Most of the discussion these days is about getting too many carbs, not carbohydrate deficiency. Carbs have been demonized as the cause of everything from obesity to diabetes. While it is never desirable to overdo on any nutrient group, you can also harm your health by eating too few carbohydrates.
Why do I need carbohydrates?
Considering the bad reputation that carbohydrates have gotten in recent years, you may well ask, why do I need carbs? Thanks to the advent of the low-carb diets, many people think of carbs as fattening and to be avoided. If that’s how you feel, you may want to change your thinking.
In addition to providing your body with fuel —glucose for brain function and muscle activity —carbohydrate foods contain vitamins, minerals and fiber, along with other protective phytochemicals, the value of which we have only just begun to establish.
A carbohydrate-rich diet, especially where whole fruits, vegetables and whole grains are emphasized, may protect you from heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. In addition, the fiber in many carbohydrate foods will contribute to a healthy colon and decreased exposure to harmful toxins.
Your body reacts to carbohydrate deficiency.
Low carb consumption will produce symptoms similar to starvation. These symptoms include:
Low blood pressure
Lack of sufficent carbs in your diet causes Ketosis
If the carbs in your diet are too low, in favor of fat and protein, you will experience something called ketosis, which upsets the acid-base balance in your body and can cause the nausea, fatigue, weakness and bad breath mentioned above.
Although some diet plans promote sending your body into ketosis as a weight loss strategy,scientific studies have shown that there is no long term weight loss benefit to putting your body in ketosis. Even if you have a dramatic weight loss at first, much of the weight lost will be in the form of water, glycogen from the liver and even tissue from your own muscles. As soon as you go back to eating a balanced diet, you will regain the weight and sometimes even add more.
Ketosis is not a desirable state for your body chemistry, so carb deficiency as a weight loss method is not the best plan for your long-term health.
Good carb-bad carb
The question of healthy eating and carbohydrates should probably be more about eating enough of the right carbs. There is no question that eating a lot of what we might call the “bad carbs,” mostly snacks and desserts, will not promote good health.
These bad carbs, while providing energy, are generally low in fiber and other nutrients. In addition, they have a high concentration of simple sugars that may wreak havoc with your blood sugar and insulin response.
On the other hand the good carbs in the form of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, will provide the energy you need along with important vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber.
Know what to eat
Please take time to educate yourself about the foods you eat! Avoid fad diets that encourage you to eliminate or severely restrict any nutrient group. All the nutrients work together to keep you healthy and feeling well.