With the 'Ketogenic Diet' becoming mainstream these last few years, it’s almost as if ‘carbs’ has become some sort of a dirty word and removing it from the diet in even a small capacity can magically ward off any and all excess body-weight. But here I am today (yet again), making a plea and giving you 10 solid reasons to keep rotis, rice, pasta and potatoes on your plate.
First things first. Carbohydrates (consisting of atoms Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen for those well-versed in chemistry) are a nutrient which the body NEEDS. When you eat food (presuming you eat a wholesome meal like roti sabzi or daal rice), the energy which gets used FIRST by the body (even before proteins and fats) will be the energy that comes from a carbohydrate source
Sweating it out on the mill but not making any progress? It’s probably because you’re too afraid to allow yourself good recovery meals. A diet low in carbs can lead to a lack of energy during exercise, early fatigue and delayed recovery. Fat and protein are harder to turn into energy than carbs, which means you may feel low on energy during your exercise session
Our kidney, brain cells and the retina of the eye can ONLY use fuel/energy that comes from carb for their functions. Now you know why people who restrict carbs complain of a hazy vision and just cannot focus at work. You can’t literally see and/or feel the effects of carb restriction on your kidneys but that really doesn’t mean that you wait for an alarming blood test result to put an end to the restriction madness
When you cut out carbs, levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins, iron, calcium and zinc drop resulting in side-effects such as weak bones, lower immunity, coarse and dry hair, dry skin etc.
A low carb diet will NOT give you sustainable weight-loss because fat breakdown is dependent on background carbohydrate breakdown. In other words, fat can only burn in the fuel/presence of carbohydrate. Carb deficiency also causes excess build-up of a compound called ‘ketones’ in the blood. Putting your body in a state of ketosis (popularised by the ketogenic diet) leads to headaches, weakness, nausea, dehydration and dizziness—none of which are fun to deal with
Fibre is part of the carb family. Yes, you read that right. We all love fibre. It keeps us full for a few hours and it helps us clear our system and remove all the toxins. No roti and rice = not enough fibre in the body to complete all of these beautiful tasks
The irony is that we eliminate carbs from roti and rice (the good sources) and find ourselves craving chocolate, a pack of chips or reaching out for biscuits (high in fat and processed and thus, food which will do more harm than good). As you may know already, carbs have 4 calories for every gram whereas fat has 9 calories (more than double) for each gram. So either we eat natural carbs or get forced into eventually reaching out for processed, high-fat snacks. It’s our choice
When you remove roti, rice and only eat sabzi or veggies, the body will not have enough carbs to use for energy. Instead, it will use protein (from food and from the muscles). Now, protein’s job in the body is NOT to give you energy. It has other work to do in the body. For instance, build antibodies and fight foreign invaders, build hormones for different body functions such as metabolism, help overall repair and recovery to name only a few.
Now say you’re a stubborn human-being and you continue to restrict carbs. This means that the body is forced to use protein for energy which means it will breakdown muscle and convert it to energy. For one, the muscle loss will make your skin less supple but more importantly, it takes away from the work that’s originally assigned for protein.
To explain with a metaphor, say you have to fill in for a sick colleague from a different department and do both your work and their work. You know NOTHING about this new department but are just forced to pick up the slack because no one else can. Would you ace both your jobs? Or would you burn out, struggle with the new job and want to go back to your original job? Do you see where I am going with this? Keep both protein and carbs in the diet as opposed to putting protein in a position where it has to do all the work
Eating more than the needs of your body, irrespective of what you eat, will cause weight-gain. Grains, especially whole-grains, are an important part of a healthy balanced diet. All types of grains provide carbs, vitamins and minerals and are also naturally low in fat (Yes!)
And finally, drum-roll please…cutting carbs is not the same as cutting calories! If you’re still overeating, whatever is excess will get converted to fat and stored in the body as what we lovingly refer to as ‘flab’
So next time you think of eliminating carbs, come back and re-read this article :)