They may help reverse many serious illnesses, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
However, some myths about this diet are perpetuated by the low-carb community. Many of these notions are not backed by science.
Here are some common myths about low-carb diets....
Studies consistently show that low-carb diets aid weight loss and improve most risk factors for disease.That said, this eating pattern is not appropriate for everyone.Some people may simply feel unwell on the diet, while others don’t get the results they expect.Notably, athletes and people who are physically active need significantly more carbs than this diet can provide.
Carbs are inherently fattening
A high intake of sugar and refined carbs harms your health. Still, carbs are only fattening if they’re refined and included in foods that are highly palatable and easy to overeat.
For example, baked potatoes have plenty of fiber and help you feel full — whereas potato chips are deep-fried in corn oil and seasoned with salt, making them heavily processed and addictive.
Keep in mind that many populations around the world, such as inhabitants of the Japanese island of Okinawa, maintain good health on a high-carb diet that includes whole, unprocessed foods.
Many real, traditional foods are demonized by low-carbers because of their carb content. These include foods like fruits, whole potatoes, and carrots.
It is essential to limit these foods on a very low-carb, ketogenic diet — but this does not mean that there is anything wrong with those foods. In nutritional science, as in most disciplines, context is important.
For example, it would be a health improvement to replace any junk food in your diet with high-carb, ripe bananas. However, for people with diabetes trying to cut carbs, adding bananas to their diet may be harmful.
Claiming that all carbs are broken down into sugar in the digestive system is partly true — but misleading. The word “sugar” applies to various simple sugars like glucose, fructose, and galactose. Table sugar (sucrose) consists of one molecule of glucose connected to fructose.
Starch, which is found in grains and potatoes, is a long chain of glucose molecules. Digestive enzymes break starch down into glucose before absorption.
In the end, all carbs (excluding fiber) end up as sugar. While simple sugars are easily digestible and cause a significant rise in blood sugar levels, starches and other carbs in whole foods don’t tend to raise blood sugar levels as much as those in desserts and refined or processed foods.
Therefore, it’s important to distinguish between whole foods and refined carbs. Otherwise, you might believe that there’s no nutritional difference between a potato and a candy bar.
Some people believe that weight gain is impossible as long as carb intake and insulin levels are kept low. Yet, it’s very possible to gain weight on a low-carb diet.
Many low-carb foods can be fattening, especially for those who are prone to binge eating. These include cheese, nuts, peanuts, and heavy cream.
Although many people can eat these foods without any problems, others need to moderate their intake if they want to lose weight without restricting calories.
Despite decades of anti-fat propaganda, studies suggest that saturated fat is not as harmful as previously assumed.
There is no reason to avoid high-fat dairy products, fatty cuts of meat, coconut oil, or butter. In moderation, these are healthy foods. However, overconsumption can be dangerous. While it may be trendy to add heaps of butter and coconut oil to your coffee, doing so gives you less leeway to include other healthy, nutrient-dense foods in your diet.
Some low-carb advocates assert that calorie intake doesn’t matter. Calories are a measure of energy, and body fat is simply stored energy. If your body takes in more energy than you can burn off, you store it as body fat. If your body expends more energy than you take in, you burn fat for energy.
Low-carb diets work partly by reducing appetite. As they make people eat fewer calories automatically, there’s little need for calorie counting or portion control.
While calories matter in many cases, rigorously counting them is largely unnecessary on a low-carb diet.