Did you know that women eat, on average, 800kg (1760lb) food a year in total and men around 1200kg (2640lb) a year? It’s quite a lot of food, isn’t it? But think about this – of that amount of food, on average American eats around 34kg (77lb) of sugar every year. On a daily level, that breaks down to more than 90 grammes of sugar which makes about 22,9 teaspoons! WHO guideline for daily sugar consumption is only 6 teaspoon a day.
The British seem to be the biggest team of ‘chocoholics’, based on a survey, with an average Brit eating chocolate based products a huge amount of 11.2kg (24.7lb) in total last year. When the amounts are presented this way, in yearly level, they are shocking! On the other hand, it’s easier to understand what this kind of amount of sugar, plus the excess carbohydrates that turn into glucose in our body, does to us. Do we need so much carbohydrate foods? Yes, they are the main energy source for our brain and body but our body can produce energy from proteins and fats as well.
Simple carbohydrates and blood sugar
Which one raises the blood sugar and insulin levels the most: a slice of whole grain wheat bread or normal table sugar (sucrose)?
Higher blood sugar levels that accompany insulin resistance
– the greater cognitive decline!
Unfortunately, even gluten free products are commonly made of rice flour, potato flour, corn and tapioca starch which have absolutely no nutritional value and actually swings the blood sugar even higher than “normal” bread or pasta. Therefore ready-made gluten-free bread and pasta are not on the top of my list of ingredients and I prefer to make my own gluten-free bread by using, for example, almond and chickpea flour or naturally gluten-free grains such as buckwheat and oats (specifically GF).
So when cutting down carbohydrates, the first ones to eliminate are sugars, bread and pasta. This kind of carbohydrates break down in the digestive track rapidly and raise the blood sugar quickly. The energy gained is only for a short period and followed by a new hunger and a sugar crash. It’s the complex carbohydrates from plant-based foods that take longer to digest because of the fibre content. They are a better option to keep insulin levels in balance and gain long-lasting energy.
Do I need more fat and protein to replace carbs?
Eating low-carb doesn’t mean that you need to increase your protein consumption enormously. So how much protein do we need daily? My own minimum need is around 40-60g of pure protein a day but it depends on how it’s calculated and also other factors such as my activity level, age, muscle mass, physique goals and the state of health.
My protein sources are mainly nuts, seeds, legumes and vegetables which are also packed with other vitamins, minerals and nutrients that invariably come along with protein. I also eat fish, free-range chicken, eggs and goat cheese. This is what works for me but you can find your own top foods to consume quality protein.
Our body can only absorb 20-30 grammes of protein at a time so there’s really no need for an extra refill. Some people seem to eat too much protein and some too little, but most of the people on a ‘western diet’ are often lacking the important base for low-carb eating, which is healthy fatty acids.
Adding more quality protein and fats into your diet doesn’t mean eating bacon and cheese every day and in every meal – like some of those low-carb diets have suggested. Many fruits (like an avocado), berries and vegetables contain healthy fats and protein as well but those are often forgotten when talked about low-carb diets (Atkins, Keto, Paleo, Zero…). Find out more about protein-rich vegan foods in my previous article “Can an athlete manage with vegan food?“.
I actually don’t like the word ‘diet’ at all. Diet is something that hardly ever lasts but instead is an instantaneous state. It’s more about changing the lifestyle and eating habits in general. Changing the perspective of what is healthy and what is not.
The science has long shown that there’s nothing wrong with natural fats, even in saturated fats such as in butter or coconut oil, but trans fats and other processed or hydrogenated fats are the ones to blame and avoid! This is essential to understand, due to the fact that so many things went wrong, when talked about fats, more that 50 years ago.
Finally, decades later the dietary guidelines are shifting from high carbohydrate, low-fat recommendations to current recommendations for lower carbohydrates and more healthy fats. People have been taught something else for so long that it’s hard to ‘believe anyone’ anymore. Media, food industry and even some dietitians, who have been trained the conventional way, can confuse the pack. Above all that, we know that there’s a lot of money spent by the food industry to make the scientific reports look more favourable from the industry’s point of view.
Read more about fats and why they become ‘banned’ for a long time since the 1960’s.
What is the right kind of low-carb diet
A low-carb diet or a lifestyle means eating low in carbohydrates such as sugary foods, pasta and bread. Instead of those simple carbs, the main idea is to eat real foods including protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates in the form of plant-based food.
Benefits of eating low-carb can be losing weight but more importantly to lose dangerous visceral fat around the organs. Some of the greatest benefits of eating low-carb are reversing type 2 diabetes, normalising your blood pressure, controlling migraine or even epilepsy. By eating low-carb you can also reduce your sugar cravings and calm your stomach.
Watch the video below to find out what an obesity doctor Sarah Hallberg has to say about low-carb diet. She’s questioning if the general guidelines for treating type 2 diabetes have gone completely wrong and if so, what are the consequences?
Can a person be “cured” of Type 2 Diabetes? Dr Sarah Hallberg provides compelling evidence that it can, and the solution is simpler than you might think.