Is carbohydrate consumption a recommended medical treatment for any pathology in otherwise healthy, sedentary people? By sedentary, I mean sitting at a desk most of the day, with no more than 5 hours per week of physical activity. (This is not to say that sedentary people have an easy life. It's just that intense mental and emotional activity, as stressful as it can be, unfortunately does not count towards physical activity.)

Carb intake reduction is a recommended medical treatment for plenty of pathologies, including erratic circadian rhythms and erratic blood sugar.

Conversely, carb consumption is recommended for strength trainers. My question is whether carbs have any medical value for sedentary people.

I can also see that carb consumption in sedentary people might be recommended in order to satisfy a habit in sedentary people whose brain and metabolism are not yet fat-adapted. However, this would not be for medical reasons, so much as tackling one habit at a time for improved overall outcome. For example, if the person has work relationship issues or drug dependence, those might be solved before cutting carbs. As trying to fix everything at once is likely to fail.

Carb deficiency has been suspected of causing various conditions in sedentary people, such as peripheral neuropathy. However, the pattern seems to be that carb deficiency is not the underlying cause of any disease. Is that correct? I feel that the more general question has not yet been asked on this forum: Is there any medical reason for sedentary people to consume carbs?

2 Answers 2


Carbohydrates are the main source of energy in humans. Carbohydrates are almost always recommended as part of a healthy diet even in sedentary people, but what changes is the amount consumed. Ketogenic diet favor consumption of high amounts of fat and low carbohydrates, some people try to live by this diet although one should be careful about their glucose level as it could lead to hypoglycemia. If i am not mistaken ketogenic diet is used in children for specific types of epilepsy, but these patients are monitored for hypoglycemia and other side effects. I am not well informed about the diet and it's use as treatment for epilepsy (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6361831/)

Off the top of my head i can recall some Fatty-acid metabolism disorders (in general enzymatic disorders) that require the consumption of carbohydrates to maintain suitable levels of glucose because it will be the only source of energy for the body, and a decrease in glycemia could lead even to coma and death because the body cannot use the fat to produce energy in case glucose is reduced in blood. In fact consuming enough amounts of carbohydrates could be the only treatment for some of these disorders and glass of sugar water could be a life saving even in sedentary people. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6331364/)

  • Great point about moderation. Regarding the metabolic disorder you mentioned, note that this seems to be of genetic origin, not dietary origin. What I was wondering was whether low carb diets could cause any kind of pathology, but I guess my question did not specify that, so fair point. Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 17:48

Attempting to eliminate carbs from the diet tends to lead to a restrictive diet that may lack fiber, micronutrients, etc. Diets such as 40-30-30 that seek to integrate foods in moderation rather than eliminating them tend to be more successful in the long term due to the increased flexibility.

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