Wow! Quite a statement there in the title of this article! However, just opening a magazine or health website on the internet kind of suggests that eating carbs is unhealthy. What is true about this? Today we will answer the question what carbs are, how they function in the body and whether it is a bad idea to eat them or not.
What are carbs?
Carbs, short for carbohydrates, are classified as a macronutrient. This means they are an essential building blocks of human cells. Because singular cells don’t live as long as you do, they have to be renewed constantly. That is what we need carbs for, besides the other two macronutrients fat and protein. It is therefore impossible to say that one is more important than the other, all of them are and it is important to consume them in an adequate amount.
How much carbs should you eat?
How much carbs you thrive on depends on your metabolic type. People all differ in the way they metabolize the macronutrients. Some people do really good on a high carb diet. These are typically people who are tall and lanky and easily excel in endurance sports. We call this the ectomorph type. Other types do better at heavy weight lifting but practically seem to gain a couple of pounds when they just smell a high carbohydrate food like a donut. This is the endomorph type. The last type, the mesomorph type, is a mixture of both types, can do both endurance and weight training and can eat an average amount of carbohydrates. How much carbohydrates, (and protein and fats) you can metabolize depends on the type that you are. You can test this at many personal training studios or take a certified test online.
Do carbs make you gain weight?
No, carbs do not make you instantly gain weight. It is not that easy. What makes you gain weight is eating in a calorie surplus. Since carbs have only about 4 calories per gram, they add much less calories to your daily total than fat, which has 9 calories per gram. This makes it relatively harder to gain weight by eating a lot of carbs. If you don’t have any weight loss goals and feel good eating the way you do, you can keep on eating carbs without any restriction.
Do you need to cut carbs to lose weight?
Yes, it can be helpful to cut carbs when you want to lose weight. To lose weight, you have to be in a calorie deficit first of all. You can suggest that cutting down on fat will make this the easiest, since it is so high in calories. However, carbs have another characteristic that makes losing weight more difficult. Carbs are the bodies preferred source of energy. It is easily taken out of the bloodstream and put towards anywhere where energy in the body is needed. This is fine and a good process if you want to maintain your weight. But if you want to lose weight, you want your body to use your stored fat for energy. Cutting down a little bit on carbs can therefore be helpful!
Do I have to cut all carbs when I want to lose weight?
No you do not have to cut all carbs. Some metabolic types can cut more carbs than others while still feeling good. These are the types that usually succeed on low carb diets or keto diets. If you know that you are this type, the endomorph type, a low carb diet might be worth looking into! For all other types it is suggested to cut down on processed carbohydrates found in bread, pasta and sweet manufactured foods. Instead focus on fruit, legumes, sweet potato and a little bit of rice and quinoa for carbs. That should be enough for the other two types, the ectomorph and mesomorph type.
Does it matter when I eat my carbs?
It doesn't really matter when you eat your carbs however it is suggested to spread them evenly across the day to give you enough energy while being in a calorie deficit. Some research suggests that eating carbs only until lunch time can be beneficial. However, these results are so small that the effect will be hardly noticeable if you take enough time for your weight loss and focus on building lasting changes into your current lifestyle primarily.
Concluding, it is totally okay to eat carbs even if you do not want to gain weight or lose a few pounds. Just not overdo it and focus on the right type of carbs. It is still okay to have a small source of carbs at every meal. If you visit us, you can choose between our healthy carb sources of brown, wild rice, quinoa, sweet potato and different types of legumes! We would love to see you soon!
Written by Maritza Kolenbrander, Food Psychologist at Plantifulplan