Why I Cancelled Low-Carb
Picture this: it's summer 2018, the sun is shining, it's bikini season and I had it all figured out. I would cut my carb intake in half and be happy with myself in no time.
Carbs are what make you fat, right? (side note: the word "fat" should be removed from the dictionary it's genuinely worse than the actual f-word. It's doing nothing for society besides causing poor self-image).
Before I get into the good stuff of why you should think twice before cutting carbs, I will say that TOO many carbs or the WRONG carbs can result in weight gain, or make it difficult for you to lose those few lbs you've been trying to. However, it is also true that too much of just about anything can be a bad thing. Don't be so quick to make carbs the "bad guy".
Alright, let's dive into this whole carb thing.
When an individual decides to decrease their carb intake, they notice weight loss in the first week or two. Plot twist: it's mostly water weight. This is due to the insulin levels and glycogen in our bodies.
1) Insulin levels drop due to fewer carbs--> kidneys react by removing extra sodium --> less sodium in the body = the body retains less water.
2) Carbs are stored as glycogen in the body --> glycogen acts a binding agent between water and your muscles and liver --> less glycogen, less water-binding --> less water retention.
Another down-side to going low-carb? As soon as you reintroduce carbs to your diet, the weight will start to come right back. Essentially, you spend time cutting some of the most delicious foods... for nothing.
Studies have confirmed that low-carb diets can be effective in the short-term (just like many other diets). However, in the long-run, they have not proven as effective. Remember what I mentioned in the F*ck It Diet post? Diets are usually not your best bet in the long-term. Our bodies are just wired against them.
Now, going back to that summer of 2018 - I did end up cutting my carbs, I did see results in the first few weeks, and I did notice my appetite drop a bit. From there, I ended up cutting carbs almost completely. A simple dinner roll became a sin to consume, a bagel was a terrible temptation, and oh boy did I ever miss my beloved chips and pastries.
Do you know what else I missed? My energy.
Carbohydrates are fuel. Foods such as veggies, fruits, and grains contain nutrition along with healthy carbs that will keep you going throughout your day (and yes, fruits and veggies have carbs too!). With barely any carbohydrates in my diet, I was sluggish, moody, tired, and missing some of my favorite foods.
I think back to all the times I went out to eat and choose the low-carb option. I'm still bummed about it! I missed out on some GOOD FOOD! Or what about all the times I refused delicious homemade dessert or bread at dinner and out-lawed all sandwiches from my life. Was it worth it? Absolutely not. I'm the first to admit that I STILL talk myself out of ordering certain things on the menu because I'm fearful that it's too carb-heavy (those pasta dishes are always whispering my name). It's been ingrained in my brain that carbs = bad, and I'm still working through that.
Another noteworthy fact about carbohydrates is that there are good carbs and not-so-good carbs. Those "not-so-good carbs" are your typical junk foods, refined carbs, and sweets (it's not really rocket science). So, if you are looking for a way to address your carb-intake, and practice healthier habits, my suggestion would be to swap refined grains for whole grains. Another great option is to increase those carbs that are higher in fiber in replacement of those high in sugar.
Example for better carb-intake: if your go-to breakfast is a piece of white toast or a sugary breakfast carbohydrate, swap that out for a slow-release carb such as oatmeal! This will keep you fuller longer, and provide a healthier source of fuel for your body.
Some carbohydrates that are great fuel for every day:
bran cereals / whole grain cereals
potatoes / sweet potatoes
peas and carrots
These are just a few of the most common "healthiest" carbs. Remember: you aren't LIMITED to the healthy ones!!
ALL of your favorite carbs (even the sweets and treats) can be a part of your lifestyle!
I try my best to allow all carbs in moderation, and not to associate feelings of guilt with indulging.
Choosing to keep carbohydrates in my everyday life is a personal decision. I know that my body requires the fuel I get from carbohydrates to function at its best. Especially with my level of activity each day, the energy provided by carbs (both the good ones and bad) keep me going.
Some people swear by their low-carb diets, and that's great - but if going low-carb is affecting your energy levels, or not enhancing your life the way you hoped - I suggest you forget it. Life is just too short to ban yourself from pancake and waffle brunches, and real Italian pizza.
I invite you to do research on your own and do what feels BEST for you. There are plenty of arguments against carbs and in favor of carbs, and everyone's body reacts a bit differently.