War on War on Carbs: The False Logic of Essential Nutrients

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m a big fan of carbs. After strongman training, I down a Rice Krispie Treat, a ginger ale, and a big bowl of cereal. I often hashtag my pictures with #fueledbyfrenchtoast.

And if you don’t follow me on Instagram, check me out at @Strength_Geek.

One of the arguments I’ve seen, and even had, is that carbohydrates are a non-essential nutrient. And as such, you don’t need to eat them for any reason other than emotional ones.

What does that mean to be non-essential?

So there are 21 nutritive amino acids, nine of which are called essential while the other 11 are, by contrast, call non-essential. This means that the essential amino acids have to be acquired through our food because our body cannot create it from scratch. The other eleven we can synthesize.

For fatty acids you see the same phenomenon. Our bodies can synthesize all but two fatty acids that we need for general health: linolenic and linoleic acid.

By this same naming scheme, since our body can create all the carbohydrates that we need to stay alive from proteins, carbohydrates can be called non-essential.

But here is the difference between the scientific definition of words and the colloquial use of them: all the scientific definition means is that we can create these nutrients from other sources and stay alive. It says nothing about optimum performance or health of the individual attempting to do just that.

For instance: no one is going to tell you to only eat the essential amino acids, because all other amino acids are useless and a waste of calories. How many of you use a casein protein at night? Well, since that contains many non-essential amino acids in it, you should probably dump it out.

See how dumb that sounds? You want optimum performance. Who cares what kind of amino acid gets you there?

It would be the same as saying that evolution is false because it’s merely a theory. Saying that actually implies a lack of literacy in scientific terminology.

Since most of us live in the world outside of a laboratory, how about I put it this way: perhaps our bodies have developed the ability to create the “non-essential” nutrients because they are so very essential to our health. And that’s how you should be thinking about carbohydrates.

Fight the good fight.
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