In the modern age, people are increasingly keen to reduce their carbohydrate intake in a bid to lose weight. As a result of this, a high proportion of contemporary diet plans are focused on cutting carbs and in some instances eliminating them entirely, although this is fraught with numerous risks and potential health concerns.
Not only do studies suggest that the human body should consume a minimum of 130 grams or carbohydrates each day, but cutting your carb intake is also thought to trigger health complaints such as low heart palpitations, headaches, low energy levels and a lack of mental focus.
This highlights the dangers of reducing your carb intake, while it also hints at an insufficient understanding of carbohydrates and their role within a balanced diet. So unless you are allergic to carbs, it would be unwise to eliminate them entirely from your diet.
Is Cutting Carbs The Best Way To Lose Weight?
One of the main myths surrounding carbohydrates (and therefore the biggest source of confusion among dieters) is that they are a primary and universal trigger of obesity. This is far from the case, and there are a number of compelling reasons for including carbohydrates as a key part of your diet.
Carbs are in fact the primary energy source for the human body, while there is also a clear distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbohydrates. While ‘good’ or complex carbohydrates (such as those found in whole grains and legumes) contain longer chains of sugar molecules that provide a sustained source of energy, ‘bad’ carbs are usually laced with basic sugars and trans fats that are likely to trigger sudden weight gain.
This has a significant impact on your physical well-being, as not all carbohydrates should be considered as equal within your overarching diet plan. Studies have also proven that there are a number of additional factors that impact on the human tolerance to carbohydrates, including age, daily activity levels and the balance that exists elsewhere in your diet.
These facts not only hint at the benefits of consuming good carbohydrates, but they also suggest that attributing obesity to the consumption of carbs represents a huge oversimplification of a complex topic.
Above all else, all of the scientific evidence confirms that reducing or eliminating the consumption of carbohydrates arbitrarily and for the purpose of losing weight is not to be recommended in any scenario.
The Benefits of Controlling your Carbohydrate Intake
While it may not be advisable to eliminate carbs or minimise your consumption on an arbitrary basis, there is scientific evidence to suggest that carefully controlling your intake can deliver health benefits. Restricting your consumption according to national guidelines at the minimum threshold of 130 grams can enhance your mental performance and clarity of thought, negating the argument that eating fewer carbohydrates actually inhibits cognitive ability and the brain’s functionality.
Clearly, such an approach could have a highly positive impact at home and in the workplace, where lost productivity is thought to cost British businesses alone a staggering £29 billion ($35.1 billion) each year.
There are other benefits associated with sustaining a controlled carb intake, including a reduction of gastrointestinal stress and bloating around the abdomen. The human form can also benefit from enhanced good cholesterol levels, as typically we seek out high-fat alternatives that leave us feeling fuller when we initially eliminate carbohydrates from our diets).
The key to controlling your carb intake is to focus on consuming a predetermined amount of complex carbohydrates each day, while eliminating simple alternatives wherever possible. You must also prepare for an initial period of discomfort when you first begin to reduce your consumption to comply with health guidelines, as this may trigger a considerable change to your diet.
This can manifest itself in numerous ways, including a brief bout of depression as the brain’s serotonin levels plunge suddenly. You may also experience constipation, but these consequences can be offset by maintaining a high fluid intake and replacing any salt that is lost from your diet.
This will relieve the symptoms, which may last for a period of two weeks as your body adjusts to its new diet and carbohydrate intake.
Further Steps Towards Managing your Carbohydrate Intake
Regardless of whether you wish to simply enhance your diet or lose weight to fit into your dream wedding outfit, you will need to follow a number of steps when reducing and managing your carb intake.
Firstly, there is a need to calculate your desired carbohydrate intake per day, taking into account the factors that we have already discussed such as your weight, height and level of tolerance to carbs. Those with an intolerance to carbohydrates or the foods that contain them will need to manage their diet carefully, as this will help them to avoid any uncomfortable, allergic reactions.
It is also imperative that you calculate your daily number of carbohydrates in accordance with your activity levels, as carbs provide energy that the body uses throughout the day. Those who are largely inactive or work at sedentary jobs should aim for the minimum consumption level of around 130 grams, while those who partake in regular exercise should increase their intake depending on their existing level of fitness and the precise nature of the activity that they indulge in.
This is particularly true for body builders or those of you who are aiming to increase their muscle mass. Good and complex carbohydrates are crucial to achieving this goal, and it is recommended that serious athletes consume 1-3 grams of carbs for every pound that they are looking to add in muscle.
Once you have determined your daily intake, you simply need to maintain a consistent diet beyond the two week period of transition to see initial results.
Clearly, there is no single low-carbohydrate diet plan that is suitable for everyone, and arbitrarily choosing a diet plan or eliminating carbs entirely can be extremely damaging for your health. Instead, it is important to understand the function of carbohydrates within the human body, before calculating your required intake in line with a host of personal factors.
Then, you can manage your consumption to achieve desired fitness goals, while also maintaining a healthy body and mind in the process.