Carbohydrates – Good or Bad ?
Low carbohydrate diets have been in and out of fashion for as long as I can remember. The authors of these diets claim that one of the main causes of obesity in the modern world is carbohydrate. There is now an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence to dismiss this claim.
The main reason people put on weight and the reason we are facing an obesity epidemic is because people eat more food [energy] in general than they need. Combine this with an ever-increasing sedentary lifestyle and you have the perfect recipe for a fat, unhealthy nation. Everything that contains energy is fattening if you consume enough of it.
Take a look at our Asian neighbors who eat predominately carbohydrates [rice, vegetables] at every meal. They have the lowest rates of obesity in the world. When you compare them to the high fat, overindulging American and Australian diets, it’s hard to argue what’s making us fat.
Low carbohydrate diets are limiting, boring and restrictive in vital nutrients for good health. All plant matter contains carbohydrates including fruit and vegetables. Reducing these foods reduces our ability to fight disease and protect ourselves from developing heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
Carbohydrates are vital for good health and vitality. They are the only fuel certain organs use. If the brain, central nervous system and kidneys don’t get enough carbohydrates, the body brakes down protein from muscle tissue to produce glucose. [carbohydrate] Muscle tissue is the main tissue involved in energy expenditure, so reducing it will reduce our metabolic rate. A decreased metabolism due to the fact that you have less muscle tissue will eventually result in you regaining all of the lost weight, plus a little extra for insurance.
Low carbohydrate diets appear to be effective and the dieter usually sees fast results. The problem is this quick weight loss is not fat but usually a lot of water, a little protein [muscle] and bone tissue.
Carbohydrates are broken down to form glucose then stored in the body as glycogen. This glycogen holds three times its weight in water, like filling up a sponge. Any diet that reduces glycogen will also reduce the accompanying water and show a significant loss on the bathroom scales. Remember this loss in weight, although it may appear to be successful, is not fat but mainly water. The weight will return just as fast once a normal diet resumes contributing to another problem called yo-yo dieting.
Rather than being too concerned with carbohydrates follow the “ everything in moderation” rule. Choose more unrefined carbohydrates, like wholegrains, legumes, fruit and vegetable rather than white processed varieties.
I believe the lack of portion control is one of the main contributors to weight gain and not carbohydrates in general. Most people who are gaining weight just eat too much of everything. One small square of chocolate is not fattening but the whole family block is. Likewise with carbohydrates, if your goal is to lose weight then reduce your portion sizes and increase your activity levels. Unfortunately losing weight is a slow and patient process, don’t sacrifice important nutrients and your health for a quick fix. Most people will vouch for the fact that after every quick fix weight loss gimmick or program they’ve tried, they always regain more weight than what they’ve lost.