If you have considered a no-carb diet to achieve weight loss or control diabetes, it is crucial to learn the basics of this “diet” and to understand the health risks associated with eliminating carbohydrates. Carbohydrates comprise a wide variety of foods — both healthy and unhealthy — and while weight loss and blood sugar control can occur, there are far healthier strategies available to achieve these goals.

The no-carb rules are simple and straightforward — cut out every source of carbohydrate from your daily intake and never eat these foods again.

The thought process is by cutting out these foods completely, one can potentially lose a significant amount of weight and/or control diabetes. The “diet” is prescribed by some as a treatment for diabetes or as a weight loss solution.

Foods that contain carbohydrates consist of:

• Grains: bread, pasta, rice, cereal, tortillas, crackers, noodles

• Starches/Starchy Vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, corn, lentils, beans

• Fruit and Fruit Juices (all)

• Dairy: milk, yogurt, ice cream (not cheese/cottage cheese)

• Sugary Snacks and Sugar: sweets, desserts, honey, white/brown sugar

One of the problematic issues of this diet is eliminating all carbs is nearly impossible to sustain over long periods of time.

Remember, when it comes to losing weight and controlling diabetes, the focus should be on total lifestyle transformation and not jumping from one fad diet to the next.

Furthermore, there is limited data available to evaluate whether this eating pattern works in the long run because there are only a handful of people who actually stick to this “diet” over long periods of time (years, for example).

Cutting all carbohydrates can result in constipation and dehydration. Your body needs a moderate amount of carbohydrates to ensure adequate amounts of fiber and water.

Fiber is found in carbohydrate-based foods such as fruits, beans, starchy vegetables and whole grain breads and can supplement vegetable (non-starchy) intake to make sure you reach your fiber goal.

All fruits are carbohydrates and contain a large amount of water and can help contribute to your fluid intake, in addition to drinking water.

Other health related issues with the no-carb diet include fatigue, mood swings, loss of strength and even depression. The problem with carbs is not the need to eliminate them entirely, but to engage in moderate carbohydrate intake and process them effectively through regular exercise.

A registered dietitian can design a practical meal plan to assist you in reaching your wellness goals in a healthy and sustainable way.

Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at carey.stites@smchh.org.

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