I am not making a dig at competitive eaters, though I personally would not choose that choice of activity because I love to savor food. This is the time of year that people look to make changes in their life and for many of them those changes relate to their health. Wanting to be healthy is a great thing. Wanting to maintain good health is vital. Extreme diets are not optimal for most people.
Carbs are not bad, they provide your body with energy. Carbohydrates broken down to glucose are an essential source of energy for our body, brain and muscles. They are also a source of stored energy, in the form of glycogen.
The liver contains approximately 100 grams of glycogen. These stored glucose molecules can be released into the blood to provide energy throughout the body and help maintain normal blood sugar levels between meals. (“What are the Key Functions of Carbohydrates?” Healthline, Keith Pearson, PhD, RD, November 9, 2017)
Additionally, glucose from carbohydrates will help preserve muscle mass as the body may break down muscle to amino acids to be converted to glucose when needed for energy.
Fats, healthy fats are not bad. You need adequate amounts of dietary fat for your overall health.
Dietary fats are essential to give your body energy and to support cell function. They also help protect your organs and help keep your body warm. Fats help your body absorb some nutrients and produce important hormones, too. (“Dietary Fats”, American Heart Association, November 1, 2021)
You just need to be consuming the right kind of fat. The wrong kind is saturated fat, keep it to a minimum. Too much can lead to high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. You need to consume unsaturated fat. There are monounsaturated fats which can be found in avocados, various nuts, several types of seeds and plant oils such as olive and sesame. There are polyunsaturated fats which can be found in plant based oils, some nuts and seeds, as well as in fish like salmon or tuna. Good dietary fat is also good for the brain and is associated with lower risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Proteins are not bad. Your body needs it but you should manage your intake. When you consume too much, your body will take the excess and store it as fat. The average person should get between 10% and 35% of their total daily calories from protein.
Protein is also a critical part of the processes that fuel your energy and carry oxygen throughout your body in your blood. It also helps make antibodies that fight off infections and illnesses and helps keep cells healthy and create new ones. (“Benefits of Protein”, Nourish by WebMD, Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on October 12, 2020)
Carbs, Fats and Proteins are the macronutrients that your body needs in the greatest quantities. While extreme diets that promote cutting any of these almost completely out of your diet may get you a desired result, you would need to carefully monitor your overall health. Additionally, if the diet is not sustainable, the physical change will not likely be either.
Each month look to add a small change to benefit your health. Choose changes that you can reasonably accomplish to become part of your lifestyle. In January, you might choose to drink one more glass of water per day than you do now or you will eat vegetables with at least one meal each day. Then in February you add that you will only have soda when you go out to a sit down restaurant. By the end of the year you will have added a dozen healthy habits to your life and will no doubt feel better as a result. Happy eating!