People have determined that carbs make you fat thanks to an overwhelming number of low carb diet trends flooding the health and fitness industry lately. But, is this really true?
The fact is that yes, diets based on a low carb way of eating have meant successful weight loss for a lot of people. And yes, some people’s bodies respond better to lower carbs. BUT no, carbs by themselves do not, and will not make you fat. They do not just magically turn into fat stores in your body.
Want to know what makes you gain weight? A surplus of calories (in any macro ratio). Eating more calories than your body needs to sustain its current activity level leads to weight gain.
Instead of just turning into fat in your body, let’s look at what carbs actually do.
They are your body’s main source of energy. They’re responsible for fueling muscles, heart, brain, kidneys, and your central nervous system.
So carbs are important. As are the quality of carbs.
Complex and Simple Carbohydrates
Now here is where things can get a little dicey. There are complex carbs and simple carbs. NO, all carbs are not created equal.
Complex carbs breakdown slow, digesting at a slower pace which keeps you full. We recommend eating a diet rich in complex carbs for individuals looking to decrease body fat because they keep you full for so long. Complex carbs are also higher in fiber and pack a powerful nutritional punch. They are less likely to cause blood sugar spikes and crashes and leave you feeling the effects of those crashes like simple carbs.
Simple carbs contain simple sugars and little nutritional value, if any. They digest easily and quickly in the body. Endurance athletes like to use simple carbs for quick fuel for this reason.
The simpler the carb, the more drastic the increase on your blood sugar can be. A rise in blood sugar encourages a surge of insulin from the pancreas, which then signals fat cells to uptake glucose from the blood.
A diet excessive in simple carbs can lead to insulin resistance due to repetition of this process.
So what are some examples of complex vs simple carbs?
Eating a diet full of complex carbs that are whole, minimally processed, contain fiber and include a mix of colorful vegetables and starches is perfectly healthy and recommended. Every once in a while, simple carbs are totally fine, you just don’t want them to be the main food in your diet.
For more questions about how to incorporate more complex carbs or other healthy foods into your diet sign up for a Nutrition Intro here!