Do carbs make you fat? As a personal trainer I hear this question all the time. Actually it is usually more of a statement, “Carbs make me fat so I don’t eat them.” We have been taught that carbs are “bad”.  We have NOT been taught that carbs are fuel for our bodies and are loaded with water.

EXAMPLE

  • 1 gram of carbohydrate you consume holds roughly 3 grams of water
  • 200 Grams of Carbs=600 grams of water
  • There are approximately 454 grams in a pound therefore 600 grams of water will equal about 1.5lbs.

Do you see where this is going?  You did not gain 1.5lbs in fat from eating the extra carbs(assuming you did not eat over your caloric needs) you gained 1.5lbs in water.

This is why people think that  taking carbs out of your diet makes you lose weight.  All you are losing is water, not FAT (if you eat a caloric deficit you will lose weight regardless). The same is true with eating more carbs; as long as you are eating within your caloric needs, you are NOT gaining FAT. You are gaining water!

There are two types of carbs. The first is a complex carb, or low glycemic. Complex carbs consist of a chemical structure made up of 3 or more sugars rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals; therefore they take longer to digest. The longer they take to digest, the longer they will provide you energy.  Examples of complex carbs are oatmeal, vegetables, brown rice, etc.

Second, is a simple carb, or high glycemic. Simple carbs consist of 1 or 2 sugars. These would be refined sugars with little nutritional value. These carbs are digested by the body a lot quicker than complex carbs, therefore giving you very little energy (hence the sayings “sugar high” and “sugar crash”).Examples of simple carbs are candy, fruit juice, table sugar, etc.

When it comes to your mental and physical health, both of these types of carbs play a very important role. Think of carbohydrates as fuel. Just like a car, your body needs fuel to function. Eating the right type of carbs before and after a workout will play a huge role in your physical energy during your workout and your physical and mental energy after your workout.

I highly recommend eating a low glycemic carb (complex carb) before your workout. This carb will provide you with fuel. It would be best to pair the complex carb with a fat, which will help slow down the absorption rate of the carbohydrate, therefore giving you even longer lasting energy. An example of this would be an apple with peanut butter or oatmeal mixed with coconut oil.

You should eat a high number of glycemic carbs (simple carb) after your workout to quickly replenish the energy lost during the workout. It would be best to pair thesesimple carbs with a protein. The protein will supply essential amino acids necessary to repair muscle that was broken down during strength training. An example of this would be a protein shake and banana or egg whites and white bread.

Another statement I hear all the time is, “I don’t eat carbs after 5:00PM.” Guess what? CARBS DO NOT KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS. You can eat carbs throughout the day up until you go to bed. As long as you are eating YOUR correct macronutrient totals (PROTEIN, CARBS, AND FAT), the carbs are not going to make you gain weight past 5:00pm. That being said, I do suggest that you try to consume more carbs around your daily activities. Remember the car fuel analogy?

EXAMPLE

I currently eat 5 meals a day containing180 grams of carbs  total. The meal before my workout I contains 45 grams of carbs and  the meal I eat after my workout  contains another 45 grams of carbs. The remaining 100 grams of carbs are split between the other 3 meals which means right before bed I am eating about 30grams of carbs. Carbs after dark are ok!

I hope you find this information useful and the negativity is taken out of the “great carb debate.” Eat your carbs, enjoy the fuel they provide, and enjoy life.

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