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Diet dangers lurk in many foods we eat. Our low calorie meals give you plenty of tasty ideas to stay away from them!

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A healthy weight loss diet brings your pounds down and prevents common diet dangers

healthy weight loss diet

The best exercise for weight loss increases your basal metabolic rate and supports a healthy weight loss plan.

best exercise for weight loss

"Find the best foods nutritious foods for safe weight loss Our food nutrition chart has all the answers

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Discover how Robert Cheeke stays fit and healthy: our interview with the vegan fitness idol

Robert Cheeke vegan bodybuilder

You can prevent fatal diseases and keep your weight down with the right diet. Check our healthy eating guidelines for more.

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Low carb diet dangers can pose serious long-term health risks. Find out why the low carb high protein diet is such a dangerous diet and promotes the dreaded yo-yo effect

diet dangers

Over the last few years, low carb high protein diets have been very popular as they promise effective and fast weight loss. This sounds great, but with these come serious diet dangers and long-term health risks. These high protein low carb diets recommend that dieters should consume between 30 - 50% of their daily calories from protein, and not more than 10% from carbohydrates. This leaves almost 60% of daily calories for fat.

Low carb high protein diets are essentially nutrient deprivation diets that come with many diet dangers, such as Atkins Diet, Zone Diet, South Beach Diet, etc. They convey that carbohydrates promote insulin production, which can result in weight gain. So, if you reduce carbohydrates you will lose weight - that's the basic idea.

  1. Learn the reasons why meat, dairy, and eggs are bad choices for a healthy weight loss diet.

Diet Dangers of Carbohydrate Deprivation

The truth is, if you eat a low carb diet, you deprive your body of sufficient carbohydrates needed for essential bodily functions, like fueling the brain and central nervous system, and creating organs and cells. This means you will start burning stored carbohydrates, called glycogen, for energy. Water is released when your body starts burning glycogen, as your body depletes its healthy storage in the muscles and liver. This dehydration process results in a drastic initial weight drop at the start of the diet, which is often mistaken for fat loss, when in fact it's only water.

Afterwards, no rapid low carb weight loss occurs anymore, and the fat cells don't melt away that easily.

The diet dangers of glycogen depletion are that muscle mass will decrease, and it can lead to muscle atrophy and slow your metabolism. When you consume less than 100 grams of carbohydrates a day, your body starts using muscle tissue for glycogen (stored glucose),  which means that it is broken down and used for energy. Only after that reservoir is exhausted, your body starts burning your fat storage.

This dangerous diet also leads to increased fatigue and loss of energy - which is counter-productive to sustaining your weight loss with regular exercise.

Most of the weight loss on a low carb high protein diet in the first few weeks is because of dehydration and muscle loss

After all carbohydrates are burned, the body goes into a different metabolic state called "ketosis", whereby it burns its own fat for fuel, since there is no more glycogen to use. In ketosis, energy is retrieved from ketones, which are small carbon fragments from the breakdown of fat stores. Ketones are known to cause fatigue, headaches, light-headedness, bad breath, nausea, and a loss of appetite. The latter is often regarded as positive in this dangerous diet, since the dieter tends to eat less; but ketosis can be fatal, as it can lead to kidney failure, kidney stones, gout, and bone loss (9, 20). Ketosis has also been implicated in heart palpitations and cardiac arrest (15).  

The diet dangers of low carb diets can further lead to high cholesterol, osteoporosis, and cancer (6, 9, 18).

Diet Dangers of High Acidity and pH Imbalance

It is important to maintain a healthy pH balance in your body, also during a fast weight loss diet. The meaning of pH is "potential of Hydrogen". It is a measuring unit of acidity and alkalinity of a solution.

7 indicates a neutral solution; increasing numbers 7-14 signal an alkaline environment; and decreasing numbers 7-0 signal an acidic solution. All of our bodily fluids have an optimum pH level of 7.4, which is slightly alkaline (16).

low carb diet dangers

Our body's health greatly depends on the state of its pH balance and that all pH-dependent biochemical reactions take place normally. If we become too acidic, our cellular metabolism will suffer and eventually shut down from being poisoned by toxic wastes. These diet dangers are often realted to low carb high protein diets focusing on animal foods.

Beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish, and eggs are acidic foods by composition. Dairy foods are often believed to be alkaline, but do increase the acid production in the body, and hence lead to higher acidity as well. By contrast, vegetable foods are mostly alkaline.

With an onslaught of mostly acidic, high protein animal foods in dangerous diets, our body can't keep up with the elimination of harmful acids anymore, and an acidic environment is created. Our buffer system for too much acid is in the bones, which will dissolve into phosphate and calcium to retain the acids. This can kickoff the first signs of bone loss, and these diet dangers can later lead to osteoporosis (20). The kidney works overtime to get rid of the excess acid, and calcium is also lost into the urine by this process. This not only depletes calcium for healthy bone strength, but can also lead to calcium-based kidney stones (20).

Too much acid in the body leads to acidosis as additional diet danger, which increases the risk of low blood phosphate, kidney stones, kidney failure, osteoporosis, certain cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes, gall stones, immune system disorders, and weight gain (18, 20).

An acidic body is an ideal playground for the growth of bacteria, yeast, fungi, mold, and viruses. The more animal foods we eat in a low carb high protein diet, the harder it becomes to maintain a healthy, oxygenated alkaline pH balance.

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Diet Dangers of Too Much Protein in the Diet

Protein is metabolized by the liver and excreted by the kidneys into the urine. Excess protein consumption puts your kidneys into overdrive, as they need to work very hard to flush the overdose out with the urine in high protein low carb diets. This strain easily leads to kidney stones or kidney failure. Since the excess protein excretion uses up calcium stores in the body, the dieter's bones begin to weaken, which can eventually lead to osteoporosis with this dangerous diet (9).

high protein diet

The average American consumes far too much protein, often 4 times more than the healthy range. The daily required protein for optimal health ranges between 5 - 10%. It would be sufficient to get only about 5% of daily calorie intake from protein - also for safe weight loss. That is on average what infants get with their mother's milk when they are in their fastest growth state. That would be 29 - 38 grams for adults consuming a diet ranging from 2300 - 3000 calories a day (7).

Other scientific and medical resources recommend a protein intake of about 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight (24). That would be 54 grams protein per day for a 150 lbs person, or 72 grams for a 200 lbs person to be in the healthy protein consumption range.

The diet dangers of low carb diets like Atkins are that they provide 150 - 350 grams of protein a day: 3 - 5 times the healthy amount! Can you imagine the devastating diet dangers for your kidney, liver, bone health and cholesterol level? (8, 19)

If mainly protein and fat, but no carbohydrates are consumed in a low carb diet, the body is undernourished and lacks essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants that can only be found in plant foods.

The Zone Diet is another popular low carb high protein diet that does not work long-term.
Read how Dr John McDougall expels the myth of any reasonable weight loss with the Zone Diet.

Diet Dangers of Too Much Fat in the Diet

Many high protein high fat diets average about 60% of daily calories from fat. This is a sure-fire recipe for weight gain, unless you force your body into an unnatural, permanent metabolic change like ketosis, which carries tremendous dangers for your long-term health.

High fat intake is directly linked to weight gain, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, several cancers, and long-term obesity.

On a low carb high protein diet, you may experience fast weight loss over the first few weeks, but this dangerous diet is not a safe fat loss secret.

You gain a substantial risk for your health and proper bodily functions if the diet is continued over a longer term and your metabolism stays in ketosis. And if the diet is not maintained long-term, the dreaded diet yo-yo effect will find you regain weight faster than ever before.

The high fat low carb diets deprive your body of fiber, which detoxes and speeds up your metabolism. It also leads to a lack in phytonutrients and antioxidants - none of which are present in animal foods. This means your immune system is now dangerously compromised after a longer time on such an unhealthy diet.

