From magazine covers to Instagram posts, it’s no question that carbohydrates are the most debated topic right now. Every day, I honestly hear another problem being related to carbohydrates:
- Diabetes and Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- Sugar cravings… and the list goes on
In fact, there are countless sources online saying that carbohydrates are “lethal for the human body!”
But honestly, let’s be real. Saying that one food is the cause of all your problems is just a blatant lie. Not to mention it doesn’t help you, empower you, or provide a step-by-step plan to help you SUCCEED! In fact, I would argue that it only creates FEAR inside of you about avoiding that food!
And what happens when you avoid foods? YOU CRAVE THEM, BINGE THEM, AND FEEL GUILTY IF YOU EAT THEM!
So… the logical scientist in me wanted to investigate this further. And here’s what I found:
Myth: Carbs make you fat.
Fact: Any food can make you “fat.” In fact, I’d say a more accurate statement would be that consistently eating more calories than what you body burns in a day can lead to weight gain. So while carbohydrates can lead to weight gain, so can over-eating proteins and fats.
With that in mind, I do think this is a great time to bring up overeating protein. There have been documented studies such as this one by Dr. Jose Antonio et al. that demonstrate that overfeeding protein in resistance trained men and women 800 calories above their “maintenance diet” (5x the recommended daily allowance for protein) resulted in no weight gain. We believe this result to be from the thermic effect of food (TEF) for protein which is very high… resulting in those subject’s energy expenditure to increase. All things considered, while this research is interesting and promising, I am by no means recommending to over-consume protein. While it has a high TEF, it is still calories that can result in weight gain. Not to mention, the average American may still gain weight with this diet change due to their lack resistance training and muscular mass, coupled with the high amount of protein their body cannot possibly utilize all at one feeding.
Myth: Sugar is bad for your body.
Fact: Sugar can be bad for our body, just like eating too much protein can be bad for someone with kidney failure. It depends on the damn situation! To understand this point, you must understand that your activity level dictates what your diet should look like. Put simply, the more physically active you are, the more carbohydrates (and thus sugar) you
need. So… if you are very inactive and eating the amount of carbohydrates necessary for an elite marathon runner, we can see why this statement sounds silly.
But let’s not forget that all carbohydrates (I repeat… ALL CARBOHYDRATES) are broken down into the same thing in our blood stream: glucose, which is A SUGAR! This means whether you eat a banana, a slice of cake, or a bag of spinach… your body is breaking it down into glucose.
Myth: Low carb diets are great for fat loss
Fact: While our bodies can survive without carbohydrates and sugar, that fact in of itself is not reason to follow it in hopes of losing weight. When you drastically cut carbohydrates out of your diet, your body begins to adapt by using protein from our muscles and fat from our adipose tissue as fuel. For many people, those first few days you begin to see the scale change! But don’t be fooled; as your body is rushing to find a replacement for the carbohydrates you aren’t eating anymore, you begin pulling from the stored carbohydrates in your muscle and liver. And as you break these carbs down, you actually release water, therefore resulting in initial weight loss.
All things considered, your body doesn’t care where it gets fuel from. And hypothetically, you could GAIN WEIGHT on a ketogenic diet if you are eating more than what your body expends! Not to mention ketogenic diets are often devoid of fruits, vegetables, and grains which are key sources of fiber; which are also linked to a healthy body weight.
How many carbs should I be eating? What’s the deal on good versus bad carbohydrates?
Check out our Carbohydrates Guide to get started!