Diet Wise

While the low-carb diet trend is still go­ing strong, ex­perts sug­gest you pay more at­ten­tion to qual­ity, not quan­tity.

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

Carbs are not your en­emy

Over the years, car­bo­hy­drates have be­come nutri­tional vil­lains. It seems ev­ery­where you look, peo­ple ad­vise you to watch carbs, cut carbs, or go low-carb. But you need carbs – and more than you may think. Di­etary carbs pro­vide the body’s pri­mary en­ergy source, glu­cose, which fu­els ev­ery­thing you do, from breath­ing to think­ing to run­ning. The In­sti­tute of Medicine rec­om­mends all adults get 45% to 65% of their daily calo­ries from carbs, which is 203 to 293 grams per day based on an 1,800-calo­rie daily diet. This means about half of ev­ery­thing you eat should be car­bo­hy­drates. So why are so many peo­ple con­vinced that it’s bet­ter to eat as few carbs as pos­si­ble? The an­swer may lie in the sources of those carbs.

Not All Cre­ated Equal

The main is­sue with carbs is that they come from var­i­ous foods – some good and some bad. “We get di­etary car­bo­hy­drates from nutri­ent-rich whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruit, veg­eta­bles and dairy – but also from re­fined grains and the added sug­ars in pro­cessed foods and sug­ary bev­er­ages,” says Vas­anti Ma­lik, a re­search sci­en­tist in the Depart­ment of Nutri­tion at the Har­vard T H Chan School of Pub­lic Health. Nat­u­ral, un­pro­cessed foods pro­vide health-pro­mot­ing vi­ta­mins, min­er­als, fi­bre, and phy­to­chem­i­cals along with carbs. On the other hand, highly pro­cessed foods made with re­fined flour – such as white bread, pasta, crack­ers and muffins – typ­i­cally fall short on these nu­tri­ents. Sug­ary foods like cook­ies, cake, candy and soda, are es­pe­cially low in nu­tri­ents and are of­ten re­ferred to as ‘empty calo­ries’.

More Or Less?

While the rec­om­mended carb in­take range is the same for all age groups, there are some cir­cum­stances that might in­flu­ence whether you aim for the high or low end. For ex­am­ple, some re­search sug­gests that peo­ple with di­a­betes might ben­e­fit from a low-carb diet, but peo­ple with kid­ney prob­lems should avoid low-carb eat­ing plans be­cause they tend to be high in pro­tein, and too much pro­tein is hard on the kid­neys. It you suf­fer from con­sti­pa­tion, in­creas­ing fi­brerich car­bo­hy­drate foods, like whole grains, beans, fruits, and veg­eta­bles, can help. Ad­di­tion­ally, carbs pro­vide the en­ergy nec­es­sary for vig­or­ous ex­er­cise, so you may need ex­tra carbs to pre­pare for stren­u­ous work­outs or en­durance ac­tiv­i­ties.

The Skinny On LowCarb Di­ets

Low-carb di­ets have been pop­u­lar for weight loss for more than two decades now, but the re­search be­hind their

We get di­etary s car­bo­hy­drate rich from nutri­ent- whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruit, veg­eta­bles and dairy.

ef­fec­tive­ness is still on­go­ing, and more stud­ies come out on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Here are some of the high­lights of what science has found so far: Low-carb di­ets don’t help you lose weight in the long term. They are gen­er­ally ef­fec­tive in the first six months for weight loss, but ben­e­fits dis­si­pate in the long term be­cause of dif­fi­cul­ties with com­pli­ance. To get fat-burn­ing phys­i­o­log­i­cal changes, you need to keep your car­bo­hy­drate in­take ex­ceed­ingly low (only 20 to 50 grams per day). This is hard to achieve or main­tain and runs the risk of lim­it­ing im­por­tant nu­tri­ents, phy­to­chem­i­cals, and fi­bre in your diet. When you re­duce carbs, you have to re­place those calo­ries with some­thing, so pro­tein and sat­u­rated fat in­take tend to go up. Higher-sat­u­rated fat di­ets have proven harm­ful health ef­fects. On the flip side, much re­search con­nects high-un­pro­cessed­carb, high-fi­bre di­ets (like veg­e­tar­ian and ve­gan eat­ing habits) to favourable long-term health ben­e­fits.

En­joy Your Carbs

How should you ap­proach carbs in your diet? “Rather than fo­cus on one par­tic­u­lar di­etary com­po­nent like car­bo­hy­drates, a bet­ter strat­egy would be to aim for a healthy over­all di­etary pat­tern,” says Ma­lik. This would be a diet that em­pha­sizes higher amounts of whole fruits and veg­eta­bles, whole grains, healthy fats (veg­etable oils), and healthy pro­teins (nuts, legumes, eggs, seafood, and poul­try) – while lim­it­ing bad carbs (such as re­fined grains and added sug­ars), red and pro­cessed meat, sodium, sat­u­rated fats, and trans fats. “Com­bine this healthy di­etary pat­tern with daily phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, and you have the best chance for main­tain­ing a healthy body weight and pre­vent­ing chronic dis­eases,” says Ma­lik.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the carbs pro­vide en­ergy nec­es­sary for vig­or­ous ex­er­cise, so you may need ex­tra carbs to pre­pare for stren­u­ous work­outs or en­durance ac­tiv­i­ties.

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