Looking to lose weight? Try our FREE Calorie Counter »  |  Log In
Articles Fitness Nutrition

Are Carb Free Diets a Healthy Weight Loss Option?


Fad diets, like carb free diets, do have some truth to them. If you stop eating doughnuts, cake, white bread and sugary cereal, you will undoubtedly drop weight quickly. The problem is that fad diets, like carb free diets, take a small truth (eliminating certain carbohydrates will help you lose weight) and apply it to a much larger context, leading you to believe that in order to loss weight, you have to completely eliminate carbohydrates. Carb free diets are unrealistic in the long term and unhealthy.

Why You Need Carbohydrates

With the increasing popularity of carb free diets, the term carbohydrate has almost become a “dirty word.” Contrary to what you might believe, carbohydrates are necessary for energy production and storage and immune system function. Without carbohydrates, you couldn't survive for more than 30 days.

Metabolizing Carbohydrates

Not all carbohydrates are used by your body in the same way. In fact, there are four different types of carbohydrates: Monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. Mono and disaccharides are often referred to as "simple" carbohydrates, while oligosaccharides are called "complex" carbohydrates.

Simple Carbohydrates

If you have heard that carbohydrates are “bad”, it is true to some extent; simple carbohydrates, mono and disaccharides cause weight gain and health problems. Monosaccarides are simple natural carbohydrates like glucose and fructose. Disaccarides take the form of table sugar (sucrose) and milk sugar (lactose). Sugary cereals, soda and desserts are all simple carbohydrates. Eliminating these types of carbohydrates from your diet is a healthy way to lose weight (or at least use moderation). In addition to causing weight gain, simple carbohydrates can elevate your blood sugar levels and contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are not optional. You need complex carbohydrates (poly and oligosaccharides) to protect your vital organs, provide your cells with energy and even to lose weight. Poly and oligosaccarides are found in plants and whole grains. Complex carbohydrates are full of dietary fiber, phytochemicals and vitamins that your body needs to stay healthy. Some good sources of complex carbohydrates include whole grain bread and pasta, fruit and vegetables, and brown rice.

Fad Diets

Carb free diets can put you at risk for developing health problems.Fad diets like the carb free diet restrict your carbohydrate intake to exclude whole grains and replaces these necessary complex carbohydrates with protein and fat. While you need both fat and protein in your diet, the majority of your dietary fat should not be animal fat, it should be plant fat. Consuming excessive amounts of animal fat can contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes and weight gain. Too much protein can cause problems for your kidneys and liver.

Eliminating carbohydrates from your diet is not a healthy weight loss option. In fact, a carb free diet can have the opposite effect by causing you to gain weight when you replace carbohydrates with fat. Eating a balanced diet that includes complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits and vegetables is the best way to lose weight.

Article Comments