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Why Do I Need Carbs?

Por Eleazar Lara-Pantin, MD, MSc.* -

In an effort to lose weight quickly, many people are trying diets that cut out almost all foods that contain carbohydrates. While some people lose weight on low carbohydrate or no carbohydrate diets, they could suffer unhealthy consequences.  Carbohydrates play an important role in the body and should be a large part of everyone’s daily diet.

Like proteins and fats, carbohydrates are a source of energy. Each of these food groups play different roles in the various processes in each of your cells. At least half of the daily calories you consume should come from carbohydrates, less than a third from fats, and the calories remaining from protein.

Since carbohydrates should provide more than half of your daily calories, they play an important role in your health. Vital organs, like your brain and liver, use carbohydrates as their main source of fuel. They need carbohydrates just like cars need gasoline.

Carbohydrates capture the water in the millions of cells in your body, which contains all the nutrients you need for staying alive and healthy. Without enough carbohydrates in your diet, you can end up with low water content in your cells, which makes the cells in your muscles less flexible.

Not eating carbohydrates will initially make you lose weight due to rapid water loss. However, you’ll place your health, your ability to move and think, and your quality of life at risk. You can’t stay on a carbohydrate-free diet for a long time. When you start eating carbohydrates again, you'll regain the water weight you lost, and probably more.

If you eliminate or limit carbohydrates in your diet, your body will have to get the calories from other sources such as fat and protein. The harm caused by excessive amounts of fats and proteins may outweigh the benefits of losing weight.

* Dr. Lara-Pantin, a nutrition specialist, is Vice President of Product Development for DrTango, Inc.


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