As Cassie recently analyzed our love/desire/obsession with protein, I figured it’d be a good time to address a major food discrimination I’ve seen creeping on our plates. I call it Carb Hating and it’s very real. Like most hatred, it comes from a misguided and often uninformed place. A place where bagels are evil and whole grains taste like cardboard.
Now, I’m not saying that Carb Haters are wrong. Or prejudice. Or, um, narrow-minded. They have evidence to support their hate. After all, research has shown that carbohydrates are major culprits in diabetes, heart disease, and organized crime. But maybe if you got to know the carbs you’d see that they can actually be quite diverse, nutritious and really fun to drink on a Friday night.
Carbohydrates are foods that break down into sugars (glucose, fructose, galactose). On average, they account for 65% of our daily caloric intake and are our bodies go to nutrient for energy. They are necessary to keep energy levels high and muscles intact. They are also crucial for brain health, as the main nutrient our central nervous system uses for fuel.
Carbohydrates often come paired with some really fun nutrients such as fiber, b-vitamins, and minerals. They can (contrary to popular wisdom) help us lose weight by increasing satiety and digestive health.
However, popular diet trends do not always agree. And lately, many have started to view carbohydrates as an unnecessary food group that we’re just too weak to resist, rather than an essential nutrient necessary for survival. This became apparent to me during a recent conversation with a health conscious friend:
Well-informed male fried: “Oh you’re a nutritionist, that’s cool”
Me: “Yeah, definitely. Thanks”
Well-informed male friend: “My main goal right now is to eliminate carbohydrates from my diet entirely”
Me: “Don’t do that. You’ll die.”
Lucky for those trying to kill themselves through carbohydrate deficiency, it’s nearly impossible to do. They are in everything. Milk, grains, fruit, sweets, yogurt, nuts, beans, legumes, beer, Klondike bars. Total elimination would take a combination self discipline and insanity only seen in someone like this (had to steal it Cass):
Most Americans have experienced Carb Hating simply by trying a low carb diet. Going low carb can result in dramatic initial weight loss. However, the mechanism behind the effect is not magic. These diets work by either initiating ketogenesis – which can be harmful if sustained. Or by the reduction in calories that naturally occurs when you take out a food group that accounted for 65% of your intake. They can be a good fit for some people. But as anyone who has come off the Atkins diet knows, they’re difficult to sustain.
My recommendation? Don’t eliminate carbs. Just watch the type and amount you eat. Fruit, whole grains, beans and legumes are rich in dietary fiber and digested slowly, reducing glucose spikes that can lead to type II diabetes. Eat them in combination with other foods to help slow digestion and absorption. Eat a cookie every once and a while because, what is life without cookies? Love the food you eat and take everything in moderation 🙂
Now ask yourself: Are you a Carb Hater?