No Carb or Low Carb? (or Slow Carb?)

It gets confusing out there. What should one believe about carbs? If they are so evil, wouldn’t a no carb diet be the way to go?

No carb or low carb….or SLOW carb?

First of all, let’s assess why carbs would be considered “bad” to begin with. Eating carbohydrates causes your blood sugar to rise, and your body to produce insulin. This insulin, when elevated continuously, will lead to fat storage. And, high carb meals lead to a crash in energy and more hunger only a a few hours later.

So what can we do?

Eliminate carbohydrates altogether? Slow them down? Or just keep them “low”?

The answer to this depends on what your goals are.

Are you 100 pounds or more overweight and addicted to sugar and other carbs? Then it will be important to go without almost all carbs for 2 or 3 weeks, then slowly bring them back in. This will allow you to lose your taste for them, and give you a much better chance at not continuing to go carb crazy! (By the way, the human body can live without carbs, but not without protein or fat).

Then there’s the slow carb approach, which has been made popular from books like the 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. This means sticking to the carbohydrates that take a long time to digest, mostly vegetables and legumes (beans). These are high in fiber and will keep you full longer. But there is a catch. Eating veggies is pretty much undisputed in the realm of health, but legumes are another story. Yes, they are high in fiber. But they contain gut-irritating proteins that cause indigestion and gas for a lot of people.

Finally, there’s the low carb life, which is what we discuss on the podcast. We lump the paleo diet into the low carb category, but in the overall big picture, paleo is not a true low carb diet (just much lower carb than the Standard American Diet, SAD). The paleo diet is an attempt to eat more like our ancestors, emphasizing whole foods over processed, and quality protein like grass fed beef and wild caught fish. Like the slow carb diet, there is no counting of calories. Cavemen and women did that for ages and they didn’t seem to have weight problems.

There are even people talking about combining paleo with slow carb!

So: while there are reasons to go no carb on a temporary basis, low carb/paleo is the best option, where you will get the most overall nutrients, or “bang for your buck”, and experience the least amount of food-related allergies and other health issues.