Carbohydrates have been a hot topic when it comes to nutrition for quite some time. From Atkins to Keto to carb cycling and in between, people often times ask “are carbs bad?” I feel it’s best we discuss what carbohydrates are and why they are important. Carbohydrates (carbs) are the main source of energy for our brain and our body. They are a macronutrient along with protein, fat, minerals, vitamins and water. Macronutrient means we need “a lot” of them. A lot is relative to each person. Your age, gender, height, weight, and activity level all play a part in how much each person needs. Carbs have 4 calories per gram. Now that you have an understanding of what carbohydrates are and why we need them, let’s look at the research.
A study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, which tracked more than 15,000 Americans for a quarter century, found a U-shaped link between carb intake and life expectancy. The study showed those who ate less than 40% of daily calories from carbs (low carb) or more than 70% (high carb) were more likely to have a lower life expectancy than those who ate a moderate-carb diet, 50-55%. (Published August 2018 edition of “The Lancet”) Likely reasons for those that ate a high carb diet having a lower life expectancy are those individuals most likely ate too many refined carbs (sugar) and/or gluten and/or fried foods. All of these can lead to inflammation and when inflammation is present are body is more susceptible to disease. The low carb dieters may lack in certain important nutrients and antioxidants. As you can see, moderation is key. Please note if a doctor has prescribed you then you should follow his/her guidelines. If however, you’re just trying to find a quick fix to drop weight, I suggest you eat carbs in moderation and use the fuel to exercise and burn calories and fat.
I suggest you limit your refined carbs (such as: sweets, baked goods, candies, etc.). You should also limit your fried foods and foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a protein molecule often times found in foods that contain wheat. The carbs you should eat are: veggies, fruit, gluten free grains, potatoes, yams, rice, etc.… Track how you’re feeling and your measurements to help determine how many carbs you should eat and keep in mind the percentages are based on your total caloric intake.
Scott Keppel is the owner of Scott’s Training Systems, a world-class coaching facility in Chandler, Arizona. He is a nationally certified trainer through NASM and ISSA. His mission is to empower women of all ages and fitness levels.