If you’re on a low-carb diet, you’ll try to keep your carbohydrate intake at around 100 grams per day. If you’re doing Keto, you’ll strive to keep your carbs down under 60 grams. But I recently read an article about a “new” diet that’s taking carb restriction even farther. It’s the zero carb diet. To follow it you’d have to keep your total grams of carbs for the day in the single digits! This gives me flashbacks to the days of fat free everything – and we all know how well that turned out. So, while I’ve already written about why I’m not a fan of Keto, low-carb or really any fad diet, hearing about the zero carb diet prompted me to revisit the issue.
Here are four research backed, medically-proven reasons why you should not restrict your carbohydrate intake.
1 – When you cut out carbs, you’re cutting out important nutrients too. To stick to a an ultra low-carb diet you’d have to cut out huge categories of foods like many vegetables and fruits. But these food sources contain dozens of vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals that you just cannot get from a supplement. When your body is low on these you run the risk of impairing your immune system which means getting sick more often.
2 – Eating healthy carbohydrates will help you live longer. This is a fact. Scientists have categorized different geographic areas based on the life spans of the people who live there. People who live in blue zone areas – where people live the longest and healthiest lives – thrive on diets that are mostly plant based and relatively high in carbohydrates.
3 – Cutting out carbs will hurt your digestion. Doctors recommend a daily fiber intake of 25 grams per day to promote digestive health. Guess where you find fiber. It’s only in foods that contain carbs. A high fiber diet is linked to a significantly lower risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
4 – A low carb diet will impair your brain function. Your brain typically uses about 50% of the carbohydrates you eat as fuel. This is one of the reasons why people first starting out on keto will often experience brain fog, dizziness and irritability. Your brain needs the glucose from carbohydrates for energy. When you deprive your body of carbs you’re also depriving your brain of its preferred energy source.
As was the case with fat, the focus with carbohydrates should be on keeping your consumption to high-quality, whole food carbohydrates rather than on banishing them from your diet all together. People who follow diets that are heavily plant based and moderate to high in carbohydrates have been shown to have more success in losing weight and maintaining that in the long term. This shows you don’t need to go low-carb, Keto or zero carb to lose weight or get fit. So, don’t deprive your body of healthy carbs in hopes of a quick fat loss fix.