Why do we need carbohydrates? Why a zero-carb diet is dangerous.

Carbohydrates get a lot of stick for being the food group that can be so good to eat but so bad for your body, but remember, they are the base of the food pyramid.

A zero-carb diet is very difficult to sustain, and it is also very bad for our bodies as carbohydrate is a nutrient we need. Carbohydrates are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and are the main source of energy for our bodies. Our body uses up energy it gets from carbs first, before protein, fat or alcohol and it is recommended that from 45% – 60% of our diet should be comprised of carbs – here’s why. They are an energy source Carbs give us most of the energy our body needs. (Whole meal Bread is a great source of energy)

  • A source of proteins and lipids, Carbohydrates are a part of many proteins and fats that our body need to function through its processes.  
  • Provides nutrients Carbohydrates provide our intestine with nutrients for the good bacteria which helps us digest food.
  • Protects muscles Carbohydrates are essential in protecting our muscles as it is a source of energy, and if we starved our body of carbs it would eventually turn to eating its own muscles to find energy.

So, you may be wondering why on earth anyone would bang the ‘low carb diet’ drum? It is not that carbohydrates in general are bad but that the type, quality and quantity of carbs in your diet can mean they are good or bad for you. The less processed starchy wholegrain varieties of carbohydrates are the ones you want to be eating. The fiber found in wholegrain carbohydrates are good for your health. Sugar, starch and fiber are all carbohydrates and obviously eating sugar is not good for you. When a naturally recurring sugar is present and unrefined such as in fruit, honey, fruit juice, milk and vegetables it can be good for your health, but it is the refined sugar that you want to stay away from. Starch is made up of all the sugar units bonded together and is mainly found in food that comes from plants. Bread, rice, potatoes and pasta are all starchy foods and will provide you with a slow release of energy throughout the day. Fiber is a diverse range of compounds found in the cell walls of food that comes from plants, fiber can be found in vegetables with skins on, wholegrain bread, lentils, beans and pulses. A high-fiber diet means there is bulk in your meals and you will always feel full. A carbohydrate contains less calories gram-for-gram than fat and so eating high-fiber starchy food is a good way to lose weight. You can of course cut out sugar, and survive absolutely swimmingly without it, and that is a carbohydrate people should cut out of their diets. However, giving up carbohydrates entirely would be really difficult and not advisable for your health.


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