Each and everyday I hear people talking about the new “low carb or no carb diet” they are embarking on. I doubt there is even a need to ask you all if you have heard of this because I know we all have. Especially the females in the room as this covers magazines, television shows, commercials, movies, and social media.
The myth states that grain products like bread, pasta, and rice are fattening and should be avoided when trying to lose weight,” while this may have some validity in certain circumstances the greater meaning of this is a myth and here is exactly why. Like with anything, too much- including carbs- will cause weight gain, but not because of the carbohydrates. This myth is a misleading one because weight gain comes from an increase in overall kilojoules which is a fancy way to say energy which comes from all food, not just carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are necessary for daily life and provide us energy daily. There are many types of carbohydrates: fruit, vegetables, bread, pasta, doughnuts, bagels, milk, rice, are just a few big examples of foods that provide carbohydrates– not just grain products. Specifically speaking there are kinds of carbohydrates- refined carbohydrates which are the ones in the upper left photo here of the french fries, burger bun, doughnut, cookies, etc. On the other hand, there are healthier carbohydrates such as complex carbohydrates and some simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are the best as they are rich in fiber and low in sugar such as whole grain bread and pasta. Simple carbohydrates are the examples posted on the left and most refined carbs are simple carbs. It is important that the carbs that are consumed are those that are primarily complex, and avoiding the refined simple carbohydrates.
As mentioned previously, too much of anything is not ideal. So while many say carbs are fattening, yes some are, but anything in moderation is okay. When looking at it from a calorie perspective. Weight gain comes from an increase in caloric intake, not from carbohydrates per se. An increase in 3,500 calories is equivalent to one pound so if someone ate an extra 500 calories each day for a week, that is how someone can put on weight easily as an extra 500 calories can be in two cookies, a bagel with cream cheese, or an extra waffle- which is difficult for many Americans to listen to their body’s cues of needing to cease from eating more.
In a study in the Journal of Nutrition from 2012, data shows that people who consumed whole grains in the recommended 3-5 servings daily are less likely to gain weight than people who avoided grains altogether. Because without these grains, the essential nutrients that we get from grains would be absent from the diet and fiber assists with digestion. As fiber slows digestion and controls the blood sugar from peaking and dropping. Refined carbohydrates are known for spiking blood sugar and creating a sense of hunger that fiber tends to slow. In addition, carbohydrates retain more water with their form so when individuals avoid carbohydrates they see weight loss because of a lack of water retention.
Healthy options should be incorporated into the diet instead of avoided, healthy options include quinoa, brown rice, whole grain pasta, whole grain breads, etc. These are the fiber filled foods I mentioned earlier.
In conclusion, low carbohydrate diets may be a fad that many have tried for weight loss, but in the end it is only detrimental to health with the loss of fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Additionally, it is only temporary as human beings are creatures of habit and will always fall back into our old ways of consuming these grain products so allow your body to have them in moderation, in your portion sizes and consider this “avoid all carbs to lose weight” a myth.