Can a Low-Carb, Low-Calorie Diet Cause Heart Palpitations & Low Blood Pressure?

Low-carb diets restrict the daily intake of carbohydrates, but allow an unlimited intake of fat and protein. If you observe a low-carb diet strictly, this could lead to an increased secretion of stress hormones. In excess, stress hormones can give rise to heart palpitations and low blood pressure.

If followed too strictly, a low-carb diet could give rise to heart palpitations and low blood pressure. (Image: AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images)

The Atkins Diet

The Atkins diet restricts carbohydrates. (Image: martinturzak/iStock/Getty Images)

The Atkins diet is a popular low-carb diet. It restricts carbohydrates to 20 grams daily during its induction phases but allows for 100 grams of carbohydrate a day during later phases. Because a diet that consists mostly of fat and protein normally controls appetite better than a high-carbohydrate diet, the diet will ideally restrict the daily intake of calories, which leads to weight loss.

Blood Glucose

Consuming high quantities of carbohydrates can cause glucose to accumulate in the blood stream. (Image: YelenaYemchuk/iStock/Getty Images)

When you consume high quantities of carbohydrate, the main source of glucose, glucose may accumulate in the bloodstream. The excess glucose can give rise to plaque formation in the blood vessels, insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. Plaque formation in the blood vessels can also make it difficult for blood to circulate, which can lead to high blood pressure. As low-carb diets severely restrict the intake of carbohydrates, it may lower the blood glucose levels, which could clear blood vessels and lower blood pressure.

Stress Hormones and Heart Palpitations

Low carb diets won't give rise to heart palpitations when followed correctly. (Image: Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images)

When followed correctly, low-carb diets should not give rise to heart palpitations. However, some dieters experience a loss of appetite or purposely limit portion sizes, thereby severely restricting their daily calorie intake. This dietary state is similar to fasting or starvation and is an internal source of stress. The body reacts to stress by secreting the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline binds to receptors on the heart, and in high amounts, it can cause heart palpitations.


Eat moderate portions and vary your food choices. (Image: Warren Goldswain/iStock/Getty Images)

To avoid the adverse effects of a low-carb diet, eat moderate portions and vary food choices. An excess intake of fatty meat can lessen appetite. To avoid losing your appetite, choose healthy sources of fat and protein. Good choices of fat and protein include soy products, unsweetened dairy products such as plain yogurt, cottage cheese and tzatziki dip, lean meats such as skinned turkey breast, chicken breast and lean pork or lamb cutlets, and fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and herring. Your limited intake of carbohydrates should come from good sources, such as whole-grain bread, fruit, green leafy vegetables and legumes.

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