All of us have been at a point where we wanted to lose some weight. Whether it’s just the 5-10 pounds we gained over the holiday, or we are looking to change our lifestyle and lose more to live a healthy life, we’ve all been there. There are so many “diets” out there claiming to be the quick fix to our problem. One of the most common methods is the low-carb diet. Why is this?

Let’s start by looking at where we get these carbs (carbohydrates). Carbohydrates are found in many of the foods that we eat from bread to rice to fruit to vegetables, even milk has carbs in it. Anytime we over consume carbohydrates, the body can turn this into fat. What we need to realize is though is that the body needs carbohydrates to function.

I’ll say that again, your body needs carbs to maintain throughout the day. Carbs provide us with energy. Aside from that, there is part of your brain that can only function off of carbs. The fiber that we get from these carbs keeps your digestive tract running smoothly if you will.

We’ll go through a simple breakdown of the types of carbs that are out there and which foods contain these. We’ll also look at which foods can make it easy to consume more than we need. There are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. This is referring to how many molecules are chained together, simple having one or two and complex having ten or more. Simple carbs then are easier to break down and you get the energy faster. The complex carbs have starch and fiber making them take longer to break down. Simple carbs can be found in fruit, honey, and anything containing added sugar or table sugar. When we eat fruit we’re intaking carbs, but we are also getting needed nutrients along with it. Consuming products that have added sugar (sugar that does not occur naturally) we are adding to the amount of calories and carbs we give our body for the day and most likely not consuming the nutrients it needs along with it, leaving us to have to eat even more to keep us going. Another problem with these foods with added sugar is how easy it is to break down and how fast you get the energy, your body burns through that energy quickly and you feel a “crash”. Examples of these foods are cookies, candy, sodas, and many boxed cereals. Grains and legumes are our main sources for complex carbohydrates. Examples of these are oats, wheat, rice, corn, and beans of many varieties. We get energy from these foods as well as nutrients, and the fiber in these foods helps us feel full longer because it takes longer for our body to process. When looking for grains that will give you the most of the needed nutrients, look for a label that says 100% whole grain. This means they left the grain intact, or in it’s natural state, so you get more from it than just the carbs.

Top: refined products  Bottom: whole grain products

Top: refined products

Bottom: whole grain products

How many carbs should you be eating?

The average, healthy and active person should get 55-65% of their caloric intake from carbs. This means if your goal is to consume 2000 calories a day aim for 275-325g of carbs a day. For a 1600 calorie diet aim for 220-260g of carbs a day. This amount is going to be different for those living a sedentary lifestyle. Before making any drastic changes to your diet, always check with your doctor.

What does this mean for the low-carb diet?

The low-carb diet is not the lifestyle change you can keep up with. Sure it will give you some quick results in the beginning, but they will not stick around. Do you really just want the quick fix anyway? The best way to lose weight is to monitor your caloric intake and fill it with the most nutrient dense options you can. Combining this healthy way of eating with regular exercise will get you lasting results. Remember, if you are losing 1-2 pounds a week, you are on the right track to a healthier lifestyle. 

Are you looking to improve your eating habits? Contact us for a free nutrition consultation and see which of our nutrition programs is right for you.