Carbohydrates are the least satisfying nutrient (meaning if you eat a bunch of them, you’ll still feel hungry)…
However, carbohydrates may be the most emotionally satisfying & comforting nutrient instead! Potentially because the Jaminets suppose that as Paleo peeps, we had to put extra work into finding them & digging them up--we have a built-in reward system for them.
The thing is though—Carbs have been demonized as of late with the rise in popularity of Keto, or fat-focused, diets as a purported way to lose weight.
The thing is—going Too Low Carb is very stressful on your body.
We need Carbs—the right kind of Carbs—to fuel our brain, give out muscles energy, repair our joints & gut lining, and help create good daily cortisol rhythms...
So that we can burn fat, sleep well and feel GOOD in our body, mind & spirit.
Why we NEED Carbs
In a fantastic article for the Weston A. Price Foundation, Dr. Chris Masterjohn details that our bodies break down Carbs:
“...into two-carbon units known as acetyl groups that then enter the pathways we use to break them down fully into the carbon dioxide that we exhale and the hydrogen ions and high-energy electrons that we use to synthesize ATP.”
And this process helps bring oxygen to our cells and tissues…and it provides ATP energy, even when there isn’t oxygen available (like during anaerobic exercise), which makes Carbs more valuable for athletic performance, than good fats.
Eating Carbs/glucose (instead of relying on the process of glycogenesis) helps keep cortisol levels from spiking and helps our thyroids function optimally, as well.
Plus, there are many valuable Micronutrients founding Good Starches, Veggies & Fruit…that you just can’t get by skipping them and focusing on loading up on Fats. These Micronutrients are essential to supporting all of the body processes you need to thrive.
And timing your Carbs over the course of the day can help you feel energized during the morning & afternoon…and help you sleep well at night, too.
All good things, right?
Our Paleo genetic expectations
So here’s the thing that we can learn from our Paleo ancestry/current biology—we’re built for Carbs--including daily servings of Fruit, plenty of Veggies--plus a whole category of Carbs called Safe Starches that are both super emotionally satisfying AND they help build strong digestion, tendon & joint health & solid energy, too!
When it comes to Starchy Carbs--as Paleo people, we mainly ate tubers and starchy roots…and we did eat them consistently! So we do have a natural craving for Carbs, that gets strongly rewarded by *pleasure* when we eat them (bc of that extra work of finding them & digging them up).
And there was a big variety in how much Safe Carbs people ate, in different Paleo cultures around the world, suggesting that we too can function on a variety of different Carb intakes.
Carbs...and feeling rewarded by eating them...is in our cellular biology. And there is absolutely no need to give them--you just may have to change up the type of Carbs you're getting your comfort from.