Low-carb diets such as Atkins and South Beach are so popular that you may begin to believe that carbs are bad to eat. In reality, dieting isn’t so black and white. Eating too much of any one thing, including carbs, can be harmful for you. On the other hand, you may be endangering your health if you don’t eat enough healthful sources of carbohydrates.
Potential Health Risks
If you eat a typical American diet, a good portion of the carbs you ingest are simple carbohydrates such as sugar, white rice and white flour. Filling up on these carbohydrates as the predominant part of your diet can reduce your “good” cholesterol, elevate your blood pressure and increase the quantity of fats in your blood.
Also, because simple carbohydrates rapidly convert into blood sugar for energy, they may become stored as excess body fat if you don’t quickly burn them off through physical activity. Such frequent blood sugar spikes also cause your body to produce too much of a hormone called insulin, which may eventually throw off your body’s ability to regulate insulin and lead to type 2 diabetes.
The Flip Side
Complex carbohydrates, commonly found in nutritious eats such as whole grains and vegetables, help keep your body healthy. Carb-rich foods are full of vitamins and minerals such as zinc, vitamin E and magnesium. Another important nutrient in complex carbohydrates is fiber, which helps you feel satiated for longer periods of time and reduces your chances of eating more calories than you actually need. You will effectively reduce your risk of health complications if you replace your intake of simple carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates.
Risks of Low-Carb Diets
Low-carb diets generally focus on intake of protein and fats from foods such as fish, meat and eggs. Cutting carbs from your diet can result in fast weight loss, but this may be attributed to decreased calorie intake and loss of water weight. As a result, you are likely to see this weight pile back on as soon as you revert back to your old diet.
Since carbs are an important source of energy for the body, you will likely begin experiencing immediate negative effects such as fatigue and crabbiness if you go on a low-carb diet. You will also be at increased risk of constipation since you will be eating less fiber. Additionally, you will be more likely to eat too much cholesterol and saturated fat if you aren’t getting enough plant-based foods in your diet. This boosts your risk of heart disease and some cancers.
Rather than nixing carbs altogether, increase your intake of vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products and cut back on sugars and highly-processed grains. Ways to include more whole grains in your diet include: begin each day by eating oatmeal, prepare sandwiches on whole-wheat or whole-grain bread, enjoy brown rice instead of white rice, increase your intake of beans and save white potatoes for special occasions. Eat more fruits and vegetables by including one of each in every meal and snacking on them between meals.