Carbs Are Not a Villain

When I meet with people to discuss their weight loss goals, I am surprised by how many people have allowed misinformation to sink into their gray matter as fact. Because of this bad information people are maligning certain foods, certain macronutrients, even certain colors. I could write article after article on the numerous myths confusing the public about weight loss (and I just might – stay tuned!)

I find that the most common villain in the misinformation is the innocuous carbohydrate.

Your body uses carbohydrates to make glucose which is fuel that gives you the energy to keep you moving. Your body can use glucose as an immediate source of energy or it can be stored in the liver and muscle for when it’s needed.

The following foods are where you can find carbs:

  • – Vegetables
  • – Fruits
  • – breads, cereals and other grains
  • – milk and milk products
  • – foods containing added sugars

Carbohydrates are categorized as either simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates are sugars. Table sugar, candy, honey and fruit are all examples of simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are broken down into two categories: starchy carbohydrates and fibrous carbohydrates. Potatoes, beans, cereals, breads and pasta are all examples of starchy carbohydrates. Fibrous carbohydrates are primarily vegetables.

Often people refer to “bad” carbs and “good” carbs; blaming the “bad” carbs for weight gain. These “Bad” carbs I hear mentioned typically are your breads, pasta and cereals that people see as the villain. The fact is, there is no such thing as a “bad” carbohydrate. Some are better than others, but they all can play a role in a balanced diet.

With a scientific understanding of weight management, it is clear that “bad” carbs do not make people fat/gain weight, rather eating more calories than your body needs what leads to weight gain. If this science is so clear, then why do so many people fear these so called “bad” carbs?

Often the foods that people label “bad” carbs are those that are calorie dense, easy to over-eat and often served in a variable serving size leading to portion distortion.

To illustrate this lets use a cup as our serving size to compare caloric values of a few of the so called “bad” carbs against their “good” carb (fibrous carbohydrate) counterpart and you can see the difference.


Cup of white rice

Cup of mashed potatoes

Cup of Pasta (elbow)

Cup of Broccoli

Cup of Apples

To get the same caloric volume from broccoli as you would from one cup of white rice one would need to eat 6.5 cups (or 3.6 cups of apples). To equal the amount of calories in one cup of elbow pasta one would have to consume 12.6 cups of broccoli (or 6.8 cups of apples).

To sit down and eat a cup of rice, potatoes or pasta or any other “bad” carb isn’t a big deal; however, could you picture yourself sitting down at the dinner table with 12.6 cups of broccoli? I do not think so.

Any diets or weight loss programs preaching that carbs make you fat fail to address the actual reason people gain weight – eating more calories than their bodies need. Yes, some carbs are healthier than others as is the case with all macronutrients (protein, carbs and fats). Ultimately, eating more calories than you burn makes you fat whether you consume those calories from carbs, protein or fat. Bottom line: it is not what you eat but HOW MUCH you eat when it comes to weight loss.

A great example of this is the television show “Survivor”. On the show, individuals are placed on remote islands where they compete and vote other people out to become the “sole survivor”. Those who make it to the finals will be there for 38 days. In the 28+ seasons since its debut in 2000, no one who has made it to the final has gained weight. Regardless of age, gender, race or fitness level everyone lost weight. Ironically, their primary food source at the camp site is the ultimate starchy carbohydrate: white rice. How can that be if carbs are supposed to make you fat? Simple. They didn’t have access to eat other foods without either hunting or competing for it and whatever rice they did eat it was rationed to last the 38 days.

When it comes to understanding the so-called “bad” carbs is to show it is calories, specifically calories consumed in excess of your daily burn is the cause of any weight gain. No macronutrient (protein, carb or fat) whether good or bad can trump the thermodynamics of caloric management.

Good news once the caloric management is in-line relative to your goal (lose weight, gain weight or maintain weight) then you can move down the nutritional funnel to accelerate the results. Now rather fear those carbs, become aware of their caloric value and learn how to fit the carbs you want into your nutritional formula. This is how weight loss/management can and has to be based on YOUR FOODS, on YOUR TERMS if you ever want it to become a L.E.A.N (Livable Exercise and Nutrition) lifestyle.

If you are serious about achieving a body transformation goal, then you need a program, as any goal without a plan is really only a wish!

For more information, please feel free to schedule a FREE consult with any of the fitness professionals at My Fitness Kitchen®.

This FREE Consult is a strategy session for us to learn your goals, factor in your availability, interests, limitations (if any) and prepare a personalized game plan following our L.E.A.N (Livable Exercise and Nutrition) Lifestyle while empowering you on the “Hierarchy of Fat Loss”.

With ZERO RISK and ZERO OBLIGATION you have nothing to lose by meeting with us other than unwanted body fat!