One of the cleverest myths the pro-sugar lobbyists have managed to pull off for years and years is that carbohydrates are essential to the body and in particular, the brain. This is patently not so.
It is true that the brain requires a small amount of sugar to function: however, by the process of gluconeogenesis, the liver can manufacture enough sugar for the brain from the protein we consume. It is not necessary to consume carbohydrates for health. Sure, we all like the stuff, even crave the stuff like a drug: but don’t use that to justify it as some sort of essential nutrient.
Of all the foods we consume, carbohydrate is the most superfluous. But yes, when we have eaten it for our entire lives, we are bound to feel rough a couple of days into withdrawal.
Most of us are aware of athletes indulging in the practise of “carb-loading” before an event, leading us to believe that the excessive consumption of pasta leads to optimum performance.
There are top-level athletes out there in an optimally ketogenic state who consume virtually no carbs and a great deal of fat in their diet: imagine that! One of the reasons their nutritional plans are not published in the mainstream is that many of them use low-carb diets as their secret weapon: if you are in a competitive environment like top-level sport and you have found a legal method of enhancing performance, would you publish it for your rivals to share?
A recent programme on Channel 4 in the UK, purporting to debunk myths about nutrition, outrageously named “The Truth about Sugar” showed what it claimed to be a credible experiment to show whether the body needs carbohydrate. For fans of ketogenic, low-carb diets the bias shown in this experiment was immediately apparent. It took two groups of people, one group consuming a “normal” sugar-based diet and the other having eschewed all carbs for – wait for it – two days! They then did an assault course! The two-day point in a ketogenic diet is always the worst point, as the body is dealing with the transition from being a sugar-burning machine to a fat-burning one. It’s been called “Atkins flu” for years. Also I very much doubt that the poor guinea-pigs in this fatuous demonstration were consuming adequate fat. Unsurprisingly they ran out of steam much more quickly than the sugar-burners “proving” that the body needs sugar. In order to scare the viewer further, they also emphasised the mental confusion the participants endured. Two days into a diet which is not a “quick-fix” but a lifestyle which takes from 1 to 3 weeks for the body to adapt to. It beggars belief!
Of course, when your body has adapted to burning carbs, and you deprive it of this fuel, you will feel weak and your performance will suffer. But if you persist with a low-carb, high-fat diet your body will adapt to burning fat for fuel.
Of course, the beneficiaries of this web of lies are the food companies that sell foods that make us ill. We then have the pharmaceutical industry on hand to sell drugs to make us well again.
Also, one must not forget who pays for the advertising that finances TV shows like the one above.