Carbs are the enemy—

…at least that is what you’ve probably heard time and time again. However, carbohydrates play a very important role in how your body functions. Without enough carbohydrates, you may lose weight, but you will also lose energy, your ability to concentrate, and muscle strength. And if you drop your carbs too low, you may develop constipation and suffer from chronic headaches. Studies have even shown that eating a low-carb diet for too long can negatively affect your mood and cognitive function (see more here).  Low-carb diets are not only unhealthy but can actually be dangerous; complications such as increased cancer risk, lipid abnormalities, impairment of physical activity, osteoporosis, kidney damage, and even sudden death can all be linked to long-term restriction of carbohydrates in the diet.

Basically, if you cut too many carbs from your diet, you may be risking both your physical and mental health. And, here at Ageless Medicine of the Palm Beaches, we are very concerned about your physical and mental well-being…..especially in terms of aging. But first, let’s break down what carbohydrates are and what they do.

Carbs = Energy

Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables, and milk products. They are a necessary part of a healthy diet. When you exercise, your body needs all the energy it can get. This energy is produced from the  carbohydrates you eat. That’s right. If your goal is to get stronger, run faster, or perform better in a specific sport, eating carbs is one of the best ways to help you reach that goal. This is because carbohydrates are stored mostly in the muscles and liver. So if your goal is to be able to lift heavier weights, those carb-filled muscles are going to get you there. If you have an upcoming tennis match, those carbs will provide you with ample energy throughout the game.

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs

Obviously, if you are very active or if your goals are to develop strength, you will need to eat carbohydrates, but that does not mean eating EVERY kind of carb in sight either. All carbohydrates are not the same. A plate of broccoli is going to provide you with a greater amount of nutrients than a pack of chocolate pudding. A bowl of oatmeal is going to fill you up a lot more than a bowl of Lucky Charms. In fact, the four worst carbs for you are: refined flour, refined sugar, white rice, and fruit juice. You want to focus on the carbs that offer a health benefit by way of nutrient and fiber-rich carbohydrates, such as: fruits, vegetables, unrefined whole grains, beans, potatoes, corn, etc. These are the carbohydrate foods that fuel your body.

Will Carbs Make You Fat?

But what if you are trying to lose weight? Are carbs bad for you in this case? Won’t carbs work against you? Not necessarily. . It is true that if you restrict carbs your body will turn to its fat reserves for fuel, but only a small portion of your fat reserves. You might lose weight temporarily on a carb-restricted diet…but only a portion of the weight is actually from fat. Your body also turns to protein in your muscles as well. And, the problem with both protein and fat stores is that they do not burn in a clean way. Toxic byproducts from burning this fuel in your body can actually make you quite sick.

Carbs and Aging

“Whole carbs” like the ones mentioned above are actually bursting with nutrients, including fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that fight aging and disease. “Whole carbs contain a broad spectrum of anti-aging antioxidants such as vitamin C and A, lycopene and many others that can actually neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals and fight cancer and other diseases at the cellular level…before disease begins” (according to Dr. Andy Larson at Clean Cuisine).  These anti-aging antioxidants boost your body with energy and good fuel for your body to burn as you age well.

If you would like more information about aging well, contact us today at: 561.406.2269