Samuel Figueroa PT

SF Personal Trainer Blog - London

This is the blog for Samuel Figueroa, personal trainer and fitness coach.

NO CARB DIET: CARB PHOBIA

Just like fat used to be in the 80’s, carbs are now accused of causing weight gain, heart disease and all sorts of other problems. 

Most people now assume that carbohydrates are inherently fattening. But is it really true? is it really that simple?

Some people will certainly benefit from reducing their daily intake of carbs since these are the most over-consumed nutrient nowadays (we consume it with every meal, snack and we drink it too: wine, cocktails, soft drinks, juices).

Lowering your carb consumption can be a good way to drop some calories from your diet, helping you lose weight etc. But it’s not the carbs that are making you fat, it's the overall calories you consume on a daily/weekly basis that you now happen to have removed from your daily food intake, through the removal of carbs.

If it might help you to lose weight why do you still have to eat carbs?

Carbohydrates are your body's preferred form of fuel. You need them every day to give you energy. Consider that every single cell in your body runs on glucose, which is a carbohydrate sugar. Even the most fat-adapted brain requires, at the very least, 20% of its energy from carbs. If you want to stay focused and be productive you might have to reconsider your carb fear.

The National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine recommends that 45%-65%(depending on activity levels) of your total calories come from carbohydrates.

If you you still believe that you can’t have carbs due to your gluten sensitivity\wheat intolerance or even celiac disease, keep in mind that these are serious conditions and can’t be self-diagnosed. The scientific literature indicates that almost 99% of people have zero problems digesting gluten. Are you really amongst that 1%? 

If you’re sedentary, your carb needs are lower. So you might be able to get away with more restrictions.

But if you are active and like to exercise regularly, restricting your carb intake too drastically can lead to:

    •    decreased thyroid output

    •    increased cortisol output

    •    decreased testosterone

    •    impaired mood and cognitive function

    •    muscle catabolism

    •    suppressed immune function

Your metabolism might slow down, your stress hormones go up and your muscle-building hormones go down. 

Most of us look, feel, and perform our best when we balance a reasonable amount of lean protein, quality carbs, and healthy fats.

No extreme is sustainable long term and it won’t get you far. Stay away from trends, especially in nutrition. Learn to look at nutrition as a whole, question your habits and try to find what works for you.