Carbs Are Good For Your Brain
Carbohydrates are your brain’s preferred source of energy. Scientists estimate that the brain consumes roughly 120 grams of carbohydrates every day and that your brain accounts for roughly 20% of your total energy burned each day.
When you first start a low-carb diet, you may experience brain fog, mental fatigue and mood swings because your body’s primary fuel source suddenly disappeared. Once your body adjusts, those symptoms should subside, but those initial effects are part of the reason why low-carb diets are so hard to stick to.
Koff says that many people confuse the role of stimulants like caffeine with the role of carbohydrates: Caffeine and other stimulants provide short-term bursts of energy, whereas healthy carbs supply your brain with what it needs to perform its many functions and give you long-term energy.
“It’s important to choose healthy carbs, as the quality of these carbs is the real factor in determining not just what the brain gets to run, but how it and the rest of the body will use those carbs and what the outcomes will be health-wise,” Koff says.
Myth: You Can Determine Whats Carbs Are Healthy By Using The Glycemic Index
Fact: Not always … you also need to use common sense.
The Glycemic Index is a system that rank foods based on how much a certain portion increases blood sugar when compared to pure glucose.
“One major setback is that this index measures the bodys response when the carbohydrate is eaten without other foods, but how often are we eating a carbohydrate at a meal on its own?” says Markie.
You may have a baked potato for dinner, but there’s a good chance it’s accompanied by a piece of salmon and some veggies. “Having these foods together can change the speed of digestion and your bodys response,” says Markie.
The Glycemic Index can be a guide in determining which foods are the better choices, she adds. Those lower on the scale may be higher in fiber, which slows digestion. But you need to use common sense to make the final judgement.
“There are other cases in which the Glycemic Index does not direct the consumer toward the most healthful choice,” says Markie. “For example, a soda has a Glycemic Index of 63, while raisins have a Glycemic Index of 64, however that does not mean raisins and soda have the same nutritional value.”
It’s a tool you can use, but it should be one tool out of many, as it doesn’t take into account the other nutritional values of the food, she adds.
How To Reduce Your Carbohydrate Intake
This article was co-authored by Amy Chow. Amy Chow is a Registered Dietitian and the Founder of Chow Down Nutrition, a family and child nutrition consulting service in British Columbia , Canada. With over nine years of experience, Amy has a special interest in pediatric nutrition, food allergy management, and eating disorder recovery. Amy holds a Bachelors degree in Nutritional Sciences from McGill University. She gained her clinical experiences at residential and outpatient eating disorder treatment programs as well as for BC Childrens Hospital before starting her own business. She has been featured on Find BC Dietitians, Dietitians of Canada, Food Allergy Canada, Recovery Care Collective, Parentology, Save on Foods, National Eating Disorder Information Centre , and Joytv.There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 115,704 times.
People may choose to reduce carbohydrate intake for a number of reasons. Those who suffer from type 2 diabetes should strive to balance the need for taking in enough carbohydrates to produce energy while limiting carbohydrate consumption to regulate blood sugar levels. Still others seek to control carbohydrate intake as a way of following a balanced diet that includes healthier foods. Whatever the reason, several strategies can be used to make sure the carbohydrate reduction produces the desired results without leading to a loss of essential nutrients.
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What Is A Low
Low-carbohydrate diets are popular because they are based on claims that carbohydrates cause weight gain.
Although there are different variations, essentially low-carb diets restrict carbohydrate foods and replace them with foods usually high in protein and fat to lose weight.
There are many unhealthy misconceptions about weight loss and the claims that carbohydrates can make you fat are misleading.
Typical foods eaten on a low-carbohydrate diet include beef, chicken, bacon, fish, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, and fats .
Foods that are restricted include many types of fruit, bread, cereals and other grains, starchy vegetables and some dairy products .
Swap With Veggie Noodles
The first thing you probably thought of when you considered cutting carbs was probably all of the creamy, delicious pasta you’d be cutting out of your life. With visions of Olive Garden dancing in your head, you ultimately decided a low-carb diet just wasn’t for you. But what if you didn’t have to wave goodbye to your favorite wavy noodles? By purchasing a spiralizer and some ripe zucchinis, you could be scarfing down plates of guilt-free veggie pasta in no time. Here are 19 Creative Foods to Spiralize That Aren’t Zucchini.