Regaining Weight After a Low Carb High Protein Diet is Very Likely

Most weight loss programs reduce calories drastically for faster weight loss, and that's no different with low carb high protein diets. Unless you want to stay on this diet for the rest of your life, it is natural that your body reacts to the reintroduction of more calories, once you have reached your desired weight. This means continued nutrition control and exercise are needed anyway to keep the weight off. However, with low carb high protein diets this becomes even more difficult, and here is why:

  • After the muscle loss induced by the glycogen depletion in your body, your metabolism burns on a very low rate, which means it's extremely efficient and needs much less calories to sustain the same weight than before. So it's guaranteed that you add weight again when your glycogen storage recovers, as soon as you eat a few more carbohydrates again.
  • Since your body has been starved of vital carbohydrates during the fat loss diet, it is now in "starvation mode" and will store every calorie much more carefully as deposit in your cells, to better prepare in case of another famine (diet).
  • If your protein low carb diet was based on animal foods, the high fats are stored more easily in your fat cells, and that effect increases once your metabolism rate is slowed.

Diet Dangers of the Myth "Carbohydrates Make You Fat"

good carbohydrates in whole wheat bread

It's a dangerous diet myth that bread, pasta, and rice are fattening by default. It is correct that processed sugars in white bread, white rice, etc., add a lot of "empty calories" with no nutritional value to your body. However, not all carbohydrates are alike, and it is very important that you eat the right carbs in a healthy weight loss diet.

In fact, foods rich in complex carbohydrates are perfect for permanent safe weight loss, as they contain less than half of fat calories, a lot of fiber, many vital nutrients, and much less overall calories than all animal foods.

The body treats calories from carbohydrates different than those from fat: fat calories are stored as body fat, since very few, only 3%, of fat calories are used for energy. In comparison, carbohydrate calories burn off 23% for bodily functions before the rest is stored in your cells (5).

Protein and carbohydrates have almost the same calories per gram, but protein foods derived from animals also have high fat and no fiber

Only plant foods have fiber, animal foods don't. Fiber mainly occurs in foods that are also rich in complex carbohydrates. Fiber gives you a feeling of fullness and satiation, and it stimulates your metabolism with very few calories (5). That's a huge additional fat loss secret and advantage over high protein low carb diets.

The Myth that Cholesterol Goes Down on a Low Carb High Protein Diet

Fact is that cholesterol generally goes down slightly when you decrease calories and lose weight. The fast weight loss in low carb diets can be significant, specifically in the first few weeks. This means the cholesterol levels usually go down too.

Statements that good cholesterol (HDL) increases on a low carb diet are not particularly relevant, as the bad cholesterol (LDL) levels often increase at the same time.  Higher levels of HDL are therefore needed to transport the excess cholesterol away from the heart and to the liver for excretion, to avert further diet dangers.

The importance is that your total cholesterol level stays below 150, at which point no known heart attack was ever registered. A healthy weight loss diet that keeps your cholesterol level below 150 at all times is a low fat vegan diet based on unprocessed plant foods.

To compare: every 100 milligrams of cholesterol increases your cholesterol level by an average of 5 points on a daily base. This amount can be found in 4 ounces beef, 4 ounces chicken, half an egg, or 3 cups of milk - these all lead to the diet dangers of increased bad cholesterol (25).

Plant foods have no cholesterol at all - and only zero is the absolute healthy level

It may be hard to keep your cholesterol level in the range that prevents heart disease and further diet dangers, if you continue to eat a diet based on animal foods - regardless how high or low your carbohydrate intake is.

Why Meat, Dairy, and Eggs are Bad for a Healthy Weight Loss Diet

Diet Dangers of Fat and Cholesterol

All animal foods have high amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat, no matter if you avoid red meat, trim the skin off your chicken, or prefer fish and seafood.

Did you know that chicken has almost as much cholesterol as red meat - 25 mg per ounce? Chicken is also not much lower in fat than beef: a piece of flank steak may have 56% fat of overall calories, and a similar amount of chicken still has 51% fat, particularly in the wings or other darker meat. Even the leanest skin-less chicken breast still has 23% fat, compared to almost any vegetarian meal with potatoes, vegetables, or beans, that usually don't exceed 1-9% fat.

high cholesterol in meat

It does not matter to your heart what type of meat you eat, even if you get less overall fat calories from chicken or fish. It is still a comparatively high fat dangerous diet.

