Carbs are not your enemy
Low-carb diets have become a huge craze in the dieting world. Programs such as the Atkins diet, Ketogenic diet, and even the No-Carb diet have turned into popular weight loss strategies. While cutting out carbs will help you reduce calories and often lose weight, they’re not as helpful as they seem.
Carbohydrates are essential for your overall health and cutting them out too severely can lead to a lot of problems. What’s more, the supposed benefits of low-carb or no-carb diets are often counteracted by negative long-term effects. Here are a few reasons why you should think twice before starting one of these fad diets.
You’ll Miss Out On Important Nutrients
While you’ll get plenty of protein on one of these diets, cutting out carbs can leave you seriously deprived of many important nutrients.
Many low-carb diets are lacking in vitamins and minerals- especially when fruit and vegetables are cut out. While you can take a multivitamin supplement to try and keep your body in check, you’ll be missing out on a lot of the benefits from healthy carbs.
Low-carb diets also naturally lead to a lack of fiber. This can lead to problems such as cramping, bloating, and constipation. What’s more, getting almost all of your calories from protein can lead to dehydration, greater risk of heart disease, and kidney problems such as painful kidney stones.
Weight Loss Is Often Only Short-Term
Since carbohydrates are generally much more calorie-dense than other macronutrients, it’s natural that cutting down on them will help you lose weight. But low-carb diets may end up counteracting that goal.
Low-carb diets often reduce your water and glycogen stores. In the short-term, you’ll lose a lot of weight, but a lot of this will be water weight as opposed to significant fat loss. Additionally, without eating carbohydrates your body will feed on your muscle for energy, meaning you’ll often end up losing muscle mass.
One of the biggest issues with low-carb diets is they’re not sustainable in the long-run. Many people report giving up on ketogenic diets within 6 months. There’s a scientific backing for this- your body relies on glucose from carbohydrates for energy. Without this, your body enters starvation mode. Not only will you be craving more carbs, but once you start eating regularly again you’ll put on a lot of the weight that you lost. Overall, it just isn’t worth it.
It Can Impact Your Mood
Naturally, a change in diet will have physiological effects. But low-carb diets can also have a negative impact on your mood.
Scientific research from Tufts University found that a lack of carbohydrates can lead to reduced cognitive performance. According to MIT researcher Judith Wurtman, a lack of carbohydrates can lead to reduced serotonin levels, causing greater feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Carbohydrates are also important for energy-levels, so missing out on them can result in you being sluggish and lethargic. Plus, missing out on foods you love is never helpful for your mood!
What’s The Best Approach?
Reducing your carbohydrates isn’t all bad. Getting rid of simple carbohydrates like junk food and sugary drinks can help you lose weight and improve your overall health. However, treating carbohydrates as the enemy and reducing them too severely can be problematic.
Health professionals generally recommend getting anywhere from 45-65% of your diet from carbohydrates. Focus on eating healthy, complex-carbohydrates such as whole grain bread and pasta, legumes, and vegetables. Eating lower carbs can be helpful, but make sure you don’t go too low and try to get a healthy amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat each day. Also, smoothies made with nutrient dense carbs such as fruits and veggies in combination with a healthy protein source can help keep carbs in check while consuming a complete meal and keeping your body healthy.