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Macronutrients: Nutrition and Carbohydrates

By Beckya Apr 18, 2013 1045 Words
Compare/Contrast Macronutrients

In today’s society everyone is looking for the next best thing, there are all kinds of fad diets out there that are consistently making outrageous promises to consumers. The latest in the fad diet trend is the “Low Carbohydrate/High Protein” diet. To break it down simply proteins are needed to help the body to grow and repair while carbohydrates provide energy. Both are needed in order for a person to remain healthy, which is why fad diets that promote one over the other are harmful to our bodies. Fad diets such as the “low carb/high protein” diet tend to have one thing in common. They promote the exaggerated benefits of their program and show unrealistic results all while telling the consumer that their diet is the best, the safest, or the most natural diet available. What they fail to make known are the potential health problems that going on crash or fad diets can cause. Fad diets such as the “low carb/high protein diet” all have well documented risks that should not be overlooked when doing research on weight loss. Are low carb/high protein diets and the rapid weight loss they promise worth the potential harm we could be doing to our bodies in the long run?

On a daily basis we decide what we are going to put into our bodies with the knowledge that what we choose to eat affects the body in different ways.  Carbohydrates are one of the crucial macronutrients that perform an essential role in fueling the human body. They provide the body with energy and in order for the body to use carbohydrates for energy food must undergo digestion, absorption, and glycolysis.  It is recommended that 55 to 60 percent of our caloric intake come from carbohydrates.  It is important to keep in mind that there are different types of Carbohydrates. There are good and there are also bad carbohydrates and it is up to us to choose which ones to digest as part of a healthy diet. Eating a healthy diet would ideally include Carbohydrates but it is possible for the body to exist without them. Certain diet programs suggest cutting out Carbohydrates all together in order to lose weight. It is up to the consumer to decide to include Carbs in their diet or accept the potential risks of cutting them out completely.  There are simple Carbohydrates which are most commonly referred to as blood sugar are found in sugared sodas, pastries, and high processed foods.  Then there are complex Carbs which are composed of starch, glycogen, and dietary fiber.  These types of Carbs are commonly found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  The starch represents the digestible carbohydrate that gets broken down in order to release sugar into the bloodstream to produce energy.  Glycogen is similar to starch but, the primary storage site in the human body is the liver and the muscles. Proteins are equally as important as Carbohydrates and play a critical role in keeping the body healthy. There are many health benefits that come from including protein in your diet. The body needs to ingest enough protein to help with tissue repair if you sustain an injury. Proteins help the body to fight off illness and disease and also keep the immune system functioning properly.  Our bodies can produce almost every amino acid needed to remain healthy but there are nine amino acids that our bodies cannot produce.  Therefore we must obtain these nine amino acids by keeping a balanced diet that is high in protein. Though they are becoming more and more popular, “High Protein, Low Carbohydrate Diets” have their pros and cons. When protein levels become escalated due to high amounts of saturated fats such as those found in animal products, problems may occur. These problems could eventually lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and several types of cancer.  Restricting Carbohydrates from your diet is essentially cutting off the fuel from your brain, heart, and other organs thus depriving the body of what it needs to function.  Diets that advocate cutting Carbohydrates count on the fact that your body will go into a different metabolic state called ketosis, in order to lose weight.  When the body is in Ketosis it begins to pull energy from the carbon fragments that the breakdown of fat creates.  The beginning stages of ketosis can be recognized easily as the consumer begins to feel less hungry and the weight starts to come off rapidly. Though this seems like an optimal outcome, restricting Carbohydrates could lead to health problems such as kidney failure or kidney stones.  The issues associated with protein packed diets are that often times once the consumer decides to stop the diet, the weight they lost is rapidly regained, leading to a potentially dangerous cycle of “yo-yo dieting.”

Diets such as these can place you at risk for certain deficiencies.  Sometimes too little or too much of something may result in poor health which is why balance is so important.  Eating a low carbohydrate diet has adverse side effects such as headaches, bad breath, constipation, muscle weakness, and feelings of fatigue.  The effects of not having of not having complex carbohydrates result from restricting plant based foods, which are in phytochemicals and antioxidants and these chemicals offer protection against diseases. The healthy solution is choosing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans as your carbohydrate source since these contain vitamins, nutrients, and fiber that our bodies need.  Consuming high protein diets consisting of red meats or other high fat food are linked to high cholesterol. The benefits of a healthy and balanced diet should include high energy levels, internal organs working properly, and overall physical and mental good health.

With the United States being at the forefront of the obesity epidemic, many have turned to fad diets as a solution, without concern for the potential risks. Comparatively to living a natural and holistic lifestyle, dieting has been proven to be ineffective and detrimental in the long run. Throughout history diets have been proven to be unreliable and at times unsafe, which is why it is so important to understand that having a healthy well-balanced diet is the key to weight management and overall good health.

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