Confession time!…Not so long ago, I was afraid of carbs.
Now, it’s no secret that I’ve been in some pretty dark places with food in the past, and thankfully was able to overcome all that. But, every once in a while something subtly triggers that previously disordered mindset, and one or two irrational thoughts manage to creep their way back in, if only for a moment or two.
So, what was it that made me look at carbs in a negative light in the not-so-distant past?…Well, it was a few things, really.
Like many, when I was just getting started on my fitness journey, I didn’t know anything about…well…anything, and nutrition was no exception. In the past, my thought processes was “eat less, weigh less, WIN!” (I know, YIKES!), so when I did finally learn about proper energy balance and macronutrients, I was like “woo-we!” It was all so confusing and a little bit overwhelming. And, at the time, the only resource I had was the not-so-trusty Internet.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great resources to be found online…and you’ve found one, right here…but for every piece of valid information, there are at least three pieces of bullshit and bro-science…Sad truth…
Anyway, the more I “learned” about macros, the more sketchy carbs seemed to be, and here’s why.
1. I saw others having results from following low carb diets – is it just me, or does it seem like everywhere you look these days SOMEONE is showcasing the dramatically over the top weight loss transformations that they’ve accomplished via some kind of low carb “diet” (cough…Keto)? Here’s the thing…and I AM NOT taking a stab at Keto…those people only represent a small percentage of the population. Yes, there are people who benefit GREATLY from a low carb lifestyle. From those with certain health conditions to those who’s bodies just don’t process carbs as well as others…carb intolerance IS a thing…a lower carb lifestyle is just what the doctor ordered (sometimes, literally). But, in truth, many people (myself included) tolerate carbs very well, making it unnecessary to eliminate them from life completely. This is a simple case of what works for one won’t necessarily work for another. You’ve got to find what works for you and roll with it.
2. The media said “Carbs are bad. Mmm-Kay” – News flash, the media says a lot of things they shouldn’t. Period…The media is unreliable, especially when it comes to telling us what we should and shouldn’t be eating…Ignore the media.
3. I was under the impression that all carbs are the same – They’re not! While it IS true that all carbohydrates eventually get broken down into simple sugars in your bloodstream, those that are digested and absorbed slowly, like whole or minimally processed, unrefined carbs, are very important for daily consumption as they help to control hunger, blood sugar, insulin concentrations, energy levels, and body composition. They also help increase macronutrient intake, boost fiber intake, enhance satiety, increase the body’s thermic effect of feeding, and promote better blood sugar control. It is, on the other hand, the overconsumption of refined carbohydrates…like white breads and pastas, cookies, pastries, processed cereals, etc…and added sugars that causes problems. These carbs are low in fiber and enter the body at a rapid pace, causing temporary elevation of blood sugar, blood triglyceride levels, LDL cholesterol, inflammation, and insulin resistance. So, stick to things like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, potatoes (yes, even “regular” potatoes!), beans, and legumes, and you’ll be just fine.
Going low carb is great (for those that it actually works for), but it isn’t necessary (or beneficial) for everyone. EveryBODY is different. Just because so-and-so does well on minimal carbs doesn’t mean you will. Additionally, the media is not a reliable source for nutrition information/recommendations. And, not all carbs are created equally. Minimally processed, unrefined carbs make most bodies very happy!
Today, I’m happy to report I eat ALL the carbs, even the occasional refined ones, and I’m the fittest, healthiest, and happiest that I’ve ever been!