Low-carb diets have been popular for decades: Keto, Atkins, Paleo, Whole30, Mediterranean and more. Reducing carb intake, or cutting it out completely, has been thought to lead to weight loss, but is this true?
The news: Nichola Ludlam-Raine, a registered dietitian, told Insider the correlation between low carbs and weight loss is a myth, and can even be bad for your health. Insider says that there is “no good reason to reduce or remove carbs from your diet.”
- The Mayo Clinic recommends that carbs should make up 45% to 65% of the average person’s daily calorie intake.
Why are carbs essential? The Mayo Clinic says that carbohydrates contribute to your health in three main ways:
- Providing energy: Carbs are the body’s main fuel source. When they are digested they are broken up into simple sugars, which are absorbed into the bloodstream and used for energy.
- Immune support: Fiber, a type of carbohydrate, has been shown to lower risk of stroke and heart disease. It can also help with obesity, types of cancer and Type 2 diabetes.
- Weight control: The Mayo Clinic states that fruits, vegetables and a mix of whole grains can help control your weight. The bulk of whole grains can help you feel more full on less calories.
Healthy carbs: According to Harvard University’s School of Public Health, some carbs are healthier than others. Processed white bread and pastas don’t provide the same nutritional value as brown rice, oats, quinoa and fruit.
- Other healthy foods that contain carbohydrates, according to Healthline, include: buckwheat, bananas, sweet potatoes, beets, oranges, blueberries, grapefruit, apples, kidney beans and chickpeas.
Are you eating enough carbs? Ludlam-Raine told Insider that there are four physical signs you aren’t eating enough carbs:
- Lack of energy: Since carbs are your main source of fuel, a lack of them will leave you feeling tired.
- Brain fog: Your brain feeds off of glucose, which is the product of broken-down carbohydrates. Without eating carbs, you may have a hard time focusing or maintaining a good mood.
- Less energy for workouts: Insider says that “the body stores carbohydrates as glycogen in the liver and muscles.” Without carbs, it’ll feel harder to exercise, and those who live active lifestyles need to ensure they’re getting enough in their diet.
- Difficulty recovering from workouts: Ludlam-Raine says that your body needs to replenish glycogen storage after it has been depleted from a workout. If you aren’t eating enough carbs, it’ll be harder to recover after a long day in the gym.
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