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July 20, 2018

Stop hating on all carbs

Carbs or fats? Muffins or bacon? This or that? I’m befuddled when fad diets pull the wool over American eyes—common sense proclaims moderation in food variety. But, of course, media madness picks out juicy research tidbits to sensationalize weight and health studies without telling the rest of the story. And authors dash to flash their new diet books.

Melissa MartinMelissa MartinThis year, Medical News Today reported on a study about low-carb diets. In this corner are carbs. In that corner are fats. Both continue to fight it out. Ding! Who will win in the world of weight loss? The study concluded “that it is hard to tell.” Hmmm.

Recently, some researchers have questioned excessive carbs as the main dietary offender in obesity and point once more to fatty foods. Is the pendulum swinging back again?

What about a daily balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats for the general population? Oh, that was the recommendation in the former days—until the Atkins diet came along in the early 1970s. Dr. Robert Atkins peddled a ketogenic diet—a high protein, high fat, and very low carbohydrate regimen resulting in ketosis. He was rolling in the green (money not lettuce) when his book, Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution sold 15 millions copies.

And so the scuffle between a low-carbs and a high-fat diet continues. Who will win the battle of the bulge trophy? Who will win the thin prize? What diet will be crowned the queen of skinny?

What about the consequences of fad diets? According to a 2003 article published in the British Medical Journal, “Skeptics are concerned in part because of the absence of long term studies needed to answer questions raised about the safety of the Atkins diet including whether it will promote osteoporosis, colon cancer, heart disease, kidney damage, and gout, as critics charge.”

According to a 2009 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Mice that were fed a high-fat, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet were found to have atherosclerosis that was not associated with traditional cardiovascular risk factors.” Of course, humans are not mice, but we do like cheese.

If the high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet works, then why all humans aren’t slim and trim is a mystery that needs to be solved. Yes, many dieters lose weight in the short-term, but the weight comes back with a vengeance when they stop the special diet.

Back to the confusing carbs conundrum. Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients that give the human body energy. In fact, the brain prefers to be fueled with carbs, instead of protein or fat. Carbs are turned into glucose and according to information in the book, Biochemistry, “Glucose is virtually the sole fuel for the human brain, except during prolonged starvation.” Furthermore, “Fatty acids do not serve as fuel for the brain, because they are bound to albumin in plasma and so do not traverse the blood-brain barrier.”

However, the body can burn and turn protein into glucose via gluconeogenesis, but proteins have a main function—building and repairing tissues.

According to Medical News Today, author Maria Cohut, the carb culprits are “simple carbs: sugars and starches that have been refined and stripped of their natural fiber and nutrients.” I want to know why we tolerate refined wheat flour (white flour). I want to know why we tolerate white rice. Inquiring minds want to know.

Complex carbs are the good guys “found in whole, unprocessed foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.” And these are “highly nutritious foods that are rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals.” Complex carbs are digested slowly by the body, releasing energy over a period of time, and therefore you feel fuller for longer.

Beware of greedy companies. “The diet industry is making a lot of money selling us fad diets, nonfat foods full of chemicals, gym memberships, and pills while we lose a piece of our self-esteem every time we fail another diet or neglect to use the gym membership we could barely afford,” stated Portia de Rossi.

So, please stop hating on complex carbohydrates. You may be asking where I received my degree in nutrition — from Marshall University in Huntington, WV.


Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Southern Ohio. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




0 #1 Slimin 2018-07-24 02:21
Low carb is the way to go!

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