We're trained to believe we need to consume a large amount of carbohydrates ‘for energy'. The famous food pyramid shown in schools, promoted by education funded by the sugar and grain industries and supported by the food industry, has that huge base layer of the ‘bread and grains' food group, after all. We ‘know' that our bodies need carbs as a staple. That training begins with what we're taught in school and at home, supported by industry-funded, government-provided information, but we quickly become complacent about it. After all, nobody gets sick or dies because carbs take up a disproportionate chunk of the Western food pyramid, right?
Well, let's look at how much glucose the body really needs. Glucose is the sugar-fuel the body extracts from carbs. If we really need a ton of carbs for fuel, then the body must be using that all for fuel, surely! Mark's Daily Apple breaks the answer down nicely:
Much less than most people assume. At any one time, the total amount of glucose dissolved in the bloodstream of a healthy non-diabetic is equivalent to only a teaspoon (maybe 5 grams). Much more than that is toxic; much less than that and you pass out. That’s not much range for a so-called “preferred” fuel, is it? Several studies have shown that under normal low MET conditions (at rest or low-to mid- levels of activity such as walking and easy work) the body only needs about 5 grams of glucose an hour. And that’s for people who aren’t yet fat-adapted or keto-adapted. The brain is the major consumer of glucose, needing maybe 120 grams a day in people who aren’t yet on a low carb eating program. Low carb eating reduces the brain’s glucose requirements considerably, and those who are very low carb (VLC) and keto-adapted may only require about 30 grams of glucose per day to fuel the brain (and little-to-none to fuel the muscles at <75% max efforts). Twenty of those grams can come from glycerol (a byproduct of fat metabolism) and the balance from gluconeogenesis in the liver (which can actually make up to a whopping 150 grams a day if you haven’t metabolically damaged it with NAFLD through fructose overdosing). Bottom line, unless you are a physical laborer or are training (exercising) hard on a daily basis, once you become fat-adapted, you probably don’t ever need to consume more than 150 grams of dietary carbs – and you can probably thrive on far less.
In fact, on a keto diet, net dietary carbs should be routinely less than 25 grams per day. Fat is a much cleaner fuel for your body. It's the fuel we're evolved to run best on and overall, it's far safer to get most of your energy from consuming healthy fats and you'll experience none of the effects of carb-toxicity if you cut carbohydrates to this minimum level.
Read more on Mark's Daily Apple
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