A low-carb diet is a popular way to lose weight quickly and gain definition. However, completely quitting carbohydrates is not recommended. We’ve outlined 7 reasons why you should stay away from diets like this.
1. Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy
You should get about 50% of your daily energy from carbs. This means that carbohydrates are the most important sources of energy in our diet. Why?
The brain and nerve cells depend on a supply of glucose so we can concentrate. The macronutrient helps you get through long workdays and tough workouts.
For sustained energy throughout the day, (including less intense workouts) focus on carbohydrates that are absorbed slowly (e.g. whole-grain products, oats, legumes).
For quick energy before or after a very tough workout, (e.g. long run, heavy strength training) quick-digesting carbs are excellent (e.g. fruit or potatoes).
2. Carbohydrates are the best source of fiber
Carbohydrates that are absorbed slowly, also called complex carbs, are the best sources of fiber. Fiber is a true superfood. It keeps you feeling full longer, reduces your cholesterol, stabilizes your blood sugar, and optimizes your digestion.
Plus, according to the University of Minnesota, a high-fiber diet is connected to low body weight. But a no-carb diet makes it difficult to get your 30 g of daily fiber.
3. Carbohydrates give us strength to work out
Sports enthusiasts should definitely not skip carbohydrates. A high-carb pre-workout snack gives you energy to really push yourself.
After your workout a combination of carbohydrates and protein (3:1 ratio) is a good idea. Why?
Carbohydrates are important for regeneration. They refill the glycogen stores in your muscles after a long workout.
4. Carbohydrates are rich in B vitamins
Foods rich in carbohydrates, like whole-grain bread and pasta, are excellent sources of B vitamins. These are important to regulate how your body metabolizes carbohydrates, protein, and fat. They are also important for the formation of red blood cells. B complex vitamins include:
- thiamin (vitamin B1)
- riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- niacin (vitamin B3)
- pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
- pyridoxine (vitamin B6)
- biotin (vitamin B7)
- folate (vitamin B9)
- cobalamin (vitamin B12)
These essential nutrients support the metabolism and ensure that we have enough energy to get through a hard day. They are primarily found in animal products (meat, dairy products, eggs) but also in whole grains, fruit, and vegetables. One thing you need to watch out for if you are vegan is B12. It is almost non-existent in plant-based foods. It’s a good idea to take a supplement and consult with your doctor.
5. Carbohydrates make you happy
You have surely noticed that if you remove carbohydrates from your diet, after a few days you are grumpy and hard to be around. The right amount of carbohydrates can improve your mood and make you happy. The macronutrient stimulates the production of serotonin in your body. According to studies, a low-carb diet is connected to depression.
6. Carbohydrates in fruit and vegetables are bursting with nutrients
In a diet without carbohydrates you miss out on a lot of different kinds of fruit and vegetables. Big mistake! Fruit and vegetables are packed with nutrients.
Yes, fruit contains fructose, but it also provides fiber, important vitamins and minerals – all essential nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy.
The Harvard School of Public Health recommends at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day, so add some color to your meals.
7. Carbohydrates balance out your meals
While we’re talking about colorful meals, if you eat the recommended amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, you will lead a healthy, balanced life. A strict low-carb diet can lead to quick weight loss, but it shouldn’t be a permanent dietary change.
Leaving entire food groups (fruit, vegetables, whole-grain products, legumes, etc.) out of your diet is not a good idea. Choose healthy carbohydrates, pay attention to the recommended amount, and avoid processed food, junk food, and sugary drinks.