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.
I’m also an RD and I hear you! I also think that a lot of people don’t really understand which foods contain carbohydrates… they just automatically assume it’s only grains, breads, pasta, potatoes, when in fact fruits, some legumes, peas, milk, yogurt are all carbohydrate containing foods. It’s like saying “I’m avoiding carbs. I had a smoothie with spinach, plain yogurt, milk and berries for breakfast.”
I do think that there are a couple exceptions to the “carb debate.” First, type 1 diabetics need to be conscious about counting carbohydrates to manage blood sugar and to determine how much insulin needs to be taken. However, they’re not restricting carbohydrates per say. Secondly, evidence has shown the ketogenic diet can work with epilepsy and seizure disorders. I’ve seen it firsthand in the paediatric population but it involves a lot of work, precisely counting the ratios (protein:fat:carb), weighing foods and requires days of teaching with an RD.
Yes I completely agree that the ketogenic diet is a helpful therapeutic measure in medical diagnoses – but in terms of the general population, these people are certainly the exception versus the majority. Education is key!
Sarah @ BucketListTummy says
Amen, sista! Carbs make us happy – I’ve seen that people who restrict just come back craving carbs worse than ever, leading to a serving (or three) too many of high glycemic carbs. Making sure we have them at each meal and snack will help balance that. Plusss, all that beneficial fiber that those carbs have makes our bodies happy!
Ok….. Were you in my brain this weekend???!? I NEEDED to read this today! Printing this one out to put on the fridge.. ????
Agree! People are always hating on the carbs these days without truly realizing what carbs are and what they do for our bodies. Everything in moderation is the best (and most enjoyable) way to live. Unrelated, but your picture of all those berries are making me drool!
You won me over when you said hormonal frat party 😉
In all honesty though, this is a wonderful blog post. I secretly cringe when some of my friends say they are cutting carbs / not eating them because they want to lose weight. These are beautiful women with amazing hearts…sad how the media has made carbs into the enemy.
Totally Agree! I jumped off the low-carb bandwagon 6 months ago and feel like a new person! My energy, sleep, mood, basically everything improved. Buckwheat pancakes are now my favorite breakfast.
Andrea @ pencils and pancakes says
Do you have any suggestions for increasing carb intake in a healthy way? I’m pregnant and working out a lot. I tracked macros because the dr found ketones in a urine test and even with 3-4 servings of fruit, a little rice and sweet potatoes on one day I still on had 55g. Help!
Andrea @ pencils and pancakes says
I meant 155g*
Lucky! In this case, your metabolism is pretty fast and as soon as your hormones get balanced you are going to loose lots of fat if you you keep eating like this. Unless you are already lean I agree you need more carbs in order to not become so skinny, otherwise let it burn.
CHEERS TO ALL THE CARBS! I will be sharing this on my FB this week… so many people need to be reading this!! Maybe this shall be posted on a news site.. so helpful.
Vangie K. says
Yes! Yes! Yes! I constantly hear young women in my life demonizing carbohydrates in conversation or physically restricting carbs. It makes me so sad. Everyone’s body is different and each works better with different ratios of macro nutrients, but in the end it’s just food. Lovin’ this post:)
Amanda M. Foote says
Thank you for posting this, so perfectly explained. I get into so many conversations with anti-carb people who swear by protein, produce and dairy no understanding the bigger picture of carbohydrates. Love your blog!
Ashley V says
Thanks for posting this! I don’t eat a lot of carbs in the form of bread, but I basically eat my weight in apples, bananas, and sweet potatoes, so I’m not a low-carb eater by any stretch of the imagination! I work in a primarily female environment, so lunchtime conversations always tend to land on food, calories, and comments like, “I’m being good today” which make me cringe. It’s such an unfortunate mentality that our culture has created, and it’s affecting sooo many women! My coworkers are all almost old enough to be my momma, and it makes me sad that such amazing women are weighing a part of their worth based on their weight and eating habits (not to say that I am immune to the same mentality; I am by no means immune!). After a coworker, a fitness instructor on the side, mentioned that she eats 1,000 calories each day (a revelation that almost knocked me off my seat), I attempted to count my calories which I hadn’t done in 4+ years. I say attempted, because I only made it through breakfast and lunch. However, I’d estimate that with a snack and dinner I was about 2,000. I then went down the awful rabbit hole of thinking I’m way overeating, researching how many calories I should be eating, and feeling terrible about my food choices (all of which are actually healthy). I do NOT want to fall victim to that kind of thinking, and your blog is the best resource I can think of to get back to my healthy mindset. I’ve been a reader for several years, and this blog is the reason I got OUT of that mindset to begin with. Thanks so much for your dedication to your readers and your deep concern for all aspects of our health (mind, bodies, and soul). You are a blessing!
