LOW CARBOHYDRATE DIETS ARE THE RAGE? WHY ARE CARBS THE ENEMY?
What have carbohydrates done to us. I get frustrated reading about diets for sufferers of autoimmune and hormonal sufferers. They constantly advise sufferers of disease to remove carbohydrates from their diet.
What have carbs done to be the enemy?
Is it wise to be advising we remove an entire food group from our diets?
I don’t believe this is the correct advice to be giving.
WHERE HAS THE LOW CARB DIETARY ADVICE COME FROM
For PCOS sufferers, like myself. The advice that carbs are bad for us is banded all over the internet.
This is due to many sufferers having an issue with insulin. The issue, is with our cells not recognising insulin. This causes excess sugars to circulate in the blood stream. This excess of blood sugars is then stored as fat. Resulting in excess weight.
Due to this, a diet low in carbohydrate is advised to not overload the body with glucose/sugar.
Now, I’m all for this!
Yes, a low carbohydrate intake is good. But total removal and extremely low intake is not good. And I don’t wish to be a proponent for removing food groups from the diet.
These diets are also promoted for autoimmune sufferers. This usually due to the removal of foods that promote inflammation. These diets promote the removal of wheat and dairy. Wheat and dairy can be troublesome for many sufferers of dis-ease. Especially if there are issues with digestion and absorption within the gut.
DIETS WHICH PROMOTE LOW CARBOHYDRATE INTAKE
Two popular diets are the Paleo and Ketogenic diets.
I like the principles of both of these diets. But, they both restrict the use of carbohydrates, with intakes being extremely low. Possibly, too low.
THE PALEO DIET
I like the fact that the Paleo diet promotes that we should be eating a diet resembling how we ate in the past. Processed foods are a no-no, as are grains and cereals which are deemed as being processed. The use of natural based foods that are easily digestible are promoted instead.
The downfall in my eyes is the removal of starchy vegetables and legumes. Both providing a good source of carbohydrates.
Starchy veggies are not only a good source of carbohydrate but also rich in potassium and vitamin C.
They are also a good source of fibre, especially when skins are left intact.
Removal of legumes takes away good sources of protein, fibre and B vitamins. We also lose the ability to obtain vital minerals from legumes. Minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and magnesium.
The principles of the diet is good. It may be a good diet to follow for a short period. But I believe it’s too strict for me or anyone else to follow for life.
THE KETOGENIC DIET
Again, like the paleo diet. I like the principles of the ketogenic diet. People with insulin and glucose problems may find this diet useful.
The idea of the ketogenic diet is to follow a low carbohydrate diet. So low, that it promotes the body to be in a starvation type mode. Starvation may be a little dramatic, so I don’t wish to create alarm. You’re not starving per se. The starvation is in your bloodstream.
Eating little to no carbs will not supply the usual surge of glucose. Which is usually seen after eating carbohydrates in a meal.
Your body needs glucose to survive. When not available via the bloodstream, other sources are called upon.
Glucose in the form of glycogen is the next available source. Sources of glycogen are found in the liver and other tissues such as muscles. Once the glycogen avenue is exhausted, the body will further break down stored fats. The breakdown of fats as fuel is called ketosis, producing a fuel called ketones. The ketogenic diet promotes this process.
This diet also promotes the use of proteins in the form of meats, dairy and legumes. And fats from meats and dairy.
It’s important to note that the body not only uses fat as a source of fuel, it can also use protein too. Our muscles are made from proteins and it’s possible that your body will use proteins in the form of amino acids to provide fuel. So it’s important to have a good intake of protein to not lose muscle mass.
In this diet, green leafy vegetables are in. Starchy vegetables are out, due to high GI (glycemic index) levels. Vegetables grown above the ground are in, ruling out potatoes, turnips and carrots.
As with the paleo diet, grains and cereals are prohibited. So no cereals such as oats. Grains such as rice and wheat are out.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO DIETS?
Both diets promote a low intake of carbohydrates.
The main difference from what I see, is that the Paleo diet promotes a dairy, legumes and wheat free intake. Dairy, legumes and wheat contain properties sensitive to sufferers of inflammatory diseases. With this in mind, people who’re highly sensitive and allergic to these foods may benefit. So this diet could be beneficial to my autoimmune brothers and sisters.
The Ketogenic diet promotes a high intake of protein and fat, so meats and dairy form a large part of this diet. Making the ketogenic diet beneficial to people having issues with glucose and insulin. So this diet could be beneficial to my PCOS sisters.
TOO MANY RULES FOR ME
Right, a lot to take in. Do you agree? Would you be able to follow such strict diets for a lifetime.
In my blog posts you’ll find a theme.
I believe in following eating habits that last a lifetime. So I’m not a fan of ‘diets’. Diets, unfortunately don’t last. They’re not sustainable. And unfortunately, you’re at risk of gaining weight following a successful period of weight loss.
Now, my ‘diet’ resembles a lot of the properties laid out in both diets. I’m all in favour of eating quality proteins and vegetables. My diet for nearly twenty years resembles a high protein and vegetable intake. I have a low carbohydrate intake to balance my blood sugars. I also have a low wheat and dairy intake to balance inflammation. This all helps with glucose and inflammatory aspects of my hormonal and autoimmune diseases.
But the key here is ‘low’ and not ‘no’.
I still eat starchy vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes. I still eat cereals and grains.
My secret weapons are the ways I combine eating carbohydrates and portion size. This aids carbohydrate digestion. I eat small amounts of carbs with each meal, less than a quarter of my meal will be made up of starchy carbohydrates. And I combine with leafy vegetables, fibrous fruits, legumes and vegetables. I also combine with proteins from dairy, legumes and meats.
This, I believe has helped me with my wellness journey.
This may help you too. Let me say, I believe the principles of these diets are good. But I don’t agree with the removal of and extremely low intake of carbohydrates.
It’s not sustainable. And I like carbohydrates. I enjoy eating grains, cereals and starchy vegetables. They’ve done nothing to me!!
Carbs are not the problem. The problem is with the way we eat them!
Related websites and sources. Example of the paleo diet.
I’m Cheryl. I’m on a quest to help and share what I’ve learnt about nutrition, yoga, autoimmune disease, hormones and joint disease.
I’m a sufferer of the above diseases and have used yoga and nutrition to manage my illnesses. Success with my health led me to become a qualified Nutritional Therapist and Yoga Teacher.