No Carb Diet? Think Twice, You Need Carbohydrates to Survive!

If you are doing or planning on doing a “no carb diet” you could harm your body. With so many diets and fads it is often hard to decipher if the information you are receiving is in the best interest of your health or if it is a marketing ploy to get you to buy health products and programs. No carb diets fall into a category that can indeed cause you to lose weight, but not in a way that is healthy for you.

You NEED carbohydrates to LIVE because they are essential for several life-sustaining functions required by your body. In fact, of all the macronutrients—Carbs, Proteins and Fats—carbohydrates are the one you need the most of; the USDA recommends that 45% – 65% of your calories should come from carbohydrates.

What happens to you when you eliminate carbohydrates from your diet?

  • You become lethargic, tired and have reduced energy. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel, and are the easiest nutrient for your body to utilize as energy. As a result your body is unable to sustain the fun and healthy activities that keep your body in great shape.
  • Your body cannot function properly. Without carbohydrates your central nervous system, brain, kidneys and even your heart become adversely affected over time.
  • Digestive issues occur. Carbohydrates play a major role in your intestinal health and your body’s ability to eliminate waste.

Moderation is the key to a healthy body; extremes of one kind or another tend to have extreme effects on your body. Completely eliminating carbohydrates or adding in overwhelming amounts of proteins are examples of excessive behaviors that ultimately lead to results that negatively impact your health. That is why you often read the following; it is not just a disclaimer, it is really good advice.

Before starting any fitness, diet or exercise program check with your doctor to find out if that program is truly right for you. Be sure to give your doctor details about the program you are interested in and they are certain to guide you in the right direction.

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Posted on May 3, 2012, in fitness, Health, Helpful, LA Fitness Blog - Living Healthy, LA Fitness Blog - Top Tips, LA Fitness Reviews - About, Nutrition, Top Tips, Weight Loss and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Rachael Burrello

    Wow! What a refreshing change from most reporting on “health,” particularly with regard to diets. I appreciate particularly that you point out that people should be wary of endorsements that are just marketing ploys to sell products or services; unfortunately too many people get suckered into this kind of thing, falling prey to hyper-inflated promises and savvy advertising, without investigating the facts or research from credible sources. I also appreciate that you encourage people to talk to their doctor or health professional before embarking on a diet program; again, something that is too often skipped over. Certainly doctors are not infallible, but the years of training they go through aren’t for nothing.

    There needs to be more of this sort of thing out there–articles that are genuinely interested in promoting HEALTH.

    • The most recent resrceah shows that there are several good choices out there. There are two general categories, low fat (such as Mediterranean, USDA food pyramid, Okinawan) and low carb (Atkins is the best known). Either approach will provide good weight loss. A well-balanced vegetarian or vegan diet also is very healthy. Try different diets and go with what works for you. The low fat diet based on the USDA food pyramid works for me. I eat large amounts of whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts. I also eat large amounts of high glycemic foods such as potatoes, pasta, rice, and corn. This is because I am very active and in my experience these foods provide me with the glycogen I need for long-distance running, swimming, and cycling. Less active people probably should not eat so much high glycemic foods. I eat 4 oz per day of chicken breast or fish, and use small amounts of olive or canola oil. I go vegetarian two days a week. Once or twice a month I reward myself to fast food, bbq ribs, or a steak. These rewards have allowed me to keep my sanity, and stick to my diet for years.The best choice for long-term weight loss is something you can stick with over the years. Only you know what is best for you. Also, any exercise you can get will definitely help.

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more here. As a fitness professional that’s previously (years ago) gone on the Atkins diet, I know all too well that you are correct here. If you eliminate carbs completely from your diet, you will be lethargic, cranky, and likely to have poor concentration as well.

    I do think it’s healthy to cut out refined sugars (simple carbs) almost completely from your diet, though. In my opinion, that is my definition of the healthy “no-carb” diet, since no one really counts fruits, veggies, and milk as “carbs”.

    But, let’s not forget how healthy whole-grain carbs are! Maybe that’s another post… :)

  3. contextualcuriosity

    There are two other primary sources of calories – Protein and Fat – as well. It is isn’t exactly fair to talk about eating literally 0 carbs, without mentioning that over any period of time, if you ate literally 0 protein, or 0 fats, you would be in much worse shape.

    I have been following a LOW (not NO) carb diet for about two years, my health (not just weight) has improved in almost every measurable way. I am leaner, stronger, have more energy, and have had better blood work. I also have had more progress in immeasurable ways, my mood, my self image and confidence – some of this has to do with weight loss – but also hormonal imbalance are corrected because eating a low fat diet (really that’s all that’s left if you eat 50% carbs 35% protein) inhibits testosterone, which is essential in building muscle, and getting leaner.

