“Carbs are fattening – cut down on them” is another of the popular food myths. Many people think that by reducing their carbohydrate consumption they will lose weight.
Not true, according to Erin McCarthy, MS. RD, LDN, professional dietician at the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
McCarthy said that no matter what food group you choose, if you cut out the items from that group, you will reduce your caloric intake and lose weight.
So, cutting down on carbs is not necessarily the way to go if you want to lose weight.
Back when I first started writing this blog, I took a course called Nutrition Made Clear from the Great Courses.
It was taught by Professor Roberta Anding, registered dietician and a certified specialist in sports dietetics.
Professor Anding said that carbohydrate is a maligned nutrient. She considers it a nutritional powerhouse.
“It is the exclusive fuel of the central nervous system, your brain and for exercising muscle.”
It is necessary for both brain and muscle function. She considers carbohydrates central to our human physiology.
“For most of us, Carbohydrates should account for about 50 percent of our diets,” Anding said.
The functions of carbohydrates to provide energy. “folks on a low carbohydrate diet are irritable, fatigued and lethargic….” and the reason is that they have eliminated a major source of energy.
One further function of carbohydrates is that they protect proteins which are used for building our muscles and tissues. If we are low on carbohydrates, the body will burn protein for energy. Ironically, it is protein and not fat that is taken by the body when carbs are low. The liver is able to convert protein into carbohydrates, but not fat.
So, as always, the answer is balance. Cut out extra calories, but don’t distort the basic nutrients. Try to eat a balanced diet. I have written repeatedly about the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. You can read further by typing Mediterranean Diet into the search box at the right.