The Truth About Carbohydrates: Are Carbs Really Fattening?

Healthy Eating, Nutrition, Nutrition Basics,

The Truth About Carbohydrates: Are Carbs Really Fattening?

Everyone seems to have a different philosophy when it comes to carbs. Some say you should never to eat them, others say to limit them after 3pm, and there are still other who will tell you not to eat them 3 hours before bedtime. But which theory is the right one to follow when you are trying to lose weight?

Not All Carbs Are Bad For You

In the past few years there have been many low and no carb diets that have hit the headlines, all promising great weight loss results and better health. However, although carbs seem to have picked up a bad name when it comes to weight loss, it is not necessary to complete remove them from your diet. It’s important to remember that not all carbs are created equal. While some may make you pile on the pounds, others offer valuable nutrients that are an important part of our diet.

A healthy balanced diet includes foods from all the food groups. This is what our body needs to perform its normal daily functions and give us the energy we need to get through the day. It is perfectly possible to lose weight without eliminating any food groups from your diet, and this includes carbs. The key is to choose the right foods in the right amounts.

The Different Types Of Carbs



Also known as simple sugars these carbohydrates are easily digested and enter the bloodstream almost immediately. They provide an instant burst of energy, often known as a “sugar rush”. Foods that contain simple carbs should be used sparingly as they can easily be stored as fat if not consumed at the right time.

Simple carbohydrates are best consumed during and after an intense workout or training session. During an intense workout your body burns through its glycogen energy reserve and is desperate to replenish it. Simple sugars are a great way to quickly restore energy back into the body and depleted muscles.

This is the only time you can get away with eating something sugar as it will replenish your glycogen. Even if you are trying to lose weight you can get away with eating a cookie at this time. If you do eat a sugary snack make sure that it only contains just sugar and NOT sugar and fat, consuming fat at this time will not be good for weight loss.

Complex carbs


Complex carbohydrates are broken down by the slowly and absorbed into the bloodstream bit by bit, and provide long lasting energy. These carbs are ideal for marathon runners as they sustain energy levels. Complex carbohydrates are usually found in food such as whole grain bread, pasta, oatmeal, brown rice, grits, beans, potatoes, yams and corn.

It is important to consume starchy carbohydrates prior to your workout or training session. Carbohydrate intake can vary from person to person usually depending on your body type and energy demands. You want to consume carbs based around your goal, for example if you want to lose weight you will want a low carb intake. However, if your goal is to gain muscle and size you will want to increase them.

fibrous carbs - broccoli


These carbohydrates have strong chemical bonds that our body can’t break down. These simply pass through our body and are known as fiber. Fibrous carbohydrates help cleanse the body and are very important for digestive health.

Fibrous carbohydrates are great for helping you lose weight and getting fiber into your body. A high fiber diet will help you feel fuller and stop you from eating too much. As you chew on these foods, larger amounts saliva and gastric juices are produced which causes the fibers of the food to swell. This causes longer lasting of feeling full. A high fiber diet will also help you excrete more fat in your bowel movements than you would on a low fiber diet.

You can eat as much fibrous complex carbohydrates as you like, because fiber cannot be digested, the body will burn alot of energy attempting to process it. This is a dieter’s dream come true. It is something that can be eaten without limit and without risk of gaining even an ounce of unwanted weight. A celery stick for example contains about 5 calories. The body will burn about 10 calories just breaking down, assimilating, and eliminating the celery stick. This is called negative calories. So for people dieting for weight loss, consume as much leafy green vegetables as possible.

High fibrous foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Whether you are seeking to lose weight, gain weight, or build muscle, eat lots of fibrous complex carbs for their fiber and nutrients.

How Does Eating Carbs Affect The Body?

When you eat carbohydrates, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. Simple carbs (mostly) make you to crave more carbs soon after you have consumed them. This is because they cause a quick insulin spike, then drop again very quickly, leaving you craving more.

Complex carbs on the other hand, have a slower insulin spike. This leaves you feeling fuller for a much longer period of time, usually around two to three hours. Knowing the different types of carbs will make it easier for you to build the body you have always dreamed of.

Fibrous carbohydrates work a little different, they don’t affect you blood sugar levels and there for they don’t spike your insulin levels. They work more like a “cleanser” for the intestinal tract, helping to push food and fats through the system.

The Glycemic Index

We just discussed how eating carbohydrates causes a rise in insulin/blood sugar levels. The glycemic index (GI) is a system that measures the level how much a certain food will spike insulin levels, and how quickly it will do so.

Not all carbs are equal, for example 50g of carbohydrates found in one food might have more or less of an effect on blood sugar levels than 50g of carbohydrates coming from another food. This means the quality of carbohydrate that you eat is much more important than the quantity.

For example, a yam is low on the glycemic index, when compared to a donut which would be rather high. Consuming the donut would cause an instant insulin spike, yet eating a 2 or 3 yams not cause much of an insulin spike at all.

Remember the next time you debate on a late night carbohydrate, just keep in mind the degree to which the carb you’re going to eat will affect your blood sugar levels. This will determine whether or not your body stores it as fat.

So now that we have dispelled the myth, remember that not all carbs are bad, there is no need to fear them. Just simply choose the right ones and eat them in moderation at any time of the day.

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