Why You Should Be Eating Carbs

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How many of you are old enough to remember being told dietary fat was bad?

Remember the hype about eliminating as much fat in our diets as possible? The ads promoted low fat or fat-free, and these “healthy” items lined the grocery store shelves.

Doctors told their patients to cut the fat if they wanted to lose weight, lower their cholesterol, and keep their hearts healthy!

What are we hearing now? Everywhere I look, I see Keto this and Keto that. Now, it’s all about high fat and low carb. — Sounds a lot like Atkins, doesn’t it. Remember that fad diet?

Honestly, we all struggle with weight and health and continually look for that perfect diet.

At least most of us that over 50. — I totally get it; I am over 50.

The Perfect Diet

It took me a while, but I learned there is no one perfect diet for everyone.

The diet that comes the closest is not a diet but a lifestyle. I am referring to the Mediterranean diet, which incorporates healthy fats, lean meats, lots of fish, veggies, fruits, nuts, olives and olive oil, and even a little red wine (which makes me very happy). It is the longest-studied diet with the most favorable results to date.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the Mediterranean diet continues to be named the best overall diet four years in a row.

Consistently backed by studies, the Mediterranean diet has taken the number one spot for best diets for diabetes, easiest diet to follow, best plant-based diet, best heart-healthy diet, and best overall diet for healthy eating.

Sure, I know someone is reading this right now and saying, “Lisa, you are wrong because I am on the Keto diet and have lost a ton of weight, improved my cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and feel better than I ever have in my life.”

And you know what I say to that? Keep on doing it then because you obviously found the perfect diet for you.

However, I see that for the majority of folks, super restrictive diets are not sustainable.

How many of you have tried the Keto diet, lost weight, but now you are off the diet and have gained it all back?

That’s because it is not sustainable for most people.

Anything restrictive usually isn’t.

So, let’s talk about the Keto diet.

Keto

The Keto diet requires you to go into a state of ketosis, which causes the body to burn fat as its primary fuel source instead of carbohydrates.

So, this is how the Keto diet works when appropriately followed:

The first week you lose pretty much just water weight.

The fat burning doesn’t typically start until you have been in a state of ketosis for a week or maybe even two weeks.

Ketosis is measured using ketone strips that you pee on to tell you what your ketone level is.

Ketones are what your body produces to use for fuel/energy when there are not enough carbohydrates.

The keto diet requires a much higher intake of fat as well as an added source of energy.

That is why you can’t just jump in and out of Keto and have it work. You can’t cheat and be in ketosis!!

If you say, “I am on Keto, but I cheat now and then.” You are not on Keto. You may be on a high-fat, low-carb diet. But not Keto, as it requires a state of ketosis which takes time to develop.

The Keto diet tends to incorporate higher protein, saturated fat, and sodium and eliminates many vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains.

Risks of Keto

  • High protein can increase the risk of kidney problems.
  • High fat can cause your liver to be stressed, which is not good for anyone with current liver problems like nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
  • Micronutrient deficiencies can occur from eliminating certain foods, including magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, and vitamins like vitamin B and C.
  • Less B vitamins, minerals, and nutrients also mean less healthy thyroid and hormone function, another key component to weight loss.
  • The ketogenic diet also tends to cause more calcium to be lost in the urine, which can lead to osteoporosis over time.

Keto and low carb diets have shown effectiveness in quick weight loss, but this is usually not maintained due to unsustainability.

Now, mind you- there are actual health benefits for some folks. There are several medical conditions that are treated very effectively with this diet.

I acknowledge it is not all bad.

However, I believe that using this diet as a lifestyle approach to better health over the long term is not optimal.

So before jumping on the keto bandwagon, consider the risks and the benefits.

There are really good reasons why carbs should not be restricted.

So, let’s talk about carbohydrates

Carbohydrates

Almost all food contains carbohydrates except meat products. Vegetables, fruits, and grains all contain carbs.

When we eliminate or restrict these foods from our diets, we are also depriving our bodies of cancer-fighting components, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that we need for a healthy functioning body, including our thyroid and many other physiological processes.

Carbohydrates can be broken down into two main categories: simple and complex.

Soda, sweet tea, candy, and cake contain simple sugars.

Whole grains, cereals, and many vegetables contain complex carbs.

The main difference between the two groups is their chemical structures.

Simple sugars are made up of a few sugar molecules, while complex carbs are made up of hundreds, and even thousands of these molecules put together.

In your body, the end product of both simple and complex is glucose.

Simple sugars cause your body to be flooded with glucose almost immediately.

Complex carbohydrates allow the glucose to trickle a little at a time, providing you with sustained energy while providing your body with available nutrients.

Studies show a lower risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity for those that ate more carbohydrates, specifically from whole natural foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.

Carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet. But some people consider all carbs, from soda to sweet potatoes, to be equal. Decades of science tell us that this simply isn’t true — the body handles lentils differently than it does lollipops.”

Lee Crosby, R.D., Dietitian, Physicians Committee

Studies have also shown that simple sugars contribute to obesity and diabetes, especially in children.

So next time you pick up the latest magazine and read about the newest low carb claim, throw it away and grab an apple. (Speaking of apples, read this article to discover all the wonderful health benefits of eating green apples).

You may want to consider incorporating the Mediterranean diet into your lifestyle. Combined with physical activity and decreasing calories the Mediterranean diet may be a game changer.

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