Yes, carbs in highly refined food packages will create health problems. But if you eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet, 75 to 80 percent of your calories will come from carbohydrates–and that’s precisely what you want. The unrefined carbohydrates in whole or minimally processed plant foods do not cause diabetes or make us fat. From The Forks Over Knives Plan: A 4-Week Meal-by-Meal Makeover.
Studies show that the lowest rates of diabetes in the world are found among populations that consume the most carbohydrates. Furthermore, the Journal of Nutrition concluded that the data does not support a correlation between high-carbohydrate diets and insulin sensitivity, and an article in Diabetes Care concluded that the “Intake of sugars does not appear to play a deleterious role in primary prevention of type 2 diabetes” [emphasis added]. In fact, the “high-carb” diet that we are recommending—and not avoiding carbs-is the exact diet that has reversed type 2 diabetes in so many patients.
As for whether carbohydrates make us fat, studies show an inverse association between the consumption of whole grains and weight gain, likely because low-fat, high-carb diets—when those carbs are unrefined—increase satiety and decrease caloric intake. This is because of what we refer to as the “fat-sugar seesaw”: When you eat fewer whole carbs (the sugar side of the seesaw), you will inevitably eat more fat. You can subvert this pattern by increasing the whole, minimally processed, unrefined carbs in your diet. By doing so, you will eat less fat. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition said it clearly: “Altering the composition of the diet in favor of a higher carbohydrate-to-fat ratio may decrease the incidence of obesity.”
The cause of America’s obesity epidemic is not whole, unrefined carbohydrates. In fact, carbs are our best energy source because our bodies have evolved to metabolize them very efficiently. Carbs have been shown to be the preferred energy source for athletes. Carbohydrates are also the primary source of energy for our brain and the only fuel for red blood cells and certain kidney cells. Whole, unrefined, natural carbohydrate-based plant foods also contain dietary fiber (which animal-based and processed foods do not). Dietary fiber satisfies the hunger drive and binds to and assists in the elimination of excess hormones, toxins, cholesterol, and other undesirable matter, and promotes proper bowel function. Fiber also helps to stabilize blood sugar.
Finally, although the predominant macronutrient in whole, plant-based foods is carbohydrates, the package also provides protein (including all of the essential amino acids), essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals— all of which are present in healthy amounts; that is, these foods contain neither too little nor too much of these essential nutrients based on our needs.
The Forks Over Knives Plan Recipe: Apple Crisp