Thank you so much for writing this. It’s a great reminder that carbs are, in fact, good for you and essential to a healthy diet! Bring on the sweet potatoes
Lisa C says
You are a gem! Wonderful post!
Kate @mindfoodly says
Such a good post! For so long I was scared of carbs, it has been such a hard and long road to include them back into my life but I do not regret it at all!
P.S. That bread photo literally made me drool- granola bread sounds amazing
What is that deliciousness pictured in the toast pic? It looks SOOOOO good!
So so so refreshing! Living in a VERY ‘health’-focused corner of Sydney, the things you hear demonising this macro and that macro can be utterly confusing. It’s so lovely to hear common sense (and grace!) from someone who knows what they’re talking about. Thank you! xx
Marina @ Snackie Bird says
I tried keto diet a few months ago and results was amazing. But keto is hard in cold winter! Now I want try high carb low fat diet – I saw great Youtube videos on this diet 😀
great post Robyn…I need to hear this message…I fell victim to the ‘low fat’ craze and still restrict fat intake (having to imagine fats fueling my brain is the only way I can get myself to eat them)…and while I used to eat lots of carbs (pre-carbs are bad phase), I now have succumbed to that mindset and am working hard to boost my intake of them as well. Eating so many veggies can make a belly feel yuck!
Thank you for being such a light in this too often dark/restrictive food world we live in!
BTW – I also love the ‘hormonal frat party’ phrase – I think my body is having one 🙁
I’ve gone back and forth with eating lower carb, and while it was effective for a while (I leaned out), I began experiencing severe acne and hormonal issues. I’m currently training 6 days a week for a race and Crossfit competition, so I’ve made an effort to eat enough carbs to fuel these activities and I’ve really seen my skin clear up!
SOS Whereeee can I get that PB & Honey toast??!?
I agree that anyone who restricts carbs for weight loss is making a mistake. I don’t think any food should be restricted unless it’s causing you trouble. And all I can say that as a carb lover, I wish I didn’t find that I do much better when I do not eat bread and pasta and other carbs like that (I’m aware that veggies and many other foods are also carbs). When I cut out certain carbs, I feel SO much better. It’s amazing. It’s not about weight loss. It’s about better sleep, better skin, better digestion, remarkably better mood….so many things that make me happier. So cutting out the foods isn’t something I’m thrilled about, but the incredibly positive effects are.
I bring this up here only because I’d asked in a comment a few weeks back about inflammation and carbs and was hoping you’d address it — you answered the comment and said you would — so I was interested to see this post and hoped it might address some of us who do so much better when going lower carb (I still get tons of carbs from other sources, and I eat a lot of healthy fats and proteins. It’s not about weight loss for me. It’s about health, both mental and physical). But this post seems to suggest anyone who restricts carbs is just going for some quick-fix weight loss. Honestly, some of us just fare better going low carb, just like a friend of mine feels so much better when she doesn’t eat dairy (whereas dairy has no negative effect on me — we’re all different!).
By the way, I love you, and your blog, so I’m not being critical. Just wanted to point out that sometimes we have to find what works for us, and it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re jumping on a fad bandwagon 🙂
I so wish I would have found a similar article when I was in the height of my “fitness journey”. I was limiting myself to one cup of grains a day (oatmeal in the AM, quinoa at lunch) and the rest was protein and veggies. Sometimes an apple snuck in. I lost a ton of weight but it wasn’t maintainable and now I have hypothyroidism, and have gained quite a bit back! I’m sharing this link everywhere – thank you for writing such an important article in a relatable way!
I LOVEEEE this! I have read so many posts and I totally love your view, protein is not as necessary as people make it out, but carbs and fats are!!! However, I was wondering if you could talk about healthy and maintainable weight loss. Should I be counting macros? I understand that you hate counting calories, but then how is it possible to lose weight? I don’t want to completely destroy my metabolism, ruin my cycle, etc, etc, in the process, but I have gained weight and need to lose about 10 pounds. Thank you!