Fat tissue is the last to be burned for energy in your body, so the last thing you want is to accumulate more of it with a high fat diet! Animal foods have high levels of saturated fat, which is non-essential, as your body does not need additional amounts from food. The excess dietary fat is deposited in your fat cells for later use.

Fat also has 9 calories per gram, compared to carbohydrates and proteins, which have only 4 calories per gram. Only 3% of the calories in fat are burned before storage in your body, while carbohydrates burn 23% of calories before they are deposited (5). This means for each gram of fat you eat, 0.27 calories are burned and 8.73 calories are stored in your body. Compare that to a gram of carbohydrates, which burn 0.92 calories and only store 3.08 calories in your cells.

Dairy, cheese, and eggs are just as bad as meat for safe weight loss: they have even more cholesterol and saturated fat. High cheese consumption is one of the worst diet dangers and the #1 reason for obesity in the USA and Mexico. Cheese has the highest density of saturated fat of all foods (11), and your organs need to work hard to get rid of it - or more often, simply store it in your fat cells for later use.

Besides, 3 glasses of milk have as much cholesterol as 21 slices of bacon - and who wants that in a healthy weight loss diet? (1)

milk promotes weight gain

Milk actually contributes to weight gain as three recent studies have shown, and the USDA and Dairy Industry had to halt false weight loss claims for high protein diets after a group of physicians complained to the Federal State Commission (3,4, 23).

A 2005 study of more than 12,000 children across the USA showed that replacing sugary sodas with milk did not help them reduce their weight, no matter if the milk was full fat, skim, or low fat (21). 43 out of 49 recent studies showed that milk either leads to weight gain or leaves body weight intact, but definitely does not aid in weight loss. The only studies showing weight loss through dairy consumption were funded by the dairy industry (22).

High Protein can lead to Dangerous Diet Effects

Animal foods also give you excess protein in your diet, with the average American consuming up to 4 times the daily required protein to keep the body healthy. Only about 5 -10 % of daily calorie intake should come from protein - see above. If you limit your calories for weight loss, your protein need is even lower.

Unlike fat, protein cannot be stored in the body, so an excess of it must be broken down by the liver and kidneys. The diet dangers are that this process creates toxic protein byproducts, and when it is excreted by the kidney it uses up precious calcium to neutralize the acids (7, 9). This can lead to weaker bones and eventual osteoporosis. Most populations that consume high protein diets also have higher occurrences of osteoporosis.

Low carb high protein foods often give you a deceptive sense of fast weight loss success within the first weeks, as the excess protein flushes out a lot of water. In addition, the low carbohydrate intake keeps your body undernourished, so it starts burning off the carbs (glycogen) in your cells. A lot of water is used for this process too, so even more water is released, and the illusion of fast weight loss is set.

But once the water is gone, no fast weight loss occurs any longer, and the higher fat intake from meat and dairy, plus the lack of essential carbohydrates as fuel for your cells, brain, and muscles, take their toll on your health. As additional diet dangers, the calcium loss from the high protein diet weakens your bones (9).

Insufficient Fiber in High Protein Low Carb Diets

Animal foods have no fiber, the #1 ingredient for detoxification, a healthy metabolism, and fast safe weight loss. Fiber is the roughage in plant foods that can't be processed by the body, so it rushes fast through the digestive tract and facilitates bowel movement. In the intestine, it detoxifies by binding cancer-causing carcinogens and cholesterol, thus averting the effects of dangerous diets (12).

Fiber-rich foods are loaded with phytochemicals that are cancer-fighting, and fiber helps with constipation and reduces your risk to overeat, as you feel full sooner and longer

Antioxidants have to be part of a Healthy Weight Loss Diet

Animal foods lack the main antioxidants and vitamins that ensure a healthy immune system. Antioxidants are substances that restrict the formation of free radicals, which are destructive chemicals that can lead to cancer promotion and many other diseases and diet dangers. Vitamins A, C, E, carotenoids, and selenium are all potent antioxidants - and they only occur in plant foods, mainly in fruits and vegetables. See this list of top notch antioxidant foods.

Acidity is a Big Part of Low Carb Diet Dangers

All animal foods are acidic by nature, and the dangers of low carb diets create an acidic pH balance in your body, which facilitates the mutation of cancer cells and growth of many bacteria. In contrast, plant foods are mostly alkaline and create a healthier pH balance. See above.

