Carbophobia: Are Your Fears Well-Founded?

Published on taffeta.com July 2, 2020.

Since Dr. Robert Atkins published the first issue of The Atkins Diet in 1972, low-carbohydrate diets have been reinvented dozens of times by weight-loss gurus looking to cash in on the lucrative industry.

The South Beach Diet, Zone Diet, Medifast, Nutrisystem, Sugar Busters, Paleo, and Keto diets are all versions of the same principle: when you starve your body of carbohydrates, your insulin level drops, triggering your body to burn fat stores for energy.

And low-carb diets do work for quick weight loss, but a low-carb diet is hard to maintain in a world with pasta, potatoes, and bread.

Our bodies crave carbohydrates for good reason: they are the muscles’ and brain’s preferred energy source.

Headaches, weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, bad breath, constipation, and diarrhea are common side effects of a low-carb diet.

And weight loss is usually temporary – most people gain back the weight they lose and end up in a chronic cycle of trying again and again. When the diet fails, most people blame themselves for not “sticking to it” or “cheating” too often. But maybe it’s not your willpower; maybe it’s so hard to stick to because it’s not the right way to fuel your body.

In 2004, nutrition expert Dr. Michael Greger, New York Times bestselling author of How Not to Die, How Not to Diet, and most recently, How to Survive a Pandemic, and founder of the non-profit site nutritionfacts.org wrote a little book called Carbophobia: The Scary Truth About America’s Low-Carb Craze in which he presents “a century of medical science” against the low-carb diet movement, debunking the science Dr. Atkins presented in his book, and pointed out that high-fat foods like beef and cheese elevate insulin levels more than pasta.

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