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  • Writer's pictureAmy Salman

Are Carbs Really The Enemy?



Remember a time when everyone thought that fats were the enemy?

Hello Everyone,

Low-fat diets became popular back in the 80's, and food manufacturers pulled all of the fat out of some processed foods and replaced it with sugar. Fat free became the craze. The impact of the low-fat and fat free craze was that Americans were getting fatter and sicker, suffering with various chronic conditions.

The focus was on the simple fact that fats contained more calories, as well as some evidence suggesting that they might be linked to heart disease and other problems. Indeed, this is the premise that diet plans like Weight Watchers were founded on!

But over time, fat has had an image change. For starters, it turned out that those studies linking fat with heart disease were unfounded.(1) It was also found that fat was better for keeping us feeling fuller for longer, at least partly because it takes longer to be absorbed.

Suddenly, everyone was raving about fat and it was carbs that had the bad reputation. Carbs spike the blood with sugar, resulting in an insulin response. Sugar causes inflammation. Simple carbs tend to be low in nutrients and make you hungry. The list goes on.

So are carbs really the enemy? Should you make like Keto or Atkins and ditch them almost entirely?

The Problem With Going No-Carb

The answer to that question is no. While it's true that we get a lot of glucose from carbs, what is also true is that this is actually necessary. If you live only on fats for fuel, then you'll be on what's known as a ketogenic diet and this can leave you low on energy over time.

Likewise, completely avoiding all fruits and vegetables (most being slow carbs) will almost certainly lead to nutrient deficiencies as well as a low fiber intake.

Slow carbs are good for you. They take longer to digest, resulting in a slower release of glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream, avoiding a spike of insulin release. They provide energy more gradually and for a longer period of time.

Low Carb, Not No Carb

Most diets fortunately don't recommend completely cutting carbs. They are more likely to advise reducing them or eating complex carbs (legumes, fruits, starchy veg like sweet potato, whole grain bread and rice). This option is much healthier, especially when implementing long term lifestyle changes.

Also, there is no evidence to support that super low and no carb diets provide better results for long term weight loss than other healthy eating regimens.

So, it's key to ensure that you are getting enough. What defines "enough" will be different for everyone depending on your health goals. But, eating the right carbohydrates is important for good health.

Not only is avoiding carbs a little soul crushing and somewhat difficult, it's also a surefire way to end up low on energy and with food cravings.

If you can reduce the number of chips you have with your next meal then great, but don't feel too guilty over having some sweet potatoes.

As is often the case, the reality is a little more complex than this one food group makes you fat. Make sure you continue to eat a healthy and balanced diet and just apply a little common sense!

To your health & happiness,

xoxo

Amy

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