If you ask an average person how to lose weight, there is a high probability that will say something like this: “eat fewer carbs”. Could it really be so simple?
I’m sorry to disappoint you but no, that statement is simply not true. Nutrition is not all black and white, as much as we would like it to be. Carbs, just like fats and protein, are all part of a healthy human diet. Eating less of any of the three is simply being irresponsible because by going too far, our bodies might even reach that point when they stop functioning as they should.
Actually, if you want to improve your metabolism, it is recommended that you eat carbs, sugar, and starches. These foods raise the body temperature and in turn, stimulate the metabolism. You can easily test this on yourself! Just take note of how many carbs you eat and check your temperature each morning as you wake up on the following day. You will probably see that your body responds positively. For more on that topic, I suggest you eat the ebook Eat for Heat.
But isn’t that just inflammation?
Have you ever eaten a good full of carbs dinner and felt your body warm up right after? I’m sure you have. This is the result of eating foods with warming properties. You feel relaxed and cozy and ready for a good night of regenerating sleep. But there is some misconception about this warmth that I would like to debunk now.
Some people seem to think that the hot rush you feel after eating a good meal is inflammation and that their body is hypersensitive to the food it just received. This is rarely the case. By thinking there is inflammation in our digestive system, we feel unnecessary stress. That stress is making us believe the food we had just eaten is not good for us. That’s how we have been conditioned by hearing all the time that grains and starches are the root of all evil. That kind of stress is chronic stress and it can have long-lasting damage to our well-being.
For example, let’s think about gluten, the most villainized substance on the planet right now. If you start thinking that gluten causes you to suffer from inflammation, consider whether the root cause of that inflammation is the gluten itself or the stress you’re feeling from fearing gluten might cause you inflammation. I swear that more often than not, it’s the latter. Think about whether you suffered from similar negative effects before you first heard about gluten. Of course, I am not denying that people with genuine gluten sensitivity exist and they should be avoiding gluten. But they probably knew that for a long time, even before gluten-free fads started to take over our dietary needs.
What helped me was trying to separate in my mind all that I have heard from society about carbs from how I felt after eating them. I found that when I tried to relax and simply gave in to my body’s responses, I felt less stressed out and more at ease with myself and my food. So how does your body feel about carbs? Listen to your body only and not the people around you. Don’t cut carbs out of your life if you don’t need to do it.
Most food sensitivities (not celiac disease-level sensitivities) can be resolved by healing your gut and improving metabolism. That’s what Eat for Heat is for.
So like I said, if you take your basal temperature every morning, you should see a correlation between the amount of starches and grains you eat and the temperature of your body. But just a side note, food is not the only factor affecting your basal temperature. If you’re a woman then you will also probably observe a small rise in temperature when you are ovulating. That’s completely natural. I recommend reading the Taking Charge of Your Fertility book to find out more about how your cycles work.
By eating more carbs on a regular basis, your basal temperature should reach steady levels of around 98.6 degrees. Some people can even reach 99 degrees. You will feel more energized in the morning and you won’t get cold hands and feet so easily. Eating a bigger lunch and a smaller dinner will also give you more energy in the afternoon while everyone around gets sleepier and sleepier!
The world of nutrition is based on what dietary sciences tell us about food and how our bodies need it to function. That same science tells us that there three macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates (please tell me that no one is trying to argue with that just yet). So how can one of these three basic macronutrients be possibly harmful to our bodies? I find it absolutely bonkers that someone might actually believe that.
I always say it’s all about the quality of what you need. There are better and worse carbohydrates but they are all still carbohydrates. To maintain a healthy diet, you should generally choose whole grains over refined grains, such as white rice or white flour. But you absolutely should not avoid grains at all. Same with starch. Eat oven-baked potato fries over fast food fries that were made in a deep fryer. Don’t let anyone tell you that the wonderful gifts nature is providing us with are not meant to be eaten.
Remember to choose organic foods that haven’t been processed in big factories. Go local and eat clean. That’s usually all you need to be and feel healthy!
Low carb = evil?
That’s another blanket statement that is way too general. No one can say that high carb is absolutely the right solution because everyone’s bodies are different. All I wanted to say in this post is that you should be eating what your body wants you to eat, not what the society wants you to eat.
Going low carb is still a viable option for some. If you feel great while doing low carb then great, keep at it. But don’t force yourself to think that you should be feeling great because you’re eating fewer carbs.
In my experience, low carb diets feel great for about 6 months. I accidentally went too low carb when I was doing the GAPS diet (you can read about my experience in my post about eating carbs on GAPS). Long story short: I became exhausted very quickly and had very little energy left to function.
But you might be different. You might start feeling worse after only 3 months. You might be able to keep doing low carb for even a full year. You are the only one who can judge that accurately.
And I just want to make clear that I am not bashing keto, paleo, primal diets, and whatever else is out there. I did GAPS and I know it’s pretty restrictive in what you can eat but I felt great afterward. But not everyone would. You need to find a diet that works for you and you only! Even though I loved GAPS and felt much better after finishing it, I won’t tell everyone I know what they should do it too. I will recommend that anyone with digestive sensitivities give it a try and do the first introductory week but if it doesn’t work for them then there is no point in forcing yourself to complete it. Especially since GAPS, and many other such popular now wonder diets, are pretty restrictive and can even cause you more health problems in some cases.
I know now that GAPS helped me recover from years of trying to do those restrictive diets. By reintroducing them all slowly one by one, I allowed my gut to heal and gave it a fighting chance to digest them properly. And my basal temperatures increased like crazy, giving me more energy during the day.
What I do urge you to try, however, is the Anti-Diet Challenge. You can find full guidelines here but in this post, I’ll give you a quick overview of the rules so that you can see whether it’s something you’re interested in:
- Take your temperature every morning.
- Be intuitive about the foods you eat and choose only those that sound good to you.
- Drink only when you are genuinely thirsty.
- Embrace sugar and salt (don’t cause your body unnecessary stress by fearing natural substances!).
- Follow the general menu below for a few days and observe how you feel:
- Breakfast: starchy and dry, without much liquid.
- Lunch: a large meal full of protein with fruit as dessert.
- Dinner: vegetable-based with plenty of liquids (soups and chowders are best!).
- Break the general menu and see if you can observe any improvements.
- Listen to your body.
- Get enough sleep.
- Take a nap to recover if you are tired.
- Work out if you have pent-up energy.