Low-carbohydrate diets are gaining in popularity, but with this craze, carbs are getting a bad rap and are considered the enemy. However, they are not!
The right carbs fuel your body and brain and supply an abundance of nutrients as well.
Low-carb diets have been around for more than 100 years. Since that time, they’ve cycled in and out of popularity. People are often drawn to them because they promise a rapid weight loss. They also focus on protein and fat, & these plans aren't bad with controlling hunger. But very low carb diets have some downsides also.
Why are carbs important? They are your body’s primary fuel source. When you eat carbs, they are broken down into a sugar, called glucose, which is transported in the bloodstream to your cells, tissues and organs. While your entire body relies on a steady supply of glucose, your muscles actually store glucose – in a form called glycogen – to provide quick energy, and your brain depends almost exclusively on glucose for fuel.
Carbs are found in lots of foods that are healthy & unhealthy. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains & beans are all healthy, natural sources of carbohydrates. These foods provide not only the carbs your body needs, but an abundance of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients (many of which act as antioxidants and protect the health of your cells). The problem is that many people eat too many unhealthy carbohydrates – like those found in sugars, sweets and refined and starchy grain foods like white rice, pasta, white bread and refined and sweetened breakfast cereals.
When you don’t eat enough carbohydrates to supply glucose to your cells, your body is forced to break down body fat for energy. Rather than producing glucose, the end result of fat breakdown are compounds called ketones (this is how “keto” diets get their name). Your body is programmed to make this switch when you are starving in order to keep your systems running. When you eat a well-balanced diet, few (if any) ketones are produced. But, on a very low-carbohydrate diet, your body is basically tricked into thinking there is no fuel coming in, so it goes into a state called ketosis.
While your body can adjust to running on ketones, keep in mind that this isn’t a normal physiological state – it’s a defense mechanism that your body employs to keep your body running. A very low-carb plan is unbalanced and difficult to sustain – which means that any weight loss that occurs is likely to be regained. And most likely the quick weight loss is due to a loss of water & muscle tissue rather than a lot of body fat. People find it too difficult to sustain the diet long term which results in more weight gained before they have started after stopping the diet. More importantly, a very low carbohydrate plan eliminates not just the unhealthy carbs like sweets, but also limits the healthy fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, meaning you’ll miss out on an abundance of nutrients that these foods provide.
So as you can see, there are unhealthy carbohydrates and healthy carbohydrates that you can choose to eat. It is the healthy carbohydrates that our bodies need to function and you can lose weight with them, however they must be portioned out for your macro needs. Going too low in carbohydrates will result in vitamin & mineral deficiencies that you are missing without consuming healthy carbohydrates. So the moral of the story here is to have a more balanced diet with protein & good fats as well as healthy carbohydrates for the body to function optimally and for long term sustainability to keep the weight off and be much healthier! HEALTHY carbs are our friends and should be eaten more often!