From the outset, let’s make it clear: we talk about dietary carbohydrates here rather than food groups (like bread, pasta and cereal)
Dairy, fruit, vegetables, beans, sweets – all contain carbohydrates.
By low carb we mean anything below 30% carbs from total calories. Eg. If you eat 1800 kcal daily, anything below 600 kcal or 150g of carbs is considered low calorie in most studies.
Now think for a moment: if you eat 3 meals a day it means 50g of carbs in every meal! This can fit in an occasional rice bowl or Mars bar! (Even Keto will be anything below 80-120g of carbs btw)
Yet many people think that ‘low carb’ means ‘no-carb’🤷♀️🤷♀️
Why is low-carb so popular?
1️⃣and foremost, it brings fast results. What results? People lose weight immediately. They do not know though that most of this weight is water and glycogen and it will come back as soon as they start eating as normal.
2️⃣if you want to avoid calories by any means, avoiding starchy carbs will help you to eat fewer calories in total. But it may not. One of my clients said: “I used to eat chicken breast and salad and protein shake and simply could not stop – I bever felt satiated without carbs”. 3️⃣more reasonable and scientific argument for low-carb diet is that higher fat, higher protein and higher fiber diet (think eating lean meat/fish poultry and veggies) improves satiety and hormonal profile. This is debatable though. Starchy carbs are also important for fullness and satisfaction and hormonal health may improve due to calorie deficit, rather than solely due to the decrease in carbs consumption.
Your carb situation will depend on many factors.
Is your goal to lose weight or maintain weight or grow a bit of muscle? Are you insulin-sensitive?
Are you overweight, normal or super lean? Are you a man or a woman?
What is your average daily calorie consumption? What is your daily non-exercise activity? How intense is your exercise? Are you inclined to binge eating? Are you all-or-nothing? If I avoid carbs for a long time, for example, I will go mad and will end up binging on bread. Anything! Anything is better than disordered eating patterns.
What causes disordered eating??
– Food limitations.
Now, if you listen to my advice and count calories, you can calculate how many carbs you can afford based on your total calorie, protein and fat goals. I normally advise to fit protein in first, then distribute remaining calories between fat and carbs. Mind you, it is important to eat enough fat with an absolute minimum of 15% from total daily calories.
Since diet comfort is the most important I never insist that you go low carb.
In other words, worry about calories first.
Then take care of protein and vegetables. Then decide what you want more: fat or carbs. What diet can you maintain in the long term?
Fat loss expert, elite group fitness instructor and personal trainer based in Sheffield.