Veganism is often associated with improved health. However, while health benefits are a major reason many people turn vegan, it’s not the only one. People commit to a vegan lifestyle for many reasons that may or may not be necessarily associated with health.
Does it make any difference?
Well, not from a theoretical perspective. Veganism seeks to eliminate animal exploitation and cruelty, which every vegan contributes to, regardless of what initially propelled them to commit to this plant-based lifestyle. You can learn about all the reasons why people choose to adopt veganism in my article “Why Go Vegan?”.
However, if you are not conscious of your dietary choices, you may end up doing yourself harm in an attempt to do good to animals and the environment. Unhealthy eating patterns among vegans can be classified into various categories. One of them is carbitarian.
Who Is a Carbitarian, and What Do They Eat?
The word carbitarian comes from carb or carbohydrate. A carbitarian is a vegetarian or vegan whose diet is rich in carbohydrates.
|What is a High-Carb Diet?A diet in which 70% or more total calories come from carbohydrates is considered a high-carb diet.|
Transitioning from an omnivorous, Western diet to a strictly plant-based diet is a huge step. For many, this means giving up on many of their favorite foods, which can be very challenging. To make their plant-based meals more interesting and delicious, many vegans end up consuming too many carbs.
Anyone can make this mistake, particularly during the initial days of their vegan journey. However, people who commit to veganism for non-health, ethical, and environmental reasons are more likely to fall for the carbitarian diet since their primary focus is on eating plant-based foods, not eating healthy.
Some other vegans or vegetarians who often consume a carbitarian diet include those who lack knowledge about healthy eating and those who don’t like vegetables.
Is Carbitarian Diet Bad for Your Health?
Even though they have a bad rap in the health and wellness industry, carbohydrates are not essentially bad. In fact, they are the most important source of fuel and energy for your body. However, as the old proverb says, “Excess of everything is bad.” Consuming too many carbs can harm your body in various ways over time.
The most common adverse effects of eating a high-carb diet include fatigue, bloating, mild cognitive impairment, acne, and cavities.
Carbitarian diets often consist of unhealthy carbs and are associated with high fat intake (think of all those cheese-loaded veggie pizzas, burgers, and processed foods you had).
Unhealthy, high-carb, and high-fat diets put you at a higher risk for health problems, such as weight gain and high cholesterol levels, which can then increase your risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
An unhealthy high-carb diet may also lead to nutrient deficiencies in the long run. Wondering how?
Well, unhealthy carbs are nothing but empty calories. When most of your diet comprises empty calories, there is little room left for healthy, essential nutrients. If this continues to happen, your body will likely develop nutrient deficiencies, which can further ruin your health.
Want to learn more about how carbohydrates impact your health? Check out the following video:
Why Do People Eat Carbitarian Diet, Then?
People mostly adhere to the carbitarian diet due to a lack of knowledge or false knowledge. Who in their right frame of mind would consistently eat a diet that’s bad for their health?
In the case of vegetarians or vegans, however, it is also often a result of oversight. As mentioned earlier, many ethical vegans end up consuming more than the required amount of carbohydrates in an attempt to make their plant-based foods more interesting and flavorful.
Vegetable soup and burgers are both vegan, aren’t they? So, why eat the bland vegetable soup when you can use the same plant-based ingredients to make a much tastier and comforting meal?
Another factor that can lead plant-eaters to continue to follow a carbitarian diet is that its adverse effects are not visible immediately. It may take a while for a high-carb diet to start affecting their health, making them believe that it’s all good.
Don’t Skimp on Carbs!
Another common mistake people make when they learn about all the various ways carbs can negatively affect their health is that they either eliminate carbs or opt for very low-carb diets.
Never do that!
As mentioned above, carbs work as fuel for your body and are needed for various functions. Hence, skimping on carbohydrates can also cause several negative impacts on your health.
How Many Carbohydrates Should You Eat?
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 45% to 65% of total daily calories should come from carbs. This is considered a moderate amount of carbohydrates.
What About Other Macro-Nutrients?
Although the exact nutrient breakdown depends on an individual’s body composition, weight, lifestyle, and goals, the standard healthy macro-nutrients composition is as follows:
- Carbohydrates – 45% to 65% of calories
- Fats – 20% to 35% of calories
- Protein – 10% to 35% of calories
The Harvard School of Public Health provides much easier guidelines for building a healthy and balanced diet. According to them, half of your plate should comprise fruits and vegetables, one-fourth should be healthy protein, and the remaining one-fourth should include whole grains.
To Sum Up
The Lancet Public Health published the results of a 25-year-long research study in 2016. While the research found that both high-carb and low-carb diets led to earlier deaths, low-carb diets rich in animal proteins had a higher risk of deaths than low-carb diets primarily comprised of plant-based foods.
Because of this, it can be said that a plant-based diet with a slightly low to moderate carbohydrate level is the best choice in terms of health. So, watch your carb intake and make sure your diet doesn’t fall in the category of carbitarian diets.
Do you want to learn about more versions of plant-based diets? Then, read my article “Vegan vs. Pescetarian” to learn how a Pescetarian diet differs from a vegan diet and its pros and cons.