Why one dietitian says carbs are a necessity
Halloween is looming like a black cloud about to rain all over our no-carb resolve. Then comes the official holiday season and the start of the pasta parade at every festive gathering. We all know the price we pay for indulging in too many breads and pastas, but one dietitian warns our bodies still need them.
From brain to bowel function, carbohydrates are a necessity our bodies can’t do without, says Keri Gans, RD, author of Small Change Diet. In her book, she discusses the critical role good carbohydrates play in our daily lives.
“Think about trying to run a car without gasoline; it’d be pretty hard, right? That’s basically what happens when you try to run your body without carbs,” Gans told Women’s Health. “Carbs are fuel for your body because they contain glucose, which is your body’s number one source of energy,” she said. “Protein and fat work, too, but carbs are definitely number one.”
Advocate Trinity Hospital diabetes educator Rose Bernard, RN, BSN, agrees that we all need carbohydrates to fuel our bodies – even her patients whose systems don’t make insulin, the hormone that breaks down blood glucose produced from carbohydrates.
The buildup of glucose in the bloodstream can cause complications, even death. Because of this, Bernard recommends her patients consume no more than 225 grams of carbs a day, compared with at least 220 grams of carbs for an unrestricted diet and 150 grams for a low-carb diet.
“Even though our patients are on low carb diets, they still need good starches for their cells to function,’’ says Bernard, who points out that our brains and digestive systems work better with nutrients drawn from whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
“That’s right–pasta makes you think better and feel less bloated. Just don’t eat too much,” Bernard warns.
Bernard knows it’s tricky to balance a healthy diet with busy daily lives, so she offers these tips:
- Choose real, unprocessed food such as lean proteins.
- Avoid simple starches such as white potatoes and opt for whole grains
- Eat three regular meals or five small meals that contain no more than 75 grams of carbs per meal
- Exercise to burn carbs efficiently.
“We all need carbs to live. Just choose your carbs wisely,” Bernard says.
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