The Lowdown On Carbs | The Portal

The Lowdown On Carbs

Since society first started focusing on proper nutrition and weight loss, the emphasis has always been on cutting calories, and cutting fat. Fat was seen as the nemesis of anyone looking to shed excess bodyfat. This led to a boom in the low-fat and diet food industry. Before long, you could get just about any type of food you wanted in a low-fat form. But something was wrong. In spite of the billions of dollars spent each year on low-fat diets, society as a whole was getting fatter. People were exercising less, eating out a lot more, and leading less active lifestyles. However, the one factor not given much thought was the skyrocketing volume of carbohydrates being consumed, not to mention the amount of sodium that was added. After all, they said it was the fat that was the enemy, not the carbs. Or was it???

Nothing New

The known danger of eating too many carbs is nothing new. In fact the knowledge has been around for more than 50 years. From early on in his career, Dr. Atkins taught that carbs were an even bigger nemesis than fat. The problem was, it had been universally accepted that fat alone was the perpetrator leading to obesity. The idea of cutting back on carbs in order to lose bodyfat was blown off as another extreme fad. The majority of the health industry ridiculed Dr. Atkins. His eating strategies were stereotyped as ineffective and dangerous. Now, studies are starting to show that perhaps Dr. Atkins’ theory concerning carbohydrates was right after all.

The Real Threats of Excess Carbs

Ok, so maybe you are one of those who are blessed with the type of genetics that allows you to eat junk food and not gain a pound. You can eat whatever you want and still be healthy, right? Think again! Eating too many carbs can lead to other serious health problems besides obesity. The foremost of these are diabetes and blocked arteries to your heart from plaque build up.

Diabetes Cause and Effects

We’ve all heard about complex carbs; breads, pastas, rice, etc., and simple carbs (sugars). The bottom line is, regardless of what types of carbs are being ingested, the body responds to them the same way. All carbs are broken down into glucose, to be used as energy. The pancreas produces insulin, which is what allows glucose to enter the body’s cells to be utilized. The more glucose that is in the bloodstream, the more insulin the body must produce. If the body is unable to produce enough insulin, blood sugar levels start to rise. The pancreas will go into overdrive, trying to produce enough insulin. Pretty soon the body will say, “enough!” and no matter how much insulin is produced, it will not allow any more glucose to enter its cells. This is called Insulin Resistance, which affects more than 60 million Americans. Of these, one in four will eventually end up with type-2 Diabetes. This can lead to dependency on insulin and other medications. Over time, diabetes can lead to serious problems in your eyes, kidneys, nerves, gums and teeth. But the most serious problem caused by diabetes is heart disease. Diabetes doubles your chances of having heart disease or a stroke. Once you have diabetes, your risk of a heart attack is the same as someone who has already had a heart attack.

Carbs and Advertising

Advertising has been the number one weapon used by the makers of high carb foods. It is effective, and the bombardment is continuous. Children are a special favorite for advertisers. Every day they are bombarded with candy and cereal advertisements. Cereals for kids are usually about 80% sugar, and have little to no nutritional value whatsoever. One can’t take their kid to the supermarket without being pestered to buy the newest fudge-packed, syrup-smothered, marshmallow-infused sugar bombs that feature their favorite comic superhero or cartoon aquatic beast on the box. Think about this the next time you go grocery shopping: go down the cereal aisle, and look to see where all the high-sugar cereals are placed. You’ll notice that the vast majorities are placed at about waist high on an average adult. In other words, eye level with the average child. The child makes the most decisions on what the parent will buy, and the advertising marketers know this. Most of the time, the parent will appease their child’s carrying on and not think about the consequence and lack of nutrient value the product contains.

The “Low-Fat” Dilemma

Adults are also subject to the perils of advertising, as well as misinformation. There are several issues when it comes to choosing foods that are advertised as “low-fat.” The biggest of these is consumers not reading the labels completely. If a label says “98% fat free,” we automatically assume it’s healthy. One thing to keep in mind is that foods that are naturally high in fat will still have a significant amount of fat, even if 98% is removed.

A serious problem that came with the first generation of low-fat foods was the taste. Anyone who tried the first ever fat-free cheese will understand. Low-fat foods did not sell well initially because they lacked taste. To combat this, food manufacturers started to increase the sugars and other carbs in each type of food. After all, fat was the enemy, not carbs. Because of this public perception, advertisers were still able to make their foods at least sound healthy, and not lose their taste and market value to the consumer.

The other issue to plague individuals, who try to eat low-fat, and more recently low-carb foods, is human nature. A number of low-fat and low-carb foods contain serving sizes much smaller than their “normal” counterparts. We’ve all seen the “healthy” bread that looks like it’s full of holes, and is about half the size of a normal slice. The natural reaction is to eat twice as much as we did before. The majority of people will think, “Well it’s low-fat (or low-carb), so it’s ok if I eat twice as much!” Wrong answer. This totally defeats the purpose of buying such foods in the first place, not to mention the cost of the product can be 1½ times the amount of the regular product.

A number of well-meaning adults end up hurting themselves, even when they have good intentions to eat better. Example, they may eat lots of cereal or oatmeal for breakfast instead of bacon and eggs. Trouble with that is the excess number of carbs found in these types of foods. Dr. Atkins stated that it is better for you to have the bacon and eggs than to have that bowl of cereal due to the sugar and complex carbs that are making you fat. Think about it, children were a lot healthier and not obese when there was only meat on the table to eat. Sugar was available, but it was expensive. As economy expanded, so did the quantity and portion size of meals. Sugar is now affordable and comes in many disguises. (Hence, the sugar bombs mentioned previously).


Via BuzzFeed