If there is a phrase that I hear from clients more than any other, it is “I know that I’m not supposed to eat carbs,” or “I know that carbs are bad for me.” With all of the restrictive diets out there, like the keto diet or the Adkin’s diet, it’s no wonder so many people think this way. It is true that carbs will break down into sugar when we eat them. And that sugar will raise our blood sugar. However, did you know that carbs are also the way that our body gets energy? Every single cell in your body (there are trillions!) uses glucose, or sugar, for energy.
In fact, our brain is only able to use glucose for energy. That means that when we limit our carbohydrate intake so strictly, like in the keto diet, our brain is struggling to function. Have you ever heard of the “keto flu”? A big reason that happens is that our brain is not designed to use anything other than carbs for energy. Now we are very good at surviving, so our body can turn other nutrients, like fat or protein, into sugar for our brain. But wouldn’t you rather work with your body, instead of against it?
What About for Someone with Diabetes?
This is not even considering someone living with diabetes. When we have diabetes, one of the core issues that can play a role in high blood sugar is something called hepatic glucose production (HGP). This basically means that our liver can create sugar from stored carbs, or the fat and protein that we eat. HGP is a normal process that happens inside every human being. It is meant to help regulate our blood sugar during the times that we are not eating meals. Overnight, for example. If we didn’t have HGP, we would be at risk of having a low blood sugar once our food is metabolized and used up for energy. But before that can happen, our liver kicks in and creates some glucose for our blood stream.
In someone with diabetes, this process is out of control. We can think of the liver like a “party animal.” It does whatever it wants and adds sugar to our blood stream, even if we don’t need it. Often, this happens overnight, but it could also happen during the day if you are going long periods of time without giving your body carbs for energy. That is why it is so important to eat a consistent carb diet, meaning you give your body proper portions of carbohydrates throughout the day so that your liver doesn’t have to take over and “party like there’s no tomorrow!”
So, in conclusion, carbs are not bad by nature. I would even argue that they are essential to health. Stay tuned for more information about how to choose the right kinds of carbs.