Does your approach to nutrition see carbs as “the enemy?” Whether you follow Paleo, Zone, Atkins, or any diet of your own creation, you might be suffering from too few carbohydrates. Having too few carbohydrates can result in low-energy, poor circulation, decrease in your immunities, and of course, the most important aspect to many – inhibit your ability to lose weight.
Talk to any registered dietician, read the labels of any balanced sports nutrition supplement, and you will see a recommendation of 45-55% carbs, 35-45% protein, and 20-30% fats. Yet 90% of anyone who is uber-conscious of their caloric intake, will tell you they try to avoid carbs.
Carbs have gotten a bad rap. The reason for this unjust finger pointing stems from the fact that food in general has declined in quality and substance. As we’ve sought faster quicker meals to keep up with our hectic lives, our choices are more processed, and when flavor is imposed upon that processed food, it tends to be tastier when in a carbohydrate form. Therefore, the bulk of what is consumed by, especially in the U.S., is fatty, over-synthesized carbs. The more of this fiber-less, nutritionally void food we were eating, the fatter we became. Then one day a few people made the choice to eat only lean proteins and vegetables, and hey, I lost weight when I cut out carbs. From then on, it was all downhill for the beloved carbs.
So, if you are open to re-introducing carbs into your diet, here’s a few facts to help ease your conscious:
1. Carbohydrate-rich foods are also high in dietary fiber. Fiber is essential in digestive health, and can also lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Whole grains, vegetables and fruits are denser, allowing your to consume fewer calories while keeping you feeling full (satiated) for longer. Thus you will lose weight as you are eating less, and processing your food through your digestive track in a more regular manner (lessening constipation).
2. Carbs also promote the production of serotonin in your brain, which help fight depression, anxiety, and memory loss. Several studies have shown that subjects who completely eliminated carbohydrates from their diets for one week, did worse on memory tests, were more lethargic, and had a significant drop in their moods, than the subjects who followed a nutritional plan that included healthy, fiber-rich carbs.
3. When our body needs energy it first looks for glucose from carbohydrates. If insufficient carbohydrate glucose is available, the body helps itself to glucose stored as glycogen in fatty tissue. If more energy is needed, the body then burns protein tissue in the muscles. In short, the availability of carbohydrates for fuel prevent the body from breaking down muscle tissue for fuel. What does that mean to you, it means that if you eat carbs, in proper proportion to proteins, while you are following an exercise regiment which involves resistance training, you will build muscle, decrease body fat, and achieve a boost to your metabolism.
So next time you think, I can’t eat carbs, remember, carbs are not your enemy. Bad food choices are! Good food choices always include whole grains (gluten free for those worried about gluten issues, which is the subject for another time), and fruits and vegetables. So go out and eat some carbs!