Are Carbohydrates Essential?

D espite oft-heard claims to the contrary, there is no physiological requirement for dietary carbohydrate. Even the RDA handbook acknowledges this, right before recommending that a prudent diet should contain a lot of carbohydrates. To understand why carbs aren’t essential, I need to discuss the concept of an essential nutrient briefly.

An essential nutrient is defined as:
  • Any nutrient that is required for survival
  • Can’t be made by the body
Quoting from my own Rapid Fat Loss Handbook:
The second criterion is the reason that dietary carbohydrate is not an essential nutrient: the body is able to make as much glucose as the brain and the few other tissues need on a day-to-day basis from other sources. I should mention that the body is not able to provide sufficient carbohydrate to fuel high intensity exercise such as sprinting or weight training and carbs might be considered essential for individuals who want to do that type of exercise. I’ll come back to exercise later in this article.
From the standpoint of survival, the minimum amount of carbohydrates that are required in a diet is zero grams per day. 

The body can make what little it needs from other sources.

Excerpt from: How Many Carbohydrates Do You Need? - Lyle McDonald