A quick Google search for weight loss tips and you will likely see recommendations to reduce your carbohydrate intake. What those articles fail to realize is the overall impact carbohydrate restriction can have on your body long term.
Are you pregnant, an athlete or a senior?
Pregnant women need folate, a B-vitamin most associated with preventing neural tube defects during early pregnancy. Enriched grains are an important source of folate in your diet. Carbohydrates are the preferred energy source for the body so it’s crucial for athletes and highly active individuals to consume enough carbs in their diets. Seniors need carbs to help keep their heart healthy and to aid in digestive health.
Are you feeling low on energy?
Our brain and body run on carbs so opting for a low-carb diet often leaves you feeling sluggish and lacking the energy needed to get through your day. Some of the crucial vitamins and nutrients found in carbohydrate-rich foods like grains include:
- Thiamin, also known as vitamin B1, is important for cellular function and energy metabolism.
- Niacin, or vitamin B3, plays an important role in metabolism
- Magnesium is a nutrient with many roles in the body, including bone health, muscle and nerve function, and blood pressure regulation
- Calcium supports cardiovascular and bone health
Are you experiencing brain fog?
Thanks to all these essential vitamins and minerals, carbohydrate-rich foods like grains nourish and provide energy to the brain. Emerging research in adults 35 to 55 years old suggests that dietary patterns that are low in whole grains and high in red meat, processed meat and fried foods are linked to cognitive decline at older ages.
Is your stomach feeling upset?
Limiting or excluding carbohydrates deprives your body of cereal and dietary fibers resulting in constipation and changes to the gut microbiome that can impact overall health.
Aside from the reasons above, low or no-carbohydrates diets are restrictive and difficult to maintain long term. Be purposeful on how you choose to fuel your body. This doesn’t mean you avoid indulgent treats, but it does mean you focus on making healthier choices most of the time, so you don’t have to worry about the occasional treat.
The above information was contributed by Stacey Krawczyk, MS, RD, Julie Miller Jones, PhD, LN, CNS, and Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, RD.