Nowadays low-carb is in fashion, but what I recently wondered is whether a human can live without any carbohydrates at all?

Of course this would be hard to do in reality, as most food will contain proteins as well as carbohydrates, but let's assume it would be possible to circumvent any carbohydrates.

  • $\begingroup$ No, humans cannot live without carbohydrates. Low-carb diets seem to work well in some people for short-term weight loss, but they can be rather damaging long-term. While a diet consisting of meat and meat may sound good to some people, you would not be very healthy for very long on it. $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Jun 1, 2016 at 21:55
  • $\begingroup$ see this previous question and answer... amino acids are all ketogenic or glucogenic and can be broken down into all Krebs Cycle intermediates... biology.stackexchange.com/a/41255/16299 $\endgroup$ Jun 2, 2016 at 0:20
  • $\begingroup$ Have a look at: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No-carbohydrate_diet It should answer most of your question and give you some good references. $\endgroup$
    – Ashafix
    Jun 2, 2016 at 10:05

1 Answer 1


The Atkins diet is based on that. Without carb intake, however, the citric acid cycle (CAC) eventually basically stops and proteins will be utilized to be converted to carb intermediates to feed the CAC. Progressive and strict use of the Atkins diet will eventually kill you as the CAC is essential to life.

The idea behind Atkins is that fats will be used to feed the CAC, and that will happen until the carbohydrates that keep the cycle running are depleted. At that point one will develop ketosis and the CAC stops, and with it the production of ATP. Note that fatty acids can be fed into the CAC, but are not sufficient to keep it running; fats burn on a fire of carbs.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .