Is Low Carb Right For You? And What Your Genes Can Tell You

Low carb diets have been popular on and off since the dawn of the Atkins fame (and maybe even earlier?).

But, what exactly defines low carb? Does eating this way actually help with weight loss? Are there any other health benefits (or risks) to eating fewer carbs? What possible role can our genes play?

Let’s see.

 

WHAT IS A CARB?

 

A carb, or carbohydrate, is one of our three main macronutrients. Carbs, along with protein and fat that are needed for optimal health in quantities larger than vitamins and minerals which are micronutrients.

Carbohydrates come in three main types:

  • Sugars
  • Starches
  • Fibre

Sugars are the smallest (molecule) carb. There are many different kinds of sugars, beyond the well-known table sugar (sucrose) or fruit sugar (fructose).

Starches are longer chains of many sugars bound together. Starches are broken down by our digestive enzymes into sugars. These sugars are then absorbed and metabolized in much the same way as if we ate sugar itself.

Fibre, on the other hand, is also a long chain of sugars, but these are not broken down by our digestive enzymes. Fibre passes through our system, feeds our friendly gut bacteria, and then takes food waste out the other end.

Because fibre isn’t digested like sugars and starches, it’s often excluded from the carb calculation.

 

WHAT OUR GENES CAN TELL US ABOUT HOW WE METABOLIZE CARBS

 

When we eat carbs, our body absorbs the broken down sugar into our blood, thus raising our blood sugar. Depending on how high and fast our blood sugar rises, our body may release insulin to tell our cells to absorb that sugar out of our blood and use it as energy now or store it for later.

This is part of the theory as to why eating low carb diets may help with weight loss – by preventing the release of insulin, thus preventing the storage of excess calories.

But, our bodies are a bit more complicated than that and genetics can sometimes play a role in how efficiently we break down carbs.

Based on my own genetic testing, I know that I have a gene marker that is associated with suboptimal insulin response and increased risk of Type II diabetes, as well as moderate starch metabolism so I have an increased association between starch consumption and weight gain.

On the other hand, thanks to my APOA2 gene, I have a reduced association to weight gain in response to fat consumption.

So what this basically means is that I am a poor metabolizer of carbohydrates and that I’m better at fat metabolism. So I would be better suited to a lower carbohydrate, higher fat diet.

 

HOW MANY CARBS IS LOW CARB?

 

There isn’t one single definition. And although I’m better at fat metabolism over carbs, it’s not always easy.

The average American eats about 300 g of carbs per day. Some people consider eating under 250 g of carbs per day to be the first threshold of a low carb diet. That’s really not that low in carbs, it’s lower carb, rather than low carb. Plus, if you’re new to cutting carbs, this level is easy to maintain and a good start (if you want to cut your carbs).

Taking that a step further, eating less than 150 g per day of carbs is considered a typical low carb diet.

On the extreme side, eating less than 50 g of carbs per day is considered to be very low carb – it falls under the ketogenic diet range. Eating so few carbs can actually change your metabolism into a ketogenic state. Eating this way can be difficult for many people to maintain but can be beneficial for your health if you are dealing with certain conditions.

 

OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS OF LOW CARB DIETS

 

Low carb diets have the benefit of preserving muscle mass during weight loss. They can also improve heart health biomarkers like cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Not to mention that eating fewer carbs can improve how our bodies manage those carbs in terms of insulin and fasting blood sugar levels – that can equal better moods and better ability to cope with anxiety and stress.

There can definitely be some non-weight-loss health benefits to eating fewer carbs!

 

CONCLUSION

 

Eating a low carb diet can be healthy, as long as it contains enough of all the essential nutrients. Some people may lose weight eating fewer carbs, and others won’t.

Low carb diets can help to improve how the body manages blood lipids and blood sugar, so it can be a healthy choice for some people, I know I fall into this category.

As with most things in nutrition, there isn’t a one size fits all rule. Low carb diets can be a good choice for many people, but it’s not the magic bullet that some people claim. Although, for some it is health changing!

What about you – have you tried (or do you currently) eat low carb? How many carbs do you eat per day? Have you had any great (or not so great) health effects from it? Let me know in the comments below.

Contact me to learn more about your options when it comes to genetic testing.

Recipe (Low carb): Baked Pickerel With a Side Salad
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

4 Fillets of Pickerel
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 large container of ready made Mediterranean Salad
EVOO and Vinegar for dressing

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Cover a large baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. Place fish on a lined dish and add spices.
  4. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.
  5. While the fish is baking prepare the Mediterranean salad with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Vinegar. *I love to add sea salt to my salad too.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip #1: You can roast veggies in another pan at the same time. Just chop, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Tip #2: If you have picky fish eaters in your house, try Pickerel. The flavour is sweet and mild and is great for people who are looking for a fish without that “fishy taste.”

References:

https://examine.com/nutrition/does-low-carb-have-an-official-definition/

https://examine.com/nutrition/is-low-carb-really-the-best-weight-loss-diet/

https://examine.com/nutrition/are-there-health-benefits-of-a-low-carb-diet/

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/general-food-safety-tips/safe-internal-cooking-temperatures.html

About Me

Hi, I’m Tracy! I create food solutions to feed your life goals. I’m a Nutritionist, chocoholic + superhero fan. Mom to three, wife to one, crazy about all four, and food! When you work with me you’ll learn to savour life and nourish all that it has to offer.

