By Emilee Wilson
Think carbs are making you gain weight and/or unable to lose it? You are not alone. Keto, Atkins, Whole30, Paleo, South Beach; low carb diets abound. But they are not necessarily right for you and they are certainly not a magic bullet. Carbs are a great resource for energy, making diets sustainable, and creating results that can last a lifetime.
You may be thinking of a friend, or even your own experience, of cutting out carbs and getting great results. There is one simple reason behind this kind of result: eliminating carbs cuts out one of the major macronutrients. Also, cutting carbs means less food and therefore losing weight. However, weight loss is only beneficial if you keep it off. So the question is, should I eliminate carbs but should I eliminate carbs for life?.
Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, No Carbs
Carbs are delicious and the easiest macronutrient to over consume. This leads people to believe that physiologically they are bad for you. The key phrase with carbs is “over consume.”
Carbs have a ton of great benefits:
1) They are your body’s preferred source of energy
2) They help recovery & sleep
3) They have a higher thermic effect than fat
4) They help restore leptin whilst dieting
5) They are much more difficult to store as fat; your body will use them when available before using fat
One of the biggest myths associated with carbohydrate intake is insulin sensitivity. Maybe you’ve heard the term, “Don’t eat that many carbs because it will spike your insulin.” This assumption is that once insulin is spiked your body is then in distress, not functioning properly, and will be more likely to store energy (food) as fat.
Scientific evidence largely disagrees with this claim. It actually goes back to the same thing that has been true forever – the prime issue is how much food you are eating in a day rather than the type of foods you are eating. Check out this peer-reviewed study which specifically looked at carbohydrates impact on insulin spikes.
Same Size Never Fits All
Another important point about carbohydrates is that people are different when it comes to their body’s response to carb intake. Check out this study that looks at carbohydrate and even fat sensitivity and insensitivity as a function of personal physiology. The study points to one of the biggest frustrations with dieting. Why does Debby in your book club follow a diet and get amazing results, feels awesome, and continues on that food path forever when that same diet might wreck your world, seem impossible to follow, and leaves you result-less?
In essence, you have to figure out what works best for you within reasonable limits and guidelines. One of the first ways to tell is to ask yourself this question: Can I see myself following this eating plan for the rest of my life? If the answer to that question makes you want to cry and hide in the corner it probably isn’t the best path for you. Researching other options is not only permissible but highly recommended.
Another myth associated with carbohydrates are supplements that are called “carb blockers”. These supplements claim that you can basically eat whatever you want and not suffer the repercussions; Texas Roadhouse bread in Ohio. If it was true wouldn’t we all be popping those pills like M&Ms then eating all the Texas Roadhouse Bread in Ohio…plus eating lots of M&M’s? These supplements do not produce the magical results that they promise. It all goes back to you, your body, and what you can tolerate. Supplements cannot take all of those factors into account.
Diets Start with You…Not a Book
When you are trying to find the right diet begin by realizing that you already have a diet. You may not like your diets results but you still have one. The question is what makes up my diet? You might think you need to cut out pizza but the reality is you are eating eight slices when you could do with two.
Start any eating plan with a simple exercise. For the next 5 days eat exactly as you would and follow the same exact activity level that you usually would. Record what you eat, what you do as activities and how you feel at the end of the day both physically and mentally.
On the 6th day look over what you have written down. Instead of thinking, “Okay, I need to
cut out sugar and carbs,” ask yourself, “Where can I plug in food that I NEED instead of just WANT?”
Even something as simple as swapping foods that are necessary with foods that we crave will make a big difference in how we feel. However, we can’t make those choices if we don’t know what we are eating in the first place. To get started we don’t need to make draconian choices that last forever. Knowledge is power and it is the beginning of a lifetime of healthier choices and feeling better about those choices.
Bottom line: Carbs are not an enemy. Carbs are your friend. Invite them for dinner.
Cover photo and pizza photo provided by Morguefile.com
Emilee Wilson is the owner of Fierce Fox Coaching, specializing in virtual personal training, nutrition, and habit coaching. Emilee helps women of all ages and fitness levels set and achieve goals throughout tracking, meal planning and preparation, work out and fitness plans both from home and at a gym, along with the support and community necessary for any goal attainment. “I’ve coached hundreds of women who have struggled with every diet they’ve ever tried, haven’t been able to stick with an active regiment, and who have found just supporting themselves through their journey to be extremely challenging.” Find out more about Fierce Fox today.