Are You Losing the War On Carbs?

Are You Losing the War On Carbs?

Years ago, it was normal for bread, crackers and pastas to be a staple of our daily diet.  Unfortunately, it showed in our waistline and in our unhealthiness. Enter the low-carb fad.  People all around the world went on the Atkin’s diet or the started the paleo eating plan.  Yet, if you look around, we are still overweight and we are still unhealthy.  Even those who drop the weight drastically on a low-carb diet almost always gain it all back on. 


Here’s the truth:  Our bodies simply cannot handle no-carb or severely-low carb diets.  Although there are exceptions to this rule, they are few and far between.  For the rest of us, let’s look at what happens when we severely restrict carbohydrate intake:


  1.  Our bodies are designed to use carbohydrates as its primary fuel source.  Carbohydrates are turned to glycogen for fuel and energy, which in turn keeps the brains, organs and muscles working properly. 
  2. Many people lose weight quickly on a low or no-carb diet simply because glycogen is heavy.  Your body burns through your glycogen stores and the weight drops off.  At first.
  3. Your body now turns to fat for fuel.  Although this sounds great, it’s actually a bad thing.  Fat burns slowly, which makes you feel sluggish and drained.  This stage is called ketosis. 
  4. During ketosis – our bodies increase production of cortisol (the stress hormones) and decreases production of testosterone levels in men and estrogen levels in women. 
  5. This all leads to decreased cognitive function, fatigue, constipation, increased stress, increased blood pressure and even possible kidney and liver damage. 


How to do carbs right! 


If you take nothing else out of this article, take note of this: DO NOT add back in the simple carbohydrates.  White bread, pastas and crackers are very poor fuel sources for the body and as science shows us – they do more harm than good.


The key is to add in the natural, minimally-processed carbohydrates and to keep the portion sizes small.  You should aim for approximately 150 to 200 grams of complex carbohydrates per day.   This is enough to properly fuel your body in a healthy manner.  The best sources of complex carbohydrates include:


  • Raw or mildly cooked vegetables – although one cup of lettuce has about zero grams of carbs, other vegetables such as cabbage (4 grams per serving), squash (20 grams per serving) or a sweet potato (44 grams per serving) can be a good option. 
  • Raw fruits (including the skin).  Apples (25 grams per serving) are a great choice because not only are you getting good carbs, you are also getting high fiber.  Just be careful with fruit due to the higher sugar content. 
  • Whole grains (such as millet, amaranth, barley, quinoa).  Barley has 135 grams per one cup.  Small portions are important!
  • Legumes.  Lentils have 20 grams per serving and a ½ cup of kidney beans have 25 grams of carbs. 
  • Nuts.  Almonds have 21 grams of carbs in a cup, while walnuts have 11 grams in one cup.
  • Seeds.  Pumpkin seeds have 34 grams of carbs in a cup while chia seeds have 12 grams per ounce.