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2 months ago
Tracy Houle Nutrition
I dont know about you but I have been struggling over these last few months. 

All of the things that Im normally pretty good at like staying positive, eating well, and being active have really been challenging for me during these difficult times.

I needed an inner shakedown!

And what I found was that I needed a really good plan and some accountability.

Starting on Monday, May 3rd, Im committing to a 4-week meal plan to revitalize my health and help me shed a few pounds. 

Wanna join me?

Just send me a quick DM with “I’M IN” and I’ll send you more info.

#healthfirst
#foodmatters
#nutritionist
#healthylifestyle
#cleaneating

I don't know about you but I have been struggling over these last few months.

All of the things that I'm normally pretty good at like staying positive, eating well, and being active have really been challenging for me during these difficult times.

I needed an inner shakedown!

And what I found was that I needed a really good plan and some accountability.

Starting on Monday, May 3rd, I'm committing to a 4-week meal plan to revitalize my health and help me shed a few pounds.

Wanna join me?

Just send me a quick DM with “I’M IN” and I’ll send you more info.

#healthfirst
#foodmatters
#nutritionist
#healthylifestyle
#cleaneating
... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago
Tracy Houle Nutrition
TODAY is EARTH DAY 🌳 (which is really everyday) and if you want to know how small changes can add up to a healthier planet 🌏 check out my newest blog (link below) where I do a deep dive into modern agriculture and how it impacts our health, as well as the health of the planet.

 

Actually, not be an ‘askhole’ but I’d really appreciate if you could take the 10 minutes, or so, to read it.

 

When it comes to farming, we’re in a cultural crisis – and it’s never been more important for food production to evolve and it’s us who will make it happen with our buying power.

 

The good news is that smaller scale, environmentally friendly, and regenerative farming practices are playing a big part in helping to restore lost nutrition in our soil and food, and you can “be the change” with my list of what you can do as an individual today!
 

So, have a read and let me know if you can support your local farmers or share your favourite farm in the comments below.

Two of my favourite local food producers are @farmqueenfoods & @providencehillfarm.ca 
 
https://tracyhoule.com/food_health_climate_change/

TODAY is EARTH DAY 🌳 (which is really everyday) and if you want to know how small changes can add up to a healthier planet 🌏 check out my newest blog (link below) where I do a deep dive into modern agriculture and how it impacts our health, as well as the health of the planet.



Actually, not be an ‘askhole’ but I’d really appreciate if you could take the 10 minutes, or so, to read it.



When it comes to farming, we’re in a cultural crisis – and it’s never been more important for food production to evolve and it’s us who will make it happen with our buying power.



The good news is that smaller scale, environmentally friendly, and regenerative farming practices are playing a big part in helping to restore lost nutrition in our soil and food, and you can “be the change” with my list of what you can do as an individual today!


So, have a read and let me know if you can support your local farmers or share your favourite farm in the comments below.

Two of my favourite local food producers are @farmqueenfoods & @providencehillfarm.ca

tracyhoule.com/food_health_climate_change/
... See MoreSee Less

Comment on Facebook

Very informative. Thanks for sharing !

2 months ago
Tracy Houle Nutrition
Ready for the truth no one wants you to know?

There actually IS a secret tool to getting healthier.

Here’s another secret:
It DOESN’T involve giving up treats and wine forever.

In fact, the way I’ve been able to keep my family and I healthy for the last decade has been largely thanks to the 80/20 rule.

This week’s blog (link below) is ALL about moderation. The word you hear SO MUCH, but never really know how to practically include in your life.

Also on the blog, 15 DELICIOUS (and I mean actually delicious) vegetable recipes.

No, I’m not going to tell you to make a plain salad with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Let’s talk about VEGGIES that are delicious and taste like our favourite comfort food.

When we start to rekindle our flame with veggies, we remember how good they can taste and how they make us FEEL.

What’s your favourite FUN way to include veggies in your diet? 

https://tracyhoule.com/how-to-rekindle-the-flame-with-vegetables/

Ready for the truth no one wants you to know?

There actually IS a secret tool to getting healthier.

Here’s another secret:
It DOESN’T involve giving up treats and wine forever.

In fact, the way I’ve been able to keep my family and I healthy for the last decade has been largely thanks to the 80/20 rule.

This week’s blog (link below) is ALL about moderation. The word you hear SO MUCH, but never really know how to practically include in your life.

Also on the blog, 15 DELICIOUS (and I mean actually delicious) vegetable recipes.

No, I’m not going to tell you to make a plain salad with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Let’s talk about VEGGIES that are delicious and taste like our favourite comfort food.

When we start to rekindle our flame with veggies, we remember how good they can taste and how they make us FEEL.

What’s your favourite FUN way to include veggies in your diet?

tracyhoule.com/how-to-rekindle-the-flame-with-vegetables/
... See MoreSee Less

Comment on Facebook

I really enjoyed reading your blog on Veggies! I like the different ideas on how to incorporate more veggies. I love grilled veggies the best but also enjoy making casseroles with different veggies! I cant wait to try some of your new veggie recipes....even the butternut smoothie😬!

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