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Opt For Greek Or Icelandic Yogurt
“Enjoy Siggi’s Icelandic yogurt or plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit to avoid the extra sugar in fruit flavored and conventional yogurts. Greek and Icelandic yogurts are strained which causes them to have less lactose, the naturally occurring sugar in dairy.” Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN
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Different Types Of Low
As low-carb dietitian Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE, whos based in Orange County, California, points out, when you cut back on carbs, blood sugar and insulin levels generally go down, which can be a good thing for some people. Carbs are broken down into glucose, which raises your blood sugar and prompts your pancreas to produce insulin to drive sugar into your cells, says Spritzler. When youre overweight or obese, your blood sugar goes up and your pancreas sends out insulin, but your cells may not be responsive, leading your pancreas to overproduce insulin, she says. High insulin increases hunger and prompts fat storage, she explains.
A low-carb diet may therefore help keep your blood sugar in check and keep your insulin level low to potentially aid with weight loss. Because doctors often recommend that those with type 2 diabetes lose weight to better their blood sugar, this approach could possibly directly and indirectly improve blood glucose levels.
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Quinoa Is A Filling High
A quick caveat: a true keto diet wouldn’t include quinoa, because even a modest portion has enough carbs to easily surpass the limits of stricter diets. But if you’re just trying to be more carb-aware, or just balance out your macros, it’s a convenient, filling way to add protein and round out a meal.
I cook my quinoa in a rice cooker, and add a bouillon cube and spices along with the water so it’s packed with flavor. It makes a good side or foundation for grain bowls, soups, or salads.
You May Not Get Enough Fiber
Fiber is one nutrient you may not consume enough of if you don’t eat carbs. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, especially starchy ones, are some of the greatest sources of fiber. But they also happen to be high in carbohydrates.
Fiber plays key roles in digestion, heart health and gut health, Koff says. Research backs this up: Studies show that people who eat more fiber have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and tend to have more beneficial bacteria in the microbiome.
Fiber is found in starchy vegetables like carrots, as well as other vegetables, beans and whole grains.
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Which Is Better: Low Carb Or Low Fat Neither New Study Says
That said, there isnt an agreement that a low-carb diet is superior to any other kind of diet or that its healthier long term. A review in the December 2015 issue of Diabetes Therapy that looked at the diet among those with diabetes noted that when it comes to weight loss, a low-carb diet performs no better than other higher-carb diets and that it doesnt produce better glycemic control, either. Another report in Diabetes Care also found that over one year, those on a low-carb diet lost weight faster than those on a low-fat one, but after a year, weight loss and A1C levels were remarkably similar.
Which Foods Contain Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are found in a variety of foods, including:
- Starchy vegetables .
- Processed or refined foods .
- Sugary sweets .
Some carbohydrates are healthier than others. Carbohydrates with lower glycaemic indexes have a slower and flatter blood glucose response. They take longer to digest and can help us feel full. Lower GI foods are less refined such as wholegrains, legumes and fruit.
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How Cutting Carbs May Help With Weight Loss And Blood Sugar Management
You probably hear the most about low-carb eating for weight loss, but for some people, the approach could also help optimize their health, says Schmidt. Research shows that women who are obese or have metabolic problems do better hormonally on lower carbs, says Schmidt, pointing out that other outcomes of the diet can include better sleep, mental clarity, and increased satiety.
Carbs Can Help You Build Muscle
Protein often claims the fame when it comes to bulking up, but carbs are just as important: When you eat carbs, your body converts some of them to glycogen, a storage form of carbohydrate that stockpiles in your muscles. Your body uses glycogen when it needs a quick energy boost or it isn’t getting enough energy from the glucose in your cells.
Glycogen really comes in handy when you’re lifting heavy weights in the gym: Without enough stored carbohydrates, you might fatigue too quickly or feel weak. This is where the practice of carb-loading before weightlifting competitions and long-distance races comes from — it’s said to maximize muscle glycogen stores in advance of performance.
Additionally, carbs can help your muscles repair themselves quicker after tough workouts. The general consensus is that eating carbohydrates as soon as possible after exercise can “maximize muscle glycogen replenishment” and limit post-exercise muscle damage.
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Choose Plain Unsweetened Yogurts
Yogurts are a delicious and healthy dairy food that provide several benefits.
However, the quality can vary significantly from product to product.
One of the main issues with yogurt is to buy a plain variety rather than a flavored and sweetened product, which can contain significant amounts of sugar.
For instance, an eight-ounce serving of plain yogurt contains 10.6 grams of carbohydrate .
On the other hand, the same serving size of Kraft Breyers low-fat strawberry yogurt contains 41.3 grams of carbs almost quadruple the amount .
Swap Milk Chocolate For Dark Chocolate
It is difficult to find chocolate that doesnt taste good, but the health properties of different chocolate bars can vary a lot.
