The Dangers of a Low/No Carbohydrates Diet

Most people blame carbohydrates for their current weight situation. Of course when one’s motivation kicks in for weight loss, carbohydrates are usually the first to get cut out. It is important to note that there are good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates. When a low carbohydrate diet is implemented, the good ones along with the bad are thrown out the window.¬† I have personally seen countless people go on a low/no carbohydrate diet for the sake of losing weight. Unfortunately, these people do initially lose weight, and that brief period of
weight loss reinforces their belief in the low carbohydrate diet. From a scientific and dietetic point of view, low
carbohydrate diets are a terrible approach to weight loss and here are some of the reasons why.

It is unrealistic and hard to maintain
Maintaining a low carbohydrate diet is very unrealistic. Yes, you can go on a low carbohydrate diet
for a certain period of time to lose some weight. However, at some point you will start eating carbohydrates
again because its simply difficult to avoid. Losing weight on a low carbohydrate diet does not teach you how to live a healthy lifestyle and so the results you achieve with that diet will be lost in time. Most people will weigh
more now than they did when they started a low carbohydrate diet.

You miss out on a lot of vitamins, minerals and fiber
Good carbohydrates are a source of many important B vitamins as well as minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc etc. They are also rich in insoluble fiber, which is important in maintaining the integrity and health of
our gastrointestinal system. Yes you can get those minerals and vitamins from other sources of food such as
vegetables and fruits (which some of them count as carbohydrates), but you don’t want to rely only on one source of food group. Your entire diet acts like a team to provide you with your daily needs of vitamins and minerals, if you take an important factor such as carbohydrates out , you will have to put a larger emphasis on the other food groups. Something which is unrealistic with food.

Your thinking cap might suffer
I meant your brain of course. Our brain’s primary source of fuel is glucose. Glucose is the building block of
all carbohydrates. Our body breaks down all the carbohydrates we eat into glucose. Without glucose your brain is forced to rely on something else called “ketone bodies” for fuel. Expect a decrease in concentration when you cut out carbohydrates from your diet.

Most of your initial weight loss will be water weight
This is a fact. When we cut out carbohydrates from our diet we end up losing all our energy storage or “glycogen”.Glycogen is our body’s storage of glucose reserved for times of increased energy expenditure and thinking. Glycogen is stored in the liver and muscle cells, it is also bound to water molecules. When we lose our
glycogen storage, which is inevitable with low carbohydrate diets, we also lose all that water stored with it. Of course when we resume eating carbohydrates, we gain that water weight back again. So don’t be fooled by the
initial weight loss, its not from fat.

Forget about building muscle
Those who exercise as part of their weight loss plan or anyone who simply wants to gain more muscle mass
(women and men alike) will relate to this. Carbohydrates are crucial to muscle recovery and building.
Insulin is a hormone released when we have carbohydrates in our system. Insulin is also an anabolic hormone, in other words a building hormone that triggers the body to build more cells. Cutting out carbohydrates means muscle building capacity will suffer post workout. Building more muscle mass is one of few ways we can increase our metabolism.

You will shift your focus on fats for calories
Good fats are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But when we cut out carbohydrates we end up making up for the loss in calories and space on our plates by adding more fat such as meat, oily foods etc. Unfortunately
we end up with more of the bad fats and that is when we risk cardiovascular diseases and even weight gain.
The bottom line is, carbohydrates should be part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle. We should focus on the good carbohydrates rather than painting all of them with the same brush. Good carbohydrates can not only help you lose weight and stay healthy, but they taste really good too!

Here are our top picks of good carbohydrate:
1. Sweet potatoes
2. Sprouted grain bread
3. Whole wheat pasta
4. Quinoa
5. Couscous
6. Basmati rice
7. All vegetables
8. Water melon
9. Berries

 

Mohamed Rezk, RD

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