Many new diets promote either a very small consumption of carbohydrates or recommend you eliminate carbs from your diet. Carbohydrates are crucial to your overall health. Before you run to the grocery store to stock up on pizza, French baguettes, and pasta, make sure you learn the difference between good carbs (complex carbohydrates) and bad carbs (simple carbohydrates). I wrote an entire article about the difference between these two types of carbs here.

We get a lot of messages on our website and social media wondering how our products can help you lose weight when they have a high amount of carbs. On the Smart for Life Program, we recommend you do eat complex carbs because they're essential for your energy, metabolism, sleep, brain function, and digestion! Complex carbs are the ones derived from fiber, not sugar. You'll find complex carbs in our protein bars and cookies, as well as certain fruits and vegetables.

Other diets that recommend you completely eliminate carbs can be harmful to your overall health and can have particularly bad side effects on your heart health. According to recent research presented at the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session, people who get less than 45% of their daily calories from carbs are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation (AFib), or an irregular heartbeat.

Xiaodong Zhuang, MD, PhD, a cardiologist and the study’s lead author said: “The long-term effect of carbohydrate restriction is still controversial, especially with regard to its influence on cardiovascular disease. Considering the potential influence on arrhythmia, our study suggests this popular weight-control method should be recommended cautiously.” Although the study didn't prove a low-carb diet causes heart issues, it did show an association between the two.

The reason why this is kind of a big deal is that people with AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke than those without. Researchers attribute this to low-carb dieters eating fewer fruits, veggies, and grains (all sources of carbs), which means they're not getting any of the anti-inflammatory benefits of these foods.

Eating excess protein and fat may lead to oxidative stress which has also been linked to AFib. The authors of the study recommend you eat between 168 and 196 grams of carbohydrates per day based on a 1,500-calorie diet.

Other studies have shown additional negative side effects of low-carb diets. Professor Maciej Banach, of the Medical University of Lodz, Poland and author of a study presented at ESC Congress 2018, said: "We found that people who consumed a low carbohydrate diet were at greater risk of premature death. Risks were also increased for individual causes of death including coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Shop Smart for Life's healthy snacks which provide a good source of complex carbohydrates here.