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No carbs? No good.

Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust dietitian warns of ‘carb avoidance’ danger

Published on April 13th 2011.

No carbs? No good.

WEIGHT loss programmes, such as the Atkins diet, are very popular at this time of year. Women in particular, concerned with what condition their bikini clad body is going to be in come summer, often resort to no carb eating regimes in a bid to get slim quickly.

Carbs is not the bogeyman which needs be avoided. They are less fattening than other food products and keep us full for longer, which means that we snack less.

Today, Anna Ashton - a registered dietitian for Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust (LCH) - has warned of the health risks related to such popular no carb diets.

She said: “We’ve seen a number of patients who have cut carbohydrates to such as extent that they are experiencing problems such as listlessness, poor health and constipation.”

Anna believes that the popularity of weight loss programmes like the Atkins diet has had a huge impact on peoples’ attitudes to carbohydrates and a number of her patients in the clinic have confessed they are actually “scared of carbs.”

She has found dieters who make a big effort to cut bread and other carbohydrates, often find that they are not losing weight because they supplement the lack of carbs with high calorie food.

Anna Ashton

Anna claims that some carb-cutters are suffering from issues such as low blood glucose levels making them feel unwell and constipated.

She said: “With such a low carb intake they are also taking higher risks in the long term. It is true that on a low carb diet bodies do use up fat stores for energy, but this quickly moves into burning protein tissue such as in the heart and muscles.”

In addition, a very low intake, or none at all, of indigestible carbohydrates like wholegrain, cereals, fruit and vegetables, can also lead to major bowel problems according to her research.

However the Atkins website claims that despite the perception that it is a ‘no carbs diet’, it is in fact ‘a diet rooted in the science of eating fewer refined carbohydrates and refined sugars - what we refer to as ‘bad carbs.’’

It claims that its lifetime eating plan incorporates ‘all food groups.’

Anna recommends instead of cutting a food group out altogether, people need to take regular exercise and eat a balanced diet with a mixture of carbs, protein, and fruit and vegetables.

She concluded: “If a person wants to lose the weight then the secret is portion sizes and to only consume the amount of food that we need, not to cut one food product out.

“Carbs is not the bogeyman which needs be avoided. They are less fattening than other food products and keep us full for longer, which means that we snack less. Dietary guidelines advise that we should be getting approximately half of our energy intake from carbohydrate foods, so this is worth bearing in mind when you think about going on a carb free diet.”

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