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Friend or Foe?

Athletes’ opinions about carbohydrates range from evil to essential. The research, however, is more conclusive. It supports eating a sports diet based on grains, fruits, and vegetables—the wholesome kinds of sugars and starches that feed the brain and fuel the muscles during hard exercise. But what about those who say they feel better when cutting out carbohydrates? When I hear this, I’ll ask what they were eating prior to making the change. The answer is almost always the same: fast food and junk rather than high-quality meals. No wonder they feel better; they are eating better.

An easier way to reduce sugar cravings is to prevent extreme hunger.

Of course, those who do report feeling better after cutting out grains might be dealing with food sensitivities. When you cut out a whole food group, though, you eliminate a lot of foods. It’s likely just a few foods contributed to their feeling unwell. A registered dietician can help you reach the same level of “feeling great” by working with you to figure out which foods are the culprits. Some athletes rave that their low-carbohydrate diet allows them to curb their addiction to sugar. A high-fat diet curbs hunger, and simultaneously curbs cravings for sweets. An easier way to reduce sugar cravings is to prevent extreme hunger.

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