Our experts weigh in on the risks and roadblocks of completely eliminating carbs from your diet.
You probably know that if you’re trying to shed a few pounds, chowing down on pasta and white bread sarnies isn’t exactly the best idea. But is it smart to cut out carbohydrates completely? Probably not.
No-carb and low-carb diets have been around for decades, but they’ve recently seen a resurgence with celebrities touting their fat-busting abilities. Sharon Osbourne is a long-time follower of the Atkins Diet, and Kim Kardashian credits Atkins for her post-baby weight loss.
But there’s a distinct difference between low-carb and no-carb diets.
According to our health experts, following a strict no-carb diet may help you lose weight initially. But it’s not sustainable – or healthy – for the long run.
What are the rules of a no-carb diet?
It may sound nice to eat scrambled eggs and bacon with abandon – but following a no-carb diet is harder than you might think.
Clinical nutritionist Dr. Sam Christie says it usually involves cutting out ‘all starchy foods like rice, potatoes and pasta, as well as sugary snacks like biscuits, chocolate, confectionery and most fizzy drinks.’
Some no-carb extremists even extend the rules to prohibit all fruits and vegetables, says nutritionist Dr. Marilyn Glenville.
Plus, you can forget about reaching for that glass of wine. All alcoholic drinks are a no-carb no-no.
Will it help you lose weight?
Yes, you’ll probably see initial weight loss. After all, this diet method didn’t get so popular for nothing. But our health experts agree that a more balanced diet is the smarter way to go.
Plus, carbs serve as a huge energy source, so if you follow it strictly you may notice yourself feeling even more tired than usual.
What can you do instead?
Instead of eliminating all carbs, focus instead on eating the right carbs.
‘Aim to only eat slow-release carbohydrates, such as porridge oats, wholegrain bread, brown rice, wholegrain pasta and pulses (e.g. chickpeas and lentils),’ says Dr Christie. ‘These types of carbohydrate-rich foods are terrifically filling and micronutrient-dense.’
As an alternative, Dr Glenville suggests instead of cutting carbs all day, you just avoid them after 6pm. ‘But I would always recommend you avoid added sugar and refined starchy carbs, like white bread and white pasta, because of their high GI effect.’
What if you just can’t shake those cravings?
We can’t be good all the time. Dr Christie recommends having a sweet treat or chocolate as a ‘once-a-week luxury.’
Now that’s a diet rule we can get behind.
Here are 12 simple rules you can follow for a balanced diet (no matter how busy you are)…