Mmmmmm….carbs! I feel like this diet has stuck around forever! Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, or shall we say the meat and potatoes? The low carb diet, also known as the Ketogenic diet, gained great popularity in the 90’s when the Atkins diet emerged. As with all low-carb diets, one must severely restrict particular food group(s) and calories must come from an alternate source, i.e. fat and protein. Carbohydrates include breads, cereals, rice, pasta, starchy vegetables such as corn and potatoes as well as legumes (beans and peas), fruit, milk and yogurt. Your body uses carbohydrates as the preferred fuel for energy. From carbohydrates, the body makes glucose, used for everyday activities, to support appropriate blood sugar levels and to give a surge of energy in times of stress. Carbohydrates provide your body with B vitamins, fiber, minerals, calcium, vitamin D, potassium and iron. B vitamins boost your immune system and protect babies from life-long debilitating neural tube defects. Fiber helps control weight by helping you feel fuller, longer. Fiber maintains a healthy GI tract (your guts, people), controls diabetes and prevents diseases such as diverticulosis and certain cancers. Calcium and vitamin D are necessary for strong teeth and bones. Potassium controls your muscles, including your heart and promotes new cell growth. Iron prevents anemia and fatigue. If you are limiting carbs, you are missing out on a lot of important nutrients. You can take a multi-vitamin but, when vitamins are isolated from their natural food source, you don’t absorb them as well. Some of the alternate foods contain very small amounts and are not considered a good source. One example: Calcium content of 1 cup broccoli = 94 mg Calcium content of 1 cup skim milk = 302 mg Here’s what happens during 1 year of low-carb dieting: Initiating a low carb diet will jump-start weight loss in the beginning, but weight loss slows significantly after 6 months, as your brain is protecting your body from what it interprets as starvation. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel. After six months of denying yourself bread, cereals, rice, pasta, fruit and starchy vegetables, you’ll notice that all of a sudden, the scale isn’t budging! What’s happening?! Your body is clinging on to everything you eat and won’t let go of its precious stores. The following 6 months will result in very little weight loss, if any and even more restrictive eating from the frustrated dieter. Many popular diets, like South Beach, Atkins, Ketogenic and the Whole 30 are overly restrictive of carbohydrates, in turn restricting healthy foods that contain nutrients your body needs to function at its best. When you re-introduce carbs, your body will store them more efficiently and excess will become much harder to lose. Your body is preparing itself for future starvation. Incredible, right? The innate and involuntary survival mechanisms leave me in awe of God’s creations! Aside from making yourself miserable, passing up the warm dinner roll and the side of delicious pasta, you’re tired! You’re finding it harder to peel yourself from the sheets in the mornings and you are starting to feel like you’d rather eat a bug than muster up the energy to get in 30-45 minutes of exercise. You may start to avoid your friends and co-workers you’ve been bragging about your weight loss to, as you no longer have a good report. You’re causing unnecessary stress on your liver, kidneys and heart and guess what? In the last year, if you had spent your days watching portions, fast food intake, excess calories such as sodas, cakes, cookies and fried foods you would have consistently and safely lost 1-2 lbs per week for the entire year!! Include at least 50% of your calories as carbs with at least half as whole grains and get moving! You will lose the same amount of weight, have caused no stress on your organs and been far happier! *Something you may not know: Low carb diets are shown to increase fatigue, decrease motivation to exercise and cause general mood disturbances.