Do we really need carbs?

Current mainstream dietary guidelines recommend that we get 45 to 65% of calories from carbohydrates. [1]

In line with these recommendations carbohydrate intake has increased as people have endeavoured to avoid fat.  During this period obesity increased from 14.5% to 30.9%.


It’s fair to say that macronutrient composition is only part of the story, but perhaps if we moved the carbohydrate intake back towards the ketogenic corner (along with a shift to more whole unprocessed foods) this trend would turn around again?

However more and more nutrition researchers are now saying that health authorities got it wrong about fats, and that our fear of fat has led us to the over-consumption of carbs which has caused to the current obesity epidemic. [3] [4] [5]

There are essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce, such as alpha-Linolenic acid and linoleic acid, which we need to obtain from our diet.  The body also needs amino acids from dietary protein which form the building blocks for the cells which it is unable to make from other nutrients.

Glucose however can be produced from protein via gluconeogenesis, and hence it is not technically necessary to eat carbohydrates.

Consequently, often asked (and debated) questions are:

  • If there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate why do we need to be eating any carbohydrates?
  • If we took food insulin theory to its logical extreme, could (or should) we live off just fat and “adequate” protein?
  • How low (carb) can we go while still getting adequate nutrition?

How do we find the optimal balance between obtaining adequate nutrition and energy while avoiding the negative impacts of excess insulin caused by high carbohydrate consumption?

[this post is part of the insulin index series] [Like what you’re reading?  Skip to the full story here.]






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Marty Kendall

  • Wenchypoo says:

    I’ve heard that since grass-fed/pastured animals eat plants, they’re in essence eating our veggies FOR us when we eat their meat and fat.
    As for me personally, my A-1C is coming down, I’ve lost 30 lbs., and I await my NMR to check my triglyceride level–so no, I don’t need carbs. My doctor even agrees–I expected an argument, but her son is an athlete who went zero carb to enhance is performance, and she joined him in support.

    I hear a lot about diet boredom with zero carb, but I can get pretty creative with meat and other zero-carb foods (even raw ones). Here’s to another 30 lbs. down the drain!

    • Wenchypoo says:

      Oh, I forgot–I think the reason behind all the carb-pushing is economic in nature. Farmers tend to vote GOP, and without subsidies, bad food guidelines, and bad recommendations to bolster our food buying habits, then farmers, grocers, food producers of all sorts, PLUS the GOP would all be out of jobs. And right behind them in the unemployment line would be every so-called “health professional”, a lot of health agencies/lobbies, gym owners/operators, everyone associated with Big Pharma, advertisers…basically, bad health advice is what’s propping up what’s left of our economy. They make us sick, they sell us pills, we don’t get better,we go back for more pills–lather, rinse, repeat until surgery is needed. And the pill factories keep inventing and cranking out newer (and supposedly better) pills for us to buy.

      Take all this “disease infrastructure” away, and you have the Depression 2.0–at least it was cleaner to eat and breathe!

  • bill says:

    In your 4th paragraph,
    I’m not sure, but is there such a thing as
    “alpha-linoleic acid”?

  • bill says:

    Linolenic vs. linoleic

  • bill says:

    I’m slowly working through your whole
    website. It’s great. Learning a lot.
    I’ve actually called it the holy grail.
    Keep up the good work.

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