A client recently asked me if I supported low carbohydrate diets. I responded with an absolute maybe.
It depends, I told her ” … are you interested in reducing all carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates, refined grain products, sugars, and/or starch?”
I got “the gaze,” scheduled her for a Nutrition Together session, and decided it was time to write it all down.
Here then, is Part One of a Three Part series on Carbohydrates …
… compete with two polls … please vote! And, as always, if you comment on my posting, you’ll be entered into a contest to win free personal training!
We’re going to get a bit technical here in the 1st week. You don’t really need to know the chemistry (I’ll give my layman’s recommendations in week 3), but following along will definitely improve your awareness of marketing hype and improve your diet!
Question # 1 for you:
A (very) Brief History of the Carbohydrate Conversation
If you thought that Low Carbohydrate (Carb) diets were a consequence of modern dietary remediation, you’d be right. And you’d also be quite wrong.
In fact, many anthropologists believe that the early hunter-gatherer humans of thousands of years ago consumed a diet largely consisting of proteins and fats with relatively low carbohydrate content. Of course, they suffered from very low life expectancies, widespread disease, and chronic illnesses, so it’s probably best not to give too much credit to that <ahem> tribe’s eating habits. They were also generally more active than our current society.
And if that’s not all, the Glycemic index, an indication of how quickly carbohydrates metabolize, was actually introduced by Dr. David Jenkins around 1981 more than 30 years ago!
But the “low carb craze” as we now know it really started in the 1990s when Dr. Robert Atkins introduced his diet and philosophy on fat.
By that time, of course, highly refined grains had permeated much of the American diet, and, according to the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, they still do.
Considering the position we held on the Obesity Curve in the 1990s, carbohydrates became an easy target for a problem that seems to be getting <ahem> bigger.
Dozens of Medical Research Communities have studied low carb diets over time, developing both staunch supporters of and staunch opponents to the concept.
In short, it’s a complex topic. While much there is much consensus around protein and fat intake requirements for varying levels of human activity, the camps on carbohydrates are very much divided.
Organically Speaking …
Three commonly recognized monosaccharides are Glucose, Galactose, and Fructose. Glucose, of course, is human blood sugar, an immediately ready source of energy for cellular respiration – the product of which is ATP, our primary energy source.
Galactose is the sugar commonly found in dairy product (and is responsible for ‘lactose intolerance’), while Fructose is the sugar found in honey and fruits.
High Fructose Corn Syrup is a fructose manufactured as an sweetening ingredient from corn starch, and is a highly controversial processed food ingredient.