3 Reasons Why the fear of carbohydrates needs to stop
The three essential macronutrients include protein, carbohydrates, and fat, all of which are equally important in a balanced diet. But for some reason people have this fear of carbohydrates. I often hear people say, “Carbohydrates make you fat,” or “The only time I have lost weight was when I cut out carbs.” Here’s a little bit about carbs, and why we should not be afraid of them.
Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel in your body, providing energy to every cell in your body. They are also important for brain function by supplying energy to your brain. When carbohydrates are consumed, they are converted into glucose, which is the body’s main source of energy. Therefore, when an insufficient amount of carbs are consumed, the body must get energy from other sources, such as protein and fat. Insufficient carb intake also results in fatigue. The problem here is that protein has its own functions, including muscle contraction and maintaining muscle and other tissues. Another problem is that fat metabolism cannot occur normally without proper carb intake, which results in the formation of ketones, which are acidic molecules formed by partially broken-down fats. Ketones can be used in place of protein for energy, but when too many ketones form, a condition called ketosis occurs, making the blood acidic, and interfering with normal body processes.
There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. These two types come in three forms: sugar, starch, and fiber. Simple carbs (sugar) are broken down more quickly than complex carbs. Although they allow for quick energy, they also spike your blood sugar and leave you hungry. Complex carbs (fiber and starch) on the other hand, take longer to break down, therefore, result in increased satiety and energy for a longer period of time. It is much easier to eat a large bowl of white pasta (simple carb) than it is a large bowl of whole wheat pasta (complex carb), and the whole wheat pasta is going to leave you fuller for a longer period of time.
Consuming carbs in excess may be associated with weight gain because when the body has more carbs than it needs, it stores them as fat. Odds are, these carbohydrate sources are also coming from simple carbs. This is why people associate a low-carb diet with weight loss. However, sufficient carb intake helps ensure the maintenance of lean mass. For this reason, consuming too few carbs can be just as bad as consuming too many. The body may use your muscle tissue to provide the body with fuel. Ultimately, consuming less carbs means you are consuming less total calories, so you are going to see weight loss. So, if you are one of those people who think the consumption of carbohydrates lead to weight gain, take a second to think about where your carb sources are coming from, and if your low-carb diet put you in a caloric deficit.
As previously mentioned, all three macronutrients are essential in a balanced diet. Although it is not necessary for weight loss, pairing a carb and protein–especially whole grains or carbs high in fiber, will increase satiety and make you feel less hungry.
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Written By: Kristin Mason BS Nutrition and Dietetics