For most dieters, carbs are the enemy. Even majority of diet fads are geared toward minimizing carbohydrate consumption for weight loss. But what are carbs and why is it so important to our health? Carbohydrates are a major source of energy needed by the body for normal organ functions. The body converts carbs to glucose, a simple sugar. The body basically runs on glucose. This is why carbohydrates are so important to our diet.
Unfortunately, because carbohydrates-rich foods are plentiful, most people tend to consume excessive levels of carbohydrates each day. If you don’t burn off more than the amount of carbs you consume though physical activities, excess carbs are stored by the body as fat. This leads to weight gain. This is why so many dieters try to cut back carbohydrates from their diet. Others go the extra mile by completely eliminating carbohydrates from their diet.
There are two major types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simply carbohydrates, also known as simple sugars, include refined sugars and fruits. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates, also known as starches, are found in breads and pastas, rice and root vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Most low-carbohydrate diets minimize the consumption of complex carbohydrates, particularly refined starches like white rice, white bread, processed cereals, and baked goods. These types of foods are high in calories.
Life Without Carbohydrates: Is It Possible?
It’s completely possible to live without carbohydrates. In fact, several people share their own accounts of shunning carbs completely from their diet. However, when it comes to carbs, the question is never about the possibility of living without it because you can. The real question is should you be eliminating carbs from your diet?
Most dieticians and health experts agree that a diet lacking in carbohydrates is dangerous to one’s health and well-being. Yes, it could temporary result in weight loss but the tradeoff is much worse.
Effects of Living Without Carbs
Perhaps the most obvious effect of shunning carbs from one’s diet is weight loss. Because there’s less consumption of glucose, the body is forced to use stored fat for energy. This process leads to fat loss as well as water weight loss.
However, minimizing carbohydrates for weight loss could backfire. When there’s less consumption of food, the brain goes on “survival mode.” Survival mode basically means your body will try to hold on to as much fat as it can to increase the chance of “surviving” the lack of food.
If there’s less food and your body had no choice but to burn off fat, it will start eating up fat and muscles for fuel. Muscle loss will result in general weakness of the body, making you more vulnerable against various illnesses.
Eating more protein and fewer carbohydrates seems to be the norm in most fat diets. But too much consumption of protein will lead to constipation. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are all rich in carbohydrates and soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber adds water to stool so they pass easily from the colon. Insoluble fiber binds and bulks up stool and this helps it pass easily from the colon.
Consuming less fiber could result in a myriad of serious conditions, including diverticulitis and colorectal cancer.
Most high-protein diets are not designed to be taken for prolonged periods. Too much protein and too little carbohydrates could result in kidney damage. That’s why it’s important to track your protein consumption when turning to a high-protein diet. Ideally, high-protein diets should only be done no more than 4 months. Otherwise, such diet could lead to various kidney and liver problems. Also, before turning to any high-protein diet—or any type of diet in general—it’s best to consult your doctor first.
How to Eliminate Carbs From Your Diet
Eat Green, Leafy Vegetables in Place of Starchy Vegetables
If you’re committed to eliminating carbohydrates completely from your diet, you will have to avoid all types of starchy vegetables—including potatoes—and consume more green, leafy vegetables like lettuce, kale, arugula, spinach, cabbages, etc.
Avoid Pastas and Rice
No more dinner rolls for you! Eliminating carbs means avoiding breads, rice, pastas, and all sorts of baked goods. You should also avoid cereals, brown rice, whole grains, and tortillas.
If you can’t survive the day without sodas or fizzy drinks, you’re not fit for a carb-free diet. When you go carb-free, you eliminate all sorts of sugary drinks, including designer coffees and other calorific drinks to lose weight. Carbonated drinks, certain fruit juices and smoothies are also a no-no.