“I can’t have carbs. They make me fat,” she says while she eats her yogurt.
“You realize your 1/2 cup of yogurt has 19 grams of carbs, right?” replies her friend.
The panicked woman looks like she just swallowed arsenic and she spits our the yogurt and shouts, “no way!”
Not since the 90s when dietary fat became the dirty word among people who were striving for better health and weight control, has a macronutrient been so misunderstood and maligned as carbohydrates.
Carbs are not the enemy.
It’s quite the opposite. Carbohydrates are the body’s favorite source of energy. Carbohydrates ideally should represent 45 – 65 percent of daily calories. To put it into simple number, that means if you are eating around 2000 calories a day, that should include 225 to 325 grams of carbs.
Your body uses carbohydrates to make glucose which is the fuel that gives you energy. Your body can use glucose immediately or store it in your liver and muscles for when it is needed.
Your body can convert protein to glucose if too few carbs are present in your diet, and although it has to work harder – use more calories – to do so, doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to replace much or your carbs with protein.
When your body is converting protein to glucose it has to filter the protein through your kidneys.
Protein molecules are very big so there is some fear that people eating excessive protein might be leading themselves on a path toward kidney damage.
Although not confirmed, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, say that diets high in animal proteins — like those found in meats and fish— could be a problem for people with compromised kidney function, since the body already has trouble metabolizing waste products.
Gout and high protein/low carb diets
One must also be aware that uric acid is a by product of protein. People who are susceptible to gout could have painful flare ups when restricting carbs and following a high protein diet. Anybody with impairedrenal function who isn’t on dialysis yet, could discover that too much protein accelerated kidney damage and lead to kidney failure.
Anybody with kidney disease or a history of kidney stones may be making a dangerous choice when replacing carbs with protein.
What about people who want to lose weight and have healthy kidneys?
Isn’t cutting carbs an effective way to lose weight?
Yes, it can help weight loss because carbs have calories and carbs, like sodium, can cause water retention. Reducing calories leads to weight loss and reducing carbs makes weight loss appear more effective because of the loss of water weight.
Water weight loss, however, isn’t the same as losing body fat.
It makes a dieter happy to think more body weight has been lost, but since it’s really not body weight, the number on the scale is misleading.
The carbs to reduce are foods made with added sugar. Serving for serving these foods have a lot more calories than whole food (not processed) foods high in carbs. Reducing all carbs, however, can leave you feeling unwell.
The Mayo Clinic reports dizziness, headaches, weakness, fatigue, nutrient deficiencies, nausea, diarrhea, mental fatigue and even bad breath can be the result of too few carbs.
If you are extremely physically active or an athlete carbohydrates are your main fuel source during exercise. Don’t skimp on carbs! Eating too few carbs will negatively influence your performance. Brown University recommends athletes consume 65 percent of their calorie intake from carbs.
Carbs, even sugary carbs, are not the enemy. Understanding them and eating them in balance is the best way to stick to a healthy way of eating that supports a healthy weight!