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Low-carb intake and resultant low blood sugar can cause fatigue.
Most adults should consume around 130 grams of carbohydrates each day, reports the Institute of Medicine. This is a moderate level of carbohydrates. In contrast, a low-carbohydrate diet is usually less than 50 grams per day. This low-carb intake level is associated with lowered blood sugar levels and can lead to feelings of fatigue, anxiety and dizziness.
Why Low Carbs Cause Low Blood Sugar
When you eat carbohydrates, your stomach breaks them down into smaller sugar molecules, which are then released to the bloodstream. Your pancreas responds by releasing insulin into your bloodstream. This signals your cells to absorb the passing sugars, either to be used for energy or put in storage. When you eat very few carbohydrates, the amount of sugar entering your bloodstream is significantly reduced. After a couple of hours, this will force your body to release stored energy to continue to function normally.
Very Low Blood Sugar and Ketosis
If you follow an extremely low-carb diet, all your blood sugar -- also known as circulating glucose -- will get used, and you are likely to end up in ketosis. Ketosis occurs when your blood sugar has dropped so low that there is no longer enough energy available for your brain to function normally. Ketosis causes stored fat molecules to split apart into fatty acids. These fatty acids travel to the liver, where they are converted into ketones --В energy bodies that can be used to fuel the brain in the absence of glucose.
Understanding the Glycemic Index
You can follow a low-carbohydrate diet without experiencing "roller-coaster" blood sugar levels. Eating small servings of carbs with a low glycemic rating will give you a steady release of glucose into the bloodstream, instead of the "dumping" effect that occurs with high-glycemic-index foods. The American Diabetes Association classes foods with a rating of under 55 as low-GI: Low-GI carbohydrate sources include whole-wheat and pumpernickel breads, oats and muesli, legumes, starchy vegetables, like sweet potato and corn, and most fruits.
The Diabetes Factor
A low-carbohydrate diet can be effective for helping manage type-2 diabetes. The condition occurs when cells and muscles stop responding to insulin and therefore stop absorbing glucose from the bloodstream. This leads to dangerously high blood sugar, which can cause problems for your heart, kidneys, eyes, skin and nerves. Eating small quantities of low-GI carbohydrates, particularly whole grains, can help prevent the increase of blood sugar and can also improve insulin sensitivity in diabetics.