Background: Low-carbohydrate high-protein (LCHP) diets are used commonly for weight reduction. This study explores the relationship between such diets and acid-base balance, kidney-stone risk, and calcium and bone metabolism.
Methods: Ten healthy subjects participated in a metabolic study. Subjects initially consumed their usual non-weight-reducing diet, then a severely carbohydrate-restricted induction diet for 2 weeks, followed by a moderately carbohydrate-restricted maintenance diet for 4 weeks.
Results: Urine pH decreased from 6.09 (Usual) to 5.56 (Induction; P < 0.01) to 5.67 (Maintenance;P < 0.05). Net acid excretion increased by 56 mEq/d (Induction; P < 0.001) and 51 mEq/d (Maintenance; P < 0.001) from a baseline of 61 mEq/d. Urinary citrate levels decreased from 763 mg/d (3.98 mmol/d) to 449 mg/d (2.34 mmol/d; P < 0.01) to 581 mg/d (3.03 mmol/d; P < 0.05). Urinary saturation of undissociated uric acid increased more than twofold. Urinary calcium levels increased from 160 mg/d (3.99 mmol/d) to 258 mg/d (6.44 mmol/d; P < 0.001) to 248 mg/d (6.19 mmol/d; P < 0.01). This increase in urinary calcium levels was not compensated by a commensurate increase in fractional intestinal calcium absorption. Therefore, estimated calcium balance decreased by 130 mg/d (3.24 mmol/d; P < 0.001) and 90 mg/d (2.25 mmol/d; P < 0.05). Urinary deoxypyridinoline and N-telopeptide levels trended upward, whereas serum osteocalcin concentrations decreased significantly (P < 0.01).
Conclusion: Consumption of an LCHP diet for 6 weeks delivers a marked acid load to the kidney, increases the risk for stone formation, decreases estimated calcium balance, and may increase the risk for bone loss.
Copyright 2002 by the National Kidney Foundation, Inc.