Most Common Mistakes - Avoiding Carbohydrates in your diet
Fats have long been demonised in the diet (completely irrationally), but more recently, carbs have become the enemy too (we’re literally running out of things to eat!).
There’s slightly more logic to this in that carbs have the highest insulin response out of the 3 macronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins). Chronically high insulin levels are damaging to the body, as well as insulin being the “storage” hormone - meaning it’s needed to store energy as fat.
It’s also needed to push energy into your muscles though, so it’s not entirely bad, it’s absolutely needed, just not in the amounts it’s often present in our modern diets.
As with everything, having too much or too little is an issue, so it’s about getting the right amount. Even water is toxic for us if we drink too much!
Carbs are a great energy source for us, although they’re not essential. We have essential fats and essential proteins (amino acids) - meaning we have to get them from food as our body can’t produce them itself, but there are no essential carbohydrates.
This means we can survive perfectly well without carbs, but that’s not necessarily optimal.
A lot of the healthiest foods we can eat (vegetables and fruit mainly) are carbohydrates. If we eliminate these from our diets, we’ll have nutrient deficiencies from a lack of vitamins and minerals.
The carbohydrates that cause us issues are the processed carbs - high sugar (or sweetener) foods that we, rightly or wrongly, label as junk foods. Sweets, biscuits, cakes, ice cream, sugary drinks etc.
Bread and pasta can also cause issues, purely because we tend to have them multiple times a day.
At the end of the day, we need to hit calorie targets, and after hitting your protein goal, you can spread the remainder of your calories how you like between fats and carbs - the only requirement is that you DO NOT cut all fats out of your diet. They’re essential for health.
As long as you’re within your calorie limits, carbs are fine. They WON’T make you fat. They’re NOT the enemy. They may actually make you feel better (especially if you’re used to eating them as your body isn’t as efficient at using fats for fuel yet).
The answer is not to cut carbs out of your diet.
If it’s something you're interested in I’d generally look to reduce carbs slightly in favour of more fats, but you should start simply by making a few simple swaps.
You could swap the less healthy carbs for healthier options.
White bread for brown bread.
White pasta for wholemeal pasta.
Milk chocolate for dark chocolate.
You get the idea… The calories may not differ too much, but you’re changing to less processed options with more fibre and less sugar.
Good nutrition needs to be built up slowly for it to become a part of your regular diet. Drastic changes are rarely more than temporary measures.
The next step would be to maybe reduce how often you eat these types of carbs, and replace them with some healthy fats and more nutritious carbs like vegetables.
Maybe instead of cereal/toast for breakfast, sandwiches or pasta for lunch, and pasta for dinner (plus probably a few snacks of crisps, sweets, biscuits etc in between), you could remove the carbs from just ONE of these meals (even just the snacks)...
Eventually you’ll find alternative meals that reduce the amount of these carbs you’re eating and will improve your health as you go.
The aim isn’t to eliminate them entirely, just to swap to healthier options that keep blood sugar, and therefore insulin levels a bit lower and more steady.
>Carbs are fine as long as they’re not eaten in excess<
If weight/fat loss is your goal then I repeat, it’s about the total calories you consume (and your health), NOT whether you’re eating carbs or not.
So if your January health kick involves cutting out carbs - please rethink it.
Take on board what I’ve said here and include healthy carbs in your diet.