While the Atkin diet has been around for quite some time, new low-carb diets like the Keto diet are keeping carbs kicked to the curb. While some experts claim the low (or zero) carb movement is can cure everything from Alzheimer’s to weight gain, some are standing strong and breaking the barriers surrounding the most controversial macronutrient.
We spoke to Fit Factory Fitness’ in-house Nutritionist, Maya Eid, to get the lowdown once and for all. Below, she breaks it down for us.
“Carbs have been heavily demonized lately, as it’s been led to believe it’s a major contributor to weight gain.” Eid confirms. “It’s normally the first thing people cut out when they are attempting to lose weight. In reality, all that’s really happening is that they’ve replaced a fluffy carb-rich food for something lower in calories (like an apple or carrot sticks), ultimately creating a reduction of calories in total, which is why people experience weight loss. They aren’t losing weight because they reduced a particular carb, but more so because of their overall caloric reduction,” She continued.
Not all carbs are created equal, and may not deserve the bad rep they get. Although they’ve been given a negative connotation, there are several benefits to consuming carbohydrates. This important macro is your body’s main energy source that provides fuel for your brain, kidneys, heart, muscles and central nervous system.
Also, if you’re leading an active lifestyle, carbohydrates help to provide better performance outcomes and reduced risk of injury with those engaging in intense physical activities such as HIIT.
So how can we determine which kind of carbs we should be eating? Eid explains, “Healthy sources of carbohydrates, such as high fibre starchy foods, vegetables, fruits and legumes are important sources of nutrients such as calcium, iron and B vitamins and aren’t necessary to eliminate unless there’s a food allergy or sensitivity present or contributing to any health symptoms.”
So what’s the magic number and amount of carbs we should be eating for maximum health? “Everybody is unique and has different needs! It depends on age, gender, height, weight, tolerance, current health status, activity level and adherence towards what works best for the individual for successful weight loss. Patience and consistency is key too, which doesn’t sound as sexy as having a magical rule to follow, which is why most weight loss plans fail long term.”
Eid leaves us with one final piece of parting advice — which is to encourage people to experiment gradually and see what works best for them, and to know that carbs aren’t always the enemy. While some thrive eating a diet higher in carbohydrates, some do much better eating more fats and proteins. It’s important to take into account age, activity level, tolerance, and hormonal and digestive status to determine a macronutrient ratio suitable for each individual.