    It is also important to differentiate between good sources of carbs and bad sources of carbs, this differentiation is constantly made with fat. 100g of carbs from nutrient rich fibery vegetables is orders of magnitude better for you than any kind of bread, or any kind of pasta, regardless of it is whole wheat or whole grain or anything.

  4. While No-Carb diet is bad, low carb diets have worked for me and many people. The diet we follow includes about 50g of good carbs. Good carbs – Fruits and non-starchy vegetables.
    Processed foods are definitely not included in the diet. Majority of the calories in our diet comes from Protein (Chicken, Eggs, Bacon, Steak etc..) and Saturated Fat (Butter, Ghee- Clarified Butter).
    I’ve lost weight, my cholesterol numbers are much better. I have higher energy level and I feel better all of the time.
    I understand that the experience of me and my friends can be termed anecdotal, but it has worked for us.
    I am not an advocate of No-Carb diet, but that of Low-Carb lifestyle. I don’t think I can call it a diet personally, as I like the lifestyle I’ve chosen.

    • I agree with you. I really haven’t heard of a reputable diet that states “no carbs”. Watch your carbs and know what kind of carbs to eat.

  5. Your article was about a NO carb diet. Most nutritionists will tell people who want to lose weight to reduce the percentage of carbs in their diet, and be more cognizant of the quality of the carbs. A better story would have been to talk about those choices and how to better identify the good carbs.

  6. This post does not represent my nor many of your potential clients’ realities. On a Very Low Carb Diet (20g or less per day), eating bacon, lamb, steak, butter, eggs, cheese and in six months: I’ve lost over 55 pounds, reduced my waist from a 42″ to a 34″, and dropped my LDL from the 170′s to the 130′s and my triglycerides from over 400 to about 60 while boosting my HDL 9 points. Scientists are now looking into prescribing a low carb diet to cancer patients because many cancers can only use glucose to grow.

  7. But don’t use that as an excuse to ear that cookie oe muffin! Eat more Broccoli !!

  8. the human brain alone needs 300-400 calories per day in pure sugar. No sugar, No intelligence!

  9. cyclemaniaque

    @matt
    What exactly do you mean by “pure sugar” ? Sugar can be produced from virtually any food source. How quickly depends on the source, but simply dumping spoon fulls of overly processed sugar into your system can actually do you harm… can you say diabetes?

  10. Interesting article and while I would not suggest/recommend a no carb diet or elimination of any macro this article is not 100% correct. By definition a non-essential nutrient is one that the body can survive without and has the capability of producing from other sources. Carbs are an non-essential nutrient since the body can survive without them and can produce the glucose needed via amino acids and triglycerols from fats. The brain is very capable of using ketones in place of glucose.

    Not sure where the no sugar no intelligence came from and I would ask to see any studies that point to that conclusion. Some people can do very well on very low carbs while others can’t.

    The transition period from burning carbs to fats for fuel can take up to 3 weeks and yeah you may be a miserable person but once body adjusts to new fuel source you will be fine.

    Now would I say go run a marathon? Probably not…

    One issue with low or no carbs for weight loss is that there will be a lot of weight loss in the form of water and glycogen and not that these diets produce a greater fat loss. Also if you start eating more carbs later on you will gain back the water that will come with the glycogen.

    Carbs sources also provide us with other things besides carbs such as mineral, vitamins, fiber etc which would need to be supplemented…

  11. Great post.
    I agree low carb dies do not work in the long term and could actually do harm to your long term health.

  12. That’s not true info.
    I am on a low carb diet & other than $ I spend on groceries, I haven’t dropped a dime on this diet “fad”
    My cholesterol is great, my iron was low & now it’s normal, blood pressure back down to normal, no more heart burn, not hungry all the time like I was before. Before, I was constantly tired & lethargic, now I feel like I have waaay more energy. In 2 & a half months I have lost 20lbs. I eat some carbs like in fruit & nuts. But for the most part I don’t eat fast food, candy, junk, bread, pasta. And I don’t eat all day, I learned to eat when I’m hungry & stop when I’m not. I’m well within a good calorie range too. On my “cheat” day a couple weeks ago, I had a few fries & some icecream….I was sick to my stomach from it…so I won’t be cheating. It’s a life style change & I’m better for it.

  13. There is no clear definition of exactly what constitutes a “low carb diet.”Some would call anything under 100-150 grams per day low-carb, which is definitely a lot less than the standard Western diet.It could take some self experimentation to figure out your optimal range as this depends on a lot of things, but most people will need to go under 50 grams per day to get into full-blown ketosis.

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