Don’t Choose A Low-Carb Diet Just Because You Think It’s ‘Healthy’

Carbohydrates don’t have a very good reputation these days. Fans of popular low-carb diets like Atkins, Paleo, South Beach Diet and Whole30 are convinced that cutting them out of your diet is the key to dropping pounds and keeping the weight off for good. About 29 percent of Americans said they were “actively” avoiding carbs in a 2014 Gallup poll, and recent scientific studies that compare low-carb diets to low-fat diets show that — at least in the short periods they’re part of the study — participants have more success losing weight and improving their health if they restrict carbs, not fat.

But at this point, we have to ask: Do people even know what a “carbohydrate” is anymore?

To make sure we’re all on the same page, here’s a quick break down. Carbohydrates are a group of foods made up primarily of fiber, starches or sugar. This food group includes fruits and vegetables, as well as grains like rice or oatmeal, and refined grains in cakes and cookies. As you can see, this category encompasses a wide range of different kinds of food, and not all carbs are equally nutritious. Nutrition expert Dr. Mark Hyman put it this way in a HuffPost blog: “A hot fudge sundae and cauliflower both fall into the ‘carbs’ category, yet they are entirely different foods.”

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, know that nutrition experts think carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 percent of our diet. Lots of those “carbs” should be vegetables and fruit, and most low-carb diets uncontroversially encourage people to eat more of their greens and yellows and reds as part of a balanced diet. We should eat about 2.5 cups of vegetables a day, —> Read More