A Healthy Digestion is Key to Safe Weight Loss

Meat and cheese stay long in the human intestine, often for days or even weeks. We humans don't have the short colons and strong enzymes to break down acidic foods like natural carnivores do, so toxic acids like sulfuric acid and ammonia are created in the human intestine when meat passes through. The acids and bacteria are increased diet dangers, as they create an ideal playground for colon cancer (10).

A Healthy Weight Loss Diet depends on High Energy

You feel bloated, full, and often tired after eating animal products, as your body's energy is used up for digestion, rather than building new cells or pumping blood to your brain.

high energy from plant-based diet

A sluggish metabolism is counter-productive for fast weight loss, and if you rely on a low carb high protein diet based on animal foods, you are losing the important energy boost, fiber, and nutrients that only good carbohydrates can provide.

Since you need to exercise to burn fat and gain muscle in its place, you need that carbohydrate energy to get your burn rate up and hold it steady over time. It’s true that the body starts burning fat when the carbohydrate (glycogen) deposits are depleted, but over time this leads to the dangerous metabolism change ketosis, which can have very dangerous diet effects (9).

Forget the myth that high protein intake leads to higher muscle mass!
The average American eats between 3 - 5 times the daily recommended protein amounts, but are most Americans trim and fit?

Not really... it needs much more than high protein intake to build lean, calorie-burning muscle mass (9). The body uses only the protein it needs at the time, so unless you step up your burn rate, a high protein diet can lead to the mentioned diet dangers and serious health risks, but surely not increased muscle mass (9).

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and Sneaky Diet Saboteurs" for FREE

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  • Healthy weight loss diet tricks and facts
  • Useful shopping tips for healthy dieters
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  • Favorite diet saboteurs: Chocolate, Sugar, Sodas, Alcohol, Salt
  • And more

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Go back to top of Diet Dangers page or move on to Best Exercises for Weight Loss.

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(1) Movie Eating - RAVE Diet unveils the diet dangers of animal foods
(2) PCRM - Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine about dangerous diet health effects
(3) PCRM News Release about the dairy industry's false claim that milk helps with a healthy weight loss diet
(4) PCRM News Release about the recall of dairy weight loss claims in dangerous diet advertisement
(5) PCRM Healthy Weight Loss Article - 3 weeks are enough to adopt a healthy weight loss diet
(6) Web MD - Dangers of low carb high protein diets about the dangers of low carb diets
(7) Dr John McDougall about dairy products and the diet dangers of dairy
(8) McDougall article about dangers of protein overload explains why an overload of protein is dangerous to health
(9) Web MD Protein Information about the many types of complete protein and why too much protein is bad for health
(10) Cancer Project Survival: Colon Cancer Facts
(11) dietaryfiberfood.com: Information about saturated fat and its need in a healthy weight loss diet
(12) caloriesperhour.com: Information about fiber points out how fiber helps with safe weight loss
(13) Web MD about the pros and cons of high protein low carb diets
(14) Balance-ph-diet.com - about acidity and alkalinity in the human body
(15) Thewolfeclinic.com about the importance of a healthy pH balance and acidosis
(16) PCRM analyses health problems and diet dangers of low carb high protein high fat diets
(18) Dr John McDougall reveils diet dangers in fad diets and high protein diets
(19) Washington Post article on how milk and dairy products contribute to weight gain, not weight loss
(20) The LA Times 'Milk Mustache" article about dangerous diet claims of the dairy industry
(21) "Milking" unravels the flawed scientific data used to claim that milk helps with weight loss
(22) Experts from medical and scientific academia published this nutritional data collection
(23) PCRM resource about cholesterol types and their related diet dangers

Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended as medical advice. It is solely based on the experience and information researched and gathered from reputable sources by Ina Mohan. Please consult with your certified healthcare provider to ensure that you can safely follow the healthy eating guidelines provided on this website. Ina Mohan encourages you to research and verify all health and diet information that you receive, particularly from sources that may have a commercial interest in disputing the healing capabilities of the human body with wholesome nutrition.