There is a common mis-conception that carbohydrates make you fat. Of course that refined and processed carbs loaded with bad oils and preservatives, sodium and added sugar make you gain weight when eaten in excess. It depends what you choose to have for breakfast: a bowl of creamy, warm wheat with fresh fruit, or a jelly filled donut. There is a difference between the bad artificial carbs you shouldn’t eat, and the good whole food carbs you should! Food for thought: at 4 calories per gram carbohydrates should comprise 50-60% of our daily diet. As a reminder, carbohydrates come from fruit, vegetables, and grains and they are rich in minerals, vitamins, and indispensable nutrients. Chemically, carbohydrates contain carbon, hence the name, along with hydrogen and oxygen molecules. There are simple carbs and complex carbs, like fibers and starches. Carbohydrates are essential to getting the healthy supply of fiber necessary for optimal health, especially for those afflicted with digestive issues. Did you know that 70% of our immune system is located in and around our digestive tract? By eating wholesome carbohydrates you (1) maintain a healthy colon, (2) prevent and relieve many digestive disorders (like IBS), and (3) excretes excess fat and cholesterol from the body. Who said carbs are bad you?
Guess what? Protein should make up only 10-15% of our daily diet. Yes, you heard that correctly. Most people have been sold on the idea that the more protein they consume – much of which is derived in the form of animal protein or supplements – the healthier and leaner they will be. If your scope is to lose weight fast, you can take the unhealthy route and starve your body of essential nutrients by eating mainly a high protein diet as endorsed by Atkins. When your body is deprived of carbohydrates and fats, protein is used as energy and inevitably anything that gets used as energy will turn into fuel for the body and contribute to weight loss. But long-term and excessive consumption of protein has some rather undesirable side effects:
• Protein breakdown byproducts (urea) must be eliminated which increases water loss and dehydration
• Increases excretion of calcium in urine: kidney stones and bone loss
• Long-term excess of protein intake may lead to kidney and liver damage
Our bodies were not intended to be starved of healthy and nourishing foods, and be experimented on and altered for the sake of socio-cultural beauty fads. Think about how against nature this whole concept is. After all, animals don’t decide due to peer pressure to starve themselves to ‘look good.’ They instinctually know what to eat to maintain optimal energy and health, and they naturally balance out their diets. I don’t remember the last time I heard of a lion deciding to go on a diet and skip a gazelle for lunch because he looked too chubby. Humans do the most ridiculous things to their bodies, often due to sheer vanity and let’s admit it, lack of common sense. Not to mention all the other escapist addictions we eagerly overindulge in, like drugs, alcohol, and bad food. Again, I think of the lion sitting on a rock and thinking to himself, “Hmmm…what can I do today to have some crazy fun and damage my health? What shrubs can I dig up that will alter my consciousness or make me look svelte?” All that said, of course there are good reasons to ‘go on a diet’ – if you are diabetic, obese, and generally unwell due to bad food and lifestyle choices. However, choosing to lower weight should not compromise the healthy balance of our bodies, which will happen if we deprive our diets of essential vitamins and nutrients that can only come from wholesome carbohydrates. Remember, food is our medicine. The food we eat can make us depressed or lethargic, energetic and happy. It is all about balance, and of course the quality of the foods we choose to buy and eat. So load up your plate with 60% of the ‘good stuff’ – whole grains, leafy greens, colorful veggies, and delicious fruits. Mix in some healthy activity, fresh air, and good sleep, and voila – you have the perfect ingredients for your ideal health and weight.