The War on Carbs

Maybe you didn’t realize it, but there’s a war on carbs these days. There are “good carbs” and “bad carbs” and extremists on either end.

Do you really want to live in a world where fruit, potatoes, cake, and bread are banned and considered the enemy?

Sounds like radicalization to me.

In case you aren’t aware, the battle of the bulge breaks down as follows:

1. The really bad guys are sugary, refined carbs: candy, cake, sugar, and soda.

2. The somewhat-less-bad guys are things like bread and rice. Still really bad, but not “evil” like sugar is.

3. Then come the starchy vegetables and fruit like white potatoes and bananas and carrots and grapes. The radicals believe that stuff will still kill you because of the high sugar content.

4. For the extremists, the only good carb is a green carb: broccoli, spinach, cucumbers.

So, which side are you on?

Personally, I believe in all the carbs. I believe in getting my nutrients from a variety of fruits and vegetables and grains. The more colors of the rainbow, the better for our gut microbiome and health.

Vitamin deficiencies present when people restrict themselves to certain kinds of foods, even so-called “healthy” ones.

And while I eat mostly fruits, vegetables, and grains (see last three rows of the image), I also believe in treats (first row). Because sugar, when enjoyed in small amounts and/or timed for activity is just fine for most people. In fact, most people could manage their weight just fine with <10% of daily calories coming from added sugars.*

*My fat loss clients often enjoy a little chocolate each day.

The problem with obesity doesn’t boil down to whether or not a person should eliminate bread and fruit from their diet. The problem is one of chronic overeating, lifestyle, and lack of activity. Food quality is one component, but not the most important one for weight loss: people can get shredded eating poptarts.  People can get fat from eating clean.

Both calories and food quality matter: The poptart-eating crowd will not experience optimal health and performance if the majority of their calories come from the first row in the graphic. Similarly, a person who eats clean but remains obese will likely experience serious health consequences over time.

Bottom line: you don’t have to cut out fruit and bread and the occasional sugary treat to lose weight. In fact, you just might find your body weight and health improves (mental, physical, and digestive) when you eat a variety of foods in sufficient amounts.

Orthorexia: an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy.

Let’s stop the war on carbs.

Let’s stop the disordered thinking about food.

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