There is so much conflicting dietary advice in the world. This leaves the average person terribly confused. It is possible to be healthy on a number of different eating styles, and if you are completely happy with your health and your weight, I suggest you continue with your current regime. The problem is the vast majority of people in the world are not metabolically healthy. They have various markers of insulin resistance, such as excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, elevated blood fats and sugar. This means their body does not process carbohydrate rich foods well.

Carbohydrate means sugars, grains, cereals and starches, and all foods containing these. Foods made of grains and cereals such as bread, pasta and rice contain complex carbohydrates. That just means they are composed of many sugar units joined together. However, once you swallow them, these complex carbohydrates are very quickly and easily broken down into simple sugars. Therefore we can say these carbs are complex to draw their molecular structure on the blackboard (because they are made of many carbon units joined together), but to your body they are seen as very simple.

Can too much carbohydrate be harmful?

Most people gain weight if they consume more carbohydrate than their body needs. Some of them can get away with eating lots of carbs while they are young, but the kilos start accumulating once they reach their late 30s, or menopause. Some people are also more genetically prone to weight gain from carbohydrate consumption; generally they are those individuals with a family history of type 2 diabetes, and people who gain weight on their torso rather than buttocks.

Carbohydrate can promote weight gain because it promotes the secretion of the hormone insulin from your pancreas. Insulin is a fat creating hormone; it encourages the deposition of body fat (and the manufacture of cholesterol and triglycerides), and inhibits the action of fat burning enzymes in your body. Insulin also fuels hunger and sugar/carb cravings. Apart from promoting weight gain, some carbs can cause digestive problems. Grains, particularly those that contain gluten can be difficult to digest for many people. They can trigger irritable bowel syndrome, reflux, heartburn, abdominal bloating and gas. Sugar and carbs can also promote the growth of unhealthy microorganisms in the intestines, leading to Candida overgrowth and SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). For all these reasons, we often place our patients on a grain free and sugar free diet.

Does carbohydrate increase energy?

Carbohydrate rich foods are digested into sugar. Unless you are going to be very physically active that day, the excess energy is going to be converted into body fat. If you are carrying excess body fat, it means you have stored energy that your body has not used. Also, insulin resistant people are not able to burn the calories from carbohydrate properly, so they do not receive energy from those foods, and they can experience excessive hunger and cravings.

If you eat a lot of carbohydrate and you are insulin resistant, the high insulin level means you cannot access your stored body fat. This is regardless of whether you are exercising or sedentary. People who regularly consume carbohydrate rich foods have trained their bodies (and enzyme systems) to primarily run on glucose. Whereas people who have been on a low carbohydrate eating plan for some time switch over into fat burning and we refer to them as a “fat burner”. I think you’d probably like to be a fat burner.

It seems strange that overweight people with high blood insulin levels can have too much fat on their body, yet feel hungry, tired, weak or irritable if they don’t eat every few hours. Shouldn’t they just be able to dig into their fat reserves for fuel?  It is a bit like a huge petrol tanker running out of fuel on the highway. Its contents are full of fuel, yet it cannot access that fuel.

It takes several weeks for most people to switch over into fat burning mode. People typically lose weight very quickly on a low carbohydrate diet, but much of the initial weight loss is fluid. (Insulin promotes fluid and sodium retention, thus can make you look puffy and bloated and can promote high blood pressure). It usually takes a couple of weeks before your body starts burning significant amounts of fat.

How to have a more efficient metabolism

Reduce the amount of carbohydrate you eat, while increasing your intake of protein and good fats. There are diet guidelines and delicious recipes in my books  “I Can't Lose Weight!...And I Don't Know Why”, “Diabetes Type 2: You can Reverse it” and “Fatty Liver: You can Reverse it”.

Protein and good fats help you to feel full and satisfied, thereby making it easier for you to stick with a healthy eating plan long term. You are not supposed to feel tired, weak or hungry on a low carbohydrate diet. If you do, it means you are not following it correctly.

Good sources of protein include seafood, poultry, eggs and meat (preferably pastured or grass fed). Another excellent source of protein is whey. Whey is derived from cow’s milk, however it is not the allergenic component of milk, therefore most people with a dairy intolerance can consume it. The amino acids in whey are easily digested and provide fuel for your muscles. I strongly recommend whey protein powder smoothies to my patients as a quick, delicious and filling breakfast idea. I suggest adding some fruit, chia seeds and coconut oil in order to give a creamy consistency and make the smoothie more filling.

It is important to get your blood insulin level down, because elevated insulin inhibits the fat burning process. Eating less carbohydrate and doing some exercise are both good strategies for lowering insulin. If you need additional help, there are some herbs and nutrients that are very effective for lowering insulin. They include gymnema, bitter melon and chromium. These are combined in Glicemic Balance capsules.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.