Are you confused about all the news regarding carbs and their role in a healthy, plant-based diet? You’re not the first and you certainly won’t be the last. Carbs have been under huge scrutiny in the last decade or so because of their perceived ill effects on the body. While it is true that refined carbohydrates do have negative effects such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, eating the right kind of carbs is the key to debunking the low carb/high carb myth that’s been floating around these days. Here are a few points to keep in mind about carbs, especially if you are considering a low-carb diet.
Your Body Runs on Glucose
Low carb dieters might argue that the brain is made predominantly of fat — and this is true! However, although your brain might be comprised of fat, it runs primarily on glucose. Therefore, you DO need a steady supply of glucose to the body and the brain in order to function properly. Whole grains and complex carbohydrates are some of the best sources of glucose for your body. Grains and fruits are nourishing, filling, and provide a ton of the calories you need on a day to day basis. Eating carbs is an essential part of any balanced diet, especially if you’re following a plant-based diet that eliminates many dietary sources of calories like meat and dairy.
If You Cut Out Carbs, What’s Left?
Being a low carb vegan might sound all fine and dandy on paper, but what else are you going to eat? Cutting out grains from the diet leaves primarily veggies, some fruit, and some nuts and seeds in your diet (remember, fruit has carbs, so you also can’t eat much of it). Restricting too many food groups — even if you’re eating healthy foods like veggies and nuts — can leave you susceptible to disease, malnutrition, and other health problems.
Also keep in mind how this kind of diet could not only lead to nutritional deficiencies, but also sheer boredom. As delicious as leafy greens are, you’ll surely get bored by preparing them the same handful of ways over and over again. Even with your best Instagram and Pinterest skills, you’ll quickly run out of ideas by following such a restrictive diet.
Look at Carbs Through a Different Light
How about we get rid of the low carb vs. high carb dichotomy that’s destroying our plans of eating healthy and protecting the planet? Instead of looking at carbs like they’re the enemy, why not eat a diet that’s high in good carbs and low in bad carbs? Think of is this way: whether you’re paleo, vegan, or somewhere in between, potato chips, white bread, and other processed junk foods don’t belong on any healthy eating plan.
Carbohydrates are essential to any diet, especially if you follow a vegan diet that excludes meat, dairy, and other animal products. While it might be difficult to follow a low carb vegan diet that doesn’t result in weight loss, it’s safe to say there should be no room in your vegan diet for processed and refined carbohydrates like cookies, cakes, non-dairy ice creams, chips, and other junk foods.
Instead, try eating complex carbohydrates. Say goodbye to those refined carbs and opt for whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. You need complex carbs to provide energy, help aid digestion, aid in mental focus, balance the nervous system and help with several other functions. See these 7 Benefits of Complex Carbs and the Best Ones to Eat and How to Carb Load the Healthy Vegan Way.
Image source: Carbs: What You Should and Should not Be Eating