I recently read a book by a reality TV star containing tips and advice on how to essentially “live your best life”. Normally I don’t read self-help/life advice books, because I find that the best life advice usually comes from my close family and friends (and random Pinterest quotes). But since this is my year of opening myself up, I decided to give it a shot. While the reality TV star shockingly didn’t solve all of my problems for me, her book was bold, entertaining, and made me laugh.
However, the one topic she discussed that I could not get on board with was how she maintains her figure. She shared that in times when she wants to lose weight, she cuts out carbs. *Sigh*
I’m not going to lie, I thought that society was starting to get over the whole low-carb craze, but this situation has given me the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite things- carbohydrates.
To start, I think it’s important to address why people think carbs are so “bad” for you in the first place. I feel like people think that carbs are bad because certain celebrities are always praising the Keto Diet for their post-baby weight loss, or certain celebrities decide to share the super restrictive and carb-free diet they used before performing at Coachella.
No one ever really talks about the benefits of carbs. That’s where I come in! Think of your body and metabolism as a candle- it’s always burning the food that you consume to use as energy! Carbs are your body’s first and favorite source of energy for day-to-day purposes, making them the primary nutrient that your body burns.1 Carbs are actually supposed to be 45-65 percent of your calorie intake, so it makes sense that your body wants to use them as its go-to.
If your body is not getting enough carbohydrates, it will start using fat as a source of energy to burn. This may be the appeal behind the low-carb craze too, because of the thought of burning fat sounds like success. However, it actually begins a process called “Ketosis”, which could lead to nausea, headaches, tiredness, and bad breath.2 Yikes. I won’t bore you with the details, but these effects of Ketosis happen because your organs need carbohydrates to function, and if your organs aren’t working properly, your body will go a little whack to follow.
Cutting out carbohydrates majorly decreases your intake of dietary fiber. Not familiar with fiber? Let me give you a crash course- fiber is a carbohydrate that can’t be digested, and it’s found in most fruits and whole grains.3 (If you weren’t aware already, fruits are carbs too!) Fiber helps you stay full, and it helps you poop. I don’t know about you, but these are two things that are very important to me, so I will definitely keep eating carbs.
The purpose of me getting on my carb-lovers soapbox isn’t to scare you into eating a whole loaf of bread in one sitting, but to normalize eating them. Like I mentioned before, carbs should be 45-65 percent of daily calorie intake, so this would be about 900-1300 calories for someone who typically consumes 2000 calories a day. Some healthy, fiber-rich sources of carbohydrates are whole grains, fruits with skin like apples and pears, and legumes. So take a sigh of relief and find some peace in the fact that you can eat a slice of bread and feel good about doing it.
- Jéquier E. Carbohydrates as a source of energy. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994;59(3):682S-685S. doi:10.1093/ajcn/59.3.682s
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Can a low-carb diet help you lose weight?. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/low-carb-diet/art-20045831. Published 2019. Accessed May 14, 2019.
- Fiber. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/. Published 2019. Accessed May 14, 2019.