Diets that focus on cutting carbs are pretty common these days and maybe you’ve tried it yourself, but what is all the fuss really about and is it healthy long term?
If popularity is anything to go by, carbs seem to have taken the place of fat to be blamed for weight gain.
Is cutting out carbs completely necessary to lose weight?
In short, NO.
Can cutting out carbs help you lose weight?
To lose weight, you need to consume less calories than you burn. If cutting carbs out of your diet means you inadvertently consume fewer calories, then bingo, you will lose weight. The reality is, carbs tend to make up a high percentage of many diets. So, when you cut carbohydrates, in most cases, it automatically reduces the amount of food you eat and therefore your calorie intake.
A side effect of cutting carbohydrates is that it tends to increase protein intake by limiting food choices. Which is another reason why low carb diets do so well. Increasing your protein intake can cause you to eat less without realising, because protein fills you up more than any other nutrient. So, if you can maintain this way of eating long-term you’re more likely to be successful in reaching your weight loss goals. And it might be a really good approach for you to take.
Where low carb diets go wrong
If you feel restricted by limiting your food choices to low carb options only, then you’re less likely to be able to maintain this way of eating long enough to benefit from the reduced calorie intake. Basically, you’re more likely to fall off the diet wagon if you have to avoid all your favourite treats.
Why do we need carbs?
They’re the bodies main source of energy for the muscles during intense exercise – this is why people refuel post-workout. Carbs contain fibre, which is important for good intestinal health and digestion, and they are also essential for brain function.
What carbs should I be eating?
There are 2 forms of carbs: simple and complex.
Sources of complex carbohydrates are oats, rice, quinoa and noodles and should be incorporated into your meals.
Simple carbs are sugars like honey, table sugar and more nutrient-rich fruit. These do not need to be broken down further, so the body can use them for quick boosts of energy. However, when you eat simple carbs while you’re at complete rest, they get stored in your fat cells for use as energy later. Too much of them and you may release too much insulin into your bloodstream. This tricks your brain into thinking you need more sugar, which can trigger sugar cravings.
So, in conclusion, all carbohydrates have an important use, and should not be seen as the baddies. Their effect is totally dependent on your activity levels so, if you’re trying to lose fat, eating two bananas while lying in bed would be silly, but eating the same two bananas immediately after a heavy weight-lifting session – superb!