If you’re eager to lose weight, jumping on the bread-free bandwagon is tempting. Most people will see an almost immediate drop on the scale when they slash their carb intake, although that’s largely due to water weight (per Healthline). Proponents of keto, Atkins, and other rigidly low-carbohydrate diets also report that they feel less hungry, which certainly makes it easier to stick to their plans.
But is it really a good idea to bid arrivederci to fettuccine … forever? Or au revoir to fruit, for that matter? In an interview with The List, Jillian Michaels, health and fitness expert and creator of the Jillian Michaels Fitness App (available in iOS, Android and on the Samsung Health wellness platform), said going carb-free is a bad idea in any language. “There are SO many reasons we shouldn’t cut all carbohydrates from our diet,” she said. “It would be impossible to list them all without writing a book about it!” That being said, Michaels said that she can stomach not eating pasta again — but she worries about the many, nutrient-rich carbohydrates that people should keep in their diets.
“It’s important to understand carbs are not created equal. Not even close,” she said. “Sure, processed grains and refined sugars are bad. But complex carbohydrates — fruits, whole grains, lentils, etc. — provide ESSENTIAL fuel for our body to function, called glucose.”
Our bodies need complex carbohydrates to function properly, says Jillian Michaels
We tend to think about how food impacts our waistline, but according to Michaels, we should also consider how different nutrients affect our brains. The glucose that’s in complex carbohydrates influences brain health, she explained. “Mammals’ brains depend upon glucose as a main source of energy, and it’s critical for brain physiology,” Michaels said. “Glucose plays a hugely critical role in the bioenergetics of neurotransmission.” If this scientific language is Greek to you, Jillian Michaels has a simpler way of explaining it: “Bottom line — cutting carbs — BAD IDEA,” she emphasized.
Your brain isn’t the only part of your body that needs whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, Michaels added. “Adding insult to injury, cutting out complex carbohydrates also cuts out all their beneficial nutrients like digestive enzymes, antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals,” she said. “There are literally life-saving nutrients in these types of foods that do everything from boosting immunity, combatting free radical damage [and] oxidative stress, improving gut health, combatting disease, and the list goes on.”
That being said, Jillian Michaels is on board with skipping dessert. “We can keep this simple: Avoid processed grains and refined sugar. White foods are a perfect example: white bread, white rice, white sugar etc.” And if weight loss is your goal, you don’t need to overcomplicate things by avoiding carbs. “Don’t eat more calories than your body burns in a day, no matter how healthy the food, and you will be just fine.”
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