In the recent years, low-carb diet fads have completely destroyed the reputation of good old fashioned carbohydrates. The problem stems from the fact that the general public is always looking for the next NEW secret to weight loss… while there are new tips or pieces of research, at the end of the day, a lifestyle of balanced nutrition will always win. That’s just too boring for people to accept, I know. You want long term success, though? It’s worth investing some time and energy into learning. Anyway, that’s why you’re here… so lets address this low-carb thing once and for all.
Without going into too much body-energy-food science… I’ll just say that carbohydrates are an important and very efficient fuel source for your body. They are necessary for steady, safe, long term weight loss. Yes, you want to tell me about how you or someone you know lost weight doing a low carb diet. Maybe more than once. Did they continue this diet? Did they keep the weight off? For how long on both questions? The problem is that too many people believe that others gain the weight back because they “relaxed” on that diet or didn’t have the willpower that they know they themselves will have. Well, the truth of it is, eating low to no carb is not a long term solution. Yes, you will see weight loss. Most of the time this is because of an overall calorie deficit that is created (which can also be done with more balanced nutrition) and/or an overall lower sugar intake due to cutting crappy carbs that indeed should be cut. But in the end, your body will crave carbs. It’s not just because you’re weak or you “love your bread and pasta,” its because your body genuinely wants carbohydrates. So instead, invest that energy in learning about better carb choices, rather than feeling like you’ve failed and reverting to bad carb habits after a diet. This doesn’t mean that there is never room for a low-carb (but still GOOD low-carb) food. If you’re tracking your nutrients, you may have a meal where you need more proteins but have used up your carb count for the day, for example. This is when a low-carb food would be handy.
Adopting a healthy balanced diet of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins at levels that are appropriate for your body size and activity levels will always be the most effective and safe way to get and keep the body you want and the body that will serve you well… with strength and energy!!
There are definitely some carbs, complex ones, like whole grains, vegetables, legumes, etc that are better for you than others, like white bread, sugary cereals and baked goods. Rather than omitting carbs from your diet, be more selective. Choose more whole grains and unprocessed fiber rich foods like brown rice, quinoa, whole-grain bread and tortillas, and oats. Limit your sweets, processed foods, high calorie drinks and refined flours. A great way to know you’re getting a good carb is to look at the nutrition label (go figure!). What you want to see is a low sugar and high fiber number in relation to the total carb number. Also, if one of the first things on the ingredient list is sugar or flour (that isn’t whole wheat or some other whole grain), you’re likely working with a simple carb that will likely spike your blood sugar levels and not leave you with long lasting satiety or energy.
I know. At the end of the day, some of you will read this and only notice that I stated that you will lose weight on a low carb diet. And that’s enough for you to try it. The reason you see controversy on these subjects is because it all comes down to the viewpoint by which you are analyzing something. When it comes to losing weight, does it work? Yes. If you’re asking me if it is the safest or most long-term approach to losing weight, my answer is a definitive no. Can you lose weight perhaps a bit slower, but in a way that will keep you feeling more energized and will sustain past this “diet” time period? Yes. It’s up to you what you’re trying to achieve here. I personally will always side with learning and growing into the most healthy version of myself… not just the quickest to lose weight (especially if there’s a good chance it will come back)! And on that note, I definitely want my son to learn from me about balanced nutrition… not about how to lose pounds fast every now and then when he’s feeling motivated. Your body, your call!