Carbs often get a bad rap, especially when it comes to weight gain. However, it is also important to clarify that not all of them are bad and that their intake is necessary for the proper functioning of the body.
The Mayo Clinic Research Institute explains that carbohydrates, as they are also called, are a type of macronutrient found in many foods and beverages. These are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, cereals, vegetables and dairy products.
Normally, when people want to lose weight, they choose to reduce their intake of these nutrients, a decision that can also minimize the risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Not all carbohydrates are the same and in fact there are several groups of them. Natural simple, which includes lactose in milk and fructose in fruit; simple refined which is the common sugar; natural complexes, which are whole grains or legumes, and refined complexes, which are white flour.
Normally, the body uses carbohydrates as one of its main sources of energy, according to the US National Library of Medicine. During digestion, complex carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars (glucose) and released into the blood.
At this time, insulin kicks in, which is the hormone responsible for regulating these blood sugar levels. When glucose is very high, the person is at risk of diabetes and insulin allows the passage of this substance to the cells so that they convert it into energy, thus reducing the quantity in the blood.
low carb diet
In general, a low-carb diet focuses on protein and some non-starchy vegetables and reduces the intake of grains, legumes, fruits, breads, sweets, pastas, and starchy vegetables, without eliminating these items completely.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that carbohydrates make up between 45% and 65% of daily caloric intake, but this must be accompanied by good hydration and regular physical activity.
One of the main effects of a low carbohydrate diet is weight loss. “Low-carb diets, especially very-low-carb diets, may cause greater short-term weight loss than low-fat diets.. However, most studies have shown that at 12 or 24 months, the benefits of low-carb diets are not significant.” Mayo Clinic.
The quoted source also assures that eating low carbohydrates can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, through weight loss, which can also improve cholesterol levels.
However, it is important to understand that a sudden and drastic reduction in carbohydrates can also lead to temporary side effects such as constipation, headaches and muscle cramps.
Severe carb restriction can cause the body to break down fat into ketones for energy, a process called ketosis, which can lead to effects like bad breath, headaches, fatigue, and weakness.
Additionally, the Better with Health portal indicates that a very low carbohydrate intake combined with a high presence of protein increases hepatic glucose production and decreases tissue response to insulin. Both of these conditions become markers of insulin resistance.
In the long term, according to experts, carbohydrate restriction can lead to vitamin or mineral deficiencies and gastrointestinal disorders.