To illustrate this, a regular 1.5 oz bar of Hersheys milk chocolate comes to 26 grams of carbs including only one gram of fiber .
In contrast, the same amount of 85% Lindt dark chocolate provides only 8.6 grams of carbohydrate, and this includes 3.2 grams of fiber .
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Swap Out Potato Chips And Cookies For Low Carb Snacks
The quality of commercial snacks varies from product to product, but most popular snacks are engineered to taste delicious.
This fact is why a lot of people love them, but sadly, their health properties dont match up to their taste.
Snacks such as potato chips, cookies, candy, and milk chocolate are all very high in refined carbs too.
For this reason, substituting them with a variety of low carb snacks is a straightforward way to lower carb intake.
Some good examples of low-carb snacks include
- Beef jerky
- Mixed berries
Editorial Sources And Fact
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It Can Help Control Seizures
People have used the keto diet for some 100 years to treat epilepsy, mainly in children who dont respond to meds. It means that someone will have to watch you and do frequent lab checks and urine tests. Studies go on as to how the keto diet might also help people with brain disorders like Parkinsons disease. There arent any firm results yet, though.
You Might Get The Keto Flu
Ketosis can lead to weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and headaches, which can feel a lot like flu symptoms. More serious side effects can happen too, like stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. Some doctors think this is caused by not getting enough nutrients from fruits, beans, veggies, and whole grains — foods not allowed, or strictly limited, on a keto diet.
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Supplement With Healthier Fats
Lowering your intake of carbs may mean you find yourself eating not only more protein but also more fat.
Focusing on healthier fats can help you stay on track if youre following a weight loss or weight maintenance program.
While research has done a lot of flip-flopping as to what exactly makes a particular type of fat good for us, foods like fatty fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and dairy continually show up as quality fats (39,
As with everything, moderation and variety are key.
Unexpected Ways To Eat Fewer Carbs Without Even Noticing
Healthy carbs are an essential part of a balanced diet. While fiber-rich, unprocessed foods like quinoa and sweet potatoes are much better choices than refined carbohydrates , it is possible to overdo it with even nutritious grains and starches. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or focus on eating more veggies and proteins, too many carbs can hinder your efforts.
Of course, let’s be cleareven healthy, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and even some dairy products have carbs, and that’s not a bad thing. They provide your body with energy, and when you’re getting them from nutritious foods, you’re stocking up on vitamins and minerals, too. So you shouldn’t focus on eliminating carbs from your diet, but you can have too much of a good thing .
But this doesn’t mean you’ve got to ditch all of your favorite foods. “A lot of times when people are cutting back on carbs, that is a big concernthey dont want to feel deprived,” explains Jenny Beth Kroplin, R.D., L.D.N., C.L.C. By swapping bread, pasta, and other refined carbohydrates with high-fiber veggies and satiating protein, you can make even carb-heavy meals into leaner, more filling choices.
Here are 21 ways you can cut back on carbs without sacrificing, well, anything:
If you’re looking for a savory option, try this recipe below.
You can also try this recipe below that adds a cherry and yogurt topping to the morning meal.
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For People With Type 1 Diabetes
If you have type 1, the strongest evidence suggests that carb counting is the best way to manage your blood sugar levels. This means matching how much insulin you take to the amount of carbs in your meal, snack or drink.
There is no strong evidence that following a low-carb diet is safe or beneficial, which is why we dont recommend this diet for people with type 1 diabetes.
It is really important that you speak to your healthcare team for support to manage your insulin if youre considering a low-carb diet.
Cut Excess Saturated Fat
Sometimes a small change can make a significant difference. Although this is based mostly on clinical experience, simply eliminating extra liquid saturated fat may normalize LDL levels.7 That means eliminating MCT oil and butter in coffee, fat bombs, or other keto treats.
Some people may find that limiting their saturated fat intake to whole foods is all it takes to improve LDL levels.
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What Studies Say About The Benefits And Risks Of Going Low Carb
First, the benefits may be reaped almost immediately. According to one study in October 2016 in PLOS One, people who ate three lower-carb meals reduced their insulin resistance by more than 30 percent compared with people who consumed higher-carb meals .
You can see the results, too. In January 2015, the Journal of Nutrition conducted two studies comparing lower-carb and low-fat diets, finding that of the two approaches, going lower carb helped people shave off more visceral fat, a type of belly fat that hugs organs and is linked to disease. A meta-analysis published in June 2016 in Obesity Reviews also concluded that in obese people, a low-carb diet reduced fat over the course of a year , with the greatest benefits seen in a very-low-carb diet.