It seems that every time we look online, there is a new ‘incredible’ workout routine, trendy lifestyle or crazed diet to try and follow. Either that or we’re told we should be cutting out carbs, counting our calories or reduce the amount of fat we consume.
Seeing as carbs are usually the suspect accused of causing heart problems and weight gain as well as other things … Is not eating carbs bad for you?
It comes as no surprise that processed junk food tends to be high in carbohydrates, then surely consuming less of that has to be good for us?
So that begs the question, are all carbs bad?
Carbs: the nightmare
The word ‘carbohydrate’ used to be a word like any other, but now the haunted ‘carb’ is known as something to avoid like the plague. There’s a new diet popping up on a daily basis it seems, telling us to monitor the feared macronutrient.
At some point along the way, we’ve been made to believe that all carbs are bad and that to have a healthy lifestyle, cutting them out is the only way forward. So whilst that loaf of bread sits crying on your kitchen counter after being told it’s bad, we should take note that not all carbs are the same.
It doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re someone that is just wanting to discover the best way to lose a little weight or if you’re a yo-yo dieter – you’ll always be told that your sworn enemy is carbs.
This is because many people believe that all carbs are hyper-processed.
Most nutritionists would recommend that you steer clear of junk food, candy, white bread and sugary snacks. Which is sad we know (sorry, ladies!), but it comes down to the fact that they’re empty calorie foods.
Let’s think about this for a moment!
When we’re lazing about and munching on our favorite snacks, we’re only full for a very short time. That’s because these types of foods are a filler and don’t give us the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need.
Carb cutting: why do it?
Experts used to believe that carbs were the cause of increased obesity, even more than protein and fat. It does kinda make sense, due to their ability to increase insulin levels – which in turn encourages fat storage.
Although, eating huge amounts of any calorie-providing nutrient will have you destined for weight gain and obesity. We’ve all heard ‘you can have too much of a good thing’ before.
Whilst it hasn’t been proven that foods high in carbohydrates are fattening, diets that are low-carb have been seen to be more effective when it comes to losing weight, in the short term at least.
So, why should you cut out carbs? It’s all about those refined carbs! These are foods like white rice, pasta, white flour, sodas, snacks and added sugars.
If you’re really confident in cutting out carbs completely, you’re going to need to be careful.
Carbs: are we meant to eat them?
Going back in time to early humans, cooking and eating meat that provided calories, protein and fat was second nature. However, in recent years studies have shown that high-carb foods like root vegetables and legumes were eaten by our ancestors too!
More in depth research also shows that early humans began to develop the ability to digest starchy carbs. This in itself shows how much we have evolved in our capabilities to digest starch.
However, we should also consider the fact that every little cell in our body runs on glucose, a carbohydrate sugar.
Cutting out carbs: is it bad for us?
If you’re sitting there wondering why cutting carbs is bad for you, all we need to do is look into the important nutrients and vitamins you’re missing out on.
Our bodies need healthy carbs to function correctly. So, those fad diets are telling you to cut out carbs completely isn’t going to do you any good either. Carbs are a brilliant source of fiber and other nutrients and supply the energy our bodies need too.
Cutting out carbs such as processed junk food is definitely a great way to feel healthier and give your body a boost to reach your fitness goals.
Although cutting back on those bad, starchy carbs may help in reducing your weight and controlling diabetes, eating carbs alone doesn’t mean you’ll gain weight or suffer from disease.
Try looking at your food intake as a bigger picture, paying attention to your calorie, protein and fat intake.
Staying away from ’empty’ calories such as those bad, processed foods will boost your weight loss. Although, cutting out carbs completely won’t benefit you or your body long term. Also, we aren’t going to lie, it’s just not sustainable.
Is cutting carbs bad for you: Missing essential nutrients
Whilst you may think eating carb-heavy foods is the worst possible idea for your health, they’re actually a vital source of important vitamins and minerals.
Those crazy diets will have you convinced that carbs are the devil! However, consuming the correct carbs in the right amounts is essential for a varied and healthy diet.
As there are several types of carb, cutting them all out completely could mean that you’re depriving your body of key nutrients. Carbs provide vitamins such as B12 and magnesium, minerals and fiber. Without these, we put our bodies at risk, especially if we’re not replacing the missing nutrients using other sources.
Ditching the carbs: Lack of fiber
It goes without saying that nutrition isn’t simple. Almost every nutritionist will tell you that fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet. So, seeing as fiber is a carbohydrate, you’ll be missing out on this vital nutrient if you cut out carbs completely.
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Studies have also revealed that soluble fiber is important for managing your weight and heart health.
Fiber in this form is rather thick and sticky and is found in foods that are high-carb such as legumes, fruits and oats. All of these also promote healthy digestion.
Carbs: fuel for the brain
This may seem bizarre, but our brains actually prefer carbs as their source of energy. Typically, the brain will consume approximately 120 grams of carbohydrates on a daily basis.
You may find that you struggle with brain fog, mental fatigue and mood swings if you cut carbs out completely or cut back on them. These side effects should start to disappear as your body adapts to the changes. These initial effects that you experience is what makes cutting out carbs so hard to keep up with.
Now we already know that knowing the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbs is difficult to comprehend. However, so many people confuse the role of stimulants such as caffeine with carbs. We know that a nice cup of coffee or an energy drink will give you a quick burst of energy, but healthy carbs are what give you and your brain what it requires long term.
The deciding factor in this game is the quality of the carbs you choose to consume. Think of it like putting top-notch gas in your car!
Losing weight: cutting back on carbs
We’ve already established that there are so many diets around now, most of them with the theme of carb cutting. It’s no surprise that people are quickly convinced that carbs are the enemy!
Lots of us turn to keto or low-carb diets if we’re wanting to lose a few pounds and believe that the answer to reaching our goals is cutting out carbs. What we’re trying to say is that it’s important to know how to tell good from bad.
Let’s look at this in more detail!
Foods like whole grains, vegetables and fruit – these are possibly high in carbohydrates (and sometimes calorific too), but these aren’t empty calories. We aren’t scoffing these down as a quick snack to want something else in 30 minutes time. Our bodies need these types of foods as they deliver a balanced amount of protein, B vitamins, fiber and other essentials nutrients too.
Seeing as the aim of a keto diet is to lose lots of weight in the beginning, many dieters get caught up in the idea. However, in turn, many then give up as the weight loss slows down and simply isn’t easy to stay on track with.
We’re not going to sugar coat it for you, cutting out carbs is damn hard work!
Does cutting carbs affect exercising?
If you feel like you’re struggling with your workouts, you’re not alone. It is normal to feel this way if you’ve been cutting out carbs. This is because carbs provide our body with quick energy, it is the easiest one to be released from our stores and is quickly used as fuel.
We also know that healthy fats and protein also give us fuel. But, our bodies use carbohydrates the most effectively. So if you’re one of those that have recently ditched the carbs, expect your workout performance to take a hit.
As we’ve already said, it is normal for your gym performance to fall flat. It’s the same when there is any huge change to your diet! Although, the likely factor of this is that you haven’t got enough fuel.
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Before making the decision to cut out carbs completely, try consuming healthy carbs like fruit, quinoa and oats as they release their energy slowly and help you feel full for longer.
Cutting back on carbs: How to
So just like we’ve already said, before you go cutting carbs completely and throwing all your bread in the trash, just try reducing the bad carbs first.
We say this because they tend to offer no essential vitamins and minerals or have a calorie value. They’re also harder for our bodies to digest and process. To top it off, they don’t even leave us feeling full for that long!
Saying that, if your mind is set on cutting them out, try reducing ‘bad’ ones like:
- Starchy vegetables
- Bread and grains
Ready to kickstart your weight loss?
Instead of yo-yoing through fad diets, opt for regular exercise and a healthy diet. Yes, that means carbs! The right carbs will help to support your workouts and deliver the nutrition your body needs to function, repair and grow.
While these carb-free diets may seem tempting, their results (sadly!) aren’t sustainable.
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