Low carbohydrate (carb) diets are very popular nowadays. Many people try them for weight loss, ‘detox’ (not my favorite term here) and other personal reasons. However, the functions of carbohydrates in our metabolism do not seem to be well understood by some individuals.
First, carbohydrates are the primary source of energy, released from glucose, for the brain (1). Sugars, fibers and starches are the most abundant and common forms. To help meet nutritional requirements, the brain requires around 130 grams of carbohydrates daily to function properly (2). In fact, one portion of bread or grain, dairy or fruits provides around 15 grams of carbs (Consult the Canadian Food guide in Resources Section). By doing the math, 130 grams of carbs are equivalent to 8.5 portions of all food items providing carbs. The tricky part becomes to choose the food items that will not only provide you energy, but will also provide more nutritious benefits to your body.
Results have shown that people following low carb diets have a higher risk of regaining their initial body weight and even higher. This process is known as the Yo-Yo effect (3). Yo-yo effect is explained by a weight fluctuation and involves an individual increasing their calorie intake which, in turn, increases their body weight. Weight gain is also associated with higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular (heart) diseases and other chronic health conditions. When carbohydrate deprivation occurs in our brain, our metabolism starts to draw energy from our fatty tissues and then our muscles (3). Some people may think that this side effect is beneficial since they want to lose fatty tissue. The problem is that when the body is in a stage of receiving energy from fatty tissue, ketones start to increase in our bodies (4). Ketones are released from our blood system from fat energy and spill into the urine. They can be very harmful and even make you sick.
Therefore, it is very important to privilege the right source of carbs (fibers, non refined sugar) instead of calorie intake, such as beans, whole grains and bread, skim milk and dairy products and fruits when it comes to weight loss. We should limit our consumption of sweets, processed foods, soft drinks and other food items rich in refined sugar (sugar table, high fructose) to help control our blood sugar, prevent weight gain and other chronic conditions. A restricted diet will not cause a higher risk of taking you back to your previous eating habits, but can also increase your body weight, lead to further health conditions or even eating disorders.
Remember to keep your diet balanced and in moderation! Now who said Pizza isn’t healthy? Simply try to choose the right ingredients! Enjoy your food with pleasure everyone! Bon Appétit! -SNC-
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