Is Cutting Carbs the right choice?

Leisa Cournane 4 Oct 2021

The short answer is yes. For some this would be especially so for people that are wanting to reverse type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome - let's have a closer look.

Cutting carbs is often recommended for successful weight loss. But does it really work? A study from the New England Journal of Medicine compared to popular diets. The study, A low-carbohydrate as compared with a low-fat diet in severe obesity found these results: “Severely obese subjects with a high prevalence of diabetes or the metabolic syndrome lost more weight during six months on a carbohydrate-restricted diet than on a calorie and fat-restricted diet, with a relative improvement in insulin sensitivity and triglyceride levels, even after the adjustment for the amount of weight lost”.

Please note this is general advice only and we are all individuals with our own unique biochemistry. Please see your health professional for further advice or information.

Does cutting carbs work?

If we are talking about processed carbohydrates, then definitely. These include crackers, cakes, pastries, pasta, most bread, white rice, packaged cereals, sugar and foods containing sugar, and muesli bars--generally anything packaged that has sugar as an ingredient. Processed carbs have been identified to be a primary source of weight gain for many people. Likewise, cutting carbs can help for weight loss. You don't necessarily need to eliminate them, but the fewer the better. 

The problem with processed carbs

So what’s wrong with processed carbs? Well in a nutshell they cause inflammation, weight gain and lead to chronic disease. There are many mechanisms in the body by which they do this – I have simplified two below.

  1. Processed carbohydrates --> xs blood glucose --> weight gain --> hyperinsulinaemia --> insulin resistance --> hyperinsulinaemia-->obesity-->type 2 diabetes -->Atherosclerosis and other degenerative conditions.
  2. Excess Glucose -->Advanced Glycosylated End Products (AGEs) -->damage blood vessel endothelium --> Atherosclerosis

We recommend reducing processed carbs whether or not you're on a weight loss plan. There are many healthy alternatives that taste great while helping you feel better. Take a look at our Food section for some ideas of foods you can have in place of processed carbs. 

So is cutting ALL carbs the best option?

No, not all carbs are created equal. Some are very beneficial.  Vegetables, fruit, or whole grains prepared properly by soaking, sprouting or fermenting are carbs. But they're carbs that are good for you.  However, sugars can still be a problem, especially for diabetes. If you have or at risk of type 2 diabetes, it can be prudent to limit fruit to one piece per day. This can also help with weight loss as these foods also have a higher calorie count and at the end of the day for weight loss calories in should generally be less than calories out. If weight loss is your goal then above ground vegetables rather than root vegetables should make up the bulk of your carbohydrate intake. 

Carbs and the body

So in summary we need our carbohydrates; they are the fuel our body loves. Cutting all carbs isn't necessarily a good idea. When they are in their natural state they also have fibre and nutrients that travel along with them, in this form the body can metabolize the glucose without burdening itself and it is also getting lots of other nutrients to feed and balance itself.

However, when processed carbs are eaten the glucose is rapidly released into the bloodstream, insulin then responds and opens up cell walls so glucose can go in and be converted to energy – but only so much - the rest is stored as fat. If this occurs day in day out fat stores build-up, the insulin response gets a bit worn out - so free glucose damages blood vessels causing long term chronic inflammation, nutrients are also diminished as there have not been enough supplied in the diet so body stores are depleted which leads to further health problems. 

NB: This is a brief overview only and your healthcare professional can help you with more. We have Naturopaths and Health Coaches at ComplEat Wellness that can work with you and tailor an individual programme.