CARBS. We love to hate them…but why do we have to hate them? The more and more I got into fitness and nutrition, specifically when I started doing fitness shows, the more I realized how much carbs tend to get a ‘bad rap’. We as a society deem carbs as ‘fat food’ or ‘unnecessary’ when truly it is the complete opposite.
It seems that the first thing people do when they want to lose weight is cut out calories (duh), but usually it is a drastic amount and most times the calories come from carbs. Not too often do people want to start being physically active first and tracking what they are currently eating before they cut calories. Will cutting calories help you lose weight? Absolutely! Any change we make to our diet/fitness routine will generally help with weight loss and there is nothing wrong with cutting calories, but too often people do so without truly knowing what their current intake is and what their daily metabolic rate is.
For example, if my body burns XXXX amount of calories a day just by me being awake, I know that’s what my maintenance amount is. Now, if I track what I eat daily and I am at XXXX amount of calories, I know I can drop calories from there. So many people drop without knowing a clue where they are currently at which can lead to hurting their metabolism making weight loss extremely difficult in the future. Hitting plateaus happen faster and digging yourself out of that metabolic hole can be extremely challenging.
Carbohydrates help keep your metabolism going. Think of your body as a furnace; a furnace needs wood to continue burning. Our bodies need carbs to continue to work and ‘burn’ and food, especially carbohydrates are our ‘wood’. So many people get so low calorie on their diets that their bodies have nothing left to burn. We are afraid to eat!! It is the complete opposite, our bodies need food to function and the most important is carbs. Carbohydrates help control our blood sugar, so when we are low on carbs it is easy to feel sluggish and have what I call the ‘shakes’. When I am low on food my hands start to shake and my body feels tingly. I hate that feeling! Everyone feels effects differently, but if you feel bad your body is trying to tell you something. Always listen to it; it knows what it needs.
Carbs are absolutely not bad for you. Our body NEEDS carbs. Carbohydrates give us energy. When we eat carbs, the body breaks it down and stores it in the muscle as glycogen. The glycogen is then used as muscular energy to get you through your workouts or anything strenuous on the body. Carbohydrates are categorized into two kinds: simple and complex. Simple carbs are sugar, white bread, white potatoes, regular pasta and fruit. Simple carbs are not necessarily bad, with these it is best to focus on nutrient timing–such as a post workout meal. Complex carbs are essentially any carbohydrate that takes your body longer to break down and digest. Examples are sweet potatoes, oatmeal, whole grains, green vegetables and brown rice. Complex carbs allow you to feel fuller longer.
Like anything else, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. If you’re excessively eating carbs and sometimes only carbs, it get can definitely be hurtful. Your body was made to balance all 3 macronutrients, or ‘macros’; protein, fat and carbs.
But what about the KETO diet, Nicky??
Ahhhhhh, yes. Keto. Keto is short for Ketogenic. It means your diet consists of strictly protein and fats and the only carbs you get are trace carbs (the little amounts that come along with some of your protein and fat foods). There is nothing wrong with a Keto diet, but I am a believer that it should be short lived, not a lifestyle. I know some may disagree, and that is okay! I also wouldn’t recommend a keto diet for someone who is trying to lose a substantial amount of weight (30+ lbs). Do not get me wrong, you will definitely lose weight on a keto diet and FAST but how fast it can/will come back is the true concern. What most people forget is that your diet from day to day is a lifestyle not a phase. Your body was made to have carbs, and not just 20 grams of it. Going on a Keto diet for a short amount of time is okay, but coming out of it is what gets people in the hole.
Say you have been keto for 12 weeks. You have been strict; no cheats of any kind. Now that you are done you are CRAVING that pizza or ice cream, and you down a good amount of it. In doing so, you are putting your body through a lot of stress to process those carbs again and what happens? Fat gain. Weight gain. Packing on the weight after a strict keto diet can happen fast, that is why if you are going to be doing one, become educated on how to come out of it.
Again, there is nothing wrong with trying a Keto diet, but it should not be forever. Your body was created to balance all 3 macronutrients, it is just finding that right balance for what your body needs and watch matches your goals.
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