THANK you Robyn! I literally come to your site every time I’m kind of discouraged about anything relating to nutrition, exercise, or life balance from a sister in Christ’s perspective, and it is SO refreshing. <3 Thank you!
Balance!!! You have helped me so much on my journey to finding balance, again, with my diet. I just came out of the closet, so to speak, with my exercise issues…..and I’m a personal trainer. It’s not easy, we all struggle. I love how you lay it out and educate us on real-life eating. I’m going to pass this on to my readers. Thanks for every single post. This has helped so many of us!
Once again, amazing post Robyn! Your blog helps me so much, you’re an amazing role model!
Marina @ A Dancer's Live-It says
Thank you so much for sharing this, I’m so happy I stumbled upon your blog today!!! You’re amazing!! 🙂
I just purchased a meal plan and it was processed through PayPal. However, I don’t know how I will receive it. ITt hasn’t come through email; nor was there a box asking for my email.
I am in the same boat. I purchased one, but all I received was the receipt. I didn’t get a meal plan. Please let me know if you encounter a solution!
Ashley v says
Mine took several hours to arrive through email. It came to my email address associated with my paypal account.
Erin Ramsay says
Thank you so much for sharing this post. The mixed messages we get are detrimental to our minds and it is so so hard to keep our thought patterns working for us as opposed to against us.
The true shame is that these marketing-driven messages cause real suffering and we see it, feel it and then many fall victim to it.
I want to ask your opinion on the line between seeking mental health consultations vs. nutritional consultations. This isn’t an easy or short answer question, so maybe keep it on the question list if you think it is something that would be inline with the goals of your blog.
You show a lack of comprehension in regards the mechanisms of lipid formation, particularly in relation to carbohydrate metabolism. You should review the recent literature on the effects of “Low-Fat High-Carbohydrate” diets vs “High-Fat Low-Carbohydrate” diets:
1) “A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial”
WS Yancy, MK Olsen, JR Guyton… – Annals of internal …, 2004 – Am Coll Physicians
Background: Low-carbohydrate diets remain popular despite a paucity of scientific evidence
on their effectiveness. Objective: To compare the effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic
diet program with those of a low-fat, low-cholesterol, reduced-calorie diet. Design
2) “A low-carbohydrate as compared with a low-fat diet in severe obesity”
FF Samaha, N Iqbal, P Seshadri… – … England Journal of …, 2003 – Mass Medical Soc
Background: The effects of a carbohydrate-restricted diet on weight loss and risk factors for
atherosclerosis have been incompletely assessed. Methods We randomly assigned 132
severely obese subjects (including 77 blacks and 23 women) with a mean body-mass index …
There are dozens and dozens of additional studies confirming these studies’ findings. You either purposely spreading dangerous misinformation, or simply spreading falsehoods due to ignorance on the subject.
“When you skip out on the carbs at breakfast or eat that salad with grilled chicken and olive oil for lunch with hopes or lightening up – it will backfire. Maybe not today or even for the next week or so, but eventually it will. When your carbohydrate intake is too low, the body senses that and it’s stressful. Your primal biological drive to eat will take over. I’m not here bashing low carbohydrate diets,”
This is simply wrong. When you don;t consume Carbohydrates for more than a few days your body uses a process called gluconeogenesis. This is why cultures that live off high-protein diets are not constantly starving as you would have us believe. Gluconeogenesis is the conversion of proteins to glucose. Now ideally you would avoid gluconeogenesis if you are eating a High-Fat Low-Carb diet, as fat is a far more efficient energy source when it is metabolized into Ketones bodies. Additionally consuming fat is the most effective food type to consume for staving off hunger cravings. Carbohydrates and sugars have the unfortunate effect of increasing hunger do to the insulin spike their consumption induces.
As I mentioned in my previous post, with the links to modern scholarly articles, you need to research how carbohydrates, proteins, and fats work at a metabolic level. You are making incorrect statements about nutrition based on gross over-s implications of dietary principles.
Piramal Realty says
Piramal Realty is one of the best real estate company in Mumbai, India. We have a huge range of residential & commercial projects across major cities of India.
2 bhk flat for sale in Mumbai
Residential property for Sale
commercial property for sale in Mumbai