If there’s one diet tip (or myth, however you want to look at it) that has prevailed for several years —decades, even — it’s that carbs are bad. Back in 1972, cardiologist Robert C. Atkins brought low-carb eating plan The Atkins Diet to the masses, and it remains a popular go-to diet today.
But recently, there have signs of a backlash against the no-carb camp. This week, fitness blogger Madalin Frodsham revealed how, after years of trying and failing to achieve the physique she wanted, she tried something quite different in 2016.
Frodsham revealed that she was eating only 800 calories a day — way below the recommended 1,500 calories per day to a achieve a sensible, 1-pound-per-week weight loss — but what’s surprising is that in order to meet her fitness goals, Frodsham had to increase her daily calorie limit — and her carb intake.
It all comes down to macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats — those dietary components that the human body needs to thrive. And it’s important to remember that everybody is different in terms of their calorie and macronutrient needs. But there’s still no getting away from the fact that Frodsham (on the advice of a personal trainer and nutritional coach) completely overhauled her diet, making sure 50 percent of it came from carbohydrates (the complex kind, such as legumes, vegetables and whole grains), and as a result, she gained visible abs and cracking biceps, plus her energy levels went through the roof.
Just check out her Instagram post and see the transformation for yourself.
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Let's just preface this by saying no, I did not have an ED. When I was eating 800 calories a day, I thought I was healthy. I was eating healthy food, but hardly any macronutrients. I was curious to find out what my macros were like before I actually started counting my macros, so I entered my old foods into @myfitnesspal to find out. I was quiet astonished to see how little protein and carbs I was eating. 800 calories seems absurdly low as now I need minimum 1500 calories to be full, but at the time 800 calories was keeping me full because that's what my body was used to. After a while though, salad simply wasn't cutting it, and for all the restrictions I was placing on my diet, I simply wasn't seeing the results I had anticipated. So I got in touch with a PT and nutritional coach and got my macros sorted. When he first told me to eat 50% carbs I nearly died! I was eating about 10% carbs before and could not fathom how 50% carbs would not make me fat. I also freaked out at all the calories. I've been keeping an excel spreadsheet and in the first week of being on macros my average calories for the week was a little over 1000. I remember how hard I struggled to actually eat the size of my meals. I would just put my lunch next to my desk and eat it over the course of 3 hours as I couldn't eat it in one sitting! Now my stomach can take way more and is much happier! In the second week I was averaging 1600 calories a day! It didn't take long for my body to catch up. A part of me may always have that mindset that relates not eating with weight loss and "being good today". Sometimes I may forget to eat lunch just because I got busy and for a second I will revert back to old thinking, and think "ohh, I've done really well today and haven't eaten much at all." That's why I love tracking my macros. It will tell me "Maddy, you need to eat more. Go eat 3 potatoes". And I'll pat myself on the back for being healthy and doing really good today! If you're under feeding yourself in an effort to lose weight, don't do what I did for so long. Don't waste your time eating salad when you could be eating sweet potatoes and banana pancakes. Eat more and get fit. It actually works 🙌🏽
In his book Plant-Strong, Rip Esselstyn (fireman, triathlete and creator of the Engine 2 Diet) puts forward the case for a carb-rich diet. It’s a strong argument: Carbs are our No. 1 energy source, so why would anyone who wants to be healthy, fit and strong cut them out?
We’re not talking about refined carbohydrates here. No healthy diet should include vast amounts of soda, doughnuts, candy, white pasta, rice and bread or french fries. These are carbs, but they’ve been stripped of their goodness (fiber, water, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients) and won’t do you any good whatsoever.
On the other hand, good (unrefined, unprocessed complex) carbs — whole grains, beans, vegetables and certain fruits — simply don’t deserve the bad name so many eating plans give them. These carbs slowly and steadily release sugar into the bloodstream, which is then converted into energy by your body, rather than stored as fat. Plus your stomach fills up fast due to the energy and water retained, meaning overeating is unlikely.
In 2015, a National institutes of Health diet and weight-loss trial concluded that carbohydrate restriction wasn’t required for body-fat loss, and that in actual fact, the type of calorie the body receives makes little difference to body-fat loss.
With so many weight-loss and healthy eating plans being thrown at us every day, it’s easy to get confused. So let’s keep it simple. What works for one person might not work for the next. And if you’ve been cutting carbs and haven’t seen the results you want, it might just be time to let them back into your body.