Carbohydrates are one of three macro nutrients, the other two being fats and protein. Carbs seem to have overtaken fats in recent years as being the weight gain bad guy, but is this accusation warranted and true?
Lets take a look at 5 carb myths and why science tells a rather different story to that of the diet fads:
Myth #1 You cannot lose weight eating carbs:
You have likely heard or said yourself that you're “cutting carbs” to lose weight. Keto dieters, who drastically cut out carbs give impressive testimony to their rapid weight loss, but this is also attributed to water weight loss as the first place your body dips into for extra energy is glycogen (Think: stored carbohydrates), which is housed in the liver and skeletal muscles. Glycogen is usually stored with lots of water, so tapping into it releases a lot of water.
A common reason people cut carbs when trying to lose weight is the idea they’ll become “fat adapted” and burn more fat as a result. And yes, your body can run on a mostly-fat diet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re burning more body fat. In fact your body does already burn fat for fuel and this process is actually more efficient if the cells have stored a little bit of fuel from carbohydrates, called glycogen. If glucose (sugar) from carbohydrates is not available for this process, the body breaks down protein instead of fat to create it, which is inefficient. Thus, if you want to burn body fat, having at least some carbohydrates in your diet is ideal, from a physiological perspective.
Ultimately, well-executed studies have shown that overall weight loss results from keto or low-carb diets match other, less restrictive plans.
Scientists at Arizona State University found no difference in weight or fat loss between people consuming 5% and 40% of their calories from carbohydrates for 10 weeks
Scientists at Medical college Wisconsin found no difference in weight or fat loss between people consuming 4% and 30% of their calories from carbohydrates for 6 weeks
Scientists at Harvard School of Public Health found no difference in weight or fat loss between people consuming 65%, 45% and 35% of their calories from carbohydrates for 2 YEARS!!!!
Scientists at Stanford school of medicine found no difference in weight or fat loss between people consuming 50% and 25% of their calories from carbohydrates for ONE YEAR!
And those embarking on a diet which severely cut back on carbs are more likely to pile the weight back on again once they stop the diet as it's simply not susitainable. Including carbs in weight-loss plans is often more sustainable as the majority of people enjoy eating carbs. The trick is in choosing the healthier, complex carbs and matching portion sizes to your needs. (Think outstretched hand for green veg and a clenched fist for starchy carbs eg brown rice and sweet potato)
Myth #2 Carbs cause fat gain:
Another idea floating around — that carbohydrates are more easily stored as fat than the other two macronutrients, protein and fat — just isn’t true. Carbohydrates in their most broken-down form are sugar, which is extremely easy for the body to break down because they are needed most in the body as a primary fuel for the brain, muscles and practically every organ.
If there are excess sugars in the body, three things can happen:
Your body thinks it’s a waste of energy to create a storage site, so it increases its metabolic rate enough to burn them.
They will be stored as glycogen in muscle tissue or the liver to be used for energy during exercise.
Your body will begin the process of lipogenesis or fat storage.
However, the third option is the most energy-consuming, so your body will not readily choose this option unless it has to and only happens when you’ve eaten significantly more food than your body can put to use. The bottom line — it’s not so easy for your body to store a carbohydrate as fat. In fact, it’s pretty hard.
Myth #3 All carbs are equal.
Most people think of bread and pasta when they think of carbs, but carbs come in many forms, and some are more healthy than others. Pulses such as beans, nuts, legumes and lentils, fruit, veggies and whole grains all contain varying amounts of carbohydrate. While it’s a good idea to limit overly processed carbs such as white bread and desserts, studies link consumption of wholesome carbs with healthier and longer lives.
Myth #4 You don't need carbs pre and post workout:
How many times have I seen or heard people talk about having a protein only shake after their workouts and training, thinking this is all that's required to maximise muscle building. Not true! Proteins and carbohydrates work together to provide the muscle with fuel and the raw materials to rebuild and get stronger. If carbohydrates are skipped, you actually risk losing muscle mass or having poor recovery.
So, it's a good idea to consume some carbs before and after your workout, especially if you want to build muscle. Carbohydrates before a workout provide fast, usable energy demanded by your moving muscles and carbohydrates after provide the fuel source for muscle-rebuilding. This is why I use the Herbalife 24 Rebuild Strength Post workout shake as it combines protein and carbs in a 3:1 ratio.
Myth #5 Carbs are not needed for a healthy gut:
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of a healthy microbiome, where good bacteria help keep our gastrointestinal tract healthy and act as an immune barrier to harmful bacteria that can make us ill. Well, fibre, which is found in carbohydrates, plays a key role in feeding these gut bacteria. Eating carbs such as whole grains, fruits, beans and vegetables help our healthy gut bacteria to thrive!
The Bottom Line:
There is no difference in weight loss between low and high carb diets. If you consistently consume fewer calories than you burn, you'll lose weight regardless of how many carbs you eat. Conversely, you will put on weight if you consistently eat more calories than you burn, regardless of what you eat.
Carbs are required by the body for good health.Complex carbs (fruits, veg, pulses and grains) play an essential role in heart health and diabetes. The fibre found in carbs has a positive effect on cholesterol, and helps regulate blood sugar and energy levels throughout the day too.
How can I help you?
You can join my next 6 week body transformation plan, as I provide perfectly balanced meal plans and recipes that does NOT deny your body from any of the macro or micro nutrients it requires, and will help you lose body fat whilst building lean muscle for shape and definition. You can choose full food or Herbalife and food meal plans to follow.
You can purchase the post workout shake and the nutritionally balanced meal replacement shakes from my online shop. Contact me and I can guide you and provide 1-1 support to achieve your health goals.
Any questions then do please send me a message!
Love Jen x