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Carbohydrates are often seen as the number one enemies of the diet and it is the first thing we eliminate when we want to lose weight. But is it healthy to eliminate carbohydrates altogether?

Carbohydrates are often called into question when you talk about nutrition, especially when it comes to eliminating them from the diet.

You can lose weight in many ways: even the gym and the right training can help, but you have to choose the right diet that contains foods that satisfy us without making us feel always hungry and dissatisfied. Too often we insist on counting calories and the first thing we think to do is to eliminate carbohydrates, considered the number one enemies of the diet, in favor of only vegetables and white meat, perhaps boiled, foods that increase hunger and make us feel in a bad mood.

In fact carbohydrates are very important for our body and, if taken in the right dose, they can also help you to lose weight. They are essential for regulating blood glucose levels and providing energy to our body, and glucose is an indispensable element for our brain. So let's see how and if it is possible to eliminate carbohydrates from our diet and how to take them.

Do carbohydrates make you fat?

The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends to consume 55-75% of the total energy from carbohydrates, of which only 10% from simple sugars: if we fall below this threshold we risk entering a dangerous area that we could define "low carb", we must therefore avoid falling below an average of 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. It is important, however, also not to exceed this quota recommended by the WHO because this would mean eliminating from our diet other fundamental nutrients that would make our diet unbalanced. The rule not to get fat is not to ingest more calories than we consume. In conclusion then: it is not the carbohydrates that make us put on weight but the excessive amount of calories we introduce every day in our body, whether they come from fats, proteins or carbohydrates.

Are low carbohydrate diets recommended?

There are some diets in which the carbohydrates are completely eliminated (for example in the Atkins diet) and this could make you lose weight, but for sure they are not recommended for a healthy and balanced diet. When we have to lose a few pounds, any diet makes us lose weight if done correctly, but the difficult thing is to find also a balance that helps us to maintain the weight but also our physical well-being. Diets that eliminate carbohydrates usually also lack the right proportions of fats, vitamins and minerals: following such a restrictive diet could lead to problems related to malnutrition, which does not happen if our diet is varied and rich in all substances which our body needs.

A balanced and varied diet does not depend only on the quantity of carbohydrates that we introduce in our body but also on the way in which we combine them with other foods and in what proportions. Everyone has a different lifestyle, so we need to learn more about all the nutrients we take every day and especially learn to recognize the signals that our body sends to us when we eat certain foods, trying, when appropriate, to change our diet. We avoid the do-it-yourself and if we want to eat well and lose weight, let’s consult a nutritionist who will recommend the right doses and foods according to our needs and our lifestyle.

Research: eliminating carbohydrates two days a week doubles weight loss

The study was conducted by the University Hospital of South Manchester, and showed that eliminating carbohydrates only twice a week increases weight loss. The research was conducted on 115 women divided into three groups and who were followed for four months. The first group followed a diet with a daily calorie limit set at 1500, the second group ate for five days without restrictions and eliminated carbohydrates for two days a week, reducing calories to 650, while the third group eliminated calories for two days, like the second, but without restrictions on calories. In the end it turned out that women in the second and third group had lost 4 kilos compared to 2.3 of the women in the first group. From this research would therefore result that reducing carbohydrates causes weight loss. This is true in the short term, but what happens in the long term?

Regarding the issue, the president of the Italian Diabetology Society, Dr. Gabriele Riccardi, said: "It is now well-known that reducing carbohydrates is the best way to lose weight in the short term, that is within six months, even regardless of presence of insulin resistance: a standard diet provides 60 percent of the calories from carbohydrates, so reducing them is the big target, and it is hard not to lose weight in this way.The problem is that then the lost pounds return, at most in the lap two years: it happens because a diet with few carbohydrates is felt as "unnatural", it is too far from our standard diet, so it is more likely to abandon it".

Dr. Riccardi also states that, to lose weight over the long term, it is advisable to choose the right carbohydrates substituting the refined ones with the wholewheat ones, without forgetting to eat fruit and vegetables every day. Weight loss will not be dramatic, but we will be able to maintain it even after two years.