Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Carbophobia

Even though it's been years since Dr Atkins started the Low Carb "Diet Revolution," I encounter far too many people who are still "carbophobic."  Carbohydrates have received an unwarranted bad reputation and people cannot seem to let go of the idea that carbohydrates are "bad."  Countless clients have even reported to me that their doctors said "no carbs" to lose weight.  However, Carbohydrates are an essential nutrient that is our main source of energy and fuel for our brains!  Yeah, that's pretty important, hence the italics.  In fact, 40-50%-of-your-diet type of important.  Not only are carbs our main energy source but they are also where a large part of our fiber and other nutrient intake come from.

So why is it that cutting them out has helped numerous people to lose weight?  Because they've decreased their overall calorie intake as a result.  Some feel as though they feel fuller longer with the low-carb approach, which does make sense.  Protein takes longer to digest, as well as fat.  The thing is, you can still include those things in your meals without cutting out carbohydrates.  Really, it's the overall calorie intake that matters most, as evidenced by the popular Twinkie diet study in which a nutrition professor at Kansas State University ate only Twinkies and lost weight.  Guess what?  That's a whole lot of carbohydrates (and fat).  The thing is, he stayed within a calorie range with his Twinkie consumption in order to lose this weight.  And for those that have lost weight with the low carb approach, unfortunately, most of them have also gained it back because the diet just wasn't sustainable over the long term.

So, let's stop this "all or nothing" mentality that us Americans are so famous for.  It is the overeating of carbohydrates, resulting in the an excessive intake of calories that leads to weight gain or inability to lose weight. We wouldn't have all of the problems with obesity and people losing then regaining the weight they've lost if we weren't overeating or yo-yoing back and forth between restricting, then overeating.  For guidelines on how to practice moderation with carbohydrates, take a look at the "Choose My Plate" method, or the Mayo Clinic's Healthy Weight Pyramid Tool.  Both are balanced ways of eating that allow room for all of your food groups, even including sweets but keep you at a reasonable calorie level to promote sustainable weight loss.  Let go of the carbophobia...it won't do you any good! 

Photo Courtesy:  "How Can I Recycle This"