One of the first things 99% of people say to me when they find out my profession is, "I have really been cutting back on my carbs." If you know how sarcastic I am, my response is always, "I'm sorry!" We have surpassed the fear of fat with loads of butter and bacon being socially acceptable now. However, liking potatoes and heaven forbid actually eating them is a sin. Well call me the nutrition God, because I shall bless you with the courage to not fear carbs!
Why have carbs earned such a bad reputation?
They are included in other cultures considered to be healthy. Take Spain, Greece and Italy for example whom primarily follow a Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is comprised of healthy fats, vegetables, lean meats, fish, legumes (carb), fruit (carb) and whole grains (carb). Or let's take one of the best quarter backs (my heart hurts saying that. Sorry Mahomes!), Tom Brady for example. He openly admits his VERY strict diet is full of fruits and anti inflammatory carbs. However, no processed, refined, white flour based foods.
So that is where carbs have gained their bad rep; the choices in which people are consuming them in. The processed carbs have been created to be so palatable, they become addicting. Pizza, pasta, donuts, potato chips, etc. now make healthy carbohydrates fall into their same category. People shun them because they "lead to weight gain", when in reality, a caloric surplus and processed/refined sources are what lead to weight gain. The scenario looks like this:
Sally eats a lot of carbs. Maybe some healthy ones like rice, fruit, potatoes, etc. but also a fair share of processed foods too.
Sally decides to go on diet and removes carbs; processed foods included obviously. Most processed foods are carb dominant.
Sally loses lots of weight.
Sally has a false epiphany that the removal of carbs is the solution and spreads the word that carbs are the reason for weight gain.
Let's throw out some statistics, shall we?
A study done at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hills found that Americans are consuming 60% of their calories from processed foods like soda, cookies and candy. Take a 2000 calorie diet for example. That means that 1200 calories are coming from processed food on a daily basis!
So let's refer back to Sally above and her "epiphany". As they remove the carbs along with the processed foods, they categorized BOTH being the reasoning of being overweight. Here is a look at crucial roles carbs play in the body.
They are our bodies primary source of energy.
They help maintain healthy hormones.
Ladies, paired with healthy fats they keep our skin and hair luscious.
They are the preferred macronutrient after intense exercise.
Assist in muscle building.
Keep us mentally sane!
Carbs are not to blame for our obesity epidemic and extremes of removing an entire macronutrient category does NOT need to be had.
**Want to balance your blood sugar? Great! Eat slow digesting sources in moderation like brown rice, quinoa, rolled oats, fruit (2-3 servings/day), sweet potatoes, etc.
**Want to break your refined sugar addiction? Great! Try eating nature's sugar... FRUIT!
**Want to lose weight? Great! Cut out that 60% and start eating whole food sources that provide your body energy, vitamins and minerals in the process.
I promise if you are choosing healthy carb foods, they themselves are not your problem. I am not stating you can't work on portion control, but removal of them completely is not necessary. Last thing. I am not buying, "Well I eat them on my cheat day" as not removing carbs. I preach eating them day in and day out and including them as part of a healthy diet. Your body, energy, performance and mind will thank you!
Nutrition Yoda out.