For several years now, people have been believing the myths and thinking carbohydrates are evil. Some go so far as to say that ALL carbs are evil, no matter where they come from. We can, of course, thank the rise in popularity of the Atkins Diet in the early 2000s for this hatred of the carb and the spread of the anti-carb myths.
But I can remember back before that to the 1990s, when fat was thought to be the major nutritional villain. I ate my share of “fat-free” food (Snackwell’s Devil’s Food Cake Cookies, anyone?) until I realized that they substituted all that fat with sugar and all kinds of other bad things like MSG and other harmful chemicals. That much sugar is just as bad for you as lots of fat, but all carbs are not created equal, as the Mediterranean Diet and South Beach Diets told us in their explanations of glycemic index.
Recent low-carb diets like the Caveman (Paleo) Diet and Keto Diet are now all the rage. They limit carbohydrates in general, but especially carbs from processed foods. These eating plans focus on eating healthier foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts and berries, wild-caught fish, and grass-fed beef. The low-carb emphasis persists, but is it the best nutritional approach?
Let’s take a look at some carbohydrate myths you may have fallen for and examine the truths behind the myths.
1 – Carbs Are Great; Saturated Fats Are Evil
We now know, after literally decades of anti-fat propaganda, that saturated fat is basically harmless. You don’t have to avoid healthy fats like coconut oil. Fat cuts of meat are okay to eat as well. So are fatty fish like salmon, which is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
You should be careful, however, when consuming fats and carbohydrates in the same meal. For best nutritional results, you want to pair healthy fats with complex carbs, which we’ll talk about more in the next point.
2 – All Carbohydrates Are Equal
As mentioned in the introduction, some carbs affect the body differently than do others. Simple carbohydrates, for example, are sugars. They are broken down quickly in your body – too quickly, sometimes, for your body to use the energy they provide. That unused energy gets stored as glycogen, which can eventually be converted to fat.
Complex carbohydrates are starches that take a long time to process. Because of this, they do not lead to the dangerous sugar rush-crash cycle that results in increased insulin production and can cause damage to the body in a variety of ways.
In short, complex carbohydrates are great for your body, while simple carbs are not.
3 – A Low-Carb Diet Is Best for Everyone Who Needs to Lose Weight
No two human beings are even remotely similar physiologically. Your internal processes – millions of them – are totally different from those of the other 7 billion people roaming the planet. Low-carb diets have proven to be incredibly healthy for many, and they have helped a lot of people lose weight. That said, what works for one person may not work for you.
Besides this, several low-carb foods can be fattening, especially if you are not carefully watching your calorie intake. No matter what nutrients you are putting into your body, if you consume more calories than you burn on a daily basis you will gain weight.
4 – You Don’t Need Dietary Fiber If You Cut Down on Your Carbs
You get a lot of your daily required dietary fiber from carbohydrates (especially complex carbohydrates), whether you realize it or not. Fiber is essential to human health. Soluble fiber can lead to health benefits such as improved cholesterol levels and weight loss.
When you cut carbs out of your diet, you automatically cut out a lot of healthy fiber. This is why it might be necessary to add BeneFiber or some other fiber supplement to your diet if you are cutting back on the carbs.
There’s a reason everyone talks about a balanced diet being the best way to maintain a healthy body. The key word there is “balance.” You want to include a variety of foods in your daily diet and not exclude any one food group unless you happen to have a serious allergy. Eating healthy means making wise food choices. The more you know about nutrition, the more fad diet myths you can debunk and the healthier choices you can make – for the rest of your life.