugar-Free Orange Smooth Powder
- Atkins: What Are Net Carbs?
- Today's Dietitian: The Top Fiber-Rich Foods
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Chromium