Increases in popularity of restrictive diets like the Atkins, ketogenic, and paleo diets have led to public opinion of carbohydrates being on the downtrend. In addition, the World Health Organization has published recommendations that tell consumers to limit their daily intake of carbohydrates and increase the amount of “healthy fats” .
While many scientific studies have also shown that a decrease in carbohydrates is a method used to manage diabetes, obesity, and weight gain, there is some evidence suggesting that high carb and low-fat diets can be beneficial for certain groups of people .
What Is A High Carb Diet?
A high carbohydrate diet is a diet that is rich in foods like grains, pasta, fruit, and starchy vegetables like potatoes. Some benefits that you can get from eating foods high in carbs are:
- Boost in mood
- Aids in weight loss
- Provides energy to your entire body
- Improves athletic performance
1. Boost in mood
One of the major benefits that consuming carbohydrates can give you is a boost in your mood after consumption. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. To get the best results, you must consume complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates are the carbs you will find in foods like bread, pasta, beans, and legumes. They provide the necessary vitamins, minerals, and fiber that your body needs to function at its best.
Complex carbs differ significantly from their counterpart. Simple carbs, also known as refined carbohydrates, are sugars that are often found in processed foods and soda, fruit juice, and breakfast cereal.
Simple carbohydrates do not have virtually any fiber, vitamins, and minerals that complex carbs provide your body with.
These carbs are also digested quicker than complex carbs, which leads to increases in blood sugar faster after you eat your meal. Simple carbs are also higher on the glycemic index, which can lead to overeating and an increased risk of developing diseases like obesity and diabetes .
Complex carbs also include fruits and vegetables, which have been shown to increase mood due to their high content of vitamins and minerals .
Studies centered around the Mediterranean diet have also gained attention for decreasing depressive symptoms in adherents . The Mediterranean diet encourages the consumption of healthy, complex carbohydrate foods like nuts, seeds, grains, and vegetables.
In addition to a boost in mood, consuming carbohydrates can aid in other things, like weight loss .
2. Aiding in weight loss
A high carbohydrate diet can be especially beneficial for those looking to lose weight. Eating healthy complex carbohydrates will give the best results to those that are overweight.
It’s important to note that consuming pasta and bread as the main part of your diet may not yield the best results to see these weight loss benefits.
The best high-carb foods to consume for weight loss are vegetables, fruit, and legumes. These foods provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals while also making you feel full and satisfied, so you don’t go reaching for more food in the pantry.
Vegetables like beetroot, corn, sweet potatoes, and green peas are going to give you the best results to lose weight on a high-carb diet.
Fruits are also ideal, and the best fruits to consume while following a high-carb diet are bananas, papayas, oranges, and dried fruits.
3. Providing energy to your entire body
Carbohydrates are typically your body’s primary energy source for daily functioning, so it’s no surprise that it’s essential to get as many healthy complex carbohydrates as you possibly can each day.
We can’t stress enough the importance of healthy carbohydrates if you follow a high-carb diet. It’s simply not healthy to consume foods high in simple carbohydrates like fast food and soda.
Carbohydrates also provide your cells with the nutrients they need to sustain daily vital activity and continue operating at a high level . You will feel sluggish and tired throughout the day if you consume simple carbohydrates.
Consuming the healthy complex carbohydrates that we’ve mentioned will provide you with enough energy to stay productive throughout the day and work as efficiently as possible.
4. Improves athletic performance
Endurance athletes will also see a significant change in the level of their athletic performance when they adhere to a high-carb diet.
Endurance athletes like cross country runners, weight lifters, and bicyclists are often recommended to consume a high-carb and low-fat diet, which has generally become the protocol for athletes competing in similar sports .
This diet is also typically combined with specific eating patterns for these athletes, like cycling between periods of fasting and feeding, sleep manipulation, meal timing, and sequential exercise intervals.
Related: Carb Cycling Calculator
What Is A Low-Fat Diet?
A low-fat diet is a diet that limits the amount of dietary fat that you can consume each day.
Reasons to adhere to a low-fat diet include getting short-term weight loss results as well as evidence that it can aid in weight loss in overweight individuals .
Many diets that have emerged recently are promoting eating patterns that include foods high in fat, but more research is needed to determine the effect of a high-fat diet and whether it’s a better option than a diet that is low in fat.
Several studies have compared the effects of a low-fat diet to a low-carb diet that are aimed at providing evidence for improving one’s cardiovascular health through their diet approach . More research is needed to conclude which diet is the best for cardiovascular health .
The Bottom Line
The best diet you can ever practice will be the diet you can stick to.
While more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of a high-carb and low-fat diet, prevailing research has shown benefits that will be good for certain groups of people, such as endurance athletes and overweight individuals.
Sticking to a diet that is high in healthy, complex carbohydrates and low in fat will leave you feeling full and satisfied and will increase the likelihood that you will be able to stick to it for years to come.
- MedlinePlus.gov: Complex carbohydrates https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/19529.htm
- PubMed: Glycemic index and satiety: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12841427/
- PubMed: A high carbohydrate diet remains the evidence-based choice for elite athletes to optimize performance: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28044326/
- Miguel A. Martínez-González, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Ramón Estruch, Dolores Corella, Montse Fitó, Emilio Ros, Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet: Insights From the PREDIMED Study, Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, Volume 58, Issue 1, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2015.04.003.
- NCBI: How Cells Obtain Energy from Food: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26882/
- NCBI: Low-fat or low-carbohydrate diet for cardiovascular health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- PubMed: Szostak-Wegierek, D., Kłosiewicz-Latoszek, L., Szostak, W. B., & Cybulska, B. (2013). The role of dietary fats for preventing cardiovascular disease. A review. Roczniki Panstwowego Zakladu Higieny, 64(4), 263–269.