Why Do We Need Carbohydrates?

"How many carbs should I eat per day"

This is a question I accidentally came across on google, and it shows how insecure people are made by the media.

There is of course nothing wrong with asking the question. It just makes me sad when people then get the wrong piece of advice. The wrong piece of advice is something like this: "About one third of your food intake should come from carbs".

The statement above is what most commercial diet bloggers copy-paste into their texts from governmental guidelines. I don't believe that these people have actually tested their statements. If they live by their own rules, I don't think they lose a lot of weight, and I don't think it's healthy either.

Listening to governmental guidelines means making the mistakes that our societies have been making for decades. Let me remind you: Countries like the USA and Germany have scary amounts of obese people. I don't think these people are overweight on purpose. Some of them try very hard, but to no avail, to lose weight. We have had these carb-worshipping guidelines for enough decades now to realise: 

"oops, this hasn't helped anyone!"

Let's uncover the myths and the truth about carbs...

Carbs are only energy

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When it comes down to it, carbs are only energy. Carbs are not vitamins, otherwise they would be called vitamins. What may happen is that some carbs come together with vitamins. For example, a fresh mango has vitamins and tastes sweet - it contains sugars, which are carbs.

But now we already move to the core problem. Many foods do contain carbs in large quantities, but nothing else of value. Noodles contain a lot of carbs (read the packaging), but if they contain any vitamins at all, those only come in ridiculously small amounts.

So from an energetic point of view, it doesn't make a difference whether you eat noodles or just the same amount of carbs in a cup full of sugar!

Why do people claim we need carbs?

The sugar industry has a keen interest in selling its products. They try to subdue any information telling the public that sugar is unhealthy. Instead, they make vitamins look dangerous and tell people that diets such as the low carb diet are bad for you.

The scientific truth is that we do need carbs, but only in small quantities. If there was no sugar in our blood sugar level, we would drop dead. These carbs can be found even in foods that officially contain No Carbs At All!
Your body is able to get the slightest traces of sugars out of your food. What is rated as 0% sugar may actually be 0.5% sugars. And if there really isn't any sugar around, then your body can still access fat. Or what do you think happens to people who starve? They become very skinny first.

To give you a very easy idea of how people can survive without food, think of eskimos. They only eat seal, fish and whales. There are no carbohydrates to be found. As I already mentioned in my blog post Is Low Carb Unhealthy, if it was true that we could not survive without carbs, even the eskimos would drop dead instantly. But they don't.

Think even further. Who is going to warn all these poor animals that they are risking their lives by not eating enough carbs? Cows eating all this grass that contains fiber but not sugars, rodents eating roots and insects. Who is going to warn all these animals that scientist claim low carb is dangerous? You see how ridiculous this is? Nature knows better what's right.

Is feeling dizzy or sleepy an indicator that I eat too few carbs?

When you start a low carb or no carb diet, you sometimes feel very down, like you want to crawl on the floor or never get up. The reason for this is that your body needs to get used to it. That's a normal reaction.

Don't let people discourage you or tell you that a low carb diet is unnatural. It is more natural than eating french fries or toast. People in the stone age were much more adapted to low carb, and that's common sense.

If you need to know how to slip into a low carb diet without too much tiredness, check my post about A Smooth Transition Into a Low Carb or No Carb Diet.

But shouldn't I cut down on fat instead of carbs?

If you came to this site looking for help on a low fat diet (or counting calories), let me try to convince you to go for a low carb diet instead. It seems most logical to eat less fat, because you want to reduce fat. But there are reasons why low carb is better. I dedicated a post to this topic, called Low Carb Or Low Fat.

So what do you propose is the best way to live?

If you want to lose weight, remain skinny, look attractive and avoid diseases like cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's as much as possible, it's best to change your habits to a permanent low carb lifestyle. It does not mean that you may never sin again. It's only a way to make sure you are not over-indulging in carbs. When you eat noodles, rice or bread every day, you get so used to it that you don't realise what's going on. I have reached the point where I actually don't even like noodles so much any more. My body is beginning to realise what's best for it.

I have made my choice, and what you decide to you is really your own choice. But if you read my blog, maybe you will notice that there is more to it than just governmental guidelines. You will notice that this comes from personal experience.
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