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Episode 90: Overcoming Post-Keto Carb Fear

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I can't begin to tell you how many clients come to me post-keto, sick and tired of following such a restrictive diet, looking for a more balanced, sustainable way to lose weight, but unable to shake the fear of carbs that keto instilled in them. 

What I find food fear truly stems from is either a lack of information, or misinformation spread about a particular food (and keto has mastered the art of misinformation). 

So let's clear some things up around how carbs actually affect the body, get rid of the anxiety around eating, and empower ourselves to make choices that are in line with the body and lifestyle we want for ourselves. 

A Look At Carbs

  • There are 4 calories per gram (as opposed to fat which has 9 calories per gram). At the end of the day, weight loss still does come down to energy balance, which means you can eat twice the quantity of carbs vs fat, and still be consuming fewer calories overall leading to weight loss.
  • Your muscles store glycogen (which comes from carbs) to be readily used as a source of energy for workouts. When we have more energy for our workouts we can workout at higher intensities, burn more calories, and lose more weight over the long term. When you see major weight loss with keto, a big part of that is a loss of water weight and muscle glycogen. This leads to compromised workouts and fewer calories burned. 
  • Carbs break down into glucose to be used as energy or stored as fat. 
    • However we only store carbs as fat is if we are over-consuming them while not living an active lifestyle and giving those carbs a job. (For a healthy adult it is recommended we get 45-60% of our calories from clean carbs, not the 5% keto recommends).
    • Also the type of carbs matter when it comes to the conversion of carbs to fat. Fiber helps prevent the conversion of carbs into glucose which helps prevent blood sugar spikes and fat storage. So if you're eating high-fiber carbs like fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains, your body will have a harder time converting those clean carbs to stored fat. 
    • Fiber also moves slowest out of the stomach leaving you fuller and more satisfied for longer periods of time.
  • Carbs are essential for thyroid health. In order for your body to convert the inactive T4 hormone to the active T3 hormone, you need glucose. 
    • When thyroid conversion is suppressed, your metabolism follows suit. 
    • And when your body is struggling to convert hormones, and when it's struggling to generate energy because our preferred source of energy isn't there, it stresses the body out. This further taxes our already overwhelmed adrenals, compromises our cortisol levels, and again leads to weight gain.
  • The brain depends on glucose as its primary source of fuel. Studies show that dips in glucose have a negative impact on memory, learning, attention, and overall cognitive function.

What's the take away? Carbs are essential for thyroid function, metabolism, energy, brain health, and effective workouts. Keto works mainly because it reduces water weight, muscle glycogen, and forces you to eliminate unhealthy processed carbs, not because carbs are inherently problematic for weight loss. And if you want to lose weight and keep it off, finding a balanced, sustainable approach is going to give you the highest likelihood for success! 


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