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Health
Published: January 04, 2018

Are Carbs More Addictive Than Cocaine?

Mmm, bread. There’s a good chance you love the stuff. And if you can, somehow, turn down a basket of rolls at a restaurant, some other carb probably tempts you. Have you ever wondered why we love eating pasta, pizza, burgers and plain old bread so much? Carbs (not unlike cocaine) give you a rush.

With a new year upon us, there’s a high probability you’ve decided to get in better shape. This involves lessening your bread/carb intake. But this isn’t easy, even if you think of yourself as a motivated and strong-willed individual. You see, carbohydrates create cravings in your brain and can create intense longing for them.

Sure, carbohydrates aren’t a drug, but in the same way coke can wreck your brain, carbs can wreck your body.1 While some carb lovers may be pointing to the food pyramid for justification, keep in mind that graph was created in the 70’s, long before obesity became such an epidemic.

Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health says,

“You could live your whole life and never eat a single carbohydrate—other than what you get from mother’s milk and the tiny amount that comes naturally in meat—and probably be just fine.”

Yes, we need carbohydrates, but our bodies can make them with the good stuff we eat, like leafy greens and even animal fat. We don’t need the refined carbs.

Are carbs necessary?

While we do need a certain amount of carbohydrates to fuel all of our metabolic processes so we can have energy to do things from breathe, digest, run, do work, think, etc. there is too much of a good thing. Especially if the “thing” is refined carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates will short-circuit your body.

Your metabolism normally stores energy from food so you can use it as fuel later, say for a workout or just getting through your work day. If your diet is packed with carbs (think: bagel in the morning, sandwich at lunch, pasta for dinner), you’re going to reprogram your metabolism, locking your food away as unburnable fat. When you get hungry again you will only want carbs.2

All carbohydrates convert to sugar in your bloodstream.

It comes down to is this: the more refined the carbohydrates are, the faster they convert to sugar. But make no mistake, even if it happens slowly, all carbs become sugar.

When your body breaks down a food, your cells look for glucose to convert into energy. They send this on to the muscles and tissues in your body. If they find themselves with extra glucose, they store it, mainly in the liver, but the rest becomes stored fat.

Too much of any carbohydrate can lead to chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes since it all ends up as glucose.

Reap the health benefits of good carbs

Don’t worry, this isn’t the article that tells you to drop the carbs cold turkey and ignore the cravings. While that would certainly be an impressive success, for now you can focus on choosing carbohydrates full of fiber. These are the carbs that absorb slowly into your system, therefore avoiding those dangerous spikes in your blood sugar levels. These include whole grains, veggies, fruits, and of course beans.

Minimize the health risk of bad carbs by eating fewer refined and processed carbohydrates that strip away beneficial fiber. While it can be so tempting to pick up a cinnamon bun while shopping at the mall, is it really delicious enough to risk your health over? If you can focus on the long-term effects, saying no to a sweet treat can be simpler.

Replace refined carbohydrates with vegetables when you prepare or order a meal. One of my favorite tricks is using riced cauliflower in place of rice. It’s excellent in everything from a southern meal to something loaded with curry!

And don’t forget you can get enough carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and protein. Start small and order your next burger without the bun – opt for lettuce instead! It’s not about changing your whole eating routine, but rather substituting some of the poorer habits.

Do what you can to lessen your consumption of pasta, white bread, white rice, and chips in particular. This is so tricky, since these are the items that always seem to be within reach. If you eat regularly throughout the day and keep your blood sugar steady, it can be much easier to say no to these tempting foods.

Just say no

The next time your tempted to reach for a slice of bread at a restaurant or order bagel at Panera, remember that you wouldn’t start your day or begin a meal by ingesting drugs, so why would you pay for something so detrimental to your health? It may feel dramatic to think of it this way, but the research is there; refined carbohydrates are unnecessary, unhealthy and unwise. Dare to resist!

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