Cutting Out Carbs — Is It Dangerous?

Should you eliminate all carbs from your diet and go on a radical protein-and-fat-only nutrition plan? Not if you want a six pack you shouldn't!
By Peter Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 02:01 PM

Let’s say you’re really trying to lose fat. You’ve simply got too much of it, you’re aching for that ripped body and those show-off six pack abs, and you’ve decided that drastic measures are necessary.

So what’s the first step?

For a lot of people, it’s cutting down – seriously – on carbs.

But is that a good idea? Can you really cut down – or cut out – carbs and still get a balanced diet?

No. You Shouldn’t Cut Out Carbs.

If that’s not plain & simple enough an explanation, let me get a little more into it.

Our bodies need carbs. We convert carbs into glucose, and we need it for energy. When we cut down on carbs, our bodies start to use stored fat for energy instead.

This sounds great – burn that fat I’m storing instead of making me add to it! – but it’s often misapplied in the great desire to lose weight.

Be Smarter About the Carbs You Eat

I personally don’t think the Atkins approach (tons of protein, very, very few carbs) is a great idea. It not only eliminates a massive amount of food from your diet, but it creates the impression that just by eliminating carbs and still being able to eat large quantities of meat and other proteins, we can lose weight – as though losing fat were all about carbs and nothing else.

As a lot of people have shown recently, it’s far better to simply eat a balanced diet that doesn’t feature too many simple or refined carbs, instead of obsessing about eliminating them entirely.

Why Are Simple or Overly Refined Carbs Bad?

Here, I’m talking about white bread, basic (white) pasta, potatoes, that kind of thing. The reason they’re “bad” (although potatoes are not bad for you and contain tons of nutrients) is because we process them too easily into stored fat.

If you want to get the nutrition from carbs that your body needs, it’s best to eat complex carbs. That means whole grain bread – not just whole wheat, which often means nothing, but whole grain. It might not be as instantly satisfying to the taste buds as a slice of white bread, but it’s infinitely better for you.

Same goes for long, brown rice in place of white. And so on – if there’s a carb that seems to exist in a simplified version, it’s like a simple carb.

Don’t Eliminate Simple Carbs Altogether

Although replacing simple carbs with complex ones is a great idea in terms of your nutrition, in a practical sense it’s kind of a downer. No one likes to give up pizza or pasta entirely, and I’m not asking you to.

Instead, what you want to do is simply not make simple carbs a basic part of your diet. Start to see them as treats, as something that you enjoy once in a while, like a sweet.

Cutting Out Anything “Entirely” From Your Diet is a Risky Idea

Eliminating a particular food, or sugar, or chocolate – this is do-able, if hard.

But eliminating an entire type of food – there’s just no point. It makes life too hard, and millions of people in wonderful shape have proven that it’s not necessary.

Go to Italy. Talk to some wonderful Italians in amazing, top shape, and ask them if they’ve eliminated all bread and pasta – the absolute Italian staple – from their diet. You already know the answer.

Take a smart, well-rounded approach that you can stick with over the long haul!