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This is how many carbs vegetarians and meat eaters should really be eating

You should be eating more carbs than you think

Sabrina Barr
Saturday 18 August 2018 14:51 BST
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Five signs your carbohydrate intake is too low, according to a dietitian

Carbs have been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism in recent years, with many people wrongly believing that eating them is an unhealthy course of action.

However, a major study conducted in the US has found that following a low carbohydrate diet can drastically reduce your lifespan, particularly if you’re substituting carbohydrates for meat and dairy products.

So, what does 'low carb' actually mean, how does a low carb diet actually affect your wellbeing if you’re a meat eater, vegetarian or vegan and how many carbs should you actually be eating?

According to Kirsty Bamping, registered dietitian and media spokesperson for The British Dietetic Association, carbohydrates are a necessary component in all people’s diets, regardless of whether they eat meat or not.

“The government’s healthy eating advice recommends that just over a third of your diet should be made up of starchy foods, such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta, and another third should be fruit and vegetables,” Bamping tells The Independent.

“This means that over half of your daily calorie intake should come from starchy foods, fruit and vegetables. This applies whether you are a meat eater, vegetarian or vegan.”

The NHS recommends that individuals eat at least 260g of carbohydrates a day.

However, according to Perfect Keto, a website that promotes the controversial ketogenic diet, a person following the low carb keto diet would usually attribute five per cent of their daily calorie intake to carbohydrates, which can lead to a daily carb intake of 20 or 40g.

This is evidently far less than the daily carb intake recommended by the NHS.

Bamping explains that carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy as part of a nutritious, balanced diet, as they’re broken down into glucose when eaten before being absorbed into the bloodstream.

When the body is low on glucose, this can lead to ketosis and you may experience symptoms such as feeling dehydrated, faint and weak as a result.

The study, which was published in the Lancet Public Health on Thursday, states that meat eaters are more at risk of developing harmful health conditions when following a strict low carb diet, as they’re more likely to substitute carbohydrates for fats and proteins such as meat, cheese, butter and milk.

This can increase their risk of developing cardiovascular disease and various forms of cancer in future.

However, vegetarians and vegans may opt to eat foods that are high in fibre when following a low carb diet instead, with fibre proven as being extremely beneficial for one’s health.

While vegetarians and vegans may be able to sustain a low carb diet more efficiently than meat eaters, according to personal trainer and co-founder of fitness company LDN Muscle Max Bridger, reducing one's carb intake or cutting out carbs completely can be very detrimental.

“There is no need to cut out carbs for the majority of us, for health or body composition based goals,” he tells The Independent.

“This demonises a wide variety of foods, isolates the individual and ultimately sets them up to fail."

Five signs your carbohydrate intake is too low, according to a dietitian

Bridger explains that cutting out carbs for a vegan would be a very harmful thing to do, as it would eliminate the majority of foods that they can consume.

“Vegetarians could have more wiggle room, but again cutting out carbs would limit their intake to a tiny amount of foods. This would lead to malnutrition and a host of physical, mental and social problems.

“We all know that reducing our intake of processed carbohydrates and refined sugars is a good thing. But having these as part of a balanced diet is not a bad thing, so be flexible and keep a considered eye on your average calorie intake per day.”

Following any sort of diet is inadvisable if you haven’t spoken to a health or nutrition expert first in order to assess your personal needs, as nutritional therapist Olivier Sanchez from Click For Therapy explains.

“Most people blindly follow diet recommendations without consulting a health practitioner and often are not aware of what they are doing wrong, especially how to replace the foods they are eliminating,” he tells The Independent.

Despite the widespread belief that reducing one’s carb intake can help them reduce weight, nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert has explained why this is a massive misconception.

According to Lambert, eating the right type of carbs and focussing on the nutritional benefits of your diet rather than the quantity of your meals can help you lead a healthier lifestyle.

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