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FITNESS: Food for thought: carb or no carb

The body will store any type of calorie as fat if you are eating more than you need

Ron Cain | Contributed

In my last article, I discussed the explosion of sugar in our diet and some of the harmful effects.

Marketing has convinced dieters that carbs are public enemy No. 1.

The first clue that should tell you that something is rotten in marketing is anthropological in origin.

Before 1900 when refined foods became more available, and the sugar intake started to accelerate, many cultures feasted on high-carbohydrate diets and had little to no obesity in their communities. Two examples are the Kitavans (Papua, New Guinea) and Okinawans, who thrived on high-carb diets for hundreds of years.

Both cultures at diets of root vegetables, fish and fruit. Unlike the modern world, their lifestyles also did not benefit from excessive mechanization. They grew their food and walked everywhere. Vancouver Island produces only five per cent of its food, and out cities are not designed for walking but more for serving the needs of the automobile.

The Kitavans and Okinawans have much lower rates of heart disease than Western cultures. Okinawans have the distinction of having more people who live to over 100 years of age than anywhere in the world. That is what I call proof in the pudding. Perhaps there is no “root “ of the problem, but instead, roots are part of the solution?

Need more food for thought? The Greeks living on the Island of Icaria have a diet rich in veggies, including potatoes, legumes, olives, bread and fish. One in three will live into their 90s.

What happens if you take a group of study subjects, supervise their eating by creating a tightly controlled environment, and drastically change their diet after a few weeks? One such study had people follow a high-carb diet (75 per cent ) for 38 days followed by a low-carb diet for 56 days. Caloric intake was set to maintain weight, not lose weight. The change to a low-carb content made no difference to the subjects’ weights.

The body will store any calorie as fat if you are eating more than you need. This study would support the belief that overeating is an epidemic in our culture and a more significant issue than the source of the calories. That concept in no way negates the health and longevity benefits of a diet rich in vegetables and light on processed carbs and red meat because short-term studies by their nature cannot examine the impact of the diet on the longevity of their test subjects. Food for thought?


Ron Cain is the owner of Sooke Mobile Personal Training. Email him at or find him on Facebook at Sooke Personal Training.