There was a time when everyone thought that fats were the enemy.
Back then, we all focused on the simple fact that fats contained more calories as well as some evidence suggesting that they might be linked to heart disease and other problems. Indeed, this is the premise that diet plans like Weight Watchers were founded on!
But over time, fat has had an image change. For starters, it turned out that those studies linking fat with heart disease were unfounded. What was more though, it was also found that fat was better for keeping us feeling fuller for longer, at least partly because it takes longer to be absorbed.
Suddenly, everyone was raving about fat and it was carbs that had the bad reputation. Carbs spike the blood with sugar, resulting in an insulin response. Sugar causes inflammation. Simple carbs tend to be low in nutrients and make you hungry.
The list goes on…
So are carbs really the enemy?
Should you make like Atkins and ditch them entirely?
The Problem With Going No-Carb
The answer to that question is well and truly ‘no’. While it’s true that we get a lot of glucose from cars, what’s also true is that this is actually necessary. If you live only on fats for fuel, then you’ll be on what’s known as a ‘ketogenic’ diet and this can leave you low on energy over time.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that in medicine is used primarily to treat difficult-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketogenic_diet
Likewise, completely avoiding all fruits and vegetables (most of these are carbs) will almost certainly lead to nutrient deficiencies as well as a very low fiber intake.
Low Carb, Not No Carb
Of course though, most diets don’t recommend completely cutting carbs and are instead more likely to advise just reducing them or eating only ‘complex’ carbs. This option is a lot better and it certainly can provide a good way to prevent hunger pangs and to discourage lipogenesis.
Lipogenesis is the process by which acetyl-CoA is converted to fatty acids. The former is an intermediate stage in metabolism of simple sugars, such as glucose, a source of energy of living organisms. Through lipogenesis and subsequent triglyceride synthesis, the energy can be efficiently stored in the form of fats. source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipogenesis
Even then though, it’s key to ensure that you are still getting enough. Not only is avoiding carbs a little soul crushing and somewhat difficult – it’s also still a surefire way to end up low on energy. If you can reduce the number of chips you have with your next meal then great but don’t feel too guilty over having some potatoes.
As is so often the case, the reality is a little more complex than ‘this one food group makes you fat’. Make sure you continue to eat a healthy and balanced diet and just apply a little common sense!