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  1. #1
    Northern Kettlebells is offline Senior Member
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    Default Do we need carbohydrates?

    There has been a lot of talk about high fat diets lately which has led me to do a bit of research. My question is: if we can get our energy from fat and it has the same 3 chemical elements, then what do we get from carbs that we can't get from fat?

  2. #2
    Razorburne is offline Senior Member
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    From what I've read, you are correct that we don't actually need them...there are essential fats and essential proteins but no such thing as an essential carbohydrate.

  3. #3
    EricJMoss is offline Senior Member
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    it all depends on you and your unique make up. I don't know chemically what is going on in my body when i eat carbs...i just know that i feel, look and perform better when I do....but that's me
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  4. #4
    mc
    mc is offline Senior Member
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    the question about any diet usually needs to be considered over the longer term to consider giving our bodies the opportunity to adapt - and they do - just take a look at rkc mike t nelson's phd work on metabolic flexibility (he just had a piece in t-nation).

    Here's a story: folks who recently trekked to the north pole had supplies for a certain period; then they had to rely on what they were able to catch. catch meaning high fat and reasonable protein; that's it. During this initial shift to ketogenic full on, they felt lethargic: poor energy, easy fatigue. After about 3-4 weeks they reported however that they felt fine; energy back up.

    So when they got home, one of them volunteered to do the same diet switch in a controlled environment: same thing happened - it took about a month to go through the transition from mixed diet to protein (about 100g a day) and the rest from fat.

    A crucial part about the fat is that doing fish and land animals that lived off fish meant that the fat they're ingesting has good levels of epa and dha as well as iodine that the brain needs (along with a bunch of other stuff of course, but brain health is kinda important).

    That said, metabolic flexibility - the ability to use fuels well - is a great thing to keep in shape. For most folks into body comp, an easy way to tune met flex is nutrient timing, and an easy heuristic is save the starchy carbs for post workout to privilege fat burning at other times.

    Having some carbs in the system (from veggies) helps get fats burning too, so they're not evil.

    We can optimize how our body processes fuels to our advantage.

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  5. #5
    Northern Kettlebells is offline Senior Member
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    Thanks for your reply mc, that was pretty much what I was thinking about the adaption period. I'll have to read up a bit more on metabolic flexibility

    Quote Originally Posted by mc View Post
    Having some carbs in the system (from veggies) helps get fats burning too, so they're not evil.
    I don't think that carbs are evil at all, I was just wondering if they gave us anything essential we couldn't get from fats or proteins

  6. #6
    forth is offline Senior Member
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    No, carbs are not essential. Your body can synthesize glucose itself if you don't provide it.

    That being said carbs are great. Eat some right now.

  7. #7
    Northern Kettlebells is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by forth View Post
    No, carbs are not essential. Your body can synthesize glucose itself if you don't provide it.

    That being said carbs are great. Eat some right now.
    I'll say it again, I really don't think that carbs are bad and i get plenty in my diet, it was just a question out of curiosity

  8. #8
    forth is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northern Kettlebells View Post
    I'll say it again, I really don't think that carbs are bad and i get plenty in my diet, it was just a question out of curiosity
    You might want to google up the word "gluconeogenesis" to get some insight into how glucose is created when you run out of glycogen. Glycogen is the way glucose is stored in muscles and the liver... most people fill up this stockpile by eating carbohydrates, but there are other pathways to get glucose for your muscles.. glucose is the prefered fuel for all cell activity.. and some won't even work properly without it (but as you most likely now from reading up on high fat diet a lot of these processes can function "ok" on ketones).

    eg. lactate is shuttled off to the liver and turned into glucose.. and from a normal meal a good estimate is that about 58% of the protein you eat is turned into glucose. Also glycerol (a lil thing that keep fat molecules linked up) can be turned into glucose.

    No, you definitely do not need carbs in your diet.

  9. #9
    Northern Kettlebells is offline Senior Member
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    Thanks forth, I'll do some further reading on gluconeogenesis.
    The more I learn about nutrition, the more I realise I don't know. It's frustrating and interesting at the same time

  10. #10
    forth is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northern Kettlebells View Post
    The more I learn about nutrition, the more I realise I don't know.
    I'm sorry to say that it will just get worse in this aspect

    But yes, it is very interesting.

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