I’d like to take a moment to destroy, defile, and set on fire the persistent shrines to what I have come to disaffectionately dub “carb-hate”. “Carb-hate” is when someone gets the idea that carbohydrates make them fat, that eating too many carbohydrates makes them fat, that all-protein diets can possibly work for anyone, and then this ridiculous idea drives them slowly to begin eating more and more Atkins-like until they can’t remember the last time they had a vegetable or piece of fruit or any kind of grain. Or don’t want to.
Myth One: Carbohydrates make you fat!
False. Utterly false. I don’t care who you are, you need to be consuming carbohydrates. Carbohydrates lend to your muscle glycogen stores the best, which means you’ll be able to go longer and stronger when you exercise, or participate in any form of physical activity, for that matter. Another associated myth is that if you’re not an athlete, you don’t need carbohydrates. This, too, is extremely false. Not just a little bit false. Gratuitously, horrendously false. False. For several reasons.
Fiber is a carbohydrate. Everyone needs fiber. Fiber helps certain non-athletic ventures go a lot more smoothly, if you catch my drift. Carbohydrates affect your blood sugar–while blood sugar most often isn’t really taken into consideration by those among us who are not diabetic or hypoglycemic, or have a similar condition, blood sugar should be at the forefront of your attention alongside a few other things when considering your health. Maintaining a healthy level of blood sugar makes you feel better. Low blood sugar makes you feel lethargic, tired, cold, and worse. Having blood sugar that fluctuates rapidly will make you feel very bad as well. Carbohydrates are the main macronutrient that affects your blood sugar. While protein and fat do affect it some (because everything you eat is converted to glucose by the time it’s in your blood stream), carbohydrates will have a noticeable and significant effect.
If you do not get enough carbohydrates, you will not be able to partake in physical activity.
This, unto itself, will contribute to your being fat.
Myth Two: A carbohydrate is a carbohydrate is a carbohydrate.
Wrong-o was his name-o. Carbohydrates were not created equally, I’m afraid. All carbohydrates, as mentioned shortly before now, affect the blood glucose levels. Some affect the blood glucose more than others. The measure of how a carbohydrate affects the blood sugar levels is referred to as the glycemic index (abbreviated GI). The glycemic index compares how quickly pure glucose will raise the bloog sugar levels to how quickly any given food will. Glucose is a simple sugar (two others being fructose and sucrose) The higher the glycemic index, the faster the food raises blood glucose in comparison to pure glucose.
Remember that different carbohydrates have different purposes, or, at least, could be used that way. While a fruit is a fruit is a fruit, fruits have a wide variety of glycemic indexes. Pineapples and bananas are, for example, relatively higher up on the glycemic index, whereas apples and tomatoes are much lower; potatoes tend to be higher, while sweet potatoes are a bit lower.
Foods that are low on the glycemic index deliver their energy slowly over a longer period of time than foods that are high on the glycemic index, which deliver their energy quickly. A high glycemic index is what is responsible for a “sugar crash”, when you eat a lot of refined sugar, get a quick burst of energy, and then want a nap. A food that is high on the glycemic index might be appropriate for someone who has to exert theirself very rapidly and not last a long time, such as a sprinter. A food that is lower on the glycemic index might be appropriate for one who has to exert theirself over a longer period of time, such as a marathon runner.
It is important to note, however, that the glycemic index is only a measure of how quickly the blood sugar is raised, and not a measure of how long it stays raised. For this reason, it is not entirely necessary for one fearing a sugar crash to completely avoid all highly glycemic fruits or vegetables. A fruit that has a glycemic index of 100 and a candy bar with a glycemic index of 100 will have vastly different effects on your body. I would say “Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself!”, but that would be irresponsible writing. Take my word for it.
It is not unreasonable to eat any fruit or vegetable you want in spite of its glycemic index. Avoid refined sugars.
Myth Three: An all-protein or high-protein diet is the way to go.
While this was mostly addressed under Myth One, this myth is so rampant among the fitness and fat-loss community that it borderlines on pandemic. You cannot survive on an all-protein diet or a very high-protein diet for very long for several simple reasons.
1: Those molars in the back of your mouth? Yes. They’re used for fruits and vegetables and other leafy things. They’re there because hundreds of thousands of years ago, we ate plants and animals. What makes you think you’re so special? Eat things that grow out of the ground.
2: Eating a lot of meat is horrible on your blood acidity (it increase the uric acid concentration, in case you were curious.). Cancer cannot survive in a basic environment, and neither can a lot of other diseases. An all-meat or high-protein diet makes your blood more acidic. Diseases and bacteria do well with acid. Do the math.
3: Regularity. There, I said it. It’s nearly impossible for you to have a healthy colon and digestive tract as a whole, really, on a high-protein diet.
4: If you eat a lot of protein, your body will enter a ketonic state, the state of ketosis. In ketosis, your body abandons trying to run itself on glucose and begins running off of ketones. Ketones are produced when you eat protein, and your body can, when in ketosis, fuel the entire body on these ketones. However, when in a ketonic state, some people experience severe medical problems because their bodies cannot handle the abnormally, dangerously high presence of ketones in their blood.
In conclusion: Do not eat protein, do not eat fat, do not eat “carbs”. Eat food. The way nature intended it, please.
Thank you for your time.