NHS the truth about carbs.: Hi everyone... - Healthy Eating

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NHS the truth about carbs.

Jerry
JerryAdministrator
23 Replies

Hi everyone,

Recently we've had members confused about what is the best diet for them with carbs and sugar in particular being demonised. So here's what the NHS say about cabs:

nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-we...

And here's another more in depth feature with more info about GI levels and various diets:

hsph.harvard.edu/nutritions...

The truth is if we consume more calories than we burn then we will put on weight regardless of our dietary choice.

23 Replies
oldestnewest
Zest
ZestVolunteer

Hi Jerry

Thanks for sharing this information. It's helpful.

Zest :-)

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Jerry
JerryAdministrator
in reply to Zest

Thank you Zest, 😊

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Fran182716
Fran182716Prediabetic

Useful read Jerry the second link explains things in better detail. From the NHS link I cannot agree with their blanket statement

“Starchy foods, such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta, provide a slow and steady release of energy throughout the day”

That may be true for metabolically healthy people, but it’s not true for all diabetics or prediabetics. For some the above foods can spike their blood sugars more than table sugar. It’s very individual and the only way to know for sure is to test blood glucose after consumption. I’m fine with small portions of high fibre wholewheat bread or jacket potato/new potatoes but mashed potato and rice spike mine. Don’t know about pasta, I don’t like it so didn’t bother testing. (Well actually I’m clumsy so got a nurse friend to test for me!)

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Jerry
JerryAdministrator
in reply to Fran182716

Hi Fran, you are very right and that’s why I posted the other link. Because of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes and this is why I posted it to help those who are confused with carbs and blood sugar levels, so thanks for you comments.

Jerry😊

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Activity2004
Activity2004Administrator
in reply to Jerry

For me, regular potatoes and white rice raise my blood sugars extremely high very fast, When I want rice, I eat brown rice mostly and sweet potatoes instead of regular white potatoes. Oddly, sweet potatoes have 24 carbs. and white potatoes have 26 carbs.. Brown rice is 30-40 carbs. while white rice is over 40 carbs. depending on the brand you can buy.

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Jerry
JerryAdministrator
in reply to Activity2004

Hey thanks Leah this is really useful information. 😊

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Activity2004
Activity2004Administrator
in reply to Jerry

You’re welcome! 😀👍

1 like
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TheAwfulToad

I'll try not to start a Holy War over this, but I think there are some ... inaccuracies and misrepresentations in that page. It always worries me when people use the words "the truth about..." because it invariably presages a list of untruths.

1) The page title ("Why We Need Carbs") is baffling. Nobody needs carbs. Any medical textbook will tell you that our biological requirement for carbs is zero; the reason is that (a) our bodies can run on multiple alternative fuels and (b) we can synthesize glucose internally. Of course, that doesn't imply that we should avoid them. But we do not need carbs.

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2) "There is strong evidence that fibre, found in wholegrain versions of starchy carbs for example, is good for our health."

They could have missed out the comma clause and it would have still been true. Lots of things contain "fibre".

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3) Starch is found in foods that come from plants. Starchy foods, such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta, provide a slow and steady release of energy throughout the day.

No, they don't, and even if they did, it'd be irrelevant. Starches are digested and absorbed over a period of 2-4 hours, depending on glycemic index. Some starches (eg., white bread) have the same GI as "free sugars". For an inactive person eating regular large doses of carbs, glycogen stores will be full (a dysfunctional state in itself) and most ingested carbs are stored as bodyfat. There is nothing inherently wrong with this: your body runs 50/50 on food and bodyfat, alternately. However, if you eat starches all the time, your body gradually loses its ability to 'recycle' stored energy. This is why people who eat like this often develop cravings for sweets and cakes; their blood sugar is falling, but their backup power pathways are not responding.

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4) Carbohydrates should be the body's main source of energy in a healthy, balanced diet, providing about 4kcal (17kJ) per gram.

"Should"? Really? Why? We're not told.

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5) Many people don't get enough fibre.

This is possibly true, but it's mainly because their plates are loaded up with starchy carbs, leaving less room for (say) vegetables.

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6) Cutting out carbohydrates from your diet could put you at increased risk of a deficiency in certain nutrients, leading to health problems, unless you're able to make up for the nutritional shortfall with healthy substitutes.

Weasel words. Does it or does it not lead to deficiencies, in practice? A diet with fewer carbs is inevitably full of other nutrient dense food; so the answer is no, people on low-carb diets don't suffer nutrient deficiencies. Next.

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7) When you're low on glucose, the body breaks down stored fat to convert it into energy. This process causes a build-up of ketones in the blood, resulting in ketosis.

Ketosis as a result of a low-carbohydrate diet can be linked, at least in the short term, to headaches, weakness, nausea, dehydration, dizziness and irritability.

This is such utter nonsense I don't even know where to start. I'll give it a go.

- The whole purpose of bodyfat is to provide energy when you're not eating; people who have no bodyfat (due to a rare genetic disorder) die young. Of course it releases energy when your blood glucose falls! However, it's in the form of fatty acids, ketones, and glucose. Not just ketones.

- There is no "build up of ketones" because they're being burned for energy. That's why they're being released into the bloodstream in the first place.

- "Ketosis" just means your body is burning more ketones than it might normally. It can do this at full power and at high efficiency. In fact all properly-functioning bodies do exactly this, multiple times a day, between meals. When you wake up in the morning, you're in ketosis. Ketosis is not "linked to" any of those symptoms; they do occur briefly when people switch to a prolonged low-carb pattern, but they're basically sugar withdrawal symptoms.

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8) "In fact, gram for gram, carbohydrate contains fewer than half the calories of fat. "

So?

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9) Some people point to bread and other wheat-based foods as the main culprit for their weight gain. But there's not enough evidence that foods that contain wheat are any more likely to cause weight gain than any other food.

Aside from the fact that, when these people cut out bread and wheat-based foods, they lose weight and regain control over their appetites. Presumably that doesn't count as "evidence".

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10) People with diabetes should try to eat a healthy, balanced diet, as shown in the Eatwell Guide.

They should also include higher fibre starchy foods at every meal. Steer clear of cutting out entire food groups.

The Eatwell Guide describes a diet which is 75-85% carbohydrates. So let's spell this out slowly for those who (a) have medical degrees and (b) appear to be a little slow on the uptake. Diabetes is a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism. A diabetic cannot efficiently deal with glucose entering the bloodstream from a carb-heavy meal. He cannot use large amounts of glucose-based energy; ingested glucose simply hangs around, causing a dangerously-high blood glucose level, resulting in damage to arteries leading to CVD, damage to the pancreas leading to eventual failure, and varying levels of damage to every other organ in the body. The only power path available to him is the one that uses fat. So why on earth would he want to consume lots of carbs, and no fat?

And while we're on the subject, in what sense is 80% carbohydrates "balanced", unless someone has their finger on the scales?

As readers may be able to tell, I'm getting a little irate here, so I'd best stop before I blow a gasket.

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flo72003

I have hypothyroidism and I was told I need some carbs to convert T4 to T3. So maybe with certain conditions one needs some carbs.

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TheAwfulToad

I won't pretend to be an expert on hypothyroidism, so you may be right. I certainly wasn't arguing that carbs are evil. I'm just pointing out that an NHS article is factually incorrect - that is, it conflicts with what doctors are taught in first year of medical school. Not just a bit incorrect, but egregiously, laughably so.

The article isn't even internally consistent - it contradicts itself in several places. That suggests that it's been written to uphold some sort of political agenda rather than to actually inform patients. And that bothers me.

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Cooper27
Cooper27Moderator
in reply to flo72003

With the thyroid, I've seen many who felt they improved on keto, and equally many who didn't. For me, it just suggests we're all individual and we all need to find what works for us.

I think the more important thing is to avoid calorie restricted diets, as they've found T3 levels can drop by 30% when calories are reduced to 1200 a day. Be sure to eat enough, and that what you do eat has an abundance of nutrients.

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Jerry
JerryAdministrator
in reply to TheAwfulToad

Thank you for your input TAT it’s very interesting and I posted the links to get comments to help members who are bemused by the current advice. As I thought that some of the advice was flippant.

We have to be able to discuss these things openly and your comments are very pertinent. So I am sorry that it made you feel irate.

Jerry.

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TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToad
in reply to Jerry

Irate is my default state of being :)

I actually wrote to the NHS some time ago to ask why that page is so disastrously wrong - I've seen it before. They send me back a document of "evidence" explaining why they're right. They either didn't understand the objections I was making, or weren't interested in discussing them. So that was the end of that.

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Jerry
JerryAdministrator
in reply to TheAwfulToad

LOL TAT, I suffer from being irritably cheerful. 😀

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MeTeeCee

It really makes you wonder what exactly you need to do in order to make them see sense 🤨

If reasoned argument isn’t enough, then the the policy/advice can’t be based on reason. I suspect, like yourself that it’s purely political in nature.

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Hidden
Hidden

I have found that eating a bit of everything works for me. I try have a 80/20 diet...80% fresh food and cooking meals from scratch and 20% of less healthy things which I eat more for my sanity and mental health. Haha.

I am not going to lie, I love carbs and haven't cut carbs out my life. I was still eating carbs whilst losing weight and still eat them now that I am maintaining. I also eat no 'low fat' products. If I eat a yogurt, for example, then I'll eat the real deal.

I found that my biggest problem was my portion sizes and eating too many 'treats'. So I made a rule that there were to be no sweets, chocolate or crisps in my house. I can still eat these things when I am out for dinner or at someone's house etc, but I don't stock them in my house.

For the last two years this seems to have worked :-)

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Jerry
JerryAdministrator
in reply to Hidden

Hi Hidden firstly good for you as you’ve obviously found what works for you.

Now regarding portion sizes I think that plates are too big which encourages over eating.

Jerry 😊

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amykp

Anyone who would like to drill down and really understand (as much as anyone does!) the detailed physiology of metabolism (and cholesterol, exercise, and obesity, etc.) read/listen to podcasts by Peter Attia. IMHO he is a genius, one of the few doctors out there actually not afraid to admit what he DOESN'T know. He interviews all kinds of experts.

Problem is, when I say dense I mean dense. You won't find him spouting easy-to-follow dietary platitudes--not without a lot of evidence.

Here is his most recent one, for anyone interested: peterattiamd.com/paulgrewal/

I can summarize, but I'd love for others to listen and confirm...

2 likes
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Jerry
JerryAdministrator
in reply to amykp

Hello amykp thank you for this his attitude is refreshing. 😊

1 like
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TheAwfulToad
TheAwfulToad
in reply to amykp

Dr Attia has been doing low-carb for about 15-20 years, and he's a very smart guy. If he can't find something in the literature, he does an experiment on himself to find out!

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amykp
amykp
in reply to TheAwfulToad

I know, he's great. Here's what he (and his guest) said in this last episode which was so, so interesting.

Per losing weight (And only losing weight--they talked about a lot of other stuff too)...

Fascinating conclusion: If you are obese and really want to lose weight (which is ultimately about storing fat, right?) you could choose one of two ways.

1) If your body is only getting glucose, carbs, and NO fat, it will have difficulty converting that sugar to fat. So, if you want to go on essentially a ZERO fat diet you will lose weight. But that means close to NO FAT AT ALL--no nuts, no cooking oil, no avocado, no teeny smear of butter or nut butter on your bread...basically a diet of egg white, steamed or boiled veggies, beans, steamed white fish...etc.

2) If your body is only getting fat, it isn't releasing insulin, so it also can't store fat. You will get thin! That, of course, is keto. All the fat you want, some protein, and almost no carbs. No bread, no beans, no delicious sweet potatoes, no oats, no fruit...

How do we gain weight? High fat high carb. The carbs release insulin which tells the body to store the fat...as fat. Of course, that's what most everyone eats...especially with processed food.

It's tough :o(

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ChubbieChops

For decades I tried to lose weight by counting calories, reducing fat & I have always eaten wholegrain carbs. I would lose weight for a while (never enough though) but could never sustain it. I felt deprived, so the weight would go back on again. Now I have discovered a LCHF diet. I have lost 6lbs in the last month over Christmas too!! I know these are very early days but I feel I can go on eating like this as I don't feel deprived. I base my meals on vegetables (easily having 5 portions at least a day) with a bit of protein and sat fats which make each meal delicious.

I read the NHS article from your link, about why you should eat wholegrains and cut fats. But what drives me mad is that the NHS is contradictory in what it says. Check out this article:

nhs.uk/news/heart-and-lungs...

And yet, despite it saying that this was a well considered piece of research '...which does not find a link between eating sat fats and heart disease...' it then goes on to say that the guidelines about how much sat fat we should eat remain unchanged!!! I mean WHY??? What is it basing that statement on?? We will carry on recommending this despite there being no evidence for it, because we have always done it this way!!!!

I feel so well at the moment, so motivated - I've never said that before on a 'diet'! - and am thoroughly enjoying my food, so I shall stick to my LCHF. And if I die from heart disease any time soon, I will eat my words!!

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Jerry
JerryAdministrator
in reply to ChubbieChops

Hey good for you ChubbieChops this is a great reply.

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