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Side Effects of a Low-Carb Vegetarian Diet

Eating lots of fresh vegetables is one golden rule of nutrition that all the thousands of diets known to mankind agree on (with certain rare exceptions, say, Arctic native societies, who lack access to abundant veggies).

But even if you eat a low-carb diet with plenty of vegetables, if you’re also a low-carb dieter and vegetarian, are there any potential problems with a low-carb vegetarian diet? Any side effects?

Low Cholesterol

One side effect of being on a low-carb vegetarian diet is that you’ll have low cholesterol. And usually, that’s a good thing. Low total cholesterol could be a sign that the body is not in an inflammatory state.

But there is a possibility of levels being too low. Due to everyone’s unique biochemistry, it’s perhaps impossible to definitively state what levels are too low, but cholesterol is a natural repair substance produced and recycled by the liver.

If you’re eating lots of starchy foods (which you’re not if you're on a healthy low-carb diet), cholesterol comes to the rescue and tries to repair inflamed arteries. So if cholesterol levels are too low, your body might not have enough of this master anti-inflammatory hormone.

study, called, “The Honolulu Heart Program,” focused on the cholesterol levels of more than 3,500 Japanese-American men aged 71-93 years and concluded, “Only the group with low cholesterol concentration … had a significant association with mortality.” The Heart Program study, according to at least one medical doctor, demonstrates that having continuously, extremely low levels of cholesterol may lead to an early death.

Not to scare you, but if you’re concerned, do seek out a medical professional, preferably one with functional nutrition- and medicine education.

Lower Vitamin B12 Levels

When you eat food, B12 helps turn the nutrients into energy to help your cells function. B12 also helps produce red blood cells and utilize iron, and several other critical roles. Vegans are particularly at risk for having lower B12 levels; if you’re vegan take a B12 supplement.

Chronic Diseases

Even if you’re a low-carb dieter, when you do eat carbs, are they unrefined, non-GMO, and minimally processed? If so, good! You’re most likely at low risk for developing stroke, heart disease and cancer. But if your carb intake is less than near 100% all-natural, you can be just as at risk for developing chronic disease as somebody who eats too much animal protein.

Lower Bone Density

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that vegetarians have 5% less bone density on average, than non-vegetarians. Make sure you do plenty of strength training exercises if you are a low-carb dieting vegetarian.


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