Cut it out?
With diets telling you to cut out entire food groups, either for weight loss or health reasons, it’s worth looking at some of the pros and cons before making a decision.
There are plenty of diets, old and new, that recommend cutting certain foods from your life completely. Both the Atkins and ketogenic diets urge you to avoid carbs, Banting bans sugar and grains, the raw food diet is, well, exactly what it sounds like. So, what happens to your body when you give up…
- The biggest thing a low- or no-carb diet has going for it is it does help with weight loss. Deleting starchy carbs like pasta and white bread is especially helpful, as they usually have added sugars or are high in ‘simple’ carbohydrates.
- The best diets encourage you to consume complex carbs, which are found in foods like vegetables and whole grains. Swapping simple carbs for complex carbs may help regulate blood sugar levels and lower blood pressure.
- A carb-rich diet can trigger inflammation in some people, so cutting carbs could result in alleviation of general aches and pains.
- Some fairly harmless symptoms are linked to giving up carbs, like bad breath, lethargy and headaches. If symptoms persist, however, have them checked, as it may indicate low blood sugar.
- Ditching carbs results in excess stomach acid and heartburn for some.
- Low-carb diets are often high in fat and protein. There’s a danger that sticking to these diets may increase your risk of osteoporosis, kidney damage and high cholesterol. Too much protein is especially not recommended for people who are middle-aged and older, as it can increase your risk of diabetes.
- Sugar isn’t a necessity. When you begin to avoid it, you’ll see how many ‘hidden’ empty calories you were consuming.
- Giving up sugar helps balance your glucose levels, which will result in fewer cravings for unhealthy foods.
- Not eating sugar means eating more healthy foods instead, like nuts and veggies, which are packed with nutrients.
- If you exercise often, you might actually need sugar for energy. Glucose is the main source of fuel for muscles, so if you’re a gym regular or training for a marathon, you probably shouldn’t completely cut sugar.
- Eating out or at other people’s homes can become difficult. Sugar is in so many foods that it’s incredibly difficult to avoid unless you’re preparing the food yourself.
- A strict no-sugar diet includes no fruit. Although it can be quite high in sugar, fruit also comes with a host of nutritional benefits you’ll be missing out on.
- Giving up gluten is obviously most beneficial if you’re gluten intolerant, as it can help reverse inflammation caused by your body’s reaction to gluten.
- As gluten is contained in so many products, giving it up could help you eat more healthily, as you’ll likely avoid many processed foods.
- You’ll probably consume more gluten-free grains like quinoa, which are often considered higher quality.
- Giving up gluten results in giving up a lot of foods, which might mean you’ll be getting less fibre.
- Gluten-free products tend to have higher fat and sugar contents, which could cause unwanted weight gain.
- If you eliminate too many foods from your diet, you could end up with deficiencies.
- A grain-free diet is unlikely to cause any harm, as they don’t contain nutrients you can’t get from other foods.
- Unlike whole grains, refined grains are high calorie, starchy and classified as empty calories. They can lead to spikes in blood sugar and have been linked to various metabolic diseases, so they’re best avoided.
- There are hundreds of studies linking whole grains to good health, so giving them up is also giving up all the benefits they have to offer. Those who eat whole grains have been shown to be at lower risk of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Whole grains are a source of B vitamins, fibre, magnesium and iron. This makes them an easy way to
stock up on nutrients, which you would have to find from other sources on a grain-free diet.
FEATURE: CAITLIN GENG PHOTO: FOTOLIA.COM
The advice contained here is strictly for informational purposes. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Always consult your GP or a doctor for specific information regarding your health.