We’ve gone from villianizing fat and loving carbs in the 90s to bashing carbs and praising fats today – and nutrition recommendations will only continue to constantly change and evolve. Especially as more and more people think of themselves as nutrition “experts.” One thing I know for sure from these two dichotomous trends is that extremes are not only unsustainable, but they don’t make sense. We don’t need to ban fats, and carbs are not the worst thing ever.
The more important thing to talk about though is how restricting carbohydrates is actually stressful on the body – cortisol levels rise when the body isn’t fed enough carbohydrates. Especially if you’re an athlete, a runner or someone who is fairly active and enjoys working out – your body needs carbohydrates. Combine a low carb diet with inadequate sleep, a stressful job and maybe too much exercise and you’ll find yourself at a hormonal frat party. Furthermore, low carbohydrate intake can cause the beginnings of hypothyroidism. Insulin is needed for the conversion of inactive T4 into active T3 (your thyroid hormones) and often insulin is quite low when you don’t eat enough carbs.
Now are all carbs created the same? Of course not! Eating cake or pasta will give your body quick energy and eating a sweet potato or brown rice will cause a slower blood sugar rise for more sustained energy. Do we need all those foods to create a healthy balance both physically and mentally? Yes. Try not eating dessert or some white pasta or flour for months on end and you’ll probably find yourself knee deep in frosting and feeling fuller than you ever intended. Our body will eventually rebel against physical OR mental restriction. Cue the guilt, self shaming, restrictive eating cycle. We need all these foods. Allowing yourself to eat anything at anytime brings food freedom.