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Weight Loss Myth: Carbs Are Bad For You

Dec 2, 2010

Let’s get real about it; this fallacy was started by the most popular diet of all time,

the Atkins Diet. Constantly, I hear people mention that they try to avoid carbohydrates.

Though it seems that the marketplace is getting wiser, at the same time, this fallacy

seems to raise it’s ugly head constantly. First of all, let me begin by saying that you need carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are your primary source of energy. Without carbohydrates, your body will begin to do some crazy things. In order for you to get your energy requirements look at carbs:

Carbs are fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts.

Would you argue that fruits and vegetables

are bad for you? How about whole grains like

oatmeal, and nuts like almonds? These are

whole foods that have fiber, vitamins, minerals,

phytonutrients, and antioxidants. They are good

for you! You should at least eat fruit 2 times per

day and vegetables 3 times per a day (the more

the better). You should eat whole grains at least 3 times per day.

Avoid Processed Carbohydrates. The problem with carbohydrates is what we do

to them. They are stripped of their fiber, stripped of their nutrients, we add food color,

sugar, sometimes fat, sodium, and all kinds of crazy stuff and put them in a box,

bottle, plastic wrapper, etc. In other words, we turn them in to junk food. As a result of

processing, the glycemic index also goes up.

What is the Glycemic Index (GI)? The glycemic index is basically a

value system based on a scale of 0-100. Carbs that are high GI break

down much faster than those that are low GI. Thus, eating high GI

carbs (close to 100) like a bag of pretzels (and most junk food) can raise

Weight Loss Myth:


blood sugar faster (aka “the sugar spike”), which

in turn can cause a sudden rush of insulin over

compensation (an “insulin rush”). As a result, your

blood sugar then dips. This is when you begin to

feel groggy and crappy, thus leading you to pick up

your favorite high GI snack to make you feel normal.

Carbohydrates power your brain and your muscle.

You need carbs to fuel the brain. It’s the only source

of fuel the brain uses. The only exception is a by

product of fat called ketone bodies (this is the

premise behind Atkins through a process called

ketosis). Your body only uses ketone bodies as a

last resort and it is inefficient. It’s kind of like trying

to use alcohol to fuel your car instead of gasoline. It

works, but it’s really hard on the engine. Ketone bodies are hard on the brain.

Carbohydrates are Protein Sparing. Without ingesting carbs, your body will

breakdown muscle protein if you do not get enough carbs. Why? You need glucose

to fuel the muscle and other tissues. With exception to the brain, muscle is the most

metabolically active tissue in the body. When you lose muscle, you decrease your

metabolism. In other words, you hold on to body fat better. (Other things begin to

transpire, such as hormonal shifts also occur. These shifts

also decrease your metabolism.)

The Thermic Effect of Food. You actually utilize a certain

amount of calories in digestion alone. Foods that require

more energy require more caloric expenditure. Carbs that

are high in fiber are the ones that have the greatest thermic

effect. Usually, carbs that are low GI have the greatest

thermic effect. Once again, these are real foods such as

fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts.

So, there you have it. Carbohydrates are good for you. One of the errors of the low

carb myth coincides with just about every diet. That is, they do not include exercise

as a part of the equation and they are quick weight loss gimmicks. This is flawed and

misleading. Instead of going on a diet, get active and change your lifestyle. Quick fixes

never work for the long term and usually make your situation worse.


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