Some people deem carbs as the culprit and the cause of obesity and inability to lose weight. This concern isn’t unfounded, as excessive consumption of carbohydrates can lead to insulin resistance and hamper the body’s ability to use fat as fuel. Furthermore, glucose is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver cells, and because glycogen increases water retention, consuming too many carbohydrates can lead to one looking bloated.
All that being said, is a low-carb diet really the way to go? The answer is “not always”, and here’s why:
1. You need energy
If you are in a desk-bound job, go ahead and plan a low-carb diet. But if you are in a career that requires physical work, you should go for a higher-carb meal instead. Having more carbohydrates provides more energy needed for moving about, as well as creating energy storage for later uses. This is especially important for athletes, particularly during competition phases. The only exception is for endurance athletes, where anecdotal evidence have pointed to little to no drawbacks from subsisting on a low-carb diet.
2. It depends on your insulin sensitivity
Whether to go low-carb depends on your level of insulin sensitivity. If you have high insulin sensitivity, it means that insulin can readily convert any glucose in the blood into glycogen. Assuming that your carbohydrate intake is matched to your activity level, this means that the likelihood of glucose being shunted off to fat storage is pretty low. Studies have found that ladies who are insulin sensitive tend to lose more weight on a higher-carb diet. Thus, if you are insulin sensitive, a low-carb diet may not be the best for you if you’re trying to make progress.
3. Carbs do not make you gain weight
If you are jumping on the bandwagon of a low-carb diet in hopes of losing weight, then you will be sorely disappointed. Research has shown that diets (or rather stylised diets) have little or no effect on long-term weight loss. As long as there is a caloric deficit, the weight will come off, no matter if you are on a low-carb low-fat high-protein diet or a high-carb low-fat low-protein diet. The importance of macronutrient ratios only really come into play when you’re determining where that weight-loss comes from – fat or lean muscle.
Carbohydrates are the furthest thing from being the devil’s nutrient. In fact, consuming carbohydrates give you the energy to engage in physical activities such as working out, that would otherwise help in building your physique. However, be mindful that there is a difference between whole carbohydrates and processed carbohydrates, and it is the former that you should go for. So, save yourself the guilt the next time you eat that extra serving of quinoa!