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  • Writer's pictureBrian Dooreck MD

Are "Carbs" Really Bad To Eat?

Updated: Jul 27


 Healthy foods help your gut diversity, health, microbiome, gastrointestinal gi system for you and the gastroenterology doctor
Not all carbs are bad

Let's get right to it. Carbs (or starches) are not bad. They are not the "enemy," nor should they be avoided in a balanced and healthy diet. Federal Dietary Guidelines recommend 45% to 65% of daily calories should come from carbohydrates. The questions are from what source are you getting your carbs, and what choices are you making in your overall diet?


Federal Dietary guidelines recommend 45% to 65% of daily calories should come from carbohydrates.

News and Diets


Low-carb diets have been shown to help people keep weight off and even lose weight. Thus the confusion about whether carbs are good or bad for you. Diets like Atkins and ketogenic diets are low-carb-based diets.


Carbohydrates and Sugar


Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (blood sugar). Glucose triggers insulin, and this potentially can increase one's risk for diabetes (Type 2 or Non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus), not to mention obesity, which is an epidemic in our society. Thus, limiting carbs to maintain a lower weight has been suggested.


Contrary to popular belief, fat itself may help regulate the blood sugar (glucose), and thus the insulin, and even keep you feeling "fuller" throughout the day. In the end, your weight is better maintained closer to your goals.


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Low Carbohydrates and Weight Loss


Low-carb diets lead to water weight loss. I'll explain it.


With a reduced carbohydrate intake, your body goes to its carbohydrate reserves, which are stored in water. The problem is that the weight comes back on, although maybe slowly, once you start eating carbohydrates again.


The real goal is the long-term sustainability of weight loss. Those mentioned above, "extreme" low-carb diets are not likely maintainable for the long term. Yes, you may lose weight initially, but you will probably put it back on again in time.


 Healthy foods help your gut diversity, health, microbiome, gastrointestinal gi system for you and the gastroenterology doctor
Go for the whole grain breads if you eat bread

The Overall Diet


If you eliminate carbs from your diet, or fat for that matter, what are you replacing those calories (energy needed by the body) with? The quality of your diet is essential for maintaining a sustainable goal weight.


Ideally, replace the reduced carbs, or fat, with increased amounts of fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins. Avoid processed and snack foods.


Carbs and Health Benefits


Carbohydrates are energy. They provide the body with a source of energy. Think of marathon runners having a carb-load spaghetti dinner the night before the race.


If you eliminate carbs, your body will look for energy from other sources—like fat. Fat produces ketones when broken down for energy (or fuel). Thus the ketogenic diet name. The long-term sustainability of this diet is unlikely for most, and the long-term benefits, or adverse effects on health, are not yet known.

A 2018 peer-reviewed study published in the medical journal The Lancet Public Health demonstrated that "cutting carbohydrates might also cut lifespan by up to four years."


Carb-rich foods benefit from nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and protein or healthy fats.


Carb-rich foods have the health benefits of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and even protein or healthy fats.

Source of Carbs


Focus on eating fiber-rich sources of carbs such as:


  • Whole grains

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables


Try to avoid refined and processed carbs like


  • White bread

  • White flour-based foods

  • Crackers



Bottom Line


Carbs are not bad. It is usually our choices regarding what carbs we consume; how much we eat; when, and our overall diet.


Personally


I eat a high-fiber, mostly plant-based 🌱 diet, no red meat, drink 4 liters of water a day, exercise, and am focused on keeping nutrition simple. I am sharing what works for me and what I routinely recommend to my patients.


"Balance. Portion control. Keep nutrition simple. Eat Smart. Eat Healthy. 🌱 🌾 🌿"

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Connect with Dr. Dooreck on LinkedIn, where he focuses his sharing on Health, Diet, Nutrition, Exercise, Lifestyle, and Balance.


 

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