Today, I am going to talk about why restricting carbs will sabotage your weight loss.
But before we dive into why this might happen, let’s have a look at what are carbohydrates first.
What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains and vegetables.
They are known as the body’s main source of energy.
They break down into glucose which can be used right away or stored as fat for later use.
But the fiber is an exception as it does not provide energy directly.
It feeds the good bacteria in our gut to produce fatty acids that some cells use as energy.
They are called carbohydrates because, at the chemical level, they contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.
Examples of carbohydrates are all fruits and vegetables, oats, rice, pasta, bread, quinoa, couscous, legumes.
Types of carbohydrates
Not all carbs are equal.
They are often referred to as simple and complex carbohydrates.
Or also whole (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes) and refined (sugar, pastries, white bread, pasta, rice).
But I personally like to categorize them as low and high energy carbohydrates.
What are “low energy” carbs?
Everything that grows in nature- all the fruits and vegetables which are full of vitamins and minerals essential for living.
We should always add these to each meal to nourish our body and reduce cravings.
Often when we feel like eating more, it is because our body is not satisfied due to lack of nutrients in our diet.
What are “high energy” carbs?
All of the carbs that come in a packaging: E.g. Rice, pasta, couscous, quinoa, bread, oats, etc.
They can be part of a balanced nutritious diet but they are not essential for our survival.
This doesn’t mean that “high energy” carbs are bad or not healthy.
Some have better nutritional value than others.
For example, quinoa, wholegrain oats, wholegrain seedy bread are much better choices than white pasta, rice and white bread.
Numerous studies show that refined carbohydrate consumption is linked with health problems such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
But rather than restricting them, start thinking about adding more nutrients to your diet instead.
Carbs and weight loss
The biggest issue emotional eaters face when trying to lose weight is having urges to overeat.
Without these urges, they wouldn’t have the need to keep eating when not hungry.
In most cases, these urges to binge start with dieting by restricting calories and by cutting out carbs or other macros.
Not everyone who diets will develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
But most people who have issues with binge eating, emotional eating and overeating, would have started with dieting.
Is cutting out carbs healthy?
Studies show that emotional eaters have very similar personality traits.
The most common traits are being a perfectionist or having an “all or nothing” attitude.
Cutting out carbs may work for some people who can easily live without them long term but for most emotional eaters, this is not the case.
It has been said that a diet lower in refined carbohydrates (carbs high in sugar and low in nutrients) may have some health benefits.
This is especially true for those with existing health issues and problems with insulin sensitivity.
When we eat carbs, our blood sugar levels rise and as a response, the body releases insulin to regulate these levels.
Then it distributes the sugar where it needs to go.
However, when we combine nutritious whole carbs with proteins and healthy fats, the blood sugar does not rise and fall as rapidly.
The opposite is true for refined carbs eaten solo especially without much nutritional value.
E.g. pastries, cakes, slices, muffins, scones, etc.
Are carbs bad for you?
The problem is not the carbohydrates, the problem is eating refined carbs that have no nutrients in them.
We can look at the Mediterranean or the Japanese diet who have the lowest rates of diseases despite having a diet high in carbohydrates.
Their diet is also high in nutrients which reduces the risk of diseases.
So, it is a matter of making better carbohydrate choices that will support the digestion and turn them into fuel rather than stored fat.
Unfortunately to make healthier choices is only possible once the urges to binge subside.
When we decide to cut out macronutrients from our diet or reduce the calories drastically, our urges to overeat increase substantially.
By doing so, we get into survival mode.
In survival mode, we tell our brain that certain types of food won’t be available for a while.
This then creates the urge to look for exactly that type of food.
Thousands of years ago, in times when food was scarce, our brain has created these urges so that they would motivate us to hunt and gather food.
It also gave us the appetite to eat large amounts of food because we didn’t know when the next meal will be available.
Unfortunately, our brain doesn’t know the difference between reality and what is in our mind.
So, by simply thinking about restricting our diet, we create a fake reality that restricted food is scarce.
How to stop the urges to binge
That is why the number #1 step to stop the urges to overeat and lose weight long term is to get out of survival mode.
By restricting carbs, we will want to eat more carbs.
It’s like saying don’t think about the pink elephant, then we all we can think about is the pink elephant.
It is important to remember that we will always desire what we cannot have.
And funnily enough, once we know we can have it, we will stop desiring it.
Add more nutrients
So rather than thinking about what we need to cut out in order to lose weight, we need to think about what we get to add in order to stop the urges to binge.
Cutting out the carbs, may seem like a good idea at the start because we will see some weight loss fast.
This happens because the stomach needs water to digest them and if we don’t eat any for a while, the body will get rid of the access water hence the notable weight loss.
Diets don’t work
But the statistics say that 95% of people who diet by restricting gain the weight back in 2 years and in 98% of them in 5 years.
Restrictive diets don’t work long term and they often backfire by gaining more weight back than we lose.
Other than cravings and urges, they also make us obsess and think about food all the time.
And when we do allow ourselves to have a “cheat” day, then we tend to eat an insane amount of carbs in one sitting to make up for all those days that we didn’t get to eat them.
Free Training Video
And if you want to learn more about how to overcome emotional eating, you can click on the following link to access a Free training video.
Here I explain what other steps you can take to help you stop overeating and achieve balance.
You will also be able to schedule a free strategy call with me personally at the end of that video.
During this call, I will help you figure out where you are at and what is holding you back from achieving your goals.
And here is what you will learn in the training video:
Thank you so much for reading today’s